Toledo, Councils of
TOLEDO, COUNCILS OF
Eighteen national councils were celebrated in Spain between 400 and 702 that are collectively called the Councils of Toledo. Although local and peculiar to Spain, they were designated as general or universal councils; and as Perez de Urbel has indicated, several were purely provincial synods. Toledo III (589) specified that provincial synods be held every year, but there is no record that this rule was carried out with regularity. The acta of the last council in 702 have not been preserved.
Unique in their composition, these Visigothic councils were fundamentally an assembly of the bishops for ecclesiastical legislative purposes, but they dealt also with political and civil matters of the kingdom, and the later ones were attended by the princes and functioned as supreme tribunal for civil and juridical as well as ecclesiastical and liturgical affairs.
Councils I to III. At Toledo I (c. 400), 18 bishops under the presidency of Patronus (Patruinus), Archbishop of Toledo, considered the scandalous diversity of opinion among the bishops on the subject of ordinations in the light of the regulations of the Council of nicaea. Several canons (1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 16, 19) concerned the evolution of the concept of celibacy and chastity in the Church. The order of penitence is an obstacle to entering the clergy (c.2). Those who have fought in war are excluded from major orders (c.8). Marriage with a woman of inferior condition (concubinage) is only forbidden to the Christian already married (c.17). The council condemned priscillianism and concluded its deliberations with 18 anathemas. It made decisions relative to the reconciliation of bishops, priests, or clerics guilty of Priscillianism.
Toledo II (c. 527 or 531), under the Metropolitan Montanus, brought together an unknown number of bishops, probably five from the province and one from outside it. The question of the number of bishops present is complicated by the fact that the absent ones later signed the acts of the council. The first three canons concern the education of clerics, their fidelity to their bishops, and the obligation of celibacy. Canon 4 assures clerics of the lifetime tenure of the land and crops that they cultivated. The last forbids consanguinous marriage. Two letters of Bishop Montanus relative to the consecration of Holy Oil as reserved to the bishop are annexed to the acts of the council.
Toledo III (589) was preceded by two other synodal assemblies. In 582 the Arian King Leovigild had convoked a council of Arian bishops, which decreed that
Catholics becoming Arians need not be rebaptized and made use of the formula "Glory to the Father by the Son, in the Holy Spirit." Evidence of this Arian synod was given by various members reconciled with the Church at Toledo III. In 587, likewise, the Arian King Reccared arranged a conference between Catholic and Arian bishops at Toledo, evidently in preparation for Toledo III. Here the Catholics stressed the nature of saintliness, of which miracles are the proof, but this evidence proved unacceptable to the Arians. However, Reccared himself was converted and received into the Church by his uncle St. leander of seville. This made Toledo III of great importance in the religious and political life of Spain, for the King's conversion occasioned the reconciliation of a number of Arian bishops. A detailed verbal account of the council indicates that the King read a profession of faith including the procession of the Holy Spirit a patre filioque. He exhorted the people to convert with him and reminded the bishops of their duty to instruct the people. He anathematized Arius; recognized the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon; and recognized the professions of faith of Nicaea, Constantinople I, and Chalcedon. The bishops drew up 23 anathemas and 22 disciplinary canons. A 23d anathema was added by the Arian bishops as a collective subscript. The King proposed the usage of recitation of the symbol or creed to affirm orthodox faith (c.2). The remainder of the canons concerned mainly temporal administration, the lives and celibacy of clerics, the profession of chastity of widows or virgins, and dispositions relative to Jews. The council invited the clergy and civil magistrates to unite in abolishing certain abuses and accused some bishops of cruel treatment of clerics. It eliminated certain funeral practices and forbade improper dances and songs on feast days. Canon 18 prescribed an annual provincial council.
Councils IV to VI. Toledo IV (633), preceded by a synod in 597 and a provincial council in 610, was convoked by Sisenand, successor of Suintila, under (St.) isi dore of seville with 62 bishops of Spain and the area of Gaul Narbonensis. Seventy-five canons were promulgated, along with 75 disciplinary chapters that are of importance for liturgy and the ecclesiastical discipline of monks. All had bad political significance. The Acts bears the signatures of six metropolitans, among them Isidore of Seville and Julian of Braga. Fifty-six bishops and seven representatives of bishops signed after them. A number of the canons concerned the admission of clerics to orders. The council equally insisted on penitential fasting and proposed principles of monastic discipline. Several canons concerned the temporal administration of churches, and a number of liturgical points were covered, including the ceremonial for the opening of councils, contained in canon 4.
At Toledo V (636), 22 bishops and two proxies met under the presidency of Eugene I, the new archbishop of Toledo. Except for canon 1, which dealt with the date of the Rogation procession (Dec. 14), the other seven canons were political in bearing. The decrees of the council were approved and published by King Chintila in his ordinance of June 30, 636.
Toledo VI (638) was convoked by King Chintila, brother of Sisenand; 52 bishops with four metropolitans-Julian of Braga, Eugenius of Toledo, Honorius of Seville, and Selva of Narbonne, who presided—promulgated 18 canons, of which the first is a new profession of faith, an amplification of that of Toledo IV. The other canons are ecclesiastical or politico-religious. Royal authority was strengthened, and Jews were excluded from the civil life of the country. Several canons concerned with public penitence completed and made precise the dispositions of Toledo IV.
