Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks

  1. Pope Gregory of Rome
  2. Return of the legate Grippo from the emperor Maurice
  3. King Childebert's army goes into Italy
  4. The emperor Maurice sends the slayers of the legates to the Gauls
  5. Chuppa attacks the territory of Tours
  6. The prisoners in Clermont
  7. In the same city king Childebert remits the tribute of the clergy
  8. Eulalius and Tetradia who had been his wife
  9. King Gunthram's army which marched into Brittany
  10. Killing of Chundo his chamberlain
  11. Sickness of the younger Clothar
  12. Berthegunda's wickedness
  13. Argument on the resurrection
  14. Death of the deacon Theodulf
  15. Scandal at the convent of Poitiers
  16. The judgement on Chrodield and Basina
  17. Their excommunication
  18. Assassins sent to king Childebert
  19. Removal of Egidius bishops of Rheims
  20. The nuns mentioned above are pardoned at this synod
  21. Killing of Waddo's sons
  22. Killing of the Saxon Childeric
  23. Prodigies and the uncertainty about Easter
  24. The destruction of Antiouch
  25. Death of the man who said he was Christ
  26. Death of bishops Ragnimod and Sulpicius
  27. The men whom Fredegunda ordered to be put to death
  28. Baptism of her son Clothar
  29. The conversion, miracles, and death of the blessed Aridius abbot of Limoges
  30. The year
  31. List of the bishops of Tours


   1. In the fifteenth year of king Childebert our deacon returned from Rome with relics of the saints and related that in the ninth month of the previous year the river Tiber so flooded the city of Rome that ancient temples were destroyed and the store­houses of the church were overturned and several thousand measures of wheat in them were lost. A multitude of snakes, among them a great serpent like a big log, passed down into the sea by the channel of this river, but these creatures were smothered among the rough and salty waves of the sea and cast up on the shore. Immediately after came the plague which they call inguinaria. [1] It came in the middle of the eleventh month and according to what is read in the prophet Ezekiel: "Begin at my sanctuary," it first of all smote the pope Pelagius and soon killed him. Upon his death a great mortality among the people followed from this disease. But since the church of God could not be without a head all the people chose Gregory the deacon. He belonged to one of the first senatorial families and from his youth was devoted to God and with his own means had established six monasteries in Sicily and a seventh within the Roman walls; and giving to these such an amount of land as would suffice to furnish their daily food, he sold the rest and all the furniture of his house and distributed the money among the poor in the city; and he who had been used to arrayed in silken robes and glittering jewels was now clad in cheap garments, and he devoted himself to the service of the Lord's altar and was assigned as seventh levite to aid the pope. And such was his abstinence in food, his sleeplessness in prayer, his determination in fasting that his stomach was weakened and he could scarcely stand upright. He was so versed in grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric that he was believed second to none in the city. He strove earnestly to avoid this high office for fear that a certain pride at attaining the honor might sweep him back into the worldly vanities he had rejected. And so he sent a letter to the emperor Mauricius whose son he had taken from the holy font, adjuring him and entreating him with many prayers never to grant his consent to the people to raise him to this place of honor. But Germanus, prefect of Rome, forestalled the messenger and had him arrested and the letter destroyed, and himself sent to the emperor the choice which the people had made. And the emperor on account of his friendship with the deacon thanked God that he had found a place of honor and sent his command to appoint him. . . .
   [Because of the plague Gregory makes an address to the people of Rome to meet it by prayer.]
   When he spoke these words bands of clergy gathered and he bade them sing psalms for three days and pray for God's mercy. Every three hours choirs of singers came to the church crying through the streets of the city "Kyrie eleison." Our deacon who was there said that in the space of one hour while the people uttered cries of supplication to the Lord eighty fell to the ground and died. But the bishop did not cease to urge the people not to cease from prayer. It was from Gregory while he was still deacon that our deacon received the relics of the saints as we have said.
   And when Gregory was making ready to go to a hiding place he was seized and brought by force to the church of the blessed apostle Peter and there he was consecrated to the duties of bishop and made pope of the city. Our deacon did not leave until Gregory returned from the port to become bishop, and he saw his ordination with his own eyes.
