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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Euric, King of Toulouse
Euric (1) ( Evarich, Evorich, Euthorik, Evarix ), king of the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse from 466 to 484, and from 477 onwards master of almost the whole of Spain. Under him the Visigoth power reached its highest point. In the reign of his successor it was curtailed by the Franks, while in that of his father, Theodoric or Theodored I. (d . 451) and his brothers, Thorismund and Theodoric II., the country occupied by the Goths had still been reckoned as an integral part of the empire ("auxiliamini reipublicae," says Aetius to the Goths before the battle of Chalons, "cujus membrum tenetis," Jord. c. 36), while the Gothic state had found it necessary to submit again and again to the foedus with Rome. "Euric, therefore, king of the Visigoths," says Jord. c. 45, "seeing the frequent changes of the Roman princes" (and the weakness of the Roman kingdom, "Romani regni vacillationem," as he says in c. 46), "attempted to occupy the Gauls in his own right, suo jure ." And again, "Totas Hispanias Galliasque sibi jam proprio jure tenens." Thus the pretence of the foedus was finally set aside, and in the interval between the fall of the western empire and the rise of the Ostrogoths and Franks, Euric appears as the most powerful sovereign of the West (Dahn, v. 100). In 466, the year of his accession, Euric sent legates to the Eastern emperor Leo, perhaps with a last thought of renewing the foedus. The negotiations came to nothing, and in 467 the Goths and Vandals made a defensive league against Leo, Anthemius, and Rikimir, who were about to attack Genseric. Beside his Vandalic auxiliaries in Gaul, Euric also had the support of a certain party among the provincials themselves, as is shewn by the evidence given at the trial of Arvandus, prefect of the Gauls, for treasonable correspondence with the Goths (Sidon. Apoll. i. 7), and in 468 he attacked the newly made Western emperor Anthemius simultaneously in Gaul and Spain, with the result that by 474 the Gothic dominion in Gaul would have extended from the Atlantic to the Rhone and Mediterranean, and from the Pyrenees to the Loire, but for one obstacleâ€”the vigorous defence of Auvergne by Ecdicius, son of the emperor Avitus, and the famous bp. of Clermont, Sidonius Apollinaris (Sid. Apoll. vii. 1). The history of this dramatic struggle, preserved in the letters of Sidonius, throws valuable light on the politics of the 5th cent. It is the last desperate effort of the provincial nobility to avoid barbarian masters, and it is a fight, too, of Catholicism against Arianism. But it was unsuccessful. After besieging Clermont in 474, Euric withdrew into winter quarters, while Sidonius and Ecdicius, in the midst of devastated country, organized fresh resistance. But with the spring diplomacy intervened. Glycerius, fearful for Italy, and hoping to purchase a renewal of the foedus, had in 473 formally ceded the country to Euric, a compact rejected by Ecdicius and Sidonius; and now Nepos, for the same reasons, sent legates to Euric, amongst them the famous Epiphanius of Pavia (Ennod. Vita S. Epiph. AA. SS. Jan. ii. p. 369), to treat for peace. Euric persisted in the demand for Auvergne, and accordingly, in return for a renewal of the foedus ("fidelibus animis foederabuntur," Sid. Apoll. ix. 5), Ecdicius and Sidonius were ordered to submit, and the district was given over to the revenge of the Goths. Ecdicius fled to the Burgundians, while Sidonius (see Ep. vii. 7, for his invectives against the peaceâ€”"Pudeat vos hujus foederis, nec utilis nec decori!"), having vainly attempted to make favourable terms for the Catholics with Euric, was banished to Livia, near Narbonne (Sid. Apoll. viii. 3). By the influence of Euric's minister, Leo, he was released after a year's imprisonment, and appeared at the Gothic court at Bordeaux, where, during a stay of two months, he succeeded in obtaining only one audience of the king, so great was the crowd of ambassadors, and the pressure of important business awaiting the decision of Euric and his minister. In Epp. viii. 9, Sidonius has left us a brilliant picture of the Gothic king, surrounded by barbarian envoys, Roman legates, and even Persian ambassadors. The Gothic territory in Gaul was now bounded by the Loire, the Rhone, and the two seas, while in Spain a great many towns were already held by Gothic garrisons. Euric's troops easily overran the whole country at their next great advance. In 475 came the fall of Nepos and Augustulus, and the suspension of the empire of the West. The news aroused all the barbarian races in Gaul and Spain. Euric, with an Ostrogothic reinforcement under Widimer, crossed the Pyrenees in 477, took Pampelona and Saragossa, and annihilated the resistance of the Roman nobility in Tarraconensis. By 478 the whole peninsula had fallen to the Goths, except a mountainous strip in the N.W., relinquished probably by treaty to the Suevi. By this complete conquest of the peninsula, "a place of refuge was provided for the Goths . . . destined in the following generation to fall back before the young and all-subduing power of the Franks, called to a greater work than they" (Dahn, KÃ¶nige der Germanen , v. 98). Fresh successes in Gaul followed close upon the Spanish campaign. Arles was taken, 480, Marseilles, 481, and ultimately the whole of Provence up to the Maritime Alps (Proc. b. G. i. 1, quoted by Dahn, l.c. ), and the exiled Nepos, indeed, seems to have formally surrendered almost the whole of southern Roman Gaul to Euric. Euric was now sovereign from the Loire to the Straits of Gibraltar, and appears as the protector of the neighbouring barbarian races against the encroaching Franks (Cass. Var. iii. 3), taking the same position towards them as Theodoric the Great took later in the reign of Euric's son Alaric, Theodoric's son-in-law. Euric survived the accession of Chlodwig (Clovis) three years, dying before Sept. 485.
