Info

impact of the Germanic invasions and the subsequent eclipse of Roman rule in that century are difficult to assess.99 We cannot suggest a picture of general decline and overlook indications of numerical and geographical expansion of Christianity in some regions. On the other hand, the life of many churches was severely interrupted, especially in northern Gaul. Whether incomplete episcopal lists testify to real vacancies is, however, unclear. Pursuing the establishment of an autonomous kingdom, the Visigothic king Euric (regn. 466-84) prevented the Catholic churches from filling vacant sees. Sidonius Apollinaris, bishop of Clermont, complains in a letter written in 475 to Bishop Basilius of Aix that, among others, the sees of Bordeaux, Perigueux, Limoges and Auch remained vacant. According to Sidonius, Euric threatened the very survival of Christianity. Sidonius himself was (briefly) exiled, as was another theologian from southern Gaul, Faustus of Riez.100 Euric's successor, Alaric II (regn. 484507), adopted a different religious policy, envisaging peaceful co-existence between the Nicene Church (particularly the senatorial aristocracy) and the Homoian Church of their Visigothic lords - precisely the arrangement that Ambrose had rejected in Milan. In 506, Alaric II issued the so-called 'Breviary of Alaric', a codification of Roman law. Much of the Roman church legislation from Codex Theodosianus 16 was adopted, except of course for laws outlawing Homoian heresy. Alaric II thus attempted to integrate Roman Nicene Christianity into his kingdom.101

The co-ordination of local Gallic churches led to conflict in the fifth century, in conjunction with late ancient power politics. Only the consolidation of new centres of political power in the sixth century, particularly Merovingian rule in Gaul and Visigothic rule in Spain, allowed for the consolidation of church organisation on a similar scale. Synods and councils were important in defining ecclesiastical structures and norms. In the fifth and early sixth centuries, metropolitan bishops (particularly the bishop of Arles) intermittently convened them; subsequently, Merovingian and Visigothic kings increasingly used synods to integrate their kingdoms' churches. The most serious controversy to arise in this process concerned the primacy of Arles.102 The city's importance was in the first instance political. In the late fourth century, the praetorian prefecture of Gaul moved from Trier to Arles. When in 406/7 the Vandals, Alans and Sueves invaded Roman Gaul, many members ofthe Roman

100 Sidonius Apollinaris, Letter 7.6 (ed. Loyen, iii: 42-6).

101 For an analysis of Visigothic religious policy see K. Schaferdiek, DieKirche, 27-31, 42-55;

H. Wolfram, History of the Goths, 197-202.

102 See G. Langgartner, Die Gallienpolitik.

0 0

Post a comment