   2. Grippo returned from the emperor Maurice and reported that in the preceding year he and his companions had taken ship and landed at an African port and gone on to Carthage the Great. While they were remaining there, awaiting the orders of the prefect who was in the city as to how they were to reach the emperor's presence, one of the men belonging to Evantius, who had gone out with him, snatched an article of value from a trader's hand and took it to their lodging. The owner of the article followed him and demanded his property back. But the man put him off and the quarrel grew greater from day to day, and one day the trader met the man on the street and took hold of his clothes and held fast saying: "I'll never let you go until you return to my possession what you took by violence." But the other after trying to shake him off did not hesitate to snatch his sword and kill the fellow, and he at once returned to the lodging but did not disclose to his comrades what had happened. Now as I have said the legates were Bodigisel, son of Mummolinus of Soissons, and Evantius, son of Dinamius of Arles, and this Grippo, a Frank, and they had arisen from dinner and retired to rest and sleep. But when the act of their man was reported to the ruler of the city he gathered soldiers and all the people put on their armor and he sent them to their lodging. But the legates were amazed on being wakened to see what was going on, having had no expectation of it. Then the leader cried out saying: "Lay your arms aside and come out to us, that we may peaceably learn how the homicide happened." On hearing this they were alarmed as they did not yet know what had happened, and they asked for a pledge so that they could go out safely without arms. The men swore that they could but their hastiness did not allow them to keep their oath. But soon after Bodigisil went out they killed him with the sword and likewise Evantius. And when they lay before the door of the lodging Grippo seized his armor and went out to them with the men he had with him, saying: "We do not know what has happened and behold here are the comrades of my journey who were sent to the emperor lying slain by the sword. God will avenge our wrong and will atone for their death by your destruction, since you butcher us in this way when we do not harm you but come in peace. There shall not be peace any longer between our kings and your emperor. It was for peace we came and to bring aid to your state. Today I call God to witness that it is your crime that has caused the promised peace to be kept no longer between the princes." When Grippo had spoken these words and more to the same effect, this Carthaginian troop dispersed and each returned to his home. The prefect went to Grippo and attempted to calm m as to these occurrences and arranged for his going to the presence of the emperor. He went and told the business on which he had been sent and described the fate of his comrades. At this the emperor was greatly annoyed and promised to avenge their death in accordance with the judgment king Childebert should give. Then Grippo received gifts from the emperor and returned without being molested.
   3. These matters were related by Grippo to king Childebert, who at once commanded his army to march into Italy and sent twenty dukes to conquer the Lombards. I have not thought it necessary to set their names down here in order. But duke Audovald with Wintrio set the people of Champagne on the march and when he came to the city of Metz which is on the way he plundered, slew, and mistreated the inhabitants in such a manner that it might have been thought that he was leading an army against his own country. Moreover the other dukes did the same with their phalanxes and ravaged their own country and the people who remained behind, before they won any victory over the enemy. When they reached the Italian boundary Audovald with six dukes invaded the right side and reached the city of Milan, and there they pitched their camp at a distance on the plain. And duke Olo went rashly to Bellinzona, a stronghold of this city, situated on the plains called Canini, and was wounded with a dart under the nipple and fell and died. Moreover when they went out to plunder in order to get food, they were slain by the Lombards who rushed upon them everywhere. There was a lake in the territory of Milan called Ceresium [2] out of which a small but deep stream flowed. Upon the shore of this lake they heard that the Lombards were encamped. They came to it, but before they could cross the stream we have mentioned one of the Lombards standing on the shore, armed with a coat of mail and helmet and carrying a lance in his hand, shouted against the army of the Franks, saying, "To­day it shall appear to whom the Divinity will grant a victory." It may be understood that the Lombards had arranged this as a sign. Then a few crossed and fought this Lombard and slew him. And behold the whole army of the Lombards took to flight. Our men crossed the river but found none of them, seeing only the camp arrangements, where they had their fires and pitched their tents. And when they could capture none of them they returned to their own camp and there the emperor's legates came to them bringing the news that an army was at hand to help them, and saying, "After three days we will come with it, and this shall be a sign for you: when you see the houses of this village which is on the mountain burn with fire and the smoke rising up to heaven, be assured that we are close at hand with the army which we promised." However they waited according to agreement six days and saw none of them come.
   And Chedinus with thirteen dukes entered Italy on the left and took five strongholds and exacted oaths of fealty. But dysentry affected his army severely ­ because the air was new to his men and disagreed with them ­ and many died of it. But when the wind rose and it rained and the air began to freshen a little it brought health in place of sickness. Why more? For about three months they wandered through Italy without accomplishing anything or being able to take vengeance on their enemies, since they were shut up in strongholds, or to capture the king and take vengeance on him, since he was shut up within the walls of Pavia, and then the army sickened as we have said because of the unhealthfulness of the air and grew weak from hunger and prepared to return home after exacting oaths of fidelity and subjecting to the king's rule the people of the country which his father had held before and from which they took captives and other booty. And returning thus they were so starved that they sold their armor and clothing to buy food before they came to their native place. . . .
   4. Maurice caused the Carthaginians who had killed king Childebert's legates the previous year, to be bound and loaded with chains and sent them to Childebert's presence, twelve in number, under these conditions, that if he wished to put them to death he should have permission: or if he would allow them to be ransomed he should receive three hundred gold pieces for each and be content; and thus he was to choose whichever he wished, that the disagreement might be more readily forgotten and no further cause of enmity arise between them. But king Childebert refused to accept the bound men and said: "It is uncertain in my mind whether these men you bring are the homicides or others, perhaps slaves of somebody or other, whereas our men who were killed in your country were free born." Grippo in particular, who had been legate at the time with the men who were killed, was present and said: "The prefect of the city with two or three thousand men whom he had gathered made an attack on us and killed my comrades; and I would have perished with them if I hadn't been able to make a brave defence. I can go to the place and identify the men. It is these that your emperor ought to punish if, as you say, he proposes to keep peace with our master." And so the king decided to send to the emperor for the guilty men and he bade these depart.
