In the year 581, Bishop Ferreolus of Uzès died, creating a power vacuum that would lead to a succession crisis. Various candidates were put forth to lead the bishopric, with the locals of Uzès, the clergy, and the monarchy all favoring different people for the job. The locals, or more particularly the local government, made the first move. They put an ex-governor of Provence, by the name of Albinus, in command of the bishopric, presumably with the consent of the local clergy. The monarchy, however, was not at all happy at being cut out of the conversation and, therefore, sent another candidate, named Jovinus, to usurp power in the bishopric from Albinus. In case the people and government resisted this new candidate, the monarchy put Jovinus in command of an army.
As it happened, Albinus died that very year in 581, only three months after he had been proposed for office by the local government of Uzès. Despite the loss of this candidate, the regional powers in Uzès still did not want their bishopric to be ruled by Jovinus. Therefore, the clergy and the local government rushed through another candidate, a certain deacon named Marcellus, and consecrated him as their bishop before Jovinus arrived in the vicinity with his army.
According to the writings of Bishop Gregory of Tours (c. 539-594), Uzès became quite a tense place when Jovenus arrived and found another bishop firmly entrenched in the city. A confrontation ensued, and when Marcellus refused to give way, Jovinus brought his borrowed army into play and besieged the city. Uzès seemed to completely side with Marcellus, however, and its garrisons and local forces were willing to fight to keep their chosen bishop in power. Now that Marcellus had his own army manning the defenses of Uzès, the siege ground to a standstill. According to Gregory of Tours, Jovinus eventually became disillusioned with his mission and, after taking a bribe, admitted defeat to Marcellus and relinquished any claim to the bishopric of Uzès.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
Picture Attribution: (Bishop Absalon at Arkona, painted by Laurits Tuxen (1853–1927), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons).
- The History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, translated by Lewis Thorpe. New York: Penguin Classics, 1971.