Rechila, Suebic King of Gallaecia

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Rechila of the Suevi

Also Known As: "Rechila Suevic King of Galicia"
Birthplace: Probably Bracara (Present Braga), Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia (within present Portuguese Braga District and Spanish Gallicia), Hispaniae (Present Spain and Portugal)
Death: 448 (38)
Probably Emerita Augusta (Present Merida), Lusitania (Present Extremadura and southern Portugal), Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia (within present Portugal and Spanish Gallicia), Hispaniae (Present Spain and Portugal)
Immediate Family:

Son of Hermerich, King of the Suevi and Daughter of Valaravans
Husband of Princess of the Visigoths N.N.
Father of Requiario or Rechiar, King of the Sueben
Brother of Hunimund, King of the Suevi; Pakimund and Mafila

Occupation: Suevic King of Galicia, Høvding over sveverne, King of Galicia, Hövding, Roi des Suèves (441-448)
Managed by: Henn Sarv
Last Updated:

About Rechila, Suebic King of Gallaecia

From the English Wikipedia page on Rechila:

Rechila[1] (died 448) was the Suevic King of Galicia from 438 until his death. There are few primary sources for his life, but Hydatius was a contemporary Catholic chronicler in Galicia.

When his father, Hermeric, turned ill in 438, he retired from active political life (dying in 441) and handed the reins of government and the royal title over to his son Rechila.[2] He endeavoured to expand the Suevic kingom to fill the vacuum left by the retiring Vandals and Alans. In 438 he defeated Andevotus, the comes Hispaniarum, on the river Jenil (Singillio).[3] The Roman position in Iberia became so tenuous that three magistri utriusque militiae (masters of both services) were sent to the peninsula between 441 and 446.

Invading southern Iberia, Rechila took the provincial capitals of Mérida in 439 and Seville in 441.[4] These conquests were extremely significant, but nothing of the sequence of events leading to them is known. The provinces of Lusitania, Baetica, and Carthaginiensis were subjected to the Suevi with the exception of the Levante and the Mediterranean seaboard.[5]

Rechila was involved in near constant war with the Romans. While returning in 440 from his third embassy to the Suevi, the Roman legate Censorius was captured by Rechila near Mértola (Myrtilis). The king had him imprisoned for the remainder of his reign.

Rechila died a pagan in Mérida: gentilis moritur ("died a gentile") according to Hydatius, but Isidore of Seville, writing well over a century and a half later, and whose source was Hydatius, says ut ferunt, gentilitatis vitam finivit ("finished his life a gentile, so they say"). There is no reason, however, for accepting Isidore's doubts, which were probably precipitated by the fact that Rechila's son and successor was the Catholic Rechiar.[6] Some scholars have raised the contention that his father raised him that way in order to foster good relations with the Church and bring about the easy conversion of the Suevi.

The Suebi or Suevi (from Proto-Germanic *swēbaz based on the Proto-Germanic root *swē- meaning "one's own" people,[1] from an Indo-European root *swe-,[2] the third person reflexive pronoun) were a group of Germanic peoples[3] who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c. 58 BC;[4] Ariovistus was defeated by Caesar.

Some Suebi remained a periodic threat against the Romans on the Rhine, until, toward the end of the empire, the Alamanni, including elements of Suebi, brushed aside Roman defenses and occupied Alsace, and from there Bavaria and Switzerland. Except for a pocket in Swabia, and migrants to Gallaecia (modern Galicia, in Spain, and Northern Portugal), no more was heard of the Suebi.


  1. ^ Spanish: Requila; in Portuguese: Réquila or Réquita.
  2. ^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 165. Hermeric did not, as Isidore mistakenly believed, retain some royal powers after 438 (Thompson, 220).
  3. ^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 173.
  4. ^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 172.

