Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 635
The law issued by King Ervig (AD 680-687) orders Jews travelling from other countries to present themselves to a bishop, a priest, or a judge, and prove to them that they do not practise the Jewish religion; only then they can obtain travel permits. The codification is known as the Lex Visigothorum (issued and revised several times between 569 and 702).
Ut Iudeus, ex aliis provinciis vel territoriis ad regni nostri ditionem pertinentibus veniens, episcopo loci vel sacerdoti se presentare non differat; vel quicquid huic in toto observare conveniat.
Si quis Iudeorum de alia civitate vel provincia nostre glorie oriundus quolibet loco successerit, episcopo vel sacerdoti sive iudici loci ipsius se ilico presentare debebit; nec a sacerdote illo tamdiu est recessurus, quamdiu sabbata ritusque ceteros atque festivitates, que illis e vicino possunt occurrere, incontaminati videantur sacerdotali testimonio transegisse nec, dum variis huc illucque per loca cursibus promoventur, erroris sui repperiant in quocumque latibulum. In ipsis tamen diebus, in quibus eos quolibet loco remorari contigerit, conversationem cum christianis probatissimis habituri sunt, qualiter cum illis et cibos sumere et participationem communionis Christiane videantur habere. Concursum tamen in ipsis diebus, quos ritus sui more uti soliti sunt, ad ecclesiam, ad episcopos vel sacerdotes habebunt, qualiter eorum semper salutaribus monitis instruantur. Quod si forte placitorum innodatione se esse asserant inligatos vel cuiuslibet inevitabilis necessitudinis causa constrictos, quo illos non liceat diutine inmorari, tunc coram sacerdote loci ipsius, ad quem accesserant, relaxati placiti sui cautione promittant, ubi occurrentes per viam festivitates vel sabbata ritus sui sine testimonio sacerdotali non transeant. Ipse quoque sacerdos loci epistulas manu sua subscriptas eisdem sacerdotibus, per quos se Iudeus quisquis ille transiturum dixerit , destinabit , ut evacuata omni fraudis suspicione tam stantes quam properantes eos districtio religiosa coerceat. Si quem autem eorum aliter egisse contigerit, tunc episcopo loci ipsius vel sacerdoti una cum iudice potestas tribuitur centenis eos verberare flagellis. Nec aliter eos ad propria redire permittimus, nisi cum epistulis episcoporum vel sacerdotum, in quorum territoriis visi fuerint accessisse. In quibus tamen epistulis sollicite dierum summa notabitur; id est, et quo die ad episcopum ipsius civitatis accesserint, et in quot diebus apud ipsum eos remorari contigerit, vel quo die de eo ad propria reversuri exierint.
(ed. Zeumer 1902: 449)
That a Jew who comes from another country into any of the provinces of our kingdom must at once present himself before a bishop, a priest, or a judge,  and what shall be done under the circumstances.
If a Jew from another city or province came to any place of our glory [i.e. to our kingdom], he shall present himself to a bishop, priest, or judge of that place. He shall not leave the priest until it becomes apparent from the testimony of ecclesiastical witnesses that: he has abandoned the observance of the Sabbath and the practice of the rites and ceremonies usually observed by members of his sect; and that he did not make use of any of the same while wandering hither and thither nor sought a hiding-place anywhere in which to observe said rites; and that, while at home, he is known to have conferred with Christians of approved faith, partaken of food with them, and participated in the Christian communion; and that, upon such days as his ceremonies were accustomed to be practised, he resorted to the church to received the salutary instructions of the bishops and the priests; and if said Jew asserts that he cannot remain for any length of time, on account of inevitable necessity, or press of business; then a confession of faith, to be signed by him, shall be drawn up by the local priest, and the said Jew shall promise therein that, whenever, upon his journey, he finds any of his sect observing their rites or festivities, he will avoid them. And the said priest shall draw up a letter written with his own hand and directed to those priests in whose jurisdiction said Jew represents that he is about to travel, in order that, all suspicion of fraud being removed, said Jew whether traveling, or remaining in one locality, may not be subjected to religious restraint and discipline. If any Jew should violate this law, authority is given to any bishop or priest of the diocese, as well as to any judge, to punish him with a hundred lashes; nor shall he be permitted to return to his home, unless he is furnished with letters from the bishop or priest of the diocese in which he was unlawfully found. In said letters the number of days shall be especially noted; that is, dating from the time when said Jew made application to the aforesaid bishop, as well as those included in his absence until the day of his return.
(trans. P.S.Scott 1910: 403-404; adapted by M. Szada)


This is one of thirty four laws that are the original contribution of king Ervig to the codification revised during his reign. Twenty eigth of this laws concerned Jews (Collins 2004: 236).

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 basis of all extant manuscripts is its revised version from the reign of King Reccesvinth (649-672). The codification was also enlarged in the times of Kings 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 2004.
J. Juster, "The Legal Condition of the Jews Under the Visigothic Kings Part I", Israel Law Review 11 (1976), 259-287.
J. Juster, "The Legal Condition of the Jews Under the Visigothic Kings Part II", Israel Law Review 11 (1976), 391-414.
J. Juster, "The Legal Condition of the Jews Under the Visigothic Kings Part III", Israel Law Review 11 (1976), 563-590.
K. Schäferdiek, Die Kirche in den Reichen der Westgoten und Suewen bis zur Errichtung der westgotischen katholischen Staatskirche, Berlin 1967.


Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
    Public law - Secular
      Relation with - Jew
        Writing activity
          Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
            Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER635,