Suebic Kingdom of Galicia

Suebic Kingdom of Galicia

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The Suebi
Suebi
The Suebi or Suevi were a group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c...

c Kingdom of Galicia
was the first independent barbarian
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 Christian kingdom of Western Europe and the first to separate from the Roman Empire, as well as the first one to mint coins. Based in Gallaecia
Gallaecia
Gallaecia or Callaecia, also known as Hispania Gallaecia, was the name of a Roman province and an early Mediaeval kingdom that comprised a territory in the north-west of Hispania...

, it was established in 410 and lasted as independent state until 584, after a century of slow decline. It reached political relevance, even after the fall of the visigothic kingdom -a century after the last Suebic king was deposed-, as last administrative and religious ditch against the Muslim invasion
Umayyad conquest of Hispania
The Umayyad conquest of Hispania is the initial Islamic Ummayad Caliphate's conquest, between 711 and 718, of the Christian Visigothic Kingdom of Hispania, centered in the Iberian Peninsula, which was known to them under the Arabic name al-Andalus....

.

The history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 and importance of Suebic Galicia was long marginalised and obscured mainly by political reasons; it was left to a German scholar to write the first connected history of the Suebi in Galicia, as writer-historian Xoán Bernárdez Vilar has pointed out.

Origins


Little is known about the Suevi before they crossed the Rhine on the night of 31 December 406 A.D. and entered the Roman Empire. It is speculated that the Suevi are the same group as the Quadi
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

, who are mentioned in early writings, and lived north of the middle Danube located today in lower Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and western Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

. The reasoning behind the belief that the Suevi and Quadi are the same, or at least related groups comes from a letter written by St. Jerome to Ageruchia, listing the invaders of the 406 crossing into Gaul, in which the Quadi are listed and the Suevi are not. The argument for this theory, however, is based solely on the disappearance of mention of the Quadi in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and the emergence of the Suevi. Additionally the lack of mention of the Suevi could mean that they are not a distinct ethnic group. Perhaps the Suevi were the result of many smaller groups who banded together during the migration from central Europe to the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

.

Migration


Although there is no clearly documented reason behind the migration of 406, a widely accepted theory is that the migration of the various Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 west of the Rhine is due to the westward push of the Huns during the late 4th century. The reasoning being that the activities of the Huns disrupted and threatened the existing peoples of the region forcing them to uproot. It should be noted that this theory has created controversy within the academic community, because of the lack of convincing evidence.

Whether displaced by the Huns or not the Suevi along with the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

 and Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

 crossed the Rhine on the night of 31 December 405. Their entrance into the Roman Empire could not have been at a more opportune time. At the moment, the Roman West was experiencing a series of invasions and civil wars beginning in 405. Between 405 and 406, the Western regions of the empire saw the invasion of Italy by Goths under Radagaisus
Radagaisus
Radagaisus was a Gothic king who led an invasion of Roman Italy in late 405 and the first half of 406. A commited Pagan, Radagaisus evidentily planned to sacrifice the Roman Senators to the gods and burn Rome to the ground. Radagaisus was executed after being defeated by the half-Vandal general...

, as well as a steady stream of usurpers. This allowed the invading barbarians to enter Gaul with little resistance, consequently allowing for the barbarians to cause considerable damage to the northern provinces of Germania Prima, Belgica Prima, and Belgica Secunda before the empire saw them as a threat. In response to the barbarian invasion of Gaul, the usurper Constantine III, halted the masses of Vandals, Alans, and Suevi, who remained confined to northern Gaul. But in the spring of 409, Gerontius
Gerontius (general)
Gerontius was a general of the Western Roman Empire, who first supported the usurper Constantine III and later opposed him in favour of another usurper, Maximus of Hispania.- Usurpation of Constantine III :Gerontius probably was of Breton origin...

 led a revolt in Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

 and set up his own emperor, Maximus
Maximus of Hispania
Maximus, also called Maximus Tiranus, was Roman usurper in Hispania . He had been elected by general Gerontius, who might have been his father....

. Constantine, who had recently been elevated to the title of Augustus, set off to Hispania to deal with the rebellion. Gerontius responded by stirring up the barbarians in Gaul against Constantine, convincing them to mobilize again, and, in the summer of 409, the Vandals, Alans, and Suevi began pushing south towards Hispania.

