This etext was prepared swiftly and impatiently, partly because the original was not prepared on a pc, but on a main-frame, and vetting gml was tedious. For a more reliable though still imperfect text see:


France before Charlemagne, a translation of the first two volumes of Viard's edition of Les Grandes Chroniques, Mellen Press, Lewiston, 1990.


In the version at which you are now looking, the original footnotes are in brackets.




Les Grandes Chroniques is a translation into late thirteenth-century French of a collection of Latin chronicles, histories, biographies, saints' lives, and, in some cases, pseudo-historical works, loosely referred to by Primat, the initial translator, as the "Chronicles of Saint-Denis." [The only modern edition, accurate and remarkably well-annotated, is by Jules Viard. Paris, 1920-53, 10 volumes. The nineteenth-century edition by Paulin Paris is erratic, as Viard frequently indicates in his notes, partly because Paulin used BN f.f. 2813, instead of St. Genevieve 782, which Viard established as the most reliable manuscript of Primat's text. British Museum Royal MS 16 G VI also proved useful. BN f.l. 5925 is closest to the Latin text Primat translated]. Twentieth-century historians of the middle ages have little use for the Grandes Chroniques, since, for much of the period, they have the sixth-century text of Gregory of Tours, whose work, though no model of scientific history, is a more appropriate text for historians of the period, since he lived at the time of many of the events he relates. In addition, Gregory's style is direct and his details vivid, as Erich Auerbach has demonstrated. [Mimesis, New York, 1957, pp. 67-83]. In Gregory's text, the Merovingian world is penetrated by portents, meteors, earthquakes, plagues, and famine, while men and women behave with violent brutality towards each other, ignoring ties of kinship, friendship, city, state, and religion, in their relentless pursuit of land, power, and animal satisfaction. Secular authority is untrustworthy, ineffective, short-sighted and corrupt, while the church is often in the hands either of the same people or of another group equally venal, lecherous, and treacherous. In the midst of this chaos stands Gregory, towards the end of the sixth century, fair and just, giving even his enemies aid and comfort, although he cannot perform miracles like those of the saints whose lives he records elsewhere, and to whom he refers regularly in his History of the Franks. Most of his conscious self-esteem seems to be tied to his rhetorical ability to argue for the central mystery of the Trinity, sometimes against Visigothic Arians, sometimes against canny Jews, and sometimes against King Chilperic, "the Nero and the Herod of our time." [In Early Medieval History, New York, 1976, p. 103, Wallace-Hadrill assesses Gregory's posture more impersonally: 


Gregory of Tours' anecdotes, considered as a whole, place the Franks in a present-day equivalent of the milieu of the Chosen People. They make it easier to picture the field in which God actually works, and do not signify the historian's innocent love of human drama nor any obsession with a brutalized society. His plan was to set his account of royal salvation though God against a background of ordinary men's actions and motives as they really are without God. This was a pastoral aim. In a world of plague and portent and greed, everyday perfidy and duplicity meet their own punishment at God's hands or at man's.


 However, much of the first two volumes of the Grandes Chroniques is based not on Gregory's text, but on Aimon's eleventh-century rewriting (with help and hindrance from an intervening text, the eighth-century Liber Historiae Francorum) of Gregory's History of the Franks. Dissatisfied with Gregory's treatment of the material, later writers adapted the material to the tastes of their own times, thus giving twentieth-century students of literature the comparatively rare opportunity of watching medieval writers at work, reshaping their sources in the light of the latest rhetorical, political, and social developments. 


 By choosing Aimon rather than Gregory of Tours, the compilers of BN f.l. 5925 (the Latin manuscript of historical literature whose order Primat follows closely) indicated their preference for as literary a text as they could find. [For a densely compacted discussion of the hypothesis that history in the Middle Ages was a branch of literature, see Herbert Grundmann, Geschichtsschreibung im Mittelalters, Goöttingen, 1965. For a more extensive, lavishly detailed discussion, see Bernard Guenée,  Histoire et culture historique dans l'occident mediévale, Paris, 1980. In English, the argument was popularized by R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of History, Oxford, 1946; p. 258 gives a useful formulation. The most elegantly epigrammatic representation of the perception belongs to Paul Zumthor, who momentarily obliterates the distinction between fiction and history when he remarks, "Historiographie ni roman n'avaient pour fonction de prouver une vérité*', mais de créer." (Langue, texte,  énigme, Paris, 1975, p. 245).] The De Gestis Francorum, which has never been translated into English, [The only relatively modern edition is in the Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, ed. M. Bouquet, vol. III, 1869, pp. 20-143] is a self-conscious, rhetorically elaborate text, which became more familiar to the later middle ages than the  History of the Franks, because Aimon correctly calculated that a medieval audience would prefer a grammatically and rhetorically "correct" text. In addition, as part of the task of composing a Capetian apologetic, Aimon excised much of the material involving non-aristocrats, thereby removing many of the elements that appealed to Auerbach. For two reasons, then, Aimon's stylistic and substantive changes survived: he had made the right rhetorical choice, and Capetians remained on the throne until the 14th century. 


