Huneric

(d. 484)
   The son and successor of the great Vandal king, Gaiseric. Huneric's rule (r. 477-484) is best known for its persecutions of Catholic Christians in his kingdom. But he also attempted to preserve his father's legacy and maintain the power and place of the Vandal kingdom in North Africa. Before his rule as king, Huneric was involved in his father's diplomacy and was betrothed to and eventually married an imperial princess. His reign, however, was relatively short, especially when compared with that of his father, and his efforts to solidify and unify the kingdom remained unfinished because of his death.
   When Huneric came to the throne at his father's death in 477, he was already advanced in years. He was probably sixty-six years old, and although little is known of his life before he ascended the throne, Huneric probably was involved in the affairs of the kingdom during his father's reign. At the very least, it is known that Huneric was involved in diplomatic affairs. In 442, to guarantee a treaty with the Western Empire, Huneric was sent to Ravenna, the imperial capital, as a hostage and stayed there for three or four years. He was also betrothed to the Eudocia, the daughter of Emperor Valentinian III. She was quite young at the time of the engagement and the marriage had to wait some ten years. Moreover, Huneric was already married, but Gaiseric did not let such details interfere with diplomacy-he accused Huneric's Visigothic wife of attempting to poison him, cut off her nose and ears, and returned her to Visigothic Spain. The betrothal and eventual marriage with the imperial princess were clearly important concerns in Gaiseric's relations with the imperial government in Italy, which were obviously more significant than his relations with the Visigoths. These ties were unsettled, however, before Huneric actually married Eudocia. Before marrying Huneric, she married the son of her father's successor, which may have prompted Gaiseric's invasion and sack of Rome. Huneric captured his betrothed and married her in 456.
   The marriage itself did not last, but it did produce one and possibly two sons. In 457, Eudocia bore Hilderic, and perhaps another son within the next few years. But Huneric and Eudocia were poorly matched, particularly in religion. There was, of course, the great difference in age, with Huneric probably some twenty-eight years older than his wife. Furthermore, she was a devout Catholic, and he was an aggressive Arian who persecuted Catholics. As a result she left her husband in 472 and fled to Jerusalem, where she spent the rest of her days.
   Once on the throne in 477 Huneric paid far less attention to affairs with Rome and instead sought to unify the kingdom and ensure that his son would succeed him as king. To guarantee his son's succession he needed to eliminate rivals from within his own family, particularly the sons of Gaiseric's brothers. According to an agreement within the ruling family, the eldest son of any of Gaiseric's brothers or nephews was to inherit the throne, and Hilderic was the third oldest of that generation. In 481, Huneric launched a bloody purge of his brothers and nephews to secure his son's succession. The effort failed, however, because he failed to capture or kill the two nephews who were ahead of Hilderic, and it was those nephews who actually did take the throne from 523 to 530. Huneric's other domestic initiative was an equal failure. He attempted to unify the kingdom by imposing Arian Christianity on all his subjects. In 483 he passed an anti-Catholic edict, and in 484 issued a formal law against Catholic Christianity. He actively persecuted the Catholics in his kingdom and found support for this from the Arian bishop of Carthage. But to contemporaries his efforts seemed to inspire divine displeasure; his kingdom suffered famine in the summer of 484, and Huneric himself died of a mysterious and horrible disease in 484.
   See also
   Alans; Arianism; Gaiseric; Jordanes; Justinian; Pope Leo I the Great; Vandals
   Bibliography
 ♦ Bury, John B. The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians. New York: W. W. Norton, 1967.
 ♦ Clover, Frank M. The Late Roman West and the Vandals. London: Variorum, 1993.
 ♦ Randers-Pehrson, Justine Davis. Barbarians and Romans: The Birth Struggle of Europe, a.d. 400-700. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.
 ♦ Victor of Vita. Victor of Vita: History of the Vandal Persecution. Trans. John Moorhead. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 1992.
 ♦ Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. Trans. Thomas J. Dunlap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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