Alaric II

Alaric II

Alaric II, d. 507, Visigothic king of Spain and of S Gaul (c.484-507), son and successor of Euric. He issued (506) at Toulouse the Breviary of Alaric for his Roman subjects. Alaric's adherence to Arianism gave Clovis I, king of the Franks, an easy pretext for attacking him in the name of orthodoxy. Alaric was defeated and slain at Vouillé (507), and the Visigoths lost all their possessions in Gaul except Septimania.

Alaric II, also known as Alarik, Alarich, and Alarico in Spanish and Portuguese or Alaricus in Latin (d. 507) succeeded his father Euric in 485 and became eighth king of the Visigoths. His dominions included not only the whole of Hispania except its north-western corner but also Gallia Aquitania and the greater part of an as-yet undivided Gallia Narbonensis.

Reign

In 486 Alaric II denied refuge to Afranius Syagrius, the former ruler of the Domain of Soissons who was defeated by Clovis I. Alarmed by a summons from Clovis, Alaric imprisoned and repatriated Syagrius back to Clovis I, where he was decapitated.

In 506, the Visigoths captured the city of Dertosa in the Ebro valley. There they captured the Roman usurper Peter and had him executed.

In religion Alaric was an Arian, like all the early Visigothic nobles, but he greatly mitigated the persecuting policy of his father Euric toward the Catholics and authorized them to hold in 506 the council of Agde. He was on uneasy terms with the Catholic bishops of Arles as epitomized in the career of the Frankish Caesarius, bishop of Arles, born at Châlons and appointed bishop in 503. Caesarius was suspected of conspiring with the Burgundians to turn over the Arelate to Burgundy, whose king had married the sister of Clovis, so Alaric exiled him for a year safely at Bordeaux in Aquitania before allowing him to return unharmed when the crisis had passed (Wace, Dictionary).

He displayed similar wisdom and liberality in political affairs by appointing a commission to prepare an abstract of the Roman laws and imperial decrees, which should form the authoritative code for his Roman subjects. This is generally known as the Breviarium Alaricianum or Breviary of Alaric.

Battle of Vouillé and aftermath

Alaric endeavoured strictly to maintain the treaty which his father had concluded with the Franks. The Frankish king Clovis I, however, desired to obtain the Gothic province in Gaul and he found a pretext for war in the Arianism of Alaric. The intervention of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths and father-in-law of Alaric, proved unavailing. The two armies met in 507 at the Battle of Vouillé, near Poitiers, where the Goths were defeated and their king, who took to flight, was overtaken and slain, it is said, by Clovis himself. As a consequence of their defeat the Visigoths lost all their possessions in Gaul to the Franks, except Septimania (i.e. the western region of Gallia Narbonensis, which includes the contemporary Arles and the Provence). Alaric was succeeded by his illegitimate son, Gesalec, because his legitimate son Amalaric was still a child.

References

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