 Working with Gregory's text, and its eighth-century Latin abridgement, the Liber Historiae Francorum, Aimon proclaimed his purpose to be that of improving the style of the sources of Merovingian history, [Bouquet III, p. 22] ad emendatiorem Latinitatis revocarem formam. His changes, however, go beyond grammar and rhetoric. For example, in his description of the prophetic dream granted to the mother of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, Aimon reports: "That first night she dreamt that a tree so large that it reached to the roof of the house grew out of her navel." Both Fredegar [MGH: Scriptorum Rerum Merovingiarum II, ed. Bruno Krusch, Hanover, 1888, p. 79 (II.57 and the seventh-century  Gesta Theoderici Regis describe the tree as penetrating the sky; Aimon [ Bouquet III, p. 33. ] limits it, usque ad tecta domus, presumably in an attempt to civilize, or at least modernize his characters, by representing them as sleeping indoors, and not under the sky, even in their dreams. 


 A more elaborate example of "improvement" is his reinvention of Clotild's error, where changes occur in conformance to Aimon's desire to do justice to his royal subject. [K.F. Werner remarks, in "Die literarischen Vorbilder des Aimon von Fleury," Medium Aevum: Festschrift fur Walter Bulst, Heidelberg, 1960, pp. 69-103, on the portrait of Clotild: (p. 101) "Aus dem wilden Geist der Königin wird fromme Berechnung, die Aimon einer Heiligen, als die er Chlothilde darstellen möchte, eher zumuten zu können glaubt." ] The widow of king Clovis, whom she had converted to Christianity, Clotild in Gregory's text is an ambiguous figure, both vengeful and pious, and the latter quality eventually gains her sainthood. The former quality, however, brings her great pain, when she encourages her two sons to avenge the deaths of her parents, Chilperic and his unnamed wife, murdered by Chilperic's own brother, Gundobad. [According to Zollner, the story of their murder by Gundobad is  unhistorisch, and an example of Gregory's taste for heroic fiction:  {Geschichte der Franken, Munich, 1970 pp. 55-56.}]. In the course of carrying out his mother's wishes, Chlodomer dies, leaving his children in the care of their grandmother, who, in 526, commits a catastrophic bluff. Lothar and Childebert, two other children produced by Clovis and Clotild after Chlodomer's birth, and therefore liable to be disinherited by their older brother's children, proceed to murder two of their dead brother's three children, in a scene brought into sharp focus by Gregory, and given particular attention by several later historians, both medieval and modern [Its dramatic vividness was great enough for Michelet to permit his translation of the scene to stand, without comment, in effect, for the period as a whole (Histoire de France: Moyen Age, Paris, 1898, pp. 164-166)]. 


 In keeping with his penchant for excluding all but aristocrats from the action, Aimon reduces the cast of characters in the scene, but the major alteration that he contributes to the scene is an elaborate soliloquy by Clotild, thus providing his patrons with a Merovingian ancestor whose manners and speech are more appropriate for an early eleventh-century feudal aristocrat than for the consort of a sixth-century petty king. 


 More than a century later, when Suger sewed the seeds for the production of an official history of France [See Viard I, xi, and Gabrielle Spiegel, The Chronicle Tradition of Saint-Denis, Brookline, 1978, pp. 39 ff.], Aimon's text, and its continuations, formed part of the basic material. In the middle of the thirteenth century, when the monks of Saint-Denis assembled the Latin texts they thought necessary and useful for composing a royal history, Aimon's text was again among those chosen. A generation later, Aimon's text was among those chosen when the decision was made to produce an "official" history in the vernacular --  Les Grandes Chroniques. 


 For Saint Louis, the production of such an historical work must have seemed the literary analogue of the task he had performed in arranging the tombs of his Merovingian, Carolingian, and Capetian ancestors in the cathedral of Saint-Denis. The Grandes Chroniques also put Louis' ancestors in order, arranging a sacred context for political dynasties [See Spiegel, p. 19], but reaching a wider audience because in the vernacular. Intellectual support for a project that emphasized the necessity for a harmony between regnum and sacerdotium might have come from St. Louis' contemporaries, Vincent of Beauvais, and Thomas Aquinas. More specifically, however, the ecclesiastical establishment at Saint-Denis had vested, proprietarial interests in maintaining the strongest possible connections between itself and the monarchy. Its claim to precedence was based on what might be called the donation of Dagobert, and Abelard relates an incident in which his contention, based on a statement of Bede, that Saint Denis and Dionysius the Areopagite were not identical, laid him open to the charge of conspiring against the king and the kingdom [J. Monfrin, Historia calamitatum, Paris, 1962, pp. 89-90]. 