Euric's Personal Character, and his Persecutions of the Catholics. â€”His commanding gifts and personality cannot be doubted. Even his bitterest enemy, Sidonius, speaks of his courage and capacity with unwilling admiration. "Pre-eminent in war, of fiery courage and vigorous youth," says Sidonius ("armis potens, acer animis, alacer annis," Ep. vii. 6), "he makes but one mistakeâ€”that of supposing that his successes are due to the correctness of his religion, when he owes them rather to a stroke of earthly good fortune." Euric was much interested in religious matters and a passionate Arian, not merely apparently from political motives, though his persecution of the Catholic bishops was dictated by sufficient political reasons. The letter of Sidonius quoted above throws great light upon Euric's relation to the Catholic church, and upon the state of the church under his government. "It must be confessed," he says, "that although this king of the Goths is terrible because of his power, I fear his attacks upon the Christian laws more than I dread his blows for the Roman walls. The mere name of Catholic, they say, curdles his countenance and heart like vinegar, so that you might almost doubt whether he was more the king of his people or of his sect. Lose no time," he adds, addressing his correspondent Basilius, bp. of Aix, "in ascertaining the hidden weakness of the Catholic state, that you may be able to apply prompt and public remedy. Bordeaux, PÃ©rigueux, Rodez, Limoges, Gabale, Eause, Bazas, Comminges, Auch, and many other towns, where death has cut off the bishops ["summis sacerdotibus ipsorum morte truncatis," a passage misunderstood later by Gregory of Tours, who speaks of the execution of bishops, Hist. Franc. ii. 25], and no new bishops have been appointed in their places . . . mark the wide boundary of spiritual ruin. The evil grows every day with the successive deaths of the bishops, and the heretics, both of the present and the past, might be moved by the suffering of congregations deprived of their bishops, and in despair for their lost faith." The churches were crumbling; thorns filled the open doorways; cattle browsed in the porches and on the grass round the altar. Even in town churches services were rare, and "when a priest dies, and no episcopal benediction gives him a successor in that church, not only the priest but the priest's office dies" ("sacerdotium moritur, non sacerdos"). Not only are vacancies caused by death: two bishops, Crocus and Simplicius, are mentioned as deposed and exiled by Euric. Finally, Sidonius implores the aid of Basilius, the position of whose bishopric made him diplomatically important ("per vos mala foederum currunt, per vos regni utriusque pacta conditionesque portantur") towards obtaining for the Catholics from the Gothic government the right of ordaining bishops, that "so we may keep our hold upon the people of the Gauls, if not ex foedere , at least ex fide ."
Gregory of Tours in the next cent. echoed and exaggerated the account of Sidonius, and all succeeding Catholic writers have accused Euric of the same intolerant persecution of the church. The persecution must be looked upon, to a great extent, as political. The Catholic bishops and the provincial nobility were the natural leaders of the Romanized populations. The ecclesiastical organization made the bishops specially formidable (see Dahn's remarks on the Vandal king Huneric's persecutions, op. cit. i. 250). Their opposition threatened the work of Euric's life, and did, in fact, with the aid of the orthodox Franks, destroy it in the reign of his successor. But the persecution has a special interest as one of the earliest instances of that oppression in the name of religion, of which the later history of the Goths in conquered Spain is everywhere full (Dahn, v. 101). Euric, however, did not oppress the Romans as such. His minister Leo (Sid. Apoll. viii. 3), and count Victorius, to whom was entrusted the government of Auvergne after its surrender ( ib. vii. 17; Greg. Tur. ii. 35), were of illustrious Roman families. It was probably by Leo's help that Euric drew up the code of laws of which Isidore and others speak ( Hist. Goth. apud Esp. Sagr. vi. 486); Dahn, KÃ¶nige der Germanen, Vte Abth. pp. 88-101, see list of sources and literature prefixed. For the ultra-Catholic view of the persecution, see Gams's Kirchengesch. von Spanien , ii. 1, 484.
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Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Euric, King of Toulouse'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hwd/e/euric-king-of-toulouse.html. 1911.
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