Settlement and integration


The civil war that erupted in the Iberian Peninsula between the forces of Constantine and Gerontius had left the passes through the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 either purposely or consequently neglected, making southern Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula susceptible to barbarian attack. Hydatius
Hydatius
Hydatius or Idacius , bishop of Aquae Flaviae in the Roman province of Gallaecia was the author of a chronicle of his own times that provides us with our best evidence for the history of the Iberian Peninsula in the 5th century.-Life:Hydatius was born around the year 400 in the...

 documents that the crossing into the Iberian Peninsula by the Vandals, Alans, and Suevi took place on either the 28 September or the 12 October 409. Some scholars take the two dates as the beginning and the end to the crossing of the Pyrenees mountain range into the Iberian Peninsula, since the crossing over of such a formidable barrier by scores of thousands could not have possibly been done in a twenty-four hour time frame. Hydatius writes that upon entering of Hispania the barbarian peoples spent two years 409–410 in a frenzy, plundering food and goods from the cities and countryside causing a famine in the process that, according to Hydatius, forced cannibalism amongst the locals, “[driven] by hunger human beings devoured human flesh; mothers too feasted upon the bodies of their own children whom they had killed and cooked with their own hands.” In 411 the various barbarian groups decided on the establishment of a peace and divided the provinces of Hispania among themselves sorte, “by lot”. Many scholars believe that the reference to “lot” may be to the sortes, “allotments,” which barbarian federates received by the Roman government, which suggests that the Suevi and the other invaders were under a treaty with Maximus’s government. There is, however, no concrete evidence of any treaties between the Romans and the barbarians. Hydatius never mentions any treaty, and states that the peace in 411 was brought about by the compassion of the Lord. The division of the land between the four barbarian groups went as such: the Siling Vandals
Silingi
The Silings or Silingi supposedly were an East Germanic tribe, probably part of the larger Vandal group. According to most scholars, examples Jerzy Strzelczyk, Norman Davies, Jerzy Krasuski, Andrzej Kokowski, Henryk Łowmiański, the Silingi may have lived in Silesia...

 settled in Hispania Baetica
Hispania Baetica
Hispania Baetica was one of three Imperial Roman provinces in Hispania, . Hispania Baetica was bordered to the west by Lusitania, and to the northeast by Hispania Tarraconensis. Baetica was part of Al-Andalus under the Moors in the 8th century and approximately corresponds to modern Andalucia...

, the Alans were allotted the provinces of Lusitania
Lusitania
Lusitania or Hispania Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain . It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people...

 and Hispania Carthaginensis
Hispania Carthaginensis
Hispania Carthaginensis was a Roman province segregated from Hispania Tarraconensis in the new division of Hispania by emperor Diocletian in 298.The capital of the new province was settled in Carthago Nova, now Cartagena....

, and the Hasding Vandals
Hasdingi
The Hasdingi were the southern tribes of the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe. They lived in areas of today's southern Poland, Slovakia and Hungary...

 and the Suevi shared the far northwestern province of Galicia.

The division of Galicia between the Suevi and the Hasding Vandals placed the Suevi in the far northwestern corner of the province, which they took by force. They settled in the cities of Braga
Braga
Braga , a city in the Braga Municipality in northwestern Portugal, is the capital of the Braga District, the oldest archdiocese and the third major city of the country. Braga is the oldest Portuguese city and one of the oldest Christian cities in the World...

 (which would become the Suevic capital until 439), Astorga, and Lugo
Lugo
Lugo is a city in northwestern Spain, in the autonomous community of Galicia. It is the capital of the province of Lugo. The municipality had a population of 97,635 in 2010, which makes is the fourth most populated city in Galicia.-Population:...

, with no evidence suggesting that the Suevi inhabited any other cities residing in the province from 411–438. The relationship between the Galicians and the Suevi was an opportunistic one for the Suevi, who, under their king, Hermeric
Hermeric
Hermeric was the Suevic King of Galicia from perhaps as early as 406 and certainly no later than 419 until his retirement in 438. He was a pagan and an enemy of the Roman Empire throughout his life...

, would spend the next 27 years (411–438) plundering the Galicians of food and valuables.