 Primat contributed significantly to the project, translating Latin historical texts from the legendary Trojan beginning to the death of Philip Augustus in the early thirteenth century. Since Aimon did not get past the middle of the seventh century in his task, he was of no use to Primat in the task of weaving Charlemagne and the Carolingians into a seamless genealogy for the Capetians. However, Aimon does contribute to the  Grandes Chroniques the material that most clearly belongs to the province of what we now call medieval literature, since it shows far more interest in fictional strategies than the later volumes, whose relative fidelity to "historical" texts limits their appeal as literature. [ As Spiegel (p. 78) points out: "When Aimon ends, the structure of the sources, and hence of the Grandes Chroniques, becomes much simpler." The third volume of Viard's edition, however, devoted entirely to Charlemagne, shows considerable complexity, though not sophistication, in the ways in which Einhard, several chronicles, the Voyage to Jerusalem and the Pseudo-Turpin, are woven together into what Primat hopes will appear to be a coherent work]. 


 Primat follows the eleventh-century text closely, expanding the text not only by doublets, but making explicit what was, or what seemed to him, implicit in the Latin, emphasizing the admirable suffering of the Merovingian aristocrats. His contributions are shaped by an interest, like Aimon's, in gentrifying the Merovingians, for Capetian purposes; in addition, however, his text also reflects the monkish intention to place St-Denis in the center of French, if not world history. One of the odd results of this endeavor is the emphasis placed on Dagobert, a minor figure in Frankish history, but a major figure for the monks of Saint Denis, whose deed of ownership, in effect, was based on Dagobert's donation. 


 The Franks emerge from these changes as the dominant military presence in Europe; their accomplishments are generally achieved in spite of the relentless internecine violence conducted by warring siblings, and in spite of the demonic behavior of the imported women, like Brunhild and Fredegund. Incidents that occur outside the immediate areas controlled by Merovingians are included to the extent that they contribute to praising the French [Primat's translation provides us with no way of distinguishing "Franks" from "French”] and blaming those who oppose them. The amount of attention, for example, paid to the career of Belisarius, seems at least partly to be designed to make the French victory over him in Italy a more significant achievement. Since he died at Constantinople, and not on the battlefields of Italy, Aimon has clearly fabricated a triumph for the French much like those fabricated for Charlemagne in the  Pseudo Turpin, the source of a significant part of the third volume of the Grandes Chroniques. 


 Very little is known about Primat [See Spiegel, pp. 89-92, for a sketch]. For many years no one was sure whether "Primat" was a title or a proper name. He composed a Latin chronicle as well, but since he shows no tendency to express his personality or his personal opinions in his works, he remains finally inscrutable. Perhaps his strongest characteristic is his desire to be as derivative as possible. A translator, of course, can hardly claim to be producing an original work, but Primat is relentlessly, almost fastidiously unoriginal, borrowing even his prologue from an earlier writer, [The Menestrel d'Alphonse de Poitiers; see Spiegel's discussion, pp. 72-89] as part of his attempt to assure his audience that what they are reading or hearing owes nothing to the translator's imagination: 


This history will be written according to the letter and the order of the chronicles of the abbey of St-Denis in France, where the stories and deeds of all the kings of France are written, for there one must take and draw upon the original versions of this story].    


 The posture that Primat borrows and reinforces by his use of it here indicates that although history was a branch of rhetoric, that is literature, in the middle ages, writers of historical literature were often uncomfortable with such a categorization. They frequently tried to distinguish themselves from writers of the wrong kind of literature, and regularly appealed to the chronicles of Saint-Denis, until such an appeal became itself merely a convention. [See Ronald Walpole, Philip Mousque and Pseudo-Turpin, Berkeley, 1947, pp. 327-440, and reviews of his work in Speculum 23 (1948) 728-32, and Med. Aev. 17 (1948), 37-45. Walpole points out that, inter alia, Philip Mouskes falsely claimed to be translating from Latin, when he was using the French of the Anonyme de Bethune. Guillaume Guiart demonstrates that the convention was still alive at the beginning of the fourteenth century, when he borrows from the Menestrel d'Alphonse to declare his reliance on the Chronicles of Saint-Denis, in  La branche des royaus lingnages, ll. 160ff (ed. J.A. Buchon, 2 vol., Paris, 1828; see also Gaston Paris, HLF XXXXI, 1893, pp. 104-43)]. Primat goes on to locate his authorities, challenging his readers to check his translation:


And, because he does not intend to lie in what he will say, he begs that everyone who will read this history will look at the chronicles of Saint-Denis; there he will be able to test, by the text, whether what he says is true or false. 


 His proclaimed purpose, however, to present a mirror for princes, with examples that offer a comprehensive range of moral behavior, with something for nearly everyone, seems less modest:


 Everyone knows that this is a work worth doing, to make known to brave people the deeds of kings, and to show to everyone whence the nobility of the world came; for this is an example for leading the good life, especially for kings and princes who have lands to govern. For a great master says that this history is a mirror of life. Here everyone can find good and evil, beauty and ugliness, wisdom and folly, and may profit from all the historical examples. If one does not profit from everything that one reads here, in any event, most of what is here will be helpful.


