Gregory of Tours and The History of the Franks


  • Nina Vuk Ptujska c. 113, 2204 Miklavž



early Middle Ages, Gaul, history, medieval literature, Franks


Historiography in the first centuries of the Middle Ages began to flourish with the writers of the origo gentis, or history of nations. One of them was Gregory of Tours, a follower of the patristic and late Roman chronicle tradition, and the author of a ten-volume work called The History of the Franks. There arises the question, however, if such a title is indeed appropriate. The list of Gregory's works which he appended himself to the end of his ten-volume opus mentions decem libri Historiarum, making it plain that he named the work Histories. His intention was not to write about the kings of the Franks only, but to present a picture of Gaul in the fifth and sixth centuries A.D.; the Franks with their history were included simply for the reason that they gradually took possession of the whole territory of Gaul. Gregory was a past master of description and narration. Although his style is plain and unadorned, it often surprises the reader with its Biblical diction, the contrasting descriptions of manslaughter and miracles" of kings and saints, and with many anecdotes, masterfully incorporated into the stream of historical events. Words had but one significance for Gregory - they told a story.


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