From Roman to Merovingian Gaul: A Reader

From Roman to Merovingian Gaul: A Reader

by Alexander Callander Murray

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Including such remarkable accounts as Attila the Hun's meeting with the Pope, Queen Balthild's life, and Gregory of Tours' vivid descriptions of what happens when daily life is enmeshed with politics, From Roman to Merovingian Gaul documents events that are both remarkable in themselves and that demonstrate what made this era of history distinct.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442604131
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division
Publication date: 08/01/1999
Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures , #5
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 696
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Alexander Callander Murray is a member of the Department of History and Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, where he teaches at the Erindale Campus. He is author of Germanic Kinship Structure: Studies in Law and Society in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (1983), editor of After Rome's Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History (1998), and has written articles on Merovingian administration and office-holding, and on the dating of Beowulf.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps 



Chapter One: The Early Franks

A. The Earliest Sources

1. Aurelius Victor, From the Emperors (De Caesaribus)
2. From the Latin Panegyrics (Panegyrici Latini)

B. Raiders, Invaders, and Roman Soldiers, a. 354-60

I. Silvanus the Usurper

3. The History of Ammianus Marcellinus, XV 5

II. Julian in Gaul: Salians and Chamavi, a. 357-58

4. The Emperor Julian, From his Letter to the Athenians
5. The History of Ammianus Marcellinus, XVII 2, 8
6. Libanios of Antioch, From his Funeral Oration over Julian
7. Eunapius of Sardis, Fragment 18.6.

III. Julian Proclaimed Augustus, a. 360

8. The History of Ammianus Marcellinus, XX 4

Chapter Two: Orosius on Empire, Barbarians, and Usurpers in the Late Fourth and Fifth Centuries

9. From the Histories against the Pagans

Chapter Three: Three Gallic Courtiers and Poets: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Patriotism

A. Ausonius of Bordeaux

10. A Ranking of Famous Cities, ca 390
11. Bissula
12. From the Epigrams
13. From the Nuptial Cento: The Deflowering of the Bride

B. Rutilius Claudius Namatianus

14. From His Voyage Home

a. In Praise of Rome
b. Trouble in Armorica
c. Judaism
d. Monasticism
e. Stilicho

C. Paulinus of Pella

15. From the Thanksgiving (Eucharisticus)

Chapter Four: The Antique Chronicle Tradition in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries

16. Prosper of Aquitaine
17. The Gallic Chronicle of 452
18. From the Chronicle of Hydatius
19. The Gallic Chronicle of 511
20. The Chronicle of Marius of Avenches

Chapter Five: Salvian of Marseilles on God's Judgment

21. On the Governance of God

Chapter Six: Priscus of Panium on Attila the Hun 

22. An Embassy to the Court of Attila, a. 449
23. Attila and the West, a. 450-52

i. Attila and Honoria
ii. Vandals and Huns
iii. Attila and the Franks
iv. Attila's Terms
v. Attila Meets the Pope

24. Attila's Death, a. 453

Chapter Seven: Fragments and Scraps of Fifth-Century History 

25. The Franks and Imperial Politics, a. 388-420

i. Sulpicius Alexander
ii. Claudian on the Consulship of Stilicho, a. 400
iii. Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus 

26. An Anonymous Sketch of the Reign of Honorius 
27. Olympiodorus on Galla Placidia and the Goths
28. From the Thanksgiving of Paulinus of Pella: The Sack of Bordeaux and the Siege of Bazas, a. 414/415
29. The Establishment of the Gallic Council of the Seven Provinces, a. 418
30. From the Comedy Querolus: Laws of the Forest Along the Loire
31. Renatus Profuturus Frigeridus on Aetius
32. From the Imperial Decrees of the Theodosian Code and its Interpretatio

a. Ranking Roman Society;
b. Praescriptio Fori

33. From the Life of St. Germanus by Constantius of Lyons: Taxes, Alans, and Bacaudae in Farther Gaul 
34. From Sidonius Apollinariss Panegyrics on Avitus and Majorian

a. The Election of Avitus as Emperor; b. Majorian and the Fight at Vicus Helena

35. From Lost Annals of Angers: Aegidius, Childeric, and Odoacer
36. Sales in the Code of Euric, ca. 475

Chapter Eight: The World of Sidonius Apollinaris: From Roman to Visigothic Gaul

37. From the Letters of Sidonius Apollinaris

i. Early Years, Before 467
ii. Sidonius Goes to Rome, a. 467-68
iii. From Prefect and Patrician to Bishop
iv. Sidonius the Bishop
v. Blockade of Clermont, a. 471-74
vi. Cession of Clermont and the Auvergne
vii. Sidonius, a Subject of Euric
viii. Last Thoughts on Latin Culture, History, and Nobility