After this ambitious statement, Primat immediately retreats to another proclamation of non-originality and humility: [For the history of the topos, see E.R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, New York 1953, pp. 83-85, 407-413. Karl Uitti discusses Primat's use of this strategy in "Récit et évenements: perspectives et sens," in  Formation, Codification et rayonnement d'un genre médiévale: la nouvelle, Montréal, 1983, pp. 9-15; see pp. 12-14 particularly]:


 Let everyone know that he has added nothing of his own, but everything is taken from ancient authors who treated and compiled the histories according to the deeds of the kings, and his words are their words, and his voice is theirs. Therefore he begs everyone who will read this book not to consider him presumptuous for having undertaken the task, because he is himself of such little worth.   


 The oscillation between grand purpose and humble posture is typical of medieval, but also of Renaissance writers, and historians were no exception. His attempt to offer a mirror for princes, as well as a comprehensive vision of reality might also be seen as an example of medieval "medievalism," since it shows one of the uses made by the later Middle Ages of the earlier Middle Ages. By making available in French the history of France, with particular emphasis on aristocratic bravery, Primat was effectively adding to the "matter of France." The "matter of antiquity" had long been established as an acceptable subject, and the "matter of Britanny" and a limited "matter of France" had also long thrived, although in genres whose reliability was subject to question [for a thoughtful discussion of this problem, see the opening chapter of Jean Frappier's  Histoires, mythes, et symboles, Geneva, 1976]. Furthermore, by writing in French prose, Primat might rely on the increasing preference for prose as the vehicle for truth demonstrated by late thirteenth-century writers. [See Paul Zumthor,  Essai de poétique médiévale, Paris, 1972]. By insisting that he was following ancient Latin, therefore reliable sources, he might also rely upon another "myth." The result would then be to establish in literature a place for portions of French history that had previously been unable to compete with the three established literary "matters". 


 Not all of the changes wrought by Primat are part of a conscious design; he also brings about inadvertent changes by misunderstanding, or by misreading his Latin models.  Veridarius, a word for a "messenger," becomes the proper name of the messenger who brings bad news to Clotild. In Book III, chapter xv, the angel who appears in a vision to Aimon's Gregory, predicting disaster for Chilperic's progeny, becomes an eagle, with an angel's powers of speech, in Primat's text. 


 The major change brought about by Primat, however, involves the style, which amounts to a kind of regression, turning Aimon's relatively elaborate and learned Latin constructions into a more loosely constructed vernacular French prose, which has some demotic qualities, but also represents an attempt to sound official and authentic [For a discussion of the evolution of the "simple" historian's style as a movement from fact to  topos, see Gueneé, pp. 216 ff; see also R.D. Ray, "Orderic Vitalis and William of Poitiers: A Monastic Reinterpretation of William the Conqueror,"  Révue belge de philologie et d'histoire, 50 (1972), pp. 1116-1127, as well as his "Medieval Historiography Through the Twelfth Century," Viator V (1974), pp. 33-59; his remarks on the humble style may be found on pp. 48ff. of the latter article]. Such a style generates an ambiguous effect in a medieval text, partly evoking fable or fairy-tale, and partly Gospel, God's word. [his argument is clearly related to Auerbach's argument in  Mimesis, and receives a brief, but useful discussion in Jeanette M.A. Beer's  Narrative Conventions of Truth in the Middle Ages, Geneva, 1981, pp. 30ff. ] Both effects are clearly connected to a sense of wonder, necessary for a providential vision of history as penetrated by the presence and purpose of a supreme deity. As Ray remarks, "...the humble style existed not in the service of something like our notion of historical fact, but as that holy rusticity friendly to moral truth." [Op. cit., p. 50. ] 


Primat, however, does more than "reduce" his material; as the passage describing Clotild's predicament shows, he changes the order of some of the elements, and regularly amplifies his material with doublets, [Gueneé (pp. 223-224) accounts for the steady use of doublets by proposing that a vernacular writer had to invent words to replace Latin ones; the doublet, then, functions both as translation and partial gloss. See also L.-F. Flutre and K. Sneyders de Vogel, Li Fet des Romains, Paris, Grõningen, 1938, t. II, p. 53, and Chr. Knowles, "Jean de Vigny, un traducteur du XIVe siècle," Romania LXXV (1954), pp. 353-383], some of which indicate that a change in emotions considered appropriate for aristocrats, or at least of the words that point to those emotions, took place between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries.


 The efforts of Primat and his continuators produced the version of French history current in the fourteenth century, and traditional until well into the Renaissance, when the printing press made it the historical coin of the realm. Its popularity certainly must have something to do with the fact that the Capetian apologist offers a vernacular text that reflects centuries of rhetorical reinventions, although its large doses of panegyric, and its mechanical recording of births, deaths, battles, miracles, and natural disasters leave something to be desired. Nevertheless, enough remarkable, often dramatic narrative survives to satisfy most appetites for fiction. 


