To grasp the importance of the
VitaSanctaeGeretrudis for historians, we need only try to
imagine the Frankish seventh century without its help. It is a
particularly valuable source because it concentrates not on Neustria or
Burgundy, as do most other surviving contemporary texts, but on
Austrasia, the eastern Merovingian kingdom, and on its most important
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.
This is further evidence for Ian Wood’s contention that we
should not see the Irish on the Continent as one group: the Luxeuil
Irish were different from Foillan’s and Ultan’s group.
I. N. Wood, ‘The Vita Columbani and Merovingian
Hagiography’, Peritia , I ( 1982 ), 68. We shall examine this more
closely when we treat the VitaSanctaeGeretrudis , below, pp.