Another Germanic group that accompanied the Suebi and settled in Galicia were the Buri
Buri (Germanic tribe)
The Buri were a Germanic tribe mentioned in the Germania of Tacitus, where they initially "close the back" of the Marcomanni and Quadi of Bohemia and Moravia. It is said that their speech and customs were like those of the Suebi...

. They settled in the region between the rivers Cávado
Cávado River
The Cávado River is a river located in north Portugal.It has its source in Serra do Larouco at 1520 meters. It runs 135 km from Gouveia to its mouth into the Atlantic Ocean next to the city of Esposende...

 and Homem, in the area known as Terras de Bouro
Terras de Bouro
Terras de Bouro is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 277.5 km² and a total population of 7,955 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 17 parishes, and is located in the district of Braga. The present Mayor is António Ferreira Afonso, elected by the Social Democratic Party...

 (Lands of the Buri).

As the Suebi quickly adopted the local Hispano-Roman language
Iberian Romance languages
The Iberian Romance languages or Ibero-Romance languages are the Romance languages that developed on the Iberian Peninsula, an area consisting primarily of Spain, Portugal, and Andorra....

, few traces were left of their Germanic tongue, but some examples in the Galician language
Galician language
Galician is a language of the Western Ibero-Romance branch, spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community located in northwestern Spain, where it is co-official with Castilian Spanish, as well as in border zones of the neighbouring territories of Asturias and Castile and León.Modern Galician and...

 and Portuguese language
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 remained, like laverca in Portuguese and Galician (synonyms of cotovialark
Lark
Larks are passerine birds of the family Alaudidae. All species occur in the Old World, and in northern and eastern Australia; only one, the Shore Lark, has spread to North America, where it is called the Horned Lark...

).

Swebic kingdom


In 416, the Visigoths entered the Iberian Peninsula, sent from Gallia Aquitania
Gallia Aquitania
Gallia Aquitania was a province of the Roman Empire, bordered by the provinces of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gallia Narbonensis, and Hispania Tarraconensis...

 by the Emperor of the West to fight off the barbarians from the 409 invasion. The Visigoths led by their king, Wallia
Wallia
Wallia was king of the Visigoths from 415 to 419, earning a reputation as a great warrior and prudent ruler. He was elected to the throne after Athaulf and then Sigeric were assassinated in 415....

, devastated both the Siling Vandals and Alans. By 418, both the Siling Vandals and Alans were practically exterminated, leaving the Hasding Vandals and the Suevi, who had remained undisturbed by Wallia’s campaign as the two remaining forces in the Iberian Peninsula. After the departure of Willia in 418 the Hasding Vandals and the Suevi seemed to have occupied themselves as they had done sinse they began the sharing of Galicia, with the starting of a war in 419. In 420, however, the comes Hispaniarum Asterius attacked the Hasding Vandals, forcing them to break off their conflict with the Suevi, moving out of Galicia in pursuit of Asterius. In 429, the Hasding Vandals would leave to Africa and the Suevi would be the only barbarian entity on Hispania. King Hermeric would spend the remainder of his able years solidifying Suevic rule over the entire province of Galicia.

In 438, Hermeric became ill. Having annexed the entirety of Galicia, he made peace with the local Hispano-Roman population. Hermeric’s illness made him unable to rule, and in 438, his son Rechila
Rechila
Rechila was the Suevic King of Galicia from 438 until his death. There are few primary sources for his life, but Hydatius was a contemporary Christian chronicler in Galicia....

 became king. Rechila saw an opportunity for expansion and began pushing to other areas of the Iberian Peninsula. The same year, Rechila campaigned in Baetica. A year later, in 429, the Suevi invaded Lusitania and took Mérida
Mérida, Spain
Mérida is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, western central Spain. It has a population of 57,127 . The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.- Climate :...

, making it the new capital of the Suevi kingdom. Rechila would continue the expansion of the kingdom and by 441, the Suevi controlled Galicia, Baetica, Lusitania, and Carthaginensis. However, the Suevi conquest of Baetica and Carthaginensis was limited to raids, and Suevi presence, if any, was minute.

In 446, the Romans would dispatch Vitus
Vitus
Saint Vitus was a Christian saint from Sicily. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Roman Catholic Church....

