Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 545
The law issued by king Wamba in AD 673 imposes punishments on the clerics who avoid participation in protecting the country during the hostile raids. The codification known as the Lex Visigothorum (issued and re-edited several times between 569 and 702).
Quid debeat observari, si scandalum infra fines Spanie exsurrexerit.
[...] Nam quotiescumque aliqua infestatio inimicorum in provincias regni nostri se ingerit, dum nostris hominibus, qui in confinio externis gentibus adiunguntur, hostilis surgit bellandi necessitas, ita quidam facillima se occasione dispergunt, modo transductione loci, modo livore odii, modo etiam inpossibilitatis dissimulatione subnixi, ut in eo preliandi certamine unus alteri fraterna solacia non inpendat, et sub hac occasione aut qui prestare debuit publicis utilitatibus, fratrum destitutus adiutorio, retrahatur, aut si adgredi pro gentis et patrie utilitatibus audacter voluerit, casu inminentis periculi ab adversariis perimatur. Adeo presenti sanctione decernimus, ut a die legis huius prenotato vel tempore, si quelibet inimicorum adversitas contra partem nostram commota extiterit, seu sit episcopus sive etiam in quocumque ecclesiastico ordine constitutus, seu sit dux aut comes, thiufadus aut vicarius, gardingus vel quelibet persona, qui aut ex ipso sit commissu, ubi adversitas ipsa occurrerit, aut ex alter, qui in vicinitate adiungitur, vel quicumque in easdem provincias vel territoria
superveniens infra centum milia positus, statim ubi necessitas emerserit, mox a duce suo seu comite, thiufado vel vicario aut a quolibet fuerit admonitus, vel quocumque modo ad suam cognitionem pervenerit, et ad defensionem gentis vel patrie nostre prestus cum omni virtute sua, qua valuerit, non fuerit et quibuslibet subtilitatibus vel requisitis occasionibus alibi se transferre vel excusare voluerit, ut in adiutorio fratrum suorum promptus adque alacer pro vindicatione patrie non existat, et superveniens adversariorum hostilitas aliquid damni vel captivitatis in populos vel provincias regni nostri amodo intulerint, quisquis tardus seu formidulosus vel qualibet malitia, timore vel tepiditate succinctus extiterit, et ad prestitum vel vindicationem gentis et patrie exire vel intendere contra inimicos nostre gentis tota virium intentione distulerit: si quisquam ex sacerdotibus vel clericis fuerit et non habuerit, unde damna rerum terre nostre ab inimicis inlata de propriis rebus satisfaciat, iuxta electionem principis districtiori mancipetur exilio. Hec sola sententia in episcopis, presbiteris et diaconibus observanda est. In clericis vero non habentibus honorem iuxta subteriorem de laicis ordinem constitutum omnis sententia adinplenda est. [...]
Here follow the precepts concerning only laymen or laymen and lower clerics. Then follows the section of the law concerning high treason (see [551]).
(ed. Zeumer 1902: 370-373)
In the name of the Lord the glorious king Flavius Wamba
What shall be observed if there is a war in Spain
[...] Whenever any disturbance is brought into the provinces of our kingdom by enemies and the enemy forces our people who live near the foreign nations in the border areas to fight, some men disperse themselves under any pretext, or by a transfer to another place, or through the malice of hatred, or feigning that it is impossible to provide auxiliaries. In consequence, in this fight the one cannot count on the brotherly help of the other. In these circumstances he who should serve for the public benefit withdraws, because he is devoid of the assistance of his brothers. And if someone wants to attack bravely [the enemies] for the sake of the people and the country, he falls into imminent danger and is killed by the enemy. Therefore we decree with this law the following from the day of its issuance. If there is any hostile attack against our land, a bishop or anyone of the ecclesiastical order, or a dux or comes, or thiufadus, or vicarius, gardingus or other person who is in the district (commissum) in which this attack has taken place, or in the neighbouring one, or whoever is travelling through these provinces and territories and is nearer [to the attacked place] than one hundred miles, and as soon as the neccesity arises is informed about it by his dux, or comes, or thiufadus, or vicarius, or learns about it in any other way, and does not come to defend the people and the country with all his strength, and wants to excuse himself and transfer himself somewhere else by some subtleties and fantastical pretexts in order not to be ready and eager to help his brothers and to protect the country, and if the hostile attack of the enemy inflicts damage on our kingdom or people are taken into captivity, and he is sluggish, full of fear, or succumbs to any malice, terror or trepidation, and [because of that] he does not come to help and protect the people and the country, and does not fight with all his strength with the enemies of our people: such a man if he is a priest or cleric and does not have his own property with which he could satisfy the damages of the property of our territories incurred by the enemies, shall be punished with exile according to the order of the king. But this penalty shall be observed only in case of bishops, presbyters and deacons. In the case of clerics who do not have an office the sentence below referring to the lay people shall be applied.
Here follow the precepts concerning only laymen or laymen and lower clerics. Then follows the section of the law concerning high treason (see [551]).
(trans. by M. Szada)


The law was issued by king Wamba in November 673 AD, only a year after his accesion to the throne. Wamba's election was followed by the conspiracy of count Ilderic of Nimes (Gaul), Bishop Gumild of Maguelonne (Gaul) and abbot Ranimir in the province of Narbo. Probably they wanted to transfer their allegiance to the Frankish kings. In the same time the Ebro valley was troubled by the raids of Basques. In 673 AD Wamba sent count Paul to suppress the revolt in Nimes, but the count revolted against Wamba and decided to become the king himself (he was anointed in Barcelona (Iberian Peninsula)). Paul managed to recruit the followers in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula, but Wamba suppressed Basques, defeated him, and regained Gerona (Iberian Peninsula), Barcelona and Narbonne (Gaul). Paul was humilitated and decalvated in Toledo, then sent into exile. These events are primarly known from the Historia Wambae of Julian of Toledo (Collins 2004: 92-95).
Thiufadus was a military official and a judge. In hierarchy he rates after comes and vicarius. According to Wiener (1915: 31-32) the name derived from the Latin devotus, the honorific title of the executive officer of the king. Gardingus was probably not a part of military and judicial hierarchy. It seems that gardingi were persons near to the king, and, as ethymology suggests, they might serve as royal guards (Wiener 1915: 64-65).

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula

About the source:

Title: Lex Visigothorum, Liber iudiciorum, Liber iudiciorum sive Lex Visigothorum
Origin: Toledo (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Lex Visigothorum is a codification of law first composed during the reign of King Leovigild (569-586) on the basis of the Code of Euric, but the origin of all extant manuscripts is its revised version from the reign of King Recceswinth (649-672). The codification was also enlarged in the times of King Ervig (680-687) and Ecgica (687-702).
K. Zeumer ed., Liber iudiciorum sive lex Visigothorum, Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Leges nationum Germanicarum 1, Hannover, Leipzig 1902, 33-456.
The Visigothic Code (Forum Judicum), trans. S.P. Scott, Boston 1910
R. Collins, Visigothic Spain, 409-711, Oxford, OX, UK; Malden, MA, USA 2004.
L. Wiener, Commentary to the Germanic laws and mediaeval documents, Cambridge, Mass. 1915.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Clericus
      Public law - Secular
        Economic status and activity - Indication of poverty
            Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
              Administration of justice - Secular
                Administration of justice - Exile
                  Economic status and activity
                    Administration of justice - Financial punishment
                      Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER545,