 A translation into modern English of the version of Merovingian history produced for thirteenth-century Capetians by Primat, working primarily with Aimon's early eleventh-century Latin, will increase the material available for a study of medieval narrative techniques, since the Merovingian portion of Les Grandes Chroniques often reads as well as most fiction, offering a peculiar combination of myth, folk-tale, panegyric, fact, and political argument. In addition, the material, read in conjunction with Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, may serve as a vivid introduction to medieval historiography. .sp 2


The Translation


 Although I have been less prodigal than Viard in the use of commas, I have followed his paragraphing and punctuating, in an attempt to keep the relatively loose construction that distinguishes Primat's prose from his denser Latin models. Numbers enclosed in parentheses within the text are not in Primat's text, but are dates usually supplied by Viard, often at the top of the page in his edition. Where Viard put Primat's own remarks in parentheses, I have followed suit. Most of the footnotes are taken from Viard, although they represent only a small sample of those he supplied.     







 As I begin this work, I wish all those who will read this history salvation in Our Lord. 


 Because many people are unaware of the genealogy of the kings of France, from whom they are descended, and of what lineage, he undertakes to perform this work, commanded by such a man as he may not and must not refuse. But because his learning and simple understanding is not sufficient for such a great history, he begs, at the beginning, of all those who will read this book, that they endure patiently and without blaming too harshly, whatever faults they find, because, as he has said above, they must reasonably excuse the shortcomings of his learning and eloquence, and the simplicity of his mind. Everyone may be sure that he will be as brief as he can, since lengthy and complex speech gives little pleasure to those who listen, and brief speech, clearly delivered, is pleasant for listeners. This history will be written according to the letter and the order of the chronicles of the abbey of St-Denis in France, where the stories and deeds of all the kings of France are written, for there one must take and draw upon the original (versions) of this story. And if he is able to find in chronicles of other churches things valuable for the task, he will be able to add, according to the pure truth of the letter, without removing anything, if it is not something which makes for confusion, and without adding any other matter, except for certain incidental material. And, because he does not intend to lie in what he will say, he begs that everyone who will read this history will look at the chronicles of Saint-Denis; there he will be able to test, by the text, whether what he says is true or false. Everyone knows that this is a work worth doing, to make known to brave people the deeds of kings, and to show to everyone whence the nobility of the world came; for this is an example for leading the good life, especially for kings and princes who have lands to govern. For a great master says that this history is a mirror of life. Here everyone can find good and evil, beauty and ugliness, wisdom and folly, and may profit from all the historical examples. If one does not profit from everything that one reads here, in any event, most of what is here will be helpful. Let everyone know that he has added nothing of his own, but everything is taken from ancient authors who treated and compiled the histories according to the deeds of the kings, and his words are their words, and his voice is theirs. Therefore he begs everyone who will read this book not to consider him presumptuous for having undertaken the task, because he is himself of such little worth. And because there have been three generations of kings of France since they first came into being, this whole history will be divided into three principal books: in the first he will speak of the Merovingian genealogy; in the second of the children of Pepin; and in the third, of the children of Hugh Capet. Each book will be subdivided into different books, according to the lives and deeds of different kings. These in turn will be divided into chapters, to allow the material to be more fully and more clearly understood. The history will begin with the lofty lineage of the Trojans, from whom, through a long lineage, the French are descended [approximately the first half of the next paragraph is borrowed from Aimon].  It is certain that the kings of France, who have made the kingdom glorious and famous, are descended from noble Trojan lineage. They were glorious in victory, noble in repute, fervent and devout in the Christian faith. And although this nation is strong, proud, and cruel to its enemies, as its name indicates, it is also mild and considerate towards its subjects, and towards those who submit to it in battle. For they did not fight in ancient times so much to expand their kingdom and authority, as to acquire the glory of victory. Therefore it was not without reason that it became the renowned mistress over other nations, for it did not long suffer the servitude of idolatry and false belief; as soon as she heard the holy preaching of the truth, she quickly obeyed its Creator, hearing the word of his emissaries. She made offerings to God, and sacrificed the first fruits and the beginning of her kingdom. With such great love and such great devotion she received the Christian faith, that from the time that she first obeyed her savior, her desire became greater to spread the faith than to increase her terrestrial holdings [From this point Primat is no longer following Aimon, but is again on his own]. As a result, Our Lord, by his grace, gave her a prerogative and advantage over all other nations, for after she was converted and began to serve her creator, no other country ever maintained the faith more ardently and correctly; she spread, upheld, and defended the faith. If any other country damaged holy Church, she came for refuge and help to France; from France came the sword and the weapons by means of which the church was avenged, and France, like a loyal daughter, helped her mother in every need. She was always ready to ride out to aid and comfort her. 