, a magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 with a mixed army of Romans and Goths, to the provinces of Baetica and Carthaginensis in an attempt to subdue the Suevi and restore imperial administration in Hispania. Rechila defeated Vitus and the Goths, and no more imperial attempts would be made to retake Hispania.

In 448, Rechila died, leaving the crown to his son, Rechiar
Rechiar
Rechiar or Rechiarius was the Suevic King of Galicia from 448 until his death. He was the first Catholic Germanic king in Europe and one of the most innovative and belligerent of the Suevi monarchs...

. Rechiar would become the first Germanic king to become a Catholic Christian, as well as the first barbarian king to mint coins in his own name. Some believe minting the coins was a sign of Suevi autonomy, due to the use of minting in the late empire as a declaration of independence. Rechiar would make a series of bold political moves throughout his reign. The first was his marriage to the daughter of the Gothic king Theodoric I
Theodoric I
Theodoric I sometimes called Theodorid and in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Teodorico, was the King of the Visigoths from 418 to 451. An illegitimate son of Alaric, Theodoric is famous for defeating Attila at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451, where he was mortally wounded.-Early...

 in 448, in an attempt to improve the relationship between the two peoples. Rechiar would then go on to make a treaty with Rome in 452, which was renewing in 454. During the first seven years under Rechiar, the Sueves seem to have been content as major raids and conflicts were recorded during this time. In 455, Rechiar invaded Hispania Tarraconensis
Hispania Tarraconensis
Hispania Tarraconensis was one of three Roman provinces in Hispania. It encompassed much of the Mediterranean coast of Spain along with the central plateau. Southern Spain, the region now called Andalusia, was the province of Hispania Baetica...

, which was the last portion of the Iberia still under Roman rule. The emperor, Avitus
Avitus
Eparchius Avitus was Western Roman Emperor from July 8 or July 9, 455 to October 17, 456. A Gallic-Roman aristocrat, he was a senator and a high-ranking officer both in the civil and military administration, as well as Bishop of Piacenza.A representative of the Gallic-Roman aristocracy, he...

, would respond, sending Theodoric I to repel the invasion. In autumn of 456, Theodoric led an army of Goths into northern Hispania and marched on Galicia, and on 5 October, Theodoric defeated and captured Rechiar near the river Urbicus. After the execution of Rechiar, Theodoric continued his war on the Suevi and, in less than a year, the Goths had removed and occupied Lusitania, Baetica, Carthaginensis, and parts of southern Galicia, thus confining the Suevi back in the far northwestern corner of Galicia.

When the Visigoths disposed of Rechiar, the royal bloodline of Hermeric vanished and the conventional mechanism for Suevi leadership died with it. In 456, Aioulf
Aioulf
Aioulf or Ag'iwulf was an obscure King of Galicia from 456. In 448, after eight years in captivity, the Roman ambassador Censorius was executed by one Agiulf at Seville...

 took over the leadership of the Sueves. The origins behind Aioulf’s ascension are not clear Hydatius wrote that Aioulf was a Goth deserter, while the historian Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 wrote that he was a Warni
Warini
The Varni , Varini , Varinnae , Wærne/Werne and Warnii probably refer to a little known Germanic tribe. The name would have meant the "defenders". They lived in northern Germany...

 appointed by Theodoric to govern Galicia. In that same year, Hydatius stated that, in response to the situation, “the Sueves set up Maldras as their king.” This statement suggests that the Suevi as a people may have had a voice in the selection of a new ruler. The election of Maldras
Maldras
Maldras was the Suevic King of Galicia from 456 until his death. After the execution of Rechiar by the victorious Visigoths, the Suevi are said to have established Maldras on the throne...

 would lead to a schism among the Suevi, with some choosing to follow Framtane
Framta
Framta, Framtan, or Framtane was one of the kings of the Suevi in Galicia in 457....

. The Suevi would continue to be split, and from 460–464, neither Suevi faction appeared to have recognized a king. In 464, Remismund
Remismund
Remismund was the Suevic King of Galicia from c. 464 until his death.According to Isidore of Seville, Remismund was a son of Maldras. Remismund's early career was spent as an ambassador between Galicia and Gaul, which trip he made several times...