From the English Wikipedia page on the Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia, covering the period during which Rechila lived:

Whether displaced by the Huns or not the Suevi along with the Vandals and Alans crossed the Rhine on the night of 31 December 405.[6][7]

Their entrance into the Roman Empire could not have been at a more opportune time. At the moment, the Roman West was experiencing a series of invasions and civil wars beginning in 405. Between 405 and 406, the Western regions of the empire saw the invasion of Italy by Goths under Radagaisus, as well as a steady stream of usurpers. This allowed the invading barbarians to enter Gaul with little resistance, consequently allowing for the barbarians to cause considerable damage to the northern provinces of Germania Prima, Belgica Prima, and Belgica Secunda before the empire saw them as a threat.

In response to the barbarian invasion of Gaul, the usurper Constantine III of Britain, halted the masses of Vandals, Alans, and Sueves, who remained confined to northern Gaul.[8] But in the spring of 409, Gerontius led a revolt in Spain and set up his own emperor, Maximus. Constantine, who had recently been elevated to the title of Augustus, set off to Spain to deal with the rebellion.

Gerontius responded by stringing up the barbarians in Gaul against Constantine, convincing them to mobilize again, and, in the summer of 409, the Vandals, Alans, and Sueves began pushing south toward Spain.[9][10]

Kindom under Rechiar

The civil war that erupted in Spain between the forces of Constantine and Gerontius had left the passes through the Pyrenees either purposely or consequently neglected, making southern Gaul and Spain susceptible to barbarian attack. Hydatius documents that the crossing into Spain by the Vandals, Alans, and Suevi took place on either the 28 September or the 12 October 409.[11] Some scholars take the two dates as the beginning and the end to the crossing of the Pyrenees mountain range into Spain, since the crossing over of such a formidable barrier by scores of thousands could not have possibly been done in a twenty-four hour time frame.[12]

Hydatius writes that upon entering of Spain the barbarian peoples spent two years 409–410 in a frenzy, plundering food and goods from the cities and countryside causing a famine in the process that, according to Hydatius, forced cannibalism amongst the locals, “[driven] by hunger human beings devoured human flesh; mothers too feasted upon the bodies of their own children whom they had killed and cooked with their own hands.”[13]

In 411 the various barbarian groups decided on the establishment of a peace and divided the Spanish provinces among themselves sorte, “by lot”. Many scholars believe that the reference to “lot” may be to the sortes, “allotments,” which barbarian federates received by the Roman government, which suggests that the Suevi and the other invaders were under a treaty with Maximus’s government. There is, however, no concrete evidence of any treaties between the Roman’s and the barbarians. Hydatius never mentions any treaty, and states that the peace in 411 was brought about by the compassion of the Lord.[14][15]

The division of the land between the four barbarian groups went as such: the Siling Vandals settled in Baectia, the Alans were allotted the provinces of Lustinia and Carthaginiesis, and the Hasding Vandals and the Suevi shared the far northwestern province of Galicia.[16]

The division of Galicia between the Suevi and the Hasling Vandals placed the Suevi in the far northwestern corner of the province, which they took by force. They settled in the cities of Braga (which would become the Suevic capital until 439), Astorga, and Lugo, with no evidence suggesting that the Suevi inhabited any other cities residing in the province from 411–438.[17]

The relationship between the Galicians and the Suevi was an opportunistic one for the Suevi, who, under their king, Hermeric, would spend the next 27 years (411–438) plundering the Galicians of food and valuables.[18]

Another Germanic group that accompanied the Suebi and settled in Gallaecia were the Buri. They settled in the region between the rivers Cávado and Homem, in the area known as Terras de Bouro (Lands of the Buri).[19]

As the Suebi quickly adopted the local Hispano-Roman language, few traces were left of their Germanic tongue, but some examples in the Galician language and Portuguese language remained, like laverca in Portuguese and Galician (synonyms of cotovia – lark).