 If the faith is more fervently and more correctly maintained in France, it is not without reason. The first reason is that St. Denis, the glorious martyr and apostle of France, by whose miracle she was first converted, and who was sent to bring France to the faith, maintains and protects her as his own. The second reason may be that the fountain of the clergy, by whom holy Church is sustained and illuminated, flourishes at Paris. As some people now say, the clergy and the aristocrats are always united; each depends on the other; they have always held together, and, thank God, may they never be parted. They have inhabited three lands at different times. First they reigned in Greece, for the fountain of philosophy was once in the city of Athens, and the flower of chivalry in Greece. From Greece, they then came to Rome, and from Rome they came to France [See the opening of Chrétien de Troyes' Cliges for the topos]. God by his grace wishes that they may long be maintained, to the praise and glory of his name, who lives and reigns forever and forever. Amen.


Book One


 Four hundred and four years before Rome was founded, Priam reigned in great Troy [The first section is borrowed from Aimon, De Gestis Regum Francorum, I, i,ii, who, in turn, is borrowing from Liber Historia Francorum  chap.I; Viard suggests that there is also some borrowing from Fredegar, while the material about Brut is borrowed from Geoffrey of Monmouth. Viard also suggests consulting Godefroi Kurth, Histoire poetique des Merovingiens, pp. 505-516]. He sent Paris, the eldest of his sons, to Greece, to carry off queen Helen, the wife of king Menelaus, to avenge an injustice the Greeks had done to him earlier. The Greeks, who were much angered at this action, came to lay siege to Troy. At the siege, which lasted 10 years, all the sons of king Priam were killed, as well as Priam himself, and queen Hecuba, his wife; the city was burned and destroyed, the people and the nobility killed; but some escaped the destruction, and among them several princes of the city, who scattered to various parts of the world to seek new homes, like Helenus, Aeneas, and Antenor, and many others. Helenus was one of the sons of king Priam; he was learned and a poet. He brought with him 1200 Trojan exiles; he went to Greece, to the kingdom of Pandrase; from him a great line issued. Aeneas, who had been one of the great princes of Troy, set out on the sea with 3400 Trojans; he arrived in Carthage after suffering great difficulties on the sea; he remained a while with Dido, the queen of the city, then left and arrived in Italy, which had been destined for him, according to the Ovidian fables. He conquered the land, and reigned for four years. After his death, his son Ascanius married Lavinia, the daughter of king Latinus; he had one son, named Silvius, with this woman. When Silvius was grown-up and mature he spent so much time in his mother's rooms that he impregnated his niece, fathering Brute. Brute, then, brought the lineage of Helenus, whom we mentioned above, to the island of Albion, which is now called England, and Corinee, descended from the lineage of Antenor. When they had taken this island, which was inhabited in that time by giants, Corinee had as his share a section of the land which is now called Cornwall, named after him. The other part of the land, which Brutus retained for himself, was called Britain, named after him. Then he founded a city very much like great Troy, called Trinovaque, that is, new Troy. From this Brutus descended all the kings who reigned in the land until the time of the Angles, who came from one of the countries of Saxony, called Anglia, and took the land. England took its name from them. 


 Turcus and Francio, who were cousins germane (Francion was a son of Hector, and Turcus a son of Troilus; Troilus and Hector were brothers, sons of king Priam), left their native country and went to live in a country which was called Thrace; they lived there on a river called the Danube. When they had lived there together a long time, Turcus left his cousin Francio, together with part of the people he had brought with him, and went off to a country named Little Scythia; in this country he and his people lived so long that they created four kinds of people: Austrogoths, Hypogoths, Vandals and Normands. Francio remained on the Danube after his cousin left, founding a city which was called Sicamber; his people for a long time were called Sicambrians, after the name of that city; they were tributaries of the Romans, as were the other nations. For 1507 years they remained in that city after they had founded it.




Afterwards, it happened in the time of the Roman emperor Valentinian, who reigned 376 years after the passion of Jesus Christ, that a race of people who were called Alains lived in the swamp of Meode [Sea of Azov]. They were a strong and war-like people, who fought against the emperor Valentinian several times; sometimes he beat them and forced them back into the said swamp, but the Romans could never pursue them, because the springs and swamps within it were so dangerous that when they were driven within it, they could not be harmed. When the emperor saw this, he called for help upon the Trojans who lived in Sicambre, and asked them to build a road by which his men might suddenly attack their enemies. They replied that they would do more; they promised that they themselves would capture them and chase them out by force. The emperor, who was very pleased with their reply, released them from the tribute for 10 years, on the condition that they succeed. The Trojans were pleased with the emperor's promise, and quickly made their way into the swamp, like men who knew how to avoid the pitfalls and perils of the place. The Alains felt that they had no need to be careful, because they thought that the natural fortifications of the place prevented anyone from reaching them. The Trojans killed a great part of them; another part escaped, and some were captured. The emperor was very much impressed with the strength and bravery of the Trojans, because they had dared to enter so dangerous a place, and kill, capture, and chase off the greatest enemies of the empire, which the Romans, vanquishers of the entire world, had not dared to do; therefore he called them .us Francois, because of their worthiness. 