, an ambassador who traveled between Galicia and Gaul, became King of the Suevi. Remismund was able to unite the factions of the Suevi under his rule. He was also recognized, perhaps even approved of, by Theodoric, who sent him gifts and weapons along with a wife. Under the leadership of Remismund, the Suevi would again raid the surrounding country, plundering even the walled cities of Astorga, Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

, and Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. Although it served as the nation's capital during the High Middle Ages, it is better-known for its university, the University of Coimbra, which is one of the oldest in Europe and the oldest academic institution in the...

, which they did so twice, once in 465 and again in 468. After the death of Remismund in 469, and throughout the remainder of the 5th century, the Suevic Kingdom would continue to flounder as its neighbors continued to expand.

The Suebi remained mostly pagan and their subjects Priscillianist
Priscillianism
Priscillianism is a Christian doctrine developed in the Iberian Peninsula in the 4th century by Priscillian, derived from the Gnostic-Manichaean doctrines taught by Marcus, an Egyptian from Memphis, and later considered a heresy by the Orthodox Church.-History:Priscillian was described as "a man...

 until an Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 missionary named Ajax
Ajax (missionary)
Ajax was an Arian missionary to the pagan Suevi of Galicia who converted them to Christianity in 464 or 466.Due in part to his unusual Homeric name his origins have been debated. The contemporary chronicler Hydatius, the Catholic bishop of Aquae Flaviae, refers to him as Aiax natione Galata....

, sent by the Visigothic king Theodoric II
Theodoric II
Theodoric II was King of Visigoths from 453 to 466.Theoderic II, son of Theodoric I, obtained the throne by killing his elder brother Thorismund...

 at the request of the Suebic unifier Remismund
Remismund
Remismund was the Suevic King of Galicia from c. 464 until his death.According to Isidore of Seville, Remismund was a son of Maldras. Remismund's early career was spent as an ambassador between Galicia and Gaul, which trip he made several times...

, converted them in 466 and established a lasting Arian church which dominated the people until their conversion to Catholicism in the 560s.

Conversion to Catholicism


The conversion of the Suebi to Catholicism is presented very differently in the primary records. The only contemporary record, the minutes of the First Council of Braga
First Council of Braga
In the First Council of Braga of 561 eight bishops took part, and twenty-two decrees were promulgated, among others the following: that in the services of the church the same rite should be followed by all, and that on vigils and in solemn Masses the same lessons should be said by all; that bishops...

—which met on 1 May 561—state explicitly that the synod was held at the orders of a king named Ariamir
Ariamir
Ariamir was the Suevic King of Galicia, with his capital at Bracara, from around 561, when he is mentioned by the bishops of the First Council of Braga as the king who summoned them and under whose auspices they deliberated...

. While his Catholicism is not in doubt, that he was the first Catholic monarch of the Suebes since Rechiar has been contested on the grounds that he is not explicitly stated to have been. He was, however, the first to hold a Catholic synod. The Historia Suevorum of Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

 states that a king named Theodemar
Theodemar
Theodemir or Theodemar was one of the last Suevic kings of Galicia and one of the first Catholics. He succeeded Ariamir sometime between the end of May 561 and the year 566 and ruled until his death....

 brought about the conversion of his people from Arianism with the help of the missionary Martin of Braga
Martin of Braga
Saint Martin of Braga was an archbishop of Bracara Augusta in Hispania , a monastic founder, and an ecclesiastical author...

. According to the Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 historian Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

 on the other hand, an otherwise unknown sovereign named Chararic, having heard of Martin of Tours
Martin of Tours
Martin of Tours was a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Around his name much legendary material accrued, and he has become one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints...

, promised to accept the beliefs of the saint if only his son were cured of leprosy. Through the relics and intercession of Saint Martin the son was healed; Chararic and the entire royal household converted to the Nicene faith
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. Finally, the Suebic conversion is ascribed, not to a Suebe, but to a Visigoth by the name of John of Biclarum, which puts their conversion alongside that of the Goths, occurring under Reccared I in 587–589.

