The heretic zeal or a simple reception of imperial legislation? The religious policy of the Vandal kings – “Codex Theodosianus” XVI and “Edictum Hunirici”


The knowledge about the religious policy of the Vandal kings is provided only by the sources which are hostile toward the Vandals, written by the followers of the Nicene orthodoxy. The Arianic sources from this period, even if they existed, have not survived. The preserved sources focus on persecutions – usually drastic in form – and the imposition of Arian heresy by force. According to the authors of the sources, the ferocity of the barbarians combined with their fanatic zeal (typical for heretics) the Vandal kings ruthless rulers. Nevertheless, when we juxtapose the imperial legislation with the deeds of Vandals, especially with the Edict of Huneric, the only preserved legal act concerning those issues, we can explain their policy very differently. The Vandal kings quite accurately adopted and imitated the methods of combating heresy recommended in the Roman legislation. The royal officials of Roman origin and the Roman Arians, who cooperated with Vandals, were probably very well informed in that matter and could deliver the necessary “know how.” In his edict, King Huneric directly indicates the laws issued by the emperors as the basis for his legal regulations directed against the followers of the Nicene orthodoxy. A more thorough analysis of similarities can be an important contribution to research on the extensive use of the Roman administration and law in the barbarian kingdoms in the Western part of the Roman Empire.


religious policy; the Vandal kingdom in Africa; religious persecutions; romanization

Chronica Gallica, Gallische Chroniken, ed. J.-M. Kötter – C. Scardino, Paderborn 2017.
Codicis Theodosiani, Liber sextus decimus, Synodi et collectiones legum 7, opr. M. Ożóg – M. Wójcik, tł. A. Caba, Kraków 2014.
Hydatius, Chronica, Chronik des Hydatius, Fortführung der spanischen Epitome, ed. J.-M. Kötter – C. Scardino, Paderborn 2019.
Isidorus Hispalensis, Historia de regibus Gothorum, Wandalorum et Sevorum, MGH Auctores Antiquissimi 11, ed. T. Mommsen, Berolini 1894.
Laterculus Regum Vandalorum et Alanorum, ed. M. Becker – J.-M. Kötter, Paderborn 2016.
Paulus Orosius, Historiarum adversus paganos libri VII, Histoires (Contre les Païens), t. 3/7, ed. M.P.A. Lindet, Paris 1991.
Procopius Caesariensis, De bello Vandalico I-II, w: Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia, t. 1, ed. J. Haury, Lipsiae 1952, s. 305-572.
Prosper Tiro, Chronica, ed. M. Becker – J.-M. Kötter, Paderborn 2016.
Victor Vitensis, Historia persecutionis Africanae provinciae sub Geiserico et Hunirico regibus Wandalorum, MGH, Auctores Antiquissimi III/1, ed. C. Halm, Berolini 1879.
Bralewski S., Symmachia cesarstwa rzymskiego z Bogiem chrześcijan, t. 1, Łódź 2018.
Castritius H., Die Vandalen. Etappen einer Spurensuche,Stuttgart 2007.
Howe T., Vandalen, Barbaren und Arianer bei Victor von Vita, Frankfurt am Main 2007.
Keunitschvon R., Die Münzprägung der Vandalischen Könige, w: Erben des Imperiums in Nordafrika. Das Königreich der Vandalen, red. C. Hattler, Karlsruhe 2009, s. 218-219.
Meier M., Geschichte der Völkerwanderung. Europa, Asien und Afrika von 3. bis zum 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr., München 2019.
Merrills A. – Miles R., The Vandals, Chichester 2010.
Modéran Y., Les Vandales et l’Empire Romain, Arles 2014.
Spychała D., Cesarze rzymscy a arianizm, od Konstantyna Wielkiego do Teodozjusza Wielkiego (312-395), Poznań 2007.
Stachura M., Heretycy, schizmatycy i manichejczycy wobec cesarstwa rzymskiego (lata 324-428, wschodnia część imperium), Kraków 2000.
Steinacher R., Die Vadalen. Aufstieg und Fall eines Barbarenreiches, Stuttgart 2016.
Strzelczyk J., Wandalowie i ich afrykańskie państwo, Warszawa 2005.
Vössing K., Das Königreich der Vandalen. Geiserichs Herrschaft und das Imperium Romanum, Darmstadt 2014.
Vössing K., Victor von Vita. Kirchenkampf und Verfolgung unter den Vandalen in Africa. Herausgegeben, eingeleitet und übersetzt von Konrad Vössing, Darmstadt 2011.
Wilczyński M., Gejzeryk i „czwarta wojna punicka”, Oświęcim 2016.
Wilczyński M., Królestwo Swebów – regnum in extremitate mundi, Kraków 2011.
Wilczyński M., Polityka wyznaniowa jako ważny element polityki wewnętrznej i zewnętrznej władców wandalskich i swebskich. Próba porównania, w: Rzymianie i barbarzyńcy. Religia – polityka – kultura, red. T. Wolińska – M. Ożóg – K. Kollinger, Rzeszów 2019, s. 149-167.

Published : 2020-09-15

Wilczyński, M. (2020). The heretic zeal or a simple reception of imperial legislation? The religious policy of the Vandal kings – “Codex Theodosianus” XVI and “Edictum Hunirici”. Vox Patrum, 75, 527-538.

Marek Wilczyński