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Isidore of Seville (c.560–636)

  1. Thomas O'Loughlin

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0713

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

O'Loughlin, T. 2011. Isidore of Seville (c.560–636). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Educated in a Latin Christian milieu where there were still clashes between Byzantine forces and the new rulers of Spain, the Visigoths, Isidore of Seville can be regarded as a transition figure between the world of late antique Latin theology and the world of early medieval theology in the new kingdoms of the west. He was educated in Seville under his brother Leander (Seville's bishop from c.580, and a friend of Gregory the Great), succeeding him as bishop c.600. Isidore devoted his episcopate to clerical education (most of his writings serve this end), promoting uniformity of practice in liturgy and canon law (several works promote these themes; he presided over the Second Council of Seville (619) and the Fourth Council of Toledo (633), and became a force in collecting canonical materials into great reference collections), and toward establishing a stable Visigothic kingdom (he forged close links with King Sisebut (r. 612–621) and worked to evolve a model of close support between the monarchy and the church: the legislation of Fourth Toledo setting out the ideal relationship). While today he is not remembered as a major theologian, his work in digesting virtually all the Latin theologians prior to his time allowed him to establish the structures in which their theology was approached in later centuries; and in some areas, such as his approach to the Eucharist as a sacred object, his influence is still felt.


  • Isidore of Seville (c.560–636);
  • legislation of fourth toledo;
  • unfinished encyclopedia, the etymologiae;
  • Isidore's aim, opinions as nuggets