We begin this volume which examines
mostly hagiographical sources with one which is not only not
hagiographical but remarkable for its very lack of religious content. We
do so for two reasons. First, the LiberHistoriaeFrancorum
( LHF for short) is our most valuable guide through the last
half of the seventh century and the first two decades of the eighth. It
This book provides a collection of documents in translation which brings together the seminal sources for the late Merovingian Frankish kingdom. The collection of documents in translation includes Liber Historiae Francorum, Vita Domnae Balthidis, Vita Audoini Episcopi Rotomagensis, Acta Aunemundi, Passio Leudegarii, Passio Praejecti, and Vita Sanctae Geretrudis and the Additamentum Nivialense de Fuilano. The Liber Historiae Francorum was written while a Merovingian king still ruled over the Franks and by someone geographically very close to the political centre of that realm. Late Merovingian hagiography tends to emphasise miracles which heal and eliminate the maladies of the life, and the Vita Audoini follows the pattern. The Vita Sanctae Geretrudis makes no mention at all of Columbanus and his mission among the Franks, a strange omission if the Irish were all one group. The Passio Praejecti provides information on the relationship between the politics of the locality and the politics of the centre, for a land dispute between Praejectus and Hector, the ruler of Marseilles, was heard at the royal court at Autun at Easter 675. The Passio Leudegarii has an overt peace-making element, although the issue of who was on which side is much clouded by the complexity of the political narrative.
development of the ideal of a most
Christian king we shall have to wait for the Carolingians, but the
tendency is clearly in that direction already in the seventh century.
Gregory of Tours’s ideal of vigorous, heroic kings is softened,
although not totally eliminated, in the rather conservative LiberHistoriaeFrancorum ( The Book of the History of the
Franks ), written in 727, part of which is
It is from the LiberHistoriaeFrancorum , a
Neustrian chronicle completed by the year 727, that we learn of Dagobert
II’s birth and exile, the latter being the consequence of the
‘Grimoald-coup’ which we mentioned earlier. 12 It tells of how
Dagobert II was the son of Sigibert king of Austrasia, himself the son
of Dagobert I. Sigibert ruled in Austrasia from 632 to 656. When
Sigibert died in 656
, come from the Neustrian chronicle the LiberHistoriaeFrancorum , and they are valuable because this work was complete by the year 727, and thus not subject to the hindsight which so dominates Carolingian writing. 8 Only six charters issued on behalf of Charles survive, and of these five come from the years 718–23. 9 There are in addition two papal letters written to Charles, and a handful of references to him in the correspondence of the English missionary Boniface. 10 The bulk of our information on his career comes from the Continuations of the Chronicle of
example, of Audoin’s support for Ebroin, or that Bishop
Praejectus was involved in the events of Easter 675 and was himself
martyred soon after, information omitted no doubt because it would have
been embarrassing. Other details, such as the fighting between the
Austrasians and Neustrians, which the LiberHistoriaeFrancorum
tells us formed the backdrop to Ebroin’s second tenure of the
und Königsherrschaft. Untersuchungen zur Teilhabe am Reich in der Merowinger- und Karolingerzeit , MGH Schriften 44 (Hannover 1997), pp. 65–6, 80ff.
82 LiberHistoriaeFrancorum , c. 51, ed. B. Krusch, MGH SSRM II (Hannover 1888), 325; Chronicarum quae dicuntur Fredegaii scholastici libri IV, Cont. 8, ed. Krusch, MGH SSRM II, 173.
83 Cont. Fred. c. 25, p. 180. See M. Becher, ‘Zum Geburtsjahr Tassilos III’, Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte 52 (1989), 3–12, at 4, pointing to the likelihood that Hiltrude was already pregnant by Odilo, who had
bewußt wurden’ (p. 165).
For example, bellator referring to the Trojans as Frankish ancestors in ‘LiberHistoriaeFrancorum’, c. 1, ed. B. Krusch, Fredegarii et aliorum Chronica. Vitae Sanctorum , MGH SRM , 2 (Hanover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 1888), pp. 215–328; referring to Charles Martel in Continuationes , c. 14 and 20, ed. Krusch, Fredegarii et aliorum Chronica ; belliger only used in reference to the Frankish kings
Later Frankish historians came closer to the heroic mode than Gregory did. Fredegar, in the mid-seventh century, approaches the heroic in his picture of Theodoric of Italy (the later heroic figure of Dietrich von Bern) and in his account of the Emperor Heraclius. The LiberHistoriaeFrancorum , in the mid eighth century, contains ‘one long battle scene authentically suggestive of heroic narrative, and unparalleled in Gregory of Tours or Fredegar’ (378–9): it is the story of Chlothar II (d. 629) engaging Bertoald, the leader of the Saxons, in single combat on the
after 736. 24 He exchanged letters with Bishop
Desiderius of Cahors, some of which we still have. 25 As we have seen, the author of the
LiberHistoriaeFrancorum had a high regard for him. 26 But, as we might
expect, Audoin plays an especially important role in the hagiographical
literature. We find information about him and his family in Jonas of
Bobbio’s Vita Columbani , which was also written well before Audoin