Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 500
Canon 17 of the Sixth Council of Toledo (Iberian Peninsula, AD 638) forbids clerics of any grade as well as laymen to foretell who will be the future king. It also forbids a tonsured person to become a king.
Canon 17
De his qui rege supprestite aut sibi aut aliis ad futurum prouident regnum et de personis quae prohibentur ad regnum accedere.
Quamquam in concilio anteriori, quod anno primo gloriosissimi principis nostri habitum est, de huiusmodi re fuerit promulgata sententia, tamen placet iterare quod conuenit custodiri. Itaque regis uita constante nullus sibi aliquo opere uel deliberatione cuiuscumque dignitatis laicus, seu gradu episcopatui, presbyterii aut diaconii consecratus, ceterisque clericatus officiis deditus, regem prouideat contra uiuentis regis utilitatem et procul dubio uoluntatem, nullo blandimento uel suasione pro eadem spe aut alios in se trahat, aut ipse in alium acquiescat. Iniquum enim et ualde exsecrabile a Christianis debet haberi, futuris temporibus illicita prospicere et uitae suae ignarus uentura disponere. Quod si quisquam iam talia iniqua deliberatione cum quocumque est meditatus, hoc sibi nouerit esse sacerdotali moderatione concessum, ut ueniabiliter possit ut hoc sine mora praesentis principis auribus publicare. Si autem obstinata deliberatione sua machinamenta noluerit dicere, pessimo plectatur anathemate. Rege uero defuncto nullus tyrannica praesumptione regnum assumat, nullus sub religionis habitu detonsus aut turpiter decaluatus aut seruilem originem trahens uel extraneae gentis homo, nisi genere Gotus et moribus dignus, prouehatur ad apicem regni. Temerator autem huius praeceptionis sanctissimae feriatur perpetuo anathemate.
(eds. Martinez Diez, Rodriguez 1992: 294, 308-309)
Canon 17
On those who after death of a king foretell that themselves or other people will obtain the reign and on persons to whom it is prohibited to become kings
Although at the previous council that was held in the first year of the reign of our most glorious king a decree on this topic was issued, it pleases us to repeat what shall be observed. During the life of the king no layman, whatever his dignity, [and] no one ordained to the grade of bishop, presbyter or deacon, or to any other clerical office, must fortell with whatever art or deliberation who will be the next king against the interests and, without doubt, against the will of the living king. No one must attract others to himself with blandishments and persuasion because of such expectations nor adhere to another for this reason. Because it shall be considered wicked and most detestable by Christians to forsee illicit things about the future and not knowing his own life arrange what is going to happen. If someone has already thought upon such wicked things with whomever, he shall know that it is allowed by the priestly moderation that he may be pardoned if he confesses that without delay to the ears of the king. If, however, resolved in his purpose, he does not want to reveal his machinations, he shall be punished with the worst anathema. And after the death of a king no one must seize the kingdom by tyrannical audacity. Also, no one who has been tonsured to lead the monastic life or has been unsightly decalvated or is of servile or foreign origin can succeed to the royal crown. Only a Goth and a man of good morals can become a king. Every violator of these most saintly precepts will be struck with perpetual anathema.
(trans. M. Szada)


The canon makes allusion to Canon 4 of the Fifth Council of Toledo that forbids foretelling who the future king will be.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Gaul
  • Toledo

About the source:

Title: Sixth Council of Toledo (638), VI Council of Toledo, VI Concilium Toletanum, Concilium VI Toletanum, Concilium Toletanum sextum a. 638
Origin: Toledo (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
It was another council (after the Fifth Council of Toledo) summoned by King Chintila (ruled 636-639). Fifty-three bishops attended.
G. Martínez Díez, F. Rodríguez eds., La colección canónica Hispana, Monumenta Hispaniae sacra. Serie canónica 5, Madrid 1992.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Clericus
      Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
        Ritual activity - Divination
          Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER500,