King Wamba focused his attention on the Spanish Church itself and the organization of its hierarchy and orthodoxy, rather than on the persecution and forced conversion of Jews. Wamba was also busy: the Moors were raiding, the troops were deserting, and he was calling for slaves to be freed to fill out the ranks. The vengeful and bloody laws were dropped from the books. His reign from 672-680 was a period of relief for the Hebrew population of the Visigothic kingdom. But it was not to last forever.
King Erwig gained the throne when Wamba was suddenly ill, signed papers naming Erwig his successor, chose a monastic life – and then got better. Poison and a planned palace coup were suspected but it was too late. Erwig was confirmed by nobles and bishops who henceforth owned him. It is difficult to say if he had a lust for Jewish blood or no moral will to fight for Jewish human rights. He enacted 28 anti Jewish laws. His only mercy compared to predecessors like Sisebut was the end of the death penalty for Judaism.
The other dominant figure involved in the history of Spanish Jewish persecution at this time was the Archbishop of Toledo, Julian, the son of baptised Jews who had been forced into Catholicism. Yet he had risen to the highest ranks of the Church. Western non Jewish history remembers Julian as the harsh antisemite in the story, the self-hating Jew who pushed the hapless Erwig along in his crusade. This Jewish history book authored in 1850 offers a more nuanced perspective.
Under the government of this king, the highest dignity in the Church was possessed by Julian, Archbishop of Toledo, through whose instrumentality Erwig (Erviga) was made king, and he was at the same time the most important man of his age in Spain. Julian was the son of parents who had been compelled to embrace Christianity, as is proved by Isidore, of Badajoz (Colonia Pacensis), in the middle of the eighth century. He was also an author of ecclesiastical works. This Julian, the soul of the government of Erwig, a descendant from Jews as he was, was compelled, probably against his will, to compose a work against the Jews.
Notwithstanding the forcible conversions, the Jews had the courage to make objections against the Messiahship of Jesus. They offered many reasons why Jesus could not have been the Messiah, and among these was also one which maintained that according to Scripture the Messiah should not come before the sixth millennium; and as it was then only from 4440 to ’47, they argued that Jesus could not be the Messiah. The Jewish reasons must at that time have appeared quite cogent, since, according to Julian’s work, many believing Christians had been induced thereby to renounce their faith…By degrees Julian became a persecutor of the Jews.
– from “The Jews in Spain Under the Visigoths” by Dr. Julius Fürst