Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 551
The law issued by King Wamba in AD 673 imposes punishments on clerics and laymen who avoid taking part in the defence of the country. The codification known as the Lex Visigothorum (created in a few redactions between AD 569 and 702).
Quid debeat observari, si scandalum infra fines Spanie exsurrexerit.
The first section of the law concerns the obligations of the clerics and public officers to protect the country in case of hostile attack. It imposes punishments on those who refuse to do so. See [545].
[...] Nam et si quilibet infra fines Spanie, Gallie, Gallecie vel in cunctis provinciis, que ad ditionem nostri regiminis pertinent, scandalum in quacumque parte contra gentem vel patriam nostrumque regnum vel etiam successorum nostrorum moverit aut movere voluerit, dum hoc in vicinis loci ipsius partibus iuxta numerum miliorum suprascriptum nuntiatum extiterit, aut etiam specialiter quisquis ille a sacerdotibus, clericis, ducibus, comitibus, thiufadis, vicariis vel quibuslibet personis iuxta ordinem suprascriptum admonitus fuerit, vel ad suam cognitionem quoquo modo pervenerit, et statim ad vindicationem aut regis aut gentis et patrie vel fidelium presentis regis, contra quem ipsum scandalum excitatum extiterit, non citata devotione occurrerit et prestitum se in eorum adiutorio ad destruendum exortum scandalum non exhibuerit: si episcopus vel quilibet ex clero fuerit aut fortasse ex officio palatino, in quocumque sit ordine constitutus vel quelibet persona fuerit dignitatis, aut fortasse inferior huius infidelitatis inplicatus scelere, non solum exilio religetur, sed de eorum facultatibus quidquid censura regalis exinde facere vel iudicare voluerit, arbitrii illius et potestatis per omnia subiacebit. Illos tantum a superioribus capitulis lex ista indemnes efficiet, qui ita ab infirmitate fuerint pregravati, ut progredi vel proficisci in consortio fidelium secundum superiorem ordinem minime possint; qui vero , et si ipsi morbis quibuslibet fuerint prepediti, omnem tamen suam virtutem in adiutorio episcoporum vel clericorum adque fratrum suorum sinceriter pro utilitate regie potestatis, gentis et patrie fideliter laborantium dirigebunt. Quod si hoc non fecerint, superiori sententia pariter cum transgressoribus feriantur. Persona autem illa tunc erit a suprascripta damnatione innoxia , dum per idoneum testem convicerit, ita se esse pre egritudine inpossibilem, ut nullum habuisset in tempore prestandi vel proficiscendi vigorem; ut vitium , quod ex preteritis temporibus male usque hactenus inoleverat, et severa legis huius censura redarguat, et concors adque unanimis adsensio quietem plebium et patrie defensionem adquirat.
Data et confirmata lex die kalendarum Novembrium anno feliciter secundo regni nostri.
(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
The first section of the law concerns the obligations of the clerics and public officers to protect the country in case of hostile attack. It imposes punishments on those who refuse to do so. See [545].
If someone launches or wants to launch a rebellion in whatever place within the borders of Spain, Gaul or Galicia, in the provinces that are under our authority, against the nation or the country, against our rule or the rule of our successors, and if it is learnt in the neighbouring places within the above-mentioned radius [100 miles, see [545]], or if someone is specifically informed about the events by priests, clerics, duces, comites, thiufadi, vicarii or any other persons of these orders, or it comes to his knowledge in any other way, and he does not come with quick fervour to protect the king, or the nation and the country, or the people faithful to the present king against whom this rebellion has been launched, and does not present himself ready to help in destroying the revolt: if he is a bishop or cleric, or he has an office in the court of whatever position or whatever is his dignity, or if he is a person of minor position but involved in the crime of this infidelity, he shall be punished not only with exile, but the royal judgement will decide what to do with his property, because it will be submitted fully to the decision and power of the king. The above-mentioned statutes do not apply to those who were so pressed by illness that they could not set out in company of the faithful according to the present order. But even they, being ill themselves, shall send their reinforcements to support bishops, clerics, and his other brothers sincerely fighting for the welfare of the royal power, the nation, and the country. But if they do not do that, they shall suffer the same punishment as the transgressors. Such person will be free from this punishment only if he proves by a reliable witness that he was so ill that he had not any strength to set out in the time of the revolt. Let the severe statement of this law eradicate the vice that has been growing wickedly in the past, and let concord and unanimity provide the rest for the people and defence for the kingdom.
The law given and confirmed on the Kalends of November of the second year of our reign [= 1 November 673].
(trans. by M. Szada)


This law was issued by King Wamba in November 673, only a year after his accession to the throne. Wamba's election was followed by the conspiracy of the count Ilderic of Nimes, Bishop Gumild of Maguelonne and Abbot Ranimir in the province of Narbo. They probably wanted to transfer their allegiance to the Frankish kings. At the same time the Ebro valley was troubled by raids by Basques. In 673 Wamba sent the count Paul to suppress the revolt in Nimes, but he revolted against Wamba and decided to become king himself (he was unctioned in Barcelona). He managed to recruit followers in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula, but Wamba, having suppressed the Basques, defeated him and regained Gerona, Barcelona, and Narbonne. Paul was humiliated and decalvated in Toledo, then sent into exile. These events are primarily known from the Historia Wambae of Julian of Toledo (Collins 2004: 92-95).
A thiufadus was a military official and judge. In the hierarchy he was below a comes and a vicarius. According to Wiener (1915: 31-32) the name derived from the Latin devotus, the honorific title of the executive officer of the king. A gardingus probably did not belong to the military or judicial hierarchy. It seems that gardingi were persons close to the king, and, as the etymology suggests, they may have served 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: 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.
Leges Visigothorum in: Bibliotheca legum regni Francorum manuscripta,  Karl Ubl (Ed.) assisted by Dominik Trump and Daniela Schulz, Cologne 2012. URL:


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Clericus
      Public functions and offices after ordination - Military activity
        Public law - Secular
          Economic status and activity - Ownership or possession of land
            Economic status and activity - Indication of wealth
              Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
                Relation with - Noble
                  Administration of justice - Secular
                    Administration of justice - Exile
                      Administration of justice - Financial punishment
                        Conflict - Violence
                          Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER551,