 Another opinion on why they are called Francois. Some authors relate that they were called French [Primat makes it impossible to distinguish between "Franks" and "French"] because one of their princes was called Francion, of whom we have spoken below, and they say that when they left great Troy, they made a man named Frigan king, and then scattered through many lands, as far as great Asia. There they divided into two groups, of which one lived in Greece, in the land of Macedonia, where their prowess was so great that the Macedonians won many victories with their assistance, in the time of king Philip and his son, the great king Alexander. The other part of these people went to Europe, taking up residence between the great sea and a region which is called Thrace, on the banks of the Danube. When they had lived there for a while, they broke up into two groups, and became two different nations, called by different names. One took the name of Torgotin, after their king who was named Torgotus, and the others, who had chased the Alains from the swamp of Meode, at the request of the Roman emperor, as we said above, were called Francois, after their king Francion.




 When the ten years had passed [This chapter is borrowed from Aimon I.iii, who borrows from LHF III, and from Fredegar III.iii, vii; for more remote sources, see Viard], the emperor Valentinian, of whom we spoke above, sent emissaries to the Trojans to demand the tribute that they had been accustomed to pay ten years previously. They replied to the emissaries that they had purchased their freedom from the tribute with their blood, and that they had put themselves in mortal danger to release themselves from paying the tribute, and that they would never pay them any tribute. The emperor, filled with anger and great indignation, came upon them with a great host; he lined his men up for battle, and the Trojans, although no nation so small had ever gone up against the entire Roman Empire, went forward into battle against them. However, when they saw that the power of other nations had been added to that of the Romans, they understood very clearly that they would not last long against such a great people; therefore they judged it a more profitable thing to surrender than to fight. They left their city, then, because they did not want to be tributaries. They went down into Germany, occupying the banks of a river called the Rhine; they appointed three of their leaders to govern them: one was named Marcomer, the second Sunno, and the third Genebaud. Their population grew and multiplied, for when they left Asia they were nor more than 12,000 men-at-arms, and now had so multiplied that the Germans and the Allemani, who were powerful in number and in strength, were terribly afraid of them. They dispersed through the land, taking castles and cities. 


 At that time (379-395) emperor Theodosius reigned; he was much dissatisfied with the French, who had then taken over Allemania; against them he sent a great host, commanded by Nanninus and Quintinus, two leaders of the nobility. They fought against the French, and were beaten in the first battle. When they saw this, they called to their aid Heraclius and Jovinian, two princes of the Roman nobility. They all fought together against the French; in the second battle the Romans were again defeated, and Heraclius and Jovinian  fled [Aimon here repeats Fredegar's error, III.iii, in misunderstanding Gregory's Heraclio Jovinianorum tribuno ac paene omnibus qui militibus praeerant exstinctis]. In this second battle the French killed so many Romans, that all the other nations became terribly frightened of them, and there was no one afterwards who dared stand up to them, or who dared deny them tribute. Arbogast, a count of these people, fled to the Romans after the French had vanquished them, but then  returned [Some confusion here; Primat gives mais toutevoies rapareilla il, for Aimon I. iii., p.30 et victus bello a Francis, primo congressu aufugit ] after the battle against them; he defeated one part of them, and made peace with the others, as is written more fully in the life of saint Ambrose. 


 At that time the French took the city of Treves with the aid and the counsel of Lucius, one of the Roman consuls, for Lucius was greatly aggravated that Avitus, who was then the effective emperor of the land of Gaul, had dallied with his wife, and this was the reason why he did what he did.




 This whole race did not remain in that country, but a group, 23,000 in number, left; to govern them, they appointed a leader named Ibor. They abandoned Alemannia and Germany to seek a new place to inhabit; when they arrived in Gaul, the terrain and the country pleased them very much, and it seemed to them a delightful place to stay. They lived on the river Seine, and founded a city named Lutetia, which is now called Paris, 895 years before the Incarnation of Our Lord, and 1270 years after their ancestors had left Sicambria. At that time they lived simply; they knew little of warfare; they had no king in France; each man did what seemed good to him; and they were subject to the Romans, and each year they appointed new consuls of their own people to govern them, in addition to those from Rome. 


  At that time Marcomer entered France. Marcomer was the son of king Priam of Austria, who was a descendant of the great king Priam of Troy. The French received him very honorably, together with his people, because they taught the French the use of arms, enclosed their cities and castles with walls against the assaults of thieves, established rulers and defenders of the country, and were of the same Trojan lineage as themselves; thus they were one people and one race. 


 Marcomer had a son named Pharamond, who was a noble knight and competent at arms. The French, who wanted, like other nations, to have a king, on the advice of his father Marcomer took Pharamond as king; they made him their lord and king over them, and they let him rule the country. Pharamond was the first king of France, for there had never been a king, and the country had previously been under the Roman emperor. Because Marcomer wanted to obtain their grace and their love, he changed the name of the city, which had been called Lutetia before, which was as much as to say a city full of mud, and he gave it the name of Paris, after Paris, the eldest son of the great king Priam of Troy, of whose lineage he was descended. For in those times everyone, in no matter what country, very much wanted their names and their reputations spread and multiplied through the world. King Pharamond governed the kingdom well all the days of his life; he died after ruling 20  years [according to the legend, V. points out, the time would be 420-428 a.d.).