Chapter Nine: Clovis, King of the Franks, a. 481/2-511

38. Letter of Bishop Remigius of Rheims to Clovis, a. 481/2
39. Letter of Bishop Avitus of Vienne to Clovis Regarding the King's Baptism, ca. 496-99
40. Letter of Bishop Remigius to Clovis on the Death of the Kings Sister
41. Three Letters of Theoderic the Great from the Variae of Cassiodorus, a. 506/07
42. Letter of Clovis to Aquitanian Bishops on the Kings Peace and Apostolic Letters, a.507/08
43. Letter of the Bishops of the Council of Orleans to Clovis, a. 511
44. Letter of Bishop Remigius Regarding the Ordination of a Certain Claudius, ca. 512
45. Letter of Nicetius, Bishop of Trier, to Chlodoswintha, Queen of the Lombards, ca. 564
46. The Career of Clovis According to Gregory Bishop of Tours (594)

Chapter Ten: The Histories of Gregory of Tours: The Frankish Kingdom, a. 511-90

47. From the Death of Clovis to the Death of Chlothar I, a. 511-61 (Books III-IV)
48. From the Division of Chlothars Kingdom to the Death of Sigibert I, a. 561-75 (Book IV)
49. The Reign of Childebert II, a. 576-90 (Books V-X)

i. To the Death of Chilperic, a. 576-84 (October) (Books V-VI)
ii. The Aftermath of Chilperics Death and the Revolt of Gundovald, a. 584 (October)-586 (Books VII-VIII)
iii. Revolt in Austrasia and the Fall of Egidius, a. 587-90 (Books IX-X)

Chapter Eleven: The World of Gregory of Tours

A. Antique Poetry and the Merovingian Court

50. Venantius Fortunatus Before the Synod of Berny, a. 580: On the Virtues of Chilperic

B. Episcopal Appointments in Gregory of Tours' Histories

51. The Rivalry of Cato and Cautinus in Clermont
52. Cato and Tours
53. Doing it the Wrong Way: A Bishop for Saintes
54. Doing it the Right Way: Avitus, Bishop of Clermont

C. Feuds in Gregory of Tours' Histories

55. Feud in the Family: Silvester's Son and Gregory's Brother Peter, a. 576
56. The Feuds of Sichar, a. 585 and 588
57. Fredegund Buries the Hatchet, a. 591

Chapter Twelve: Fredegar on Frankish History, a. 584-642

58. The Sixth Chronicle of Fredegar (Book IV)

Chapter Thirteen: Kings and Mayors: The Anonymous History of the Franks (LHF) and the Frankish Kingdom, 639-727

59. Chapters 43-53 of the History of the Franks (LHF)

Chapter Fourteen: Sanctity and Politics in the Times of Balthild and Her Sons

A. Queenship, Religion, and Politics

60. The Life of Lady Balthild, Queen

B. A View From Abroad

61. Balthild, Ebroin, and Dagobert II in Stephen's Life of Wilfrid

C. The Politics of Martyrdom in Seventh-Century Saints' Lives

62. The Passion of Leudegar
63. From the Passion of Praejectus

Chapter Fifteen: Frankish Law

A. The Salic Law (Lex Salica)

64. Wergelds and Compensation
65. Ordinary Procedure
66. Special Procedure I: Tracking and Third-Hand Procedure
67. Special Procedure II: Charging and Interrogating Slaves
68. Miscellaneous OVenses
69. Inheritance

B. Legislation of the Merovingian Kings 

70. The Agreement of Childebert I and Chlothar I for Keeping the Peace, a. 511-58
71. The Decree of Childebert II, a. 596
72. Constitution of Chlothar (II?, 584-629)
73. The Edict of Paris of Chlothar II, October 614

C. Ecclesiastical Legislation

74. Clerical Privilege and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in the Canons of Church Councils

a. Orleans (I), a. 511
b. Epaone, a. 517
c. Orleans (III), a. 538
d. Orleans (IV), a. 541
e. Macon (I), a. 581/3
f. Macon (II), a. 585
g. Paris (V), October 614
h. Clichy, a. 626/27
i. Losne, a. 673/5

D. From The Formularies

75. Angers Fomulary

a. Loans and Mortgages;
b. Debt Bondage;
c. Manumissions;
d. A Judgment and Notice of its Performance;
e. Warranting and Default;
f. Notice of Discharge (Securitas);
g. Divorce

76. The Formulary of Marculf

a. Royal Appointment of a Count, Duke, or Patricius;
b. Enrolling in the King's Retinue;
c. A License to Become a Cleric;
d. Grants of Immunity;
e. Loan and Interest;
f. A Mandate