   5. In these days Chuppa, who had once been king Chilperic's constable, made an inroad into the territory of Tours and desired to take flocks and other property as if he were taking booty. But the inhabitants had warning and a multitude gathered and began to pursue him. He lost his plunder and two of his men were killed: he escaped with nothing and two other men were captured; they were sent in fetters to king Childebert. He ordered them to be thrown into prison and examined as to who it was by whose aid Chuppa escaped from being captured by his pursuers. They answered that it was through a stratagem of the vicar Animodus, who had the power of a judge in that district. At once the king sent a letter and ordered the count of the city to send him in chains to the king's presence; and if he should attempt resistance he was to crush him by force and even kill him, if he wished to gain the king's favor. But Animodus made no resistance but gave sureties and went as he was told, and finding Flavian the court­official he pleaded together with his companion and was not found guilty, they were acquitted and ordered to return home. However he first gave presents to the court­official. Chuppa a second time roused some of his people and purposed to carry off the daughter of Badigysel, former bishop of Mans, to marry her. He made a night attack with a band of his companions on the village of Mareil to fulfil his purpose, but Magnatrude, the mother of the girl and head of the household, had warning of him and his treachery; she went out against him with her slaves and repelled him by force, killing many of his men; and he did not come off without disgrace.
   [6. Miraculous deliverance of prisoners in a jail in Auvergne.]
   7. In the same city king Childebert most piously remitted all the tribute of the churches as well as of the monasteries and of the clergy who were attached to a church and of whoever were engaged in cultivating the church land. For the collectors of the tribute had suffered great losses, since in the course of long time and succeeding generations the estates had been divided into small parts and the tribute could be collected only with difficulty, and Childebert by inspiration of God directed that the trouble should be remedied and the amount which was due to the fisc from these should not be exacted from the collectors, and that arrearage should not deprive any tiller of church land of his benefice.
   8. Where the territories of Auvergne, Gavaudan, and Rouergue meet, a synod of bishops was held to hear the case against Tetradia, widow of Desiderius, from whom count Eulalius claimed the property which she had taken with her when she fled from him. I think that I ought to relate this case in full detail and how she left Eulalius and fled to Desiderius. Eulalius, as a young man will, had behaved in several matters in a senseless fashion, and so it came about that he was often reproached by his mother and began to hate when he should have loved her. Now she used frequently to devote herself to prayer in the oratory of her house and to spend the watches of the night in prayer and tears while her servants slept, and at last she was found strangled in the hair shirt in which she prayed. And though no one knew who had one this nevertheless her son was charged with the murder. When Cautinus, bishop of Clermont, heard of this, he excommunicated him. But when the citizens gathered with the bishop at the festival of the blessed martyr Julian, Eulalius threw himself at the feet of the bishop complaining that he had been excommunicated without a hearing. Then the bishop permitted him to attend the service of the mass with the others. But when the time for communion came and Eulalius went forward to the altar the bishop said: "Common talk among the people declares that you are a murderer. Now I do not know whether you have done this crime or not: therefore I leave it to the judgment of God and the blessed martyr Julian. You then, if you are fit to do so, as you say, approach and take a share of the Eucharist and put it in your mouth. For God will know your conscience." Eulalius received the Eucharist and had communion and departed. He had a wife, Tetradia by name, noble on her mother's side, of low rank by her father. And in his house he took the maidservants for concubines and began to neglect his wife, and when he returned from these harlots he would often beat her severely. Moreover because of his many ill­deeds he contracted a number of debts and often used his wife's jewels and gold for these. Finally when his wife was in this hard situation since she had lost all the honor she had in her husband's house, and he was gone to the king, Virus, this was the man's name ­ her husband's nephew, fell in love with her and wished to marry her since he had lost his wife. Virus however was afraid of his uncle's enmity and sent the woman to duke Desiderius with the intention of marrying her later on. And she took with her all her husband's substance both in gold and silver and garments and all she could take, together with her older son, but she left the younger son at home. Eulalius returned from his journey and learned what had happened. And when his grief was lessened and he had taken a little rest he rushed upon his nephew Virus and killed him in a narrow valley of Auvergne. And Desiderius who had lately lost his wife heard that Virus had been killed and married Tetradia. But Eulalius took a girl by force from the convent at Lyons and married her. But his concubines impelled by envy, as some say, made her insane by evil arts. A long time after Eulalius secretly attacked and killed Emerius, cousin of this girl. In like manner he killed Socratius, brother of his half­sister whom his father had had by a concubine. He committed also many other crimes, too many to tell. John, his son, who had gone off with his mother ran away from Desiderius's house and went to Auvergne. And Innocent being now a candidate for the bishopric of Rodez, Eulalius sent a message to him that he could recover by Innocent's aid the property that was rightfully his in the territory of this city. Innocent replied: "If I receive one of your sons to make a cleric of and to keep to help me, I will do what you ask." Eulalius sent the boy named John and received his property back. And Innocent received the boy and shaved the hair of his head and put him in the care of the archdeacon of his church. And he became so abstemious that he ate barley instead of wheat, drank water instead of wine, used an ass instead of a horse, and wore the meanest garments. And so the bishops and leading men met, as we have said, at the confines of the cities mentioned, and Tetradia was represented by Agyn and Eulalius appeared to speak against her. When Eulalius asked for the things she had taken from his home when she went to Desiderius, Tetradia was ordered to repay what she took fourfold, and the children that she had by Desiderius were declared illegitimate; they also directed that if she paid Eulalius what she was ordered to pay him, she would have the liberty of going to Auvergne and of enjoying without disturbance the property which had come to her from her father. This was done.