Most scholars have attempted to meld these stories. It has been alleged that Chararic and Theodemir must have been successors of Ariamir, since Ariamir was the first Suebic monarch to lift the ban on Catholic synods; Isidore therefore gets the chronology wrong. Reinhart suggested that Chararic was converted first through the relics of Saint Martin and that Theodemir was converted later through the preaching of Martin of Braga. Dahn equated Chararic with Theodemir, even saying that the latter was the name he took upon baptism. It has also been suggested that Theodemir and Ariamir were the same person and the son of Chararic. In the opinion of some historians, Chararic is nothing more than an error on the part of Gregory of Tours and never existed. If, as Gregory relates, Martin of Braga died about the year 580 and had been bishop for about thirty years, then the conversion of Chararic must have occurred around 550 at the latest. Finally, Ferreiro believes the conversion of the Suevi was progressive and stepwise and that Chararic's public conversion was only followed by the lifting of a ban on Catholic synods in the reign of his successor, which would have been Ariamir; Thoedemir was responsible for beginning a persecution of the Arians in his kingdom to root out their heresy.


6th Century and Annexation


Late in the fifth century and early in the sixth century, immigrants from Britannia
Britannia
Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a female personification of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the...

 and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 settled in the north of Galicia, which thus acquired the name Britonia
Britonia
Britonia is the historical name of a settlement in Galicia which was settled in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD by Romano-Britons escaping the advancing Anglo-Saxons who were conquering Britain at the time...

. Most of what is known about the settlement comes from ecclesiastical sources; records from the 572 Second Council of Braga
Second Council of Braga
The Second Council of Braga, held in 572, presided over by Martin of Braga, was held to increase the number of bishops in Galaecia. Twelve bishops assisted at this council, and ten decrees were promulgated: that the bishops should in their visitations see in what manner the priests celebrated the...

 refer to a diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 called the Britonensis ecclesia ("British church") and an episcopal see
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

 called the sedes Britonarum ("See of the Britons"), which was likely the monastery of Santa Maria de Bretoña. The bishop representing this diocese at the council bore the clearly Brythonic
Brythonic languages
The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

 name of Mailoc
Mailoc
Mailoc or Maeloc was a 6th-century bishop of Britonia, a settlement founded by expatriate Britons in Galicia, Spain. He represented his diocese, referred to as the Britonensis ecclesia or "British church", at the Second Council of Braga in 572...

. The see continued to be represented at councils through the 7th century. Britonia evidently covered a substantial area; parishes of the Britonensis ecclesia extended from the coast of the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

 southwards to near the town of Mondoñedo
Mondoñedo
Mondoñedo is a small town and municipality in the Galician province of Lugo, Spain. , the town has a population of 4,508. Mondoñedo occupies a sheltered valley among the northern outliers of the Cantabrian Mountains.-History:...

, and eastwards into Asturias
Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

.

In 569 Theodemir called the First Council of Lugo
First Council of Lugo
The Council of Lugo was a Catholic synod called by the Suevic King Theodemir in 569 in order to increase the number of dioceses within his kingdom...

, which dealt with Arianism and established a bishopric of Britonia, whereas the council of Braga in 561 had dealt with Priscillianism
Priscillianism
Priscillianism is a Christian doctrine developed in the Iberian Peninsula in the 4th century by Priscillian, derived from the Gnostic-Manichaean doctrines taught by Marcus, an Egyptian from Memphis, and later considered a heresy by the Orthodox Church.-History:Priscillian was described as "a man...

.

In 570, Miro succeeded Theodemir as the Suevic king. During this time, the Suevic kingdom was still overshadowed by the Visigoths who, under their king, Leovigild, still controlled the majority of the Iberian Peninsula. In 575, Miro made a peace treaty with Leovigild, who was waging a war against his rebelling Catholic son, Prince Hermenigild. Miro died aiding king Leovigild in 583, and his son, Eboric
Eboric
Eboric or Euric was the last legitimate Suevic King of Galicia. He was the adolescent son of Miro and Sisegutia and he succeeded his father in 583, ruling for a year before being deposed by his mother's second husband, Audeca, who threw him in a monastery...

, was set to become the Sueves next king. But while Eboric was still young, a usurper named Audeca
Andeca
Andeca or Audeca was the last de facto Suevic King of Galicia from 584 until his deposition the next year . He deposed Eboric and usurped the throne by marrying the young king's mother, Siseguntia , the widow of Eboric's father and predecessor, Miro...

 seized power and declared himself king of the Suevi. Audeca would then make the young Eboric become a monk, and force him to reside in a monastery. After hearing of the events, Leovigild declared war on the Suevi, and in 585 the Visigoths invaded the Suevic kingdom. That same year, Leovigild defeated the Sueves, and their kingdom was transferred to the Goths as one of their three administrative regions -Gallaecia, Hispania and Galia Narboniensis-. The Suevian dynasty was never re-established, but the administrative infrastructure of the Galician church remained intact, allowing to re-emerge as independent entity after the fall of the Visigothic empire, playing a key role as last shelter for Christianity in the Iberian Peninsula.

