Queen Balthild appears in several trustworthy contemporary souces, but it is the Vita Domnae Balthildis which gives us the most information about her. The Vita Balthildis is about as contemporary a Merovingian source as has survived. The key to Merovingian high politics was co-operation between the Crown and some faction or factions of the powerful Frankish nobility. The 'slave' Balthild will play a key role in these politics. Balthild's hagiographer, of course, saw divine will as the reason for her rise to the status of queen, but providence may well have had some significant help from the contemporary politics of the British Isles. A seventh-century hagiographical work whose author is concerned about 'friends' and 'detractors' of a saintly queen, is a strong reminder of the period's intricate relationship between political power and Christian sanctity.
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.
This introduction presents an overview of the historical context, the translated histories and their authors and a discussion of Merovingian Latin. The eight texts translated in the book represent a selection from what is in fact a far wider range of written sources for Merovingian history. The eight texts includes Liber Historiae Francorum (LHF), Vita Domnae Balthidis, Vita Audoini Episcopi Rotomagensis, Acta Aunemundi, Passio Leudegarii, Passio Praejecti, Vita Sanctae Geretrudis and the Additamentum Nivialense de Fuilano, and Annales Mettenses Priores.