   [9. Gunthram sends an expedition against the Bretons which proves a failure.]
   10. In the fifteenth year of king Childebert which is the twenty-ninth of Gunthram, while king Gunthram was hunting in the Vosges forest he found traces of the killing of a buffalo. And when he harshly demanded of the keeper of the forest who had dared to do this in the king's forest, the keeper named Chundo the king's chamberlain. Upon this he ordered Chundo to be arrested and taken to Chalon loaded with chains. And when the two were confronted with each other in the king's presence and Chundo said that he had never presumed to do what he was charged with, the king ordered a trial by battle. Then the chamberlain offered his nephew to engage in the fight in his place and both appeared on the field; the youth hurled his lance at the keeper of the forest and pierced his foot; and he presently fell on his back. The youth then drew the sword which hung from his belt but while he sought to cut his fallen adversary's throat he himself received a da ger thrust in the belly. Both fell dead. Seeing this Chundo started to run to Saint Marcellus's church. But the king shouted to seize him before he touched the sacred threshold and he was caught and tied to a stake and stoned. After this the king was very penitent at having shown himself so headlong in anger as to kill hastily for a trifling guilt a man who was faithful and useful to him.
   [11. King Clothar is dangerously ill. 12. Ingytrude, abbess of a convent attached to St. Martin's church, dies, directing that her disobedient daughter should not even be allowed to pray at her tomb. 13. One of Gregory's priests is "infected with the malignant poison of the Sadducean heresy." [3] He is overcome in argument by Gregory. 14. Story of the drunken priest Theodulf who falls off the wall of Angers and is killed.]
   15. The scandal which by the help of the devil had arisen in the monastery at Poitiers was growing worse every day and Chrodield [4] was sitting all prepared for strife, having gathered to herself, as I have said above, murderers, sorcerers, adulterers, run­away slaves and men guilty of all other crimes. And so she gave orders to them to break into the monastery at night and drag the abbess from it. But the latter heard the uproar coming and asked to be carried to the chest containing the relics of the holy cross [5] ­ for she was painfully troubled with gout ­ thinking that she would be kept safe by their aid. Accordingly [6] when the men had entered and lit the candles and were hurrying with weapons ready here and there through the monastery looking for her, they went into the oratory and found her lying on the ground before the chest of the holy cross. Thereupon one who was fiercer than the rest, having come on purpose to commit this crime, namely, to cleave the abbess in two with the sword, was given a knife stab by another, the divine providence aiding in this, I suppose. The blood gushed out and he fell to the ground without fulfilling the vow he had foolishly made. Meantime Justina, [7] the prioress, and the other sisters had taken the cloth of the altar which was before the Lord's cross and covered the abbess with it, putting the lights out at the same time. But the men came with drawn swords and spears and tore the nuns' clothes and almost crushed their hands and seized the prioress instead of the abbess, since it was dark, and pulled her robes off and tore her hair down and dragged her out and carried her off to place her under guard at St. Hilary's Church; but, as the dawn was coming on, they perceived when near the church that it was not the abbess, and presently they told the woman to return to the monastery. They returned, too, and seized the abbess and dragged her away and confined her near St. Hilary's Church in a place where Basina [8] lodged, setting guards at the door so that no one should give aid. to the captive. At the next twilight they entered the monastery and when they found no candles to light they took a cask from the storehouse which had been pitched and left to dry and set fire to it, and there was a great light while it burned, and they made plunder of all the furniture of the monastery, leaving only what they were unable to carry off. This happened seven days before Easter. And as the bishop was distressed at all this and could not calm this strife of the devil, he sent to Chrodield, saying: "Let the abbess go, so that she shall not be kept in prison during these days; otherwise I will not celebrate the Lord's Easter festival nor shall any catechumen receive baptism in this city unless you order the abbess to be set free from the confinement in which she is held. And if you refuse to let her go, I will call the citizens together and rescue her." When he said this, Chrodield appointed assassins, saying: " If any one tries to carry her off by violence, give her a thrust with the sword at once." Now Flavian came in those days; he had lately been appointed domesticus, and by his aid the abbess entered St. Hilary's Church and was free. Meantime murders were being committed at the holy Radegunda's [9] tomb, and certain persons were hacked to death in a disturbance before the very chest that contained the relics of the holy cross. And since this madness increased daily because of Chrodield's pride, and continual murders and other deeds of violence, such as I have mentioned above, were being done by her faction, and she had become so swollen up with boastfulness that she looked down with lofty contempt upon her own cousin Basina, the latter began to repent and say: "I have done wrong in supporting haughty Chrodield. Behold I am an object of contempt to her and am made to appear a rebel against my abbess." She changed her course and humbled herself before the abbess and asked for peace with her; and they were equally of one thought and purpose. Then when the outrages broke out again, the men who were with the abbess, while resisting an attack which Chrodield's followers [10] had made, wounded one of Basina's men who fell dead. But the abbess' men took refuge behind the abbess in the church of the confessor, and on this account Basina left the abbess and departed. But the men fled a second time, and the abbess and Basina entered again into friendly relations as before. Afterward many feuds arose between these factions; [11] and who could ever set forth in words such wounds, such killings, and such wrong­doings, where scarcely a day passed without a murder, or an hour without a quarrel, or a moment without tears. King Childebert heard of