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A History of the Franks by Saint Gregory of…

A History of the Franks

by Gregory of Tours

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Showing 5 of 5
Gregory is our principal narrative source for the transition from the Roman Province of Gaul to the maddening but fascinating country of France. While he believed in miracles he was a close observer of all those things that might have killed him and his friends. He starts his history with a biography of Saint Martin and is stopped about 570 CE. The Lewis Thorpe translation is clear, and there are a number of useful notes. Do have a map of France handy, preferably one with multiple names for the older cities. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 9, 2016 |
As a book, one of the most tedious I have ever read. Interesting only for the historical value, which paints a (presumably accurate) picture of a thoroughly unpleasant period. The life of the Franks appears to be nothing more than a catalogue of barbarity, leavened (if that is the word, which it isn't) by instances of people making their already brutal lives yet more unpleasant in the name of the church. On the whole, a good argument against time travel.
This particular edition also suffers from some highly erratic footnotes. The book is possibly of interest to theological scholars, or people who need a list of flimsy "miracles". ( )
  gbsallery | Mar 24, 2011 |
I first ran across Gregory of Tours years ago in an Early Medieval History course at the University of Houston (Go Haskins Society!). And out of all the medieval primary sources I have read, it remains a favorite.

One reason is that if it was not for Gregory's tome, we fans of barbarians would have to resort to the rather sketchy coda (or laws) and archaeological data of that era to ascertain what was going on. (Okay there were those dry church records too, but their not all that exciting.) Whereas with Gregory of Tours we get sort of an "Examiner" newspaper view of earthly events.

For example, about the Bishop Cautinus:

Once he had taken possession of his bishopric, Cautinus began to behave so badly that he was soon loathed by everybody. He began to drink heavily. He was often so completely fuddled with wine that it would take four men to carry him from the table.

For example, mother-daughter relations:

Rigunth, Chilperic's daughter, was always attacking her mother (Fredegund), and saying that she herself was the real mistress, whereas her mother ought to revert to her original rank of serving-woman. She would often insult her mother to her face, and they frequently exchanged slaps and punches. 'Why do you hate me so, daughter?' Fredegund asked her one day. 'You can take all your father's things which are still in my possession, and do what you like with them.' She led the way into a strong-room and opened a chest which was full of jewels and precious ornaments. ...

... Rigunth was stretching her arm into the chest to take out some more things, when her mother suddenly seized the lid and slammed it down on her neck. She leant on it with all her might and the edge of the chest pressed so hard against the girls' throat.... (well you'll have to go to page 521 to see how it turns out - lol.)

And with all this great human material, whats not to love. ;-]

Pam T for http://pageinhistory.blogspot.com/ ( )
  ThePam | Jan 27, 2008 |
This is the most famous of Gregory's books. He begins with the Creation but most of the book is an eye witness account of the bloodthirsty behavior of four Merovingian kings - Sigibert, Chilperic, Childebert II and Guntram - and their consorts (wives, mistresses).
  nanajojo | Oct 13, 2007 |
Excellent except that it edits out a few too many of the sections dealing with the "miracles" of the period. Personally I find these superstitions some of the most vivid and revealing. ( )
  snabbieyoyo | Nov 25, 2006 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tours, Gregory ofprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brehaut, ErnestTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, LewisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The historian who was to become known to the world as Gregory, nineteenth Bishop of Tours, was born on 30 November c.539, in what is now Clermont-Ferrand, Puy-de-Dome, and what was then Arvernus or Arvernorum civitas, the chief city of Arvernia or Auvergne.

Introduction (Penguin Classics ed., 1974).
A great many things keep happening, some of them good, some of them bad.

Preface of Gregory, bishop of the church in Tours (Penguin Classics ed., 1974).
Proposing as I do to describe the wars waged by kings against hostile peoples, by martyrs against the heathen and by the Churches against the heretics, I wish first of all to explain my own faith, so that whoever reads me may not doubt that I am a Catholic.

Book I (Penguin Classics ed., 1974).
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