Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 463 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LEOVIGILD, or LtiWENHELD (d. 586), king of the Visigoths, became king in 568 after the short period of anarchy which followed the death of King Athanagild, whose widow, Goisvintha, he married. At first he ruled that part of the Visigothic kingdom which lay to the south of the Pyrenees, his brother Liuva or Leova governing the small part to the north of these mountains; but in 572 Liuva died and Leovigild became sole king. At this time the Visigoths who settled in Spain early in the 5th century were menaced by two powerful enemies, the Suevi who had a small kingdom in the north-west of the peninsula, and the Byzantines who had answered Athanagild's appeal for help by taking possession of a stretch of country in the south-east. Their kingdom, too, was divided and weakened by the fierce hostility between the orthodox Christians and those who professed Arianism. Internal and external dangers alike, however, failed to daunt Leovigild, who may fairly be called the restorer of the Visigothic kingdom. He turned first against the Byzantines, who were defeated several times; he took Cordova and chastised the Suevi; and then by stern measures he destroyed the power of those unruly and rebellious chieftains who had reduced former kings to the position of ciphers. The chronicler tells how, having given peace to his people, he, first of the Visigothic sovereigns, assumed the attire of a king and made Toledo his capital. He strengthened the position of his family and provided for the security of his kingdom by associating his two sons, Recared and Hermenegild, with himself in the kingly office and placing parts of the land under their rule. Leovigild him-self was an Arian, being the last of the Visigothic kings to hold that creed; but he was not a bitter foe of the orthodox Christians, although he was obliged to punish them when they conspired against him with his external enemies. His son Hermenegild, however, was converted to the orthodox faith through the influence of his Frankish wife, Ingundis, daughter of King Sigebert I., and of Leander, metropolitan of Seville. Allying himself with the Byzantines and other enemies of the Visigoths, and supported by most of the orthodox Christians he headed a formidable insurrection. The struggle was fierce; but at length, employing persuasion as well as force, the old king triumphed. Hermenegild was captured; he refused to give up his faith and in March or April 585 he was executed. He was canonized at the request of Philip II., king of Spain, by Pope Sixtus V. About this time Leovigild put an end to the kingdom of the Suevi. During his last years he was engaged in a war with the Franks. He died at Toledo on the 21st of April 586 and was succeeded by his son Recared.
End of Article: LEOVIGILD

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