this, and sent an embassy to king Gunthram to propose that bishops of both kingdoms should meet and punish these actions in accordance with the canons. And king Childebert ordered my humble self [12] to sit on this case, together with Eberegisel of Cologne and Maroveus himself, bishop of Poitiers; and king Gunthram sent Gundigisil of Bordeaux with his provincials, since he was the metropolitan of this city. But I began to object, saying: "I will not go to this place unless the rebellion which has arisen because of Chrodield, is forcibly put down by the judge." [13] For this reason a command was sent to Macco, who was then count, in which he was ordered to put the rebellion down by force if they should resist. Chrodield heard of this and ordered her assassins to stand armed before the door of the oratory, thinking they would fight against the judge, and if he wished to use force, they would resist with equal force. So it was necessary for this count to go there with armed men and to beat some with clubs and pierce others with spears, and when they resisted fiercely he had to attack and overwhelm them with the sword. When Chrodield saw this, she took the Lord's cross, the miraculous power of which she had before despised, and came out to meet them saying: "Do no violence to me, I beg of you, for I am a queen, daughter of one king and cousin of another; don't do it, lest a time may come for me to take vengeance on you." But the throng paid little heed to what she said but rushed, as I have said, upon those who were resisting and bound them and dragged them from the monastery and tied them to stakes and beat them fiercely and cut off the hair of some, the hands of others, and in a good many cases the ears and nose, and the rebellion was crushed and there was peace. Then the bishops who were present sat on the tribunal of the church, and Chrodield appeared and gave vent to much abuse of the abbess and many charges, asserting that she had a man in the monastery who wore woman's clothes and was treated as a woman although he had been very clearly shown to be a man, and that he was in constant attendance on the abbess herself, and she pointed her finger at him and said: "There he is himself." And when this man had taken the stand before all in woman's clothes, as I have stated, he said that he was impotent and therefore had put these clothes on; but he did not know the abbess except by name and he asserted that had never seen her or spoken with her, as he lived more than forty miles from the city of Poitiers. Then as she had not proved the abbess guilty of this crime, she added: "What holiness is there in this abbess who makes men eunuchs and orders them to live with her as if she were an empress." The abbess, being questioned, replied that she knew nothing of this matter. Meantime when Chrodield had given the name of the man who was a eunuch, Reoval, the chief physician, appeared and said: "This man when he was a child was diseased in the thigh and was so ill that his life was despaired of his mother went to the holy Radegunda to request that he should have some attention. But she called me and bade me give what assistance I could. Then I castrated him in the way I had once seen physicians do in Constantinople, and restored the boy in good health to his sorrowing mother; I am sure the abbess knows nothing of this matter." Now when Chrodield had failed to prove the abbess guilty on this charge also, she began fiercely to make others. But I have decided that it is better to insert the charges and the rebuttals of each in my narrative just they are contained in the decision which was given as regards these same persons.
   16. Copy of the Decision.
   To the most glorious kings the bishops who are present [14][send greetings]. By God's favor religion properly discloses her causes to the pious and orthodox kings who are given the to people and to whom the country is granted, knowing well that through the mediation of the holy spirit she is made a partner in the decree of the rulers and is supported by it. And whereas in accordance with the command of your majesties we are assembled at Poitiers on account of the situation in the monastery of Radegunda of holy memory, in order to take cognizance at first hand of the disputes between the abbess of the said monastery and the nuns who left the flock for no sound reason; we summoned the parties and interrogated Chrodield and Basina as to why they had so boldly departed contrary to the rule, breaking the doors of the monastery, and why the united congregation had at this time been broken in two. In answer they asserted that they could not endure any longer the risk of starvation, nakedness, and above all of beating; and they added also that several men had bathed in their bath contrary to decency, and that the abbess played games, and that worldly persons dined with her, and that a betrothal had actually taken place in the monastery; that she had impiously made a dress for her niece out of a silk altar cloth, and that she had frivolously taken the golden leaves which were on the border of the altar cloth and sinfully hung them about her niece's neck; and she had made a fillet with gold ornaments for her niece without any need for it, and that she had a masquerade [15] in the monastery. We asked the abbess what she had to answer to this, and she said that as to the complaint about starvation, they had never endured too great privation considering the poverty of the time. And as to clothes, she said that if one were to examine their boxes, [he would find] they had more than was necessary. And as to the charge about the bath, she related that the bath had been built in the time of Lent and that on account of the disagreeable smell of the limestone, in order that the newness of the building might not do harm to the bathers, lady Radegunda had given orders for the servants of the monastery to use it as a common thing until all harmful odor had disappeared. It had been in common use by the servants through Lent and until Pentecost. To this Chrodield answered: "And later on in the same way many men bathed at different times." The abbess replied that she did not approve of what they reported but she did not know whether it was true; moreover she found fault with them for not informing the abbess if they had seen it. As to the games she played, she answered that she had played when lady Radegunda was alive and it was not regarded as a sin, and she said that neither in the rule nor the canons was there any reference in writing to their prohibition. However at the order of