SISEBUT °, Visigoth king of Spain (612–621). He succeeded King Gundamar, and within three years his forces put down a revolt in Asturias and defeated the Byzantines twice. Better known, however, for his literary talent and personal piety, Sisebut was a likely continuator of anti-Jewish religious policies of *Reccared which had been abandoned by the latter's successors. Soon after ascending the throne, Sisebut ordered the Jews of his kingdom either to convert to Christianity or leave Spain. He further decreed that Jews who converted Christians to Judaism were to be executed and their property was to go to the royal treasury. In addition, Christian slaves owned by Jews were either to be sold to Christians or set free. Sisebut's policy of forced conversion found little support and was condemned at the time by Spain's foremost theologian, *Isidore, bishop of Seville. The king's general anti-Jewish religious policies were not popular in the realm, and his successor, Suinthila, reversed them, permitting Jews who had accepted baptism under duress to return to Judaism without penalty and encouraging those who had fled from Spain to return. The legislation forbidding Jews to own Christian slaves remained largely unenforced.
S. Katz, Jews in the Visigothic and Frankish Kingdoms of Spain and Gaul (1937), index; B. Blumenkranz, Juifs et Chrétiens dans le monde occidental, 430–1096 (1960), index; E.A. Thompson, The Goths in Spain (1969).