E. Royal Charters

77. Dispute Settlement Before the King's Court: A Judgment of Childebert III, a. 709 or 710

Chapter Sixteen: History, Legend, and Romance

A. The Origins of the Franks and Their Kings

78. Gregory of Tours, Hist. II 9-10
79. Fredegar, Chron. II 4-6, 8-9, and III 2, 9
80. The Anonymous History of the Franks (LHF) 1-5

B. Historical Tales and Historical Romance in Fredegar's Chronicle

81. Aetius, the Huns, and the Goths (II 53)
82. The Deeds of Theoderic the Great (II 56, 57, 59)
83. Chroc Follows His Mothers Advice (II 60)
84. Justinian, Belisarius, And Their Wives (II 62)
85. The Lombards, Narses, and Italy (III 65)

C. Tales of the Early Franks and Their Kings

I. Fredegar's Chronicle

86. Overthrow of Trier (III 7)
87. Childeric and Wiomad (III 11)
88. Basina, Childeric, and Visions in the Night (III 12)
89. Clovis, Aurelianus, and Chlothild (III 18, 19)
90. The Baptism of Clovis (III 21)
91. Paternus, Clovis's Envoy to Alaric (II 58)
92. The Expulsion of Marcatrude by Guntram (III 56)
93. Gogo, Brunhild, and Chrodin (III 57-59)
94. The Death of Sigibert and the Rescue of Childebert II (III 70-72)
95. The Death of Chilperic (III 93)

II. The Anonymous History of the Franks (LHF)

96. Clovis, Aurelianus, and Chlothild (LHF 11-14)
97. From Cloviss Campaign Against the Goths (LHF 17)
98. Fredegund Displaces Audovera (LHF 31)
99. Fredegund, Landeric, and the Death of Chilperic (LHF 35)
100. Fredegund Defeats the Austrasians at Droizy (LHF 36)
101. The Battles of the Orvanne and Zulpich, and the Death of Brunhild (LHF 37-40)
102. Chlothar and Dagobert (LHF 41)

Chapter Seventeen: Epilogues and Postscripts: From Charles Martel to the End of Merovingian Kingship

A. The Victories of Charles Martel

103. The First Continuator of Fredegar, a. 724-35
104. The Battle of Poitiers in the Mozarabic Chronicle of 754

B. From The Correspondence of Saint Boniface

105. Charles Martel Commends Boniface to all Frankish Officials, a. 723 [XIV, 22]
106. Bishop Daniel of Winchester Advises Boniface on the Method of Conversion, a. 723-24 [XV, 23]
107. Replies of Pope Gregory II to Questions of Boniface, 22 November 726 [XVIII, 26]
108. Pope Gregory III Promotes Boniface to the Rank of Missionary Archbishop and Sends him the Pallium, ca. 732 [XX, 28]
109. Boniface to Pope Zacharias on the Latters Accession to the Papacy, early in 742 [XL, 50]
110. A Decree of Carloman, Mayor of the Eastern Franks, Based on Deliberations of Synods in 742 and 743 [XLIV (56)]

C. From Mayoralty to Kingship

111. From the Second and Third Continuation of Fredegar
112. From the Royal Frankish Annals

D. Einhard on the last Merovingians

113. From the Life of Charlemagne

Index of Source Types, Authors, and Works

List of Illustrations and Maps


1. The origin of the Franks according to Fredegar I


1. The Early Merovingians: Clovis, his Sons, and Grandsons
2. The Early Merovingians: Sigibert I, Brunhild, and their Descendants
3. The Early Merovingians: Chilperic I, Fredegund, and their Descendants
4. The Later Merovingians: Dagobert I and his Descendants
5. The Arnulfings or Pippinids (Early Carolingians)


1. Western Provinces of the Roman Empire ca. 400
2. Gaul in the Early Fifth Century
3. Spain and the Western Mediterranean in the Fifth Century
4. Bishoprics, Late Fifth to Late Seventh Centuries, Keyed to a List of Bishoprics and Civitates of the Fifth-century Notitia Galliarum
5. Regions of Gaul and Its Neighbours in the Merov

What People are Saying About This

Walter Goffart

This admirable collection of primary sources is so copious that it will prove instructive to senior professors as well as beginning undergraduates. The amazingly wide choice of readings, introduced by brief, astute, unpretentious comments, lays out before us the astonishing spectrum of writings documenting what is still often, but wrongly, called the 'Dark Ages.' The collection is unusually homogeneous: the editor who selected the contents also translated almost all of them from the original latin. The translations read well and are rendered exceptionally accurate by Professor Murray's deep learning in late Roman and Frankish institutions. Nowhere in the western part of the Roman Empire was continuity from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages so sustained and observable as in Gaul. The connection between the Roman and Merovingian periods was not seamless, but close to being so. The sources gathered and presented by Alexander C. Murray provide an engrossing, inspiring, and readable record of a decisive historical period.

Walter Goffart, University of Toronto

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