the bishops she promised that she would bow her head and do whatever penance should be demanded. As to the dinners, she said she had introduced no new custom but had merely offered the blest bread to orthodox Christians as had been done under lady Radegunda, and it could not be proved against her that she had ever dined with them. As to the betrothal, she said that she had received the earnest money [16] in behalf of her niece, an orphan girl, in the presence of the bishop, the clergy and the leading men, and if this was a sin, she ask would for pardon in the presence of all; however not even on that occasion had she made a feast in the monastery. In answer to the charge about the altar cloth, she brought forward a nun of noble family who had given her as a gift a silk robe she had received from her relatives, and she had cut off a part of this to do what she wished with it, and from the rest, which was sufficient, she had made a suitable cloth to adorn the altar, and she used the scraps left over from the altar cloth to trim her niece's tunic with purple; and she said she gave this to her niece when she was serving in the monastery. All this was confirmed by Didimia who had given the robe. As to the leaves of gold and the fillet adorned with gold, she offered Macco your servant, who is here, as a witness, since it was by his hand that she received twenty pieces of gold from the betrothed of the said girl her niece, from which she had purchased these articles openly, and the property of the monastery was not involved in it at all.
   Chrodield and Basina were asked whether perchance they imputed adultery to the abbess, which God forbid, or whether they could say she had committed a murder or a sorcery or a capital crime for which she should be punished. They replied they had nothing to say to this; they only asserted that she had acted contrary to the rule in the matters they had mentioned. Finally they said that nuns whom we believed to be innocent were with child because of these faults, namely, that the doors were broken open and the wretched women were at liberty to do what they would for many months without discipline from their abbess.
   When we had discussed these charges in order and had found no wrong­doing for which to degrade the abbess, we gave her a fatherly admonition for the pardonable faults she had committed, and urged her not to incur any reproof later. Then we inquired into the case of the opposing party who had committed greater crimes, that is to say, who, when within the monastery, had despised the warning of their bishop not to go forth in despite of their bishop and had left him in the monastery under the greatest contempt and had broken the bars and doors and foolishly departed, involving other nuns in their sin. Moreover when the archbishop Gundigisil with his provincials had received notice of this case and come to Poitiers by order of the king and had summoned them to a hearing at the monastery, they disregarded his summons, and when the bishops went to them at the church of St. Hilary the Confessor where they were staying, going to them as is seemly for anxious pastors to do; while they were receiving the admonition of the bishops a disturbance arose, and they attacked the bishops and their attendants with clubs, and even shed the blood of deacons within the church. Then when the venerable priest Teuthar by command of the princes came to judge this case, and the time for rendering the judgment had been fixed, they did not wait for it but attacked the monastery like rebels, setting fire to casks in the court­yard and breaking the doors with crow­bars and axes, and setting fire, and beating and wounding nuns in the very oratories within the walls, and plundering the monastery, and stripping the clothes off the abbess and tearing her hair and dragging her violently through the streets in derision and thrusting her into a place where, although not in fetters, she was not free. And when the festival of Easter came, which is always honored, the bishop offered a ransom for the prisoner so that she could aid in baptism, but his entreaty could not secure this for any consideration, ­ Chrodield answered that she had neither known of such a crime nor ordered it, adding further that it was at a sign from her that the abbess was not killed by her people, from which we may be confident in inferring that they were becoming more cruel ­ and they had killed a slave of their own monastery who was fleeing to the blessed Radegunda's tomb, and instead of improving had gone deeper into crime; and later they entered the monastery and took possession of it; and at the order of the kings to produce the rebels in public they refused to obey, and rather took up arms against the king's command and wickedly rose with arrows and lances against the count and the people. Then lately when they appeared for a public hearing they took the holy and most sacred cross secretly and wrongfully, which they were later forced to store to the church.
   Having taken cognizance of so many capital crimes and of a wickedness that was not restrained but continually increased, we told them that they should beg the abbess for pardon for their sin and restore what they had wrongfully taken. But they were unwilling to do this but talked rather of killing her, a design they admitted in public. Then we opened and read the canons, and it seemed most just that until they made a suitable repentance they should be excommunicated and the abbess should continue permanently in her place. This is what we suggest should be done in accordance with your command, as far as the interests of the church are concerned, having read the canons and having made no distinction of persons. For the rest, as to the property of the monastery and the deeds given by the kings your kinsmen which have been stolen, and which they say they have but disregard our orders and fail to return, it belongs to your piety, your power and royal authority to compel them to be returned to their place, in order that your reward and that of the previous kings may continue for ever. Do not permit them to return or think of returning again to the place which they so impiously and sacrilegiously destroyed, lest worse may come. With the aid of the Lord let all be wholly restored and returned to God under the catholic kings; let religion lose nothing; let the decision of the fathers and the canons be maintained and be of profit to us for worship and bring you gain. May Christ the Lord support and guide you, may He bestow on you a long reign and the blessed life.