List of Galician Suebic monarchs

  • Hermeric
    Hermeric
    Hermeric was the Suevic King of Galicia from perhaps as early as 406 and certainly no later than 419 until his retirement in 438. He was a pagan and an enemy of the Roman Empire throughout his life...

    , c. 409–438
  • Heremigarius
    Heremigarius
    Heremigarius was a Suevic military leader operative in Lusitania in the early fifth century. He may have been a joint monarch with Hermeric, but there is no primary source to prove it. According to Hydatius, he had attacked the Vandal cities of Seville and Mérida and was thus "cast down in the...

    , 427–429, leader in Lusitania
    Lusitania
    Lusitania or Hispania Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain . It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people...

  • Rechila
    Rechila
    Rechila was the Suevic King of Galicia from 438 until his death. There are few primary sources for his life, but Hydatius was a contemporary Christian chronicler in Galicia....

    , 438–448
  • Rechiar
    Rechiar
    Rechiar or Rechiarius was the Suevic King of Galicia from 448 until his death. He was the first Catholic Germanic king in Europe and one of the most innovative and belligerent of the Suevi monarchs...

    , 448–456
  • Aioulf
    Aioulf
    Aioulf or Ag'iwulf was an obscure King of Galicia from 456. In 448, after eight years in captivity, the Roman ambassador Censorius was executed by one Agiulf at Seville...

    , 456–457, foreigner, possibly appointee of the Visigoths
  • Maldras
    Maldras
    Maldras was the Suevic King of Galicia from 456 until his death. After the execution of Rechiar by the victorious Visigoths, the Suevi are said to have established Maldras on the throne...

    , 456–460, in opposition to Framta after 457
  • Framta
    Framta
    Framta, Framtan, or Framtane was one of the kings of the Suevi in Galicia in 457....

    , 457, in opposition to Maldras
  • Richimund
    Richimund
    Richimund or Rechimund was a Suevic leader in Galicia from 457 until about 464. He was not recorded as a king , though Hydatius wrote that inter Frumarium et Rechimundum oritur de regni potestate dissensio...

    , 457–464, successor of Framta
  • Frumar
    Frumar
    Frumar was a Suevic warlord who succeeded Maldras, assassinated in February 460, as leader of the Suevic group then raiding Lusitania...

    , 460–464, successor of Maldras
  • Remismund
    Remismund
    Remismund was the Suevic King of Galicia from c. 464 until his death.According to Isidore of Seville, Remismund was a son of Maldras. Remismund's early career was spent as an ambassador between Galicia and Gaul, which trip he made several times...

    , 464–469, succeeded Frumar, reunited the Suebi
  • Period of obscurity
    • Hermeneric
      Hermeneric
      Hermeneric was a Suevic King of Galicia according to a now lost document claimed by the priest Antonio de Yepes. According to Yepes, the king reigned around 485, which would put him in a roughly century-long period of obscurity during which the Sueves were Arian Christians...

       fl. c. 485
    • Veremund
      Veremund
      Veremund or Veremundus was a Suevic King of Galicia around 485, during a period of obscurity for the region following the death of the chronicler Hydatius and the Sueves conversion to Arianism...

       fl. 535
    • Theodemund
      Theodemund
      Theodemund was a Suevic King of Galicia between the years 469 and 550. This period is very obscure and little is known about the rulers in this time save that they were Arians. The hypothesis of his existence is based on a twelfth-century document that mentions a Theodemundus ruling the Sueves...

       fl. 6th century
  • Chararic, after c.550–558/559, existence sometimes doubted
  • Ariamir
    Ariamir
    Ariamir was the Suevic King of Galicia, with his capital at Bracara, from around 561, when he is mentioned by the bishops of the First Council of Braga as the king who summoned them and under whose auspices they deliberated...