Swebic kingdom

In 416, the Visigoths entered the Iberian Peninsula, sent from Aquitania by the Emperor of the West to fight off the barbarians from the 409 invasion. The Visigoths led by their king, Wallia, devastated both the Siling Vandals and Alans. By 418, both the Siling Vandals and Alans were practically exterminated, leaving the Hasling Vandals and the Suevi, who had remained undisturbed by Wallia’s campaign as the two remaining forces in the Iberian Peninsula.[20]

After the departure of Willia in 418 the Hasling Vandals and the Suevi seemed to have occupied themselves as they had done sense they began the sharing of Galicia, with the starting of a war in 419.

In 420, however, the comes Hispaniarum Asterius attacked the Hasling Vandals, forcing them to break off their conflict with the Suevi, moving out of Galicia in pursuit of Asterius.[21] In 429, the Hasling Vandals would leave to Africa and the Suevi would be the only barbarian entity on Spanish soil. King Hermeric would spend the remainder of his able years solidifying Suevic rule over the entire province of Galicia.

In 438, Hermeric became ill. Having annexed the entirety of Galicia, he made peace with the local Hispano-Roman population.[22] Hermeric’s illness made him unable to rule, and in 438, his son Rechila became king.

Rechila saw an opportunity for expansion and began pushing to other areas of the Iberian Peninsula. The same year, Rechila campaigned in Baetica. A year later, in 429, the Suevi invaded Lusitania and took Mérida, making it the new capital of the Suevi kingdom.

Rechila would continue the expansion of the kingdom and by 441, the Suevi controlled Galicia, Baetica, Lusitania, and Carthaginiensis. It must be noted, however, that the Suevi conquest of Baetica and Carthaginiesis was limited to raids, and Suevi presence, if any, was minute.[23]

In 446, the Romans would dispatch Vitus, a magister militum with a mixed army of Romans and Goths, to the provinces of Baetica and Carthaginiesis in an attempt to subdue the Suevi and restore imperial administration in Spain. Rechila defeated Vitus and the Goths, and no more imperial attempts would be made to retake Spain.[24][25]

In 448, Rechila died, leaving the crown to his son, Rechiar. Rechiar would become the first Germanic king to become a Catholic Christian, as well as the first barbarian king to mint coins in his own name. Some believe minting the coins was a sign of Suevi autonomy, due to the use of minting in the late empire as a declaration of independence.[26]


6.^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 152

7.^ Cambridge Ancient History, vol.13 s.v. "Barbarian Invasions and first Settlements"

8.^ Michael Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and its Cities (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 156–157

9.^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 150

10.^ Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and its Cities, 156–157

11.^ Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius, 81

12.^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 153

13.^ Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius,83

14.^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians,154

15.^ Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius, 83

16.^ Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius, 83

17.^ Thompson, Romans and Barbarians, 83

18.^ Donini and Ford, Isidore,40

19.^ Domingos Maria da Silva, Os Búrios, Terras de Bouro, Câmara Municipal de Terras de Bouro, 2006. (in Portuguese)

20.^ Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 14, Late Antiquity: Empire and Successors, ed. Averil Cameron and others (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2001), s.v. "Spain: The Suevic Kingtom"

21.^ Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and its Cities, 173

22.^ Donini and Ford, Isidore,40

23.^ Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and its Cities, 180–181

24.^ Cambridge Ancient History, col. 14., s.v. "Spain: The Suevic Kingdom"

25.^ Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and its Cities, 183–184

26.^ Thompson, Romans and Barbaians, 168

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Rechila, Suebic King of Gallaecia's Timeline

Probably Bracara (Present Braga), Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia (within present Portuguese Braga District and Spanish Gallicia), Hispaniae (Present Spain and Portugal)
Age 38
Probably Emerita Augusta (Present Merida), Lusitania (Present Extremadura and southern Portugal), Suebic Kingdom of Gallaecia (within present Portugal and Spanish Gallicia), Hispaniae (Present Spain and Portugal)