   17. After this when the decision was made known and they were excommunicated and the abbess restored to the monastery, they went to king Childebert, adding crime to crime, naming forsooth certain persons to the king who not only lived in adultery with the abbess but also sent messengers daily to his enemy Fredegunda. On hearing this the king sent men to bring them in chains. But when they were examined and no wrongdoing was found, they were let go.
   [18. Attempt on the life of Childebert. 19. Bishop Egidius is removed from office. 20. Basina and Chrodield are pardoned. 21. Waddo's sons are punished. 22. Death of Childeric.]
   23. In this year there was such a light shed over the earth in the night that one would think it mid­day moreover balls of fire were frequently noticed at night speeding across the sky and lighting the world. There was doubt about Easter for the reason that Victor wrote in his cycle that Easter came on the fifteenth day of the moon. But to prevent Christians from celebrating this festival at the same time of the moon as the Jews, he added: "But the Latins [place it] on the twenty­second of the moon." For this reason many in Gaul celebrated on the fifteenth of the moon but we celebrated on the twenty­second. We made careful inquiry but the springs in Spain which are filled by a divine power were filled at our Easter.
   There was a great earthquake on the eighteenth day before the Kalends [17] of the fifth month, being the fourth day [of the week], early in the morning when dawn was coming. The sun was eclipsed in the middle of the eighth month and its light was so diminished that it scarcely gave as much light as the horns of the moon on the fifth day. There were heavy rains, loud thunders in the autumn and the streams were very full. The bubonic plague cruelly destroyed the people of Viviers and Avignon.
   [24. An Armenian bishop visits Tours and tells the story of the destruction of Antioch.]
   25. Now in the Gauls the disease I have mentioned attacked the province of Marseilles, and a great famine oppressed Angers, Nantes, and Mans. These are the beginning of sorrows according to what the Lord says in the Gospel: "There shall be pestilence and famines and earthquakes in different places and false Christs and false prophets shall arise and give signs and prodigies in the heavens so as to put the elect astray" as is true at the present time. For a certain man of Bourges, as he himself told later, went into the deep woods to cut logs which he needed for a certain work and a swarm of flies surrounded him, as a result of which he was considered crazy for two years; whence it may be believed that they were a wickedness sent by the devil. Then he passed through the neighboring cities and went to the province of Arles and there wore skins and prayed like one of the devout, and to make a fool of him the enemy gave him the power of divination. After this he rose from his place and left the province mentioned in order to become more expert in wickedness, and entered the territory of Gévaudan, conducting himself as a great man and not afraid to say that he was Christ. He took with him a woman who passed as his sister to whom he gave the name of Mary. A multitude of people flocked to him bringing the sick, whom he touched and restored to health. They who came to him brought him also gold and silver and garments. These he distributed among the poor to deceive them the more easily, and throwing himself on the ground and praying with the woman I have mentioned and rising, he would give orders to the bystanders to worship him in turn. He foretold the future and announced that disease would come to some, to others losses and to others health. But all this he did by some arts and trickeries of the devil. A great multitude of people was led astray by him, not only the common ilk but bishops of the church. More than three thousand people followed him. Meantime he began to spoil and plunder those whom he met on the road; the booty, however, he gave to those who had nothing. He threatened with death bishops and citizens, because they disdained to worship him. He entered La Velay and went to the place called Puy and halted with all his host at the churches near there, marshalling his line of battle to make war on Aurilius who was then bishop, and sending messengers forward, naked men who danced and played and announced his coming. The bishop was amazed at this and sent strong men to ask what his doings meant. One of these, the leader, bent down as if to embrace his knees and check his passage and [the impostor] ordered him to be seized and spoiled. But the other at once drew his sword and cut him into bits and that Christ who ought rather to be named anti­Christ fell dead; and all who were with him dispersed. Mary was tortured and revealed all his impostures and deceits. But the men whom he had excited to a belief in him by the trickery of the devil never returned to their sound senses, but they always said that this man was Christ in a sense and that Mary had a share in his divine nature. Moreover through all the Gauls many appeared who attracted poor women to themselves by trickery and influenced them to rave and declare their leaders holy, and they made a great show before the people. I have seen some of them and have rebuked them and endeavored to recall them from error.
   [26. A Syrian trader, Eusebius, becomes bishop of Paris.]