Councils VII to IX. Toledo VII (646) consisted of 24 bishops with the metropolitans of Mérida, Seville, Toledo, and Tarragona, who met to remedy the troubles of the Church and State. The preface of the conciliar collections should be attached to canon 1, whose object, it explains, is to punish perturbators of national peace and protect against similar troubles. Canons 2 to 5 concern points of discipline or liturgy. The last canon is a homage of the clergy rendered to the King of Spain.
Toledo VIII (653) was convoked by King Recceswintn, who succeeded his father Chindaswintn in 652. The metropolitans of Merida, Seville, Toledo, and Braga were present, along with 48 bishops, a large number of abbots, representatives of bishops, and 16 counts and dukes. The Tomus regius, or book of royal edicts, around which discussion centered, demanded a revision of canon 75 of Toledo IV. Canons 4 to 7 concerned the continence of clerics, their instruction (c.8), and their fasting (c.9).
At Toledo IX (655), Eugene II of Toledo presided over 15 bishops and six abbots, and added to the conciliar collection 17 canons concerning the administration of ecclesiastical goods and serfs. Canon 10 listed penalties for incontinent clerics.
Councils X to XII. Toledo X (656) was a gathering of 20 bishops and five representatives of bishops, in the presence of the three metropolitans—Eugene II of Toledo, Fugitivus of Seville, and Fructuosus of Braga. They promulgated seven canons. Canon 1 fixed the celebration of the feast of the annunciation eight days before Christmas. The other six canons concerned discipline; canons 2 and 7 were concerned with the civil organization of Spain.
Toledo XI (675) was convoked by King Wamba, successor of Recceswintn. The metropolitan Quiricius presided, and 17 bishops, two representatives for absent bishops, and six abbots made a famous profession of faith. Of the 16 disciplinary canons that repeated previous ones, canons 11 and 12 are notable: canon 11 concerned communion of the sick; canon 12, public penitence.
Toledo XII (681) declared legitimate the succession of Erwig to the Spanish throne and enacted 13 capitula. The archbishop of Toledo was given the power to install candidates he deemed worthy in vacant bishoprics in any province, but after royal designation. Legislation against Jews was reinforced.
Councils XIII to XV. Toledo XIII (683) was a concilium mixtum, or political assembly, as well as a council, including 48 bishops and archbishops, 27 representatives of absent bishops, abbots, and 26 nobles. The primacy of Toledo was confirmed (c.9). Most of the canons were political in object.
At Toledo XIV (684), julian of toledo presided over 17 bishops, vicars of the metropolitans of five provinces, six abbots, and two representatives of suffragan (auxiliary) bishops of Toledo. They met to sign the decrees of the Council of constantinople iii against monothelitism.
Toledo XV (688) was convoked by Egica, successor of Erwig. The assembly of 61 bishops, several abbots, representatives of absent bishops, and 17 nobles considered the Tomus regius and was concerned with problems of personal conscience. A ruling was passed on Spanish orthodoxy in a dogmatic difficulty raised by Pope benedict ii and answered by Julian of Toledo, whose responses had been confirmed by Pope sergius i in 687.
Councils XVI to XVIII. Toledo XVI (693) resulted when Julian of Toledo died in 690 and was succeeded by the Abbot Sisebert, who conspired against the throne and was seized and brought before a gathering comprised of 59 bishops, five abbots, three representatives of absent bishops, and 16 counts. The King presented a Tomus concerned with spreading the orthodox faith, points of discipline, care of country churches, the destruction of pagan superstitions and Judaism, and a letter for the punishment of Sisebert. The ignorance of the clergy and the chaotic state of Spain at the time is evident. Sisebert was deposed, excommunicated, and exiled. Felix, Archbishop of Seville, was transferred to Toledo.
Toledo XVII (694) was occasioned by a conjuration of Spanish Jews who had received Baptism hypocritically. The council comprised many bishops and nobles of the kingdom, the names of whom are lost. Canon 1 is a timid reaction against the invasion of the councils by the laity; previously the first three days of a council had been reserved for questions of faith and ecclesiastical discipline. Canons 2 to 6 ruled on points of liturgy. Canon 7 renewed ancient laws concerning the surety of the royal family. Canon 8 considered the repression of a Jewish plot.
Toledo XVIII (702) was held under King Witiza and Gonderic, Archbishop of Toledo. The Acts of the council are lost.
Bibliography: c. j. von hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux, tr. and continued by h. leclerq (Paris 1907–38) v.3.2. r. d'abadal i vinyals,"Els concils de Toledo," Homenaje a Johannes Vinke (Madrid 1962–63). m. torres, in Historia de Espanña, ed. r. menÉndez pidal, v.3 (Madrid 1940) 265–325. z. garcÍa villada, Historia eclesiástica de España, 3v. in 5 (Madrid 1929–36). t. andrÉs marcos, Constitución, transición y ejercicio de la monarquía hispano-visigoda en los Concilios Toledanos (Salamanca 1928). a. k. ziegler, Church and State in Visigothic Spain (Washington 1930). a. michel, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al (Paris 1903–50) 15.1:1176–90. p. d. king, Law and Society in the Visigothic Kingdom (Cambridge 1972).
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