    , 558/559–561/566
  • Theodemar
    Theodemar
    Theodemir or Theodemar was one of the last Suevic kings of Galicia and one of the first Catholics. He succeeded Ariamir sometime between the end of May 561 and the year 566 and ruled until his death....

    , 561/566–570
  • Miro
    Miro of Gallaecia
    Miro was the Suevic King of Galicia from 570 until his death in 583. His reign was marked by attempts to forge alliances with other Catholic nations with the goal of checking the power of the Arian Visigoths under Leovigild...

    , 570–583
  • Eboric
    Eboric
    Eboric or Euric was the last legitimate Suevic King of Galicia. He was the adolescent son of Miro and Sisegutia and he succeeded his father in 583, ruling for a year before being deposed by his mother's second husband, Audeca, who threw him in a monastery...

    , 583–584, deposed and put in a monastery by Andeca.
  • Andeca
    Andeca
    Andeca or Audeca was the last de facto Suevic King of Galicia from 584 until his deposition the next year . He deposed Eboric and usurped the throne by marrying the young king's mother, Siseguntia , the widow of Eboric's father and predecessor, Miro...

    , 584–585, deposed and put in a monastery by Leovigild.
  • Malaric
    Malaric
    Malaric or Amalaric was the last man to claim the kingship of the Suevi of Galicia. In 585, after the last king, Audeca, was defeated and captured by the Visigoths, Malaric rose in rebellion, but was, according to John of Biclar, "defeated by King Leovigild's generals and was captured and presented...

    , 585, opposed Leovigild and was defeated.

Sources and controversies


Unlike barbarian peoples, such as the Vandals, Visigoths, and Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 the Suevi never posed much of a threat to the Romans, or even to other barbarian groups, and were confined to a relatively small and removed geographic region throughout their recorded existence as a people. Because of this, sources about the Suevi people are limited, with the number either written in or translated into English even fewer.

The vast majority of information and reference to the Suevi is drawn from the bishop Hydatius. A Native to the region Hydatious was born in Lemica ciuitas straddling the southern borders of southern Galicia in 400 A.D. and witnessed the 409 settlement of the Suevi peoples in the Iberian Peninsula. Although young, Hydatius’s life would be greatly affected by the settlement of the various Germanic peoples. Through much of his life he was forced to stay in isolated Roman communities constantly threatened by the Suevi and Vandals. The threat culminated in his capture by the Suevic warlord Frumarius in 460, He was held captive for three months as Seuvi ravaged the region. Hydatius documented these accounts in The Chronicle of Hydatius, a history of the region that plays on the fears of the barbarian settlements, the fall of Roman power in Hispania, and his own interactions with barbarian groups. The Suevi are portrayed as obscure, without any real reason or direction given to their decisions or movement by mentioning what the Suevi did to the Romans, but rarely what they said. Hydatius’s image of the Suevi is from the outside, even going as far as to call them cannibals, “killed all the braver individuals and feasting on their flesh.” This description of the Suevi has bled into secondary sources, E.A. Thomson, an expert who has written many pieces on the subject, stated, “they just lash out blindly from year to year at any place that they suspected would supply them with food, valuables or money.”

The ending of the Chronicle of Hydatius in 428 marks the beginning of a period of obscurity in the history of the Suevi who don’t reemerge into historical light until the mid-sixth century. From this point on what we do know about the Seuvi during this time period is from Saint Isidore of Seville. Isidore
Isidore
Isidore is a male name of Greek origin, derived from the Greek name Ἰσίδωρος, a combination of Ἶσις δώρον meaning "gift of Isis". The name survived the suppression of the worship of the goddess Isis in the newly Christianized Roman Empire, and is, among others, the name of several Christian saints...

 would use Haydatius’s earlier accounts to form the most complete account/record of the Suevi in Hispania. The controversy around Isidorus’s historiography is not on the accounts from the sixth century, but rather his omissions and addition, which many historians and scholars feel are to numerous for them all to be simple mistakes. Throughout St. Isidore’s, History of the Kings of the Goths, Vandals, and Suevi, certain details from Hydatius are altered, e.g. According to Isidore says that, Ajax, was the man who converted the Suevi from paganism to Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, when in according to Hydiatus, he converted them from Catholicism to Arianism. Many scholars attribute these changes to the fact that Isidore may have had sources other than Hydatius at his request.