   27. Among the Franks of Tournai a great feud arose because the son of one often angrily rebuked the son of another who had married his sister, for leaving his wife and visiting a prostitute. And when reform on the part of the guilty man did not follow, the anger of the youth became so great that he rushed upon his brother­in­law and killed him and his men, and was himself killed by his opponents, and there was only one left from both parties who lacked a slayer. Upon this the kinsmen on both sides raged at one another, but were frequently urged by queen Fredegunda to give up their enmity and become friends lest their persistence in the quarrel might cause a greater disturbance. But when she failed to reconcile them with gentle words she tamed them on both sides with the ax. For she invited many to a feast and caused these three to sit on the same bench, and when the dinner had been prolonged until night covered the earth, the table was taken away according to the custom of the Franks and they sat on the bench in their places. Much wine had been drunk and they were so overcome by it that the slaves were intoxicated and were lying asleep in the corners of the house, each where he fell. Then by the woman's order three men with axes stood behind these three and while they were talking together the hands of the men flashed in a single blow, so to speak, and they were struck down and the banquet ended. Their names were Charivald, Leodovald, and Valden. When this was told to their kinsmen they began to watch Fredegunda closely and sent messengers to king Childebert to seize her and put her to death. The people of Champagne were angry because of this matter, but while Childebert was interposing delay she was saved by the help of her people and hastened to another place.
   [28. Baptism of Clothar. 29. Miracles of the abbot Aridius. 30. The plague. 31. The bishops of Tours from the beginning to Gregory.]
   The nineteenth was I, unworthy Gregory, who found the church of Tours, in which the blessed Martin and the other bishops of the Lord were consecrated in the pontifical office, shattered and ruined by fire. I rebuilt it larger and higher, and dedicated it in the seventeenth year after being ordained; and in it as I learned from the old priests the relics of the blessed Maurice and his companions had been placed by the ancients. I found the very box in the treasury of the church of St. Martin, and in it the relics, greatly decayed, which had been brought because of their miraculous power. And while vigils were being kept in their honor I wished to visit them again by the light of a torch. And I was examining them intently when the keeper of the church said to me: "Here is a stone with a cover, but I don't know what it has in it and I haven't been able to learn from my predecessors who have had charge here. Let me bring it and you look carefully to see what it contains." I took it and opened it of course, and found a silver box containing relics of the witnesses of the blessed legion as well as of many saints both martyrs and confessors. We also found other stones hollow like this one, containing relics of the holy apostles and the rest of the martyrs. I wondered at this bounty divinely given and after, giving thanks, keeping vigil, and saying mass, I placed them in the cathedral. I placed the relics of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian in St. Martin's cell close to the cathedral. I found the walls of the holy church consumed by fire and ordered skilful workmen to repaint and adorn them with their er splendor. I had a baptistery built close by the church, where I placed the relics of the holy martyrs John and Sergius, and in what had been the baptistery I placed the relics of the martyr Benignus. And in many localities in the territory of Tours I dedicated churches and oratories and glorified them with relics of the saints, but I think it tiresome to speak of them in order.
   I wrote ten books of Histories, seven of Miracles, one on the Lives of the Fathers; a commentary in one book on Psalms; one book also on the Services of the Church. And though I have written these books in a style somewhat rude, I nevertheless conjure you all, God's bishops who are destined to rule the lowly church of Tours after me, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the judgment day, feared by the guilty, if you will not be condemned with the devil and depart in confusion from the judgment, never cause these books to be destroyed or rewritten, selecting some passages and omitting others, but let them all continue in your time complete and undiminished as they were left by us. And bishop of God, whoever you may be, if our Martianus has trained you in the seven disciplines, that is, if he has taught you by means of grammar to read, by dialectic to apprehend the arguments in disputes, by rhetoric to recognize the different meters, by geometry to comprehend the measurement of the earth and of lines, by astrology to contemplate the paths of the heavenly bodies, by arithmetic to understand the parts of numbers, by harmony to fit the modulated voice to the sweet accents of the verse; if in all this you are practiced so that my style will seem rude, even so I beg of you do not efface what I have written. But if anything in these books pleases you I do not forbid your writing it in verse provided my work is left safe.
   I am finishing this work in the twenty-first year after my ordination.
   Although in what I have just written of the bishops of Tours I have told their years, still this calculation does not agree with the [total] number of years, because I have not been able to learn accurately the length of time between the different ordinations. Now the grand total of years of the world is as follows:
From the beginning to the flood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2242 years
From the flood to the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1404 years
From the crossing of this sea to the resurrection of the Lord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1538 years
From the resurrection of the Lord to the death of St. Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .412 years
From the death of St. Martin to the year mentioned above, namely, the twenty­first year after my ordination, which is also the fifth of Gregory, pope of Rome, the thirty­first of king Gunthram, and the nineteenth of Childebert the second . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 years
The grand total of which is  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5792 years




[1] affecting the groin (inguen). The bubonic plague
[2] Lugano
[3] Denying the resurrection of the body.
[4] Daughter of king Charibert. She had seceded from the monastery with a large following of nuns and was at this time at St. Hilary's church in Poitiers.
[5] The monastery was called the monastery of the Holy Cross
[6] cf. Bonnet, p. 306
[7] Gregory's niece
[8] One of Chrodield's faction, daughter of king Chilperic.
[9] Daughter of Berthar, a Thuringian king, and wife of Clothar
[10] Chrodieldis scola.
[11] scolas.
[12] Mediocritatis nostriae personam
[13] the count is meant
[14] reading Adfuerunt for adferunt.
[15] Barbaturias. Cf. Du Cange, barbatoria.
[16] Arrhae. Cf. p. 97
[17] June 14