Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Michael E. Moore
In the year 589 Reccared, king of the Visigoths, called together leaders of the Catholic Church and the Visigothic nobility to meet at the Third Council of Toledo. That council marked a dramatic change in the Visigothic Kingdom and began a collaboration between the Catholic Church and the Visigothic royal government that would come to define the kingdom, and has forever colored our view of the history of Spain. This dissertation will attempt to place the events that occurred at the Third Council of Toledo into the larger context of the sixth century and will show that the union between the Catholic Church and the Visigothic royal government that occurred at Toledo III was the result of a connection between two longstanding forces in society: the efforts of a small number of provincial bishops to purify society through strict, orthodox Catholicism and the efforts of a few Visigoth monarchs to centralize the kingdom and create a political entity that would be the natural heir to official Roman legitimacy in the west as well as offer a counterbalance to the Eastern Roman Empire. Further, it will draw some connections between the work of the Catholic Church in the Suevic Kingdom, the other Germanic Kingdom that existed on the Iberian Peninsula during the sixth century, and the the Third Council of Toledo. Finally, it will show that in the immediate aftermath of the Third Council of Toledo the bishops were disappointed to find that the introduction of coercive power as a tool of instruction for bishops proved largely unworkable in the short term which led them to abandon some of their new found powers.
This dissertation analyzes the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Visigothic Kingdom during the sixth century and attempts to show that the relationship that developed resulted from the intersection of the ambitions of a small number of provincial bishops to purify society with the ambitions of a few Visigothic monarchs to centralize their authority and create a sense of “Roman-style” legitimacy for their kingdom. It further shows that although at the Third Council of Toledo in 589 the bishops and the Visigothic king Reccared established a working relationship that greatly increased the power of the Catholic Church in society, in the closing decade of the sixth century the bishops found that wielding the Bible and the sword was not so easy as they had hoped.
publicabstract, Catholic Church, Leovigild, Reccared, Spain, Third Council of Toledo, Visigoths
Copyright 2016 Jason Matthew Osborne