 Up to this point, we have told you the opinions of several authors, but because we do not want anyone to be able to find contradictions in this text, we shall take the matter as it lies in the chronicles, which say that after the French had left Sicambria and had conquered Alemannia and Germany, and had defeated the Romans in two battles, they crowned a king whose name was Pharamond. This Pharamond begat Clodio, who was king after him; he was called Clodio the hairy, because in those times the king wore thick hair. A short time after Clodio was crowned king, he and his French set about invading the neighboring countries, attacking those who had marched against them. They laid waste the country of a people who lived near them called the Thuringians. This country was part of Alemannia. They took a castle named Dispargum; in this castle the king established the seat of his reign. Thereafter the Roman Empire began to weaken and decline, and the power of the Romans, which had been like iron, became as weak as dust. For the Burgundians had taken and held the province of Lyons, and the Goths that of Aquitaine, and the Romans held no more of Gaul than the part contained between the Loire and the Rhine. 


 King Clodio, who very much wanted to enlarge the wealth of his kingdom, sent spies beyond the Rhine to determine what kind of defense the country had; then he passed beyond the Rhine with all of his troops. He took and held the city of Cambrai; he went on into the forest of the Charbonne, came to the city of Tornai, and laid siege to the city; soon afterwards he took it, killing and putting to death all the Romans who opposed him in defense of the country. 


 Since we have here mentioned two provinces of Gaul, which is now called France, it is proper at this point to describe all Gaul as Julius Caesar described it, who conquered it in 10 years; Pliny and many other philosophers are in agreement with him. All Gaul is divided into three provinces: the first is Celtic, which amounts to the territory of Lyons, the second that of Belgae, and the third that of Aquitaine. The province of Lyons, which begins at the Rhone and ends at the Gironde, contains many noble cities, whose names we have placed here, to make describing them easier [This list is not based on Caesar, but on the revision in Aimon's preface, pp. 24 ff..]


 First is Lyons, Chalon, Ostun, Sens, Troyes, Auxerre, Miauz, Paris, Orleans, Chartres, Rouen, Evreues, Lisieues, Avrences, LeMans, Nantes, Rennes, Vannes, Angiers, Nevers, Tours and Bourges. Sanz and Ostun were originally of greater nobility and authority than any of the others, for the city of Ostun was the principal and ruling city of all Gaul when Julius Caesar and the Romans occupied the country, because it always willingly obeyed the emperors of Rome, and always kept and cherished the grace and the love that it had for the Romans. The city of Sens was of such great worth and of such great pride, that the Frank Senonois laid siege to Rome and took it by force, and shut the Romans up within the Capitol; [390 B.C. -- V. ] the Romans paid them well to leave. But Orosius, who gave another description of all Gaul, does not agree that Tours and Bourges were in the province of Lyons, but in that of Aquitaine, because Lyon begins at the Loire and extends to the Alps. Many rivers flow through this province, of which the Rhone is the largest. 


 After the description of the province of Lyons, Julius Caesar gives a description of Belgium, which begins at the furthest parts of Gaul, around the Rhine, and extends to the city of Senlis, extending towards the East. Its finest cities are: Cologne, Tongres, Treves, Metz, Toul, Verdun, Rheims, Chalons, Loon, Soisson, Amiens, Noion, Beauvais, Vermans, Arras, Tournai, Cambrai, and many others. Many rivers flow through this province, of which the Rhine, Marne, and Meuse are the largest. It contains many rich forests, of which the Ardennes is the largest -- so great that it is more than 1000 miles in length. 


 The third province is that of Aquitaine, according to the description of Pliny and Julius Caesar; it begins with the Gironde river, and extends to the mount of Monjeu, and on the other side to the gate of Spain. It contains many noble cities; the first is Clermont, then Narbonne, Cahors, Toulouse, Gaeste, Rodais, Limoges, Perigord, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Saintes and Angouleme. It contains many rich forests and many large rivers; two of the best known are the Gironde and the Dordogne. The river named Dordone retains the names of two fountains from which it flows, one of which is named Dor and the other Done. Thus Aquitaine takes its name from the fountains and rivers, of which it has more than any of the others. 


 When the French had conquered all these provinces, they divided them up into two groups. The northern part, between the Meuse and the Rhine they called Austrasia; the part between the Meuse and the Loire they called Neustria, and by this name Normandy was once called, before the Normans took it over. The part towards Lyons, which the Burgundians took, retained their name; therefore it is called Burgundy. Here we have described the layout of all Gaul to the best of our abilities, according to the books of ancient authors.




 When king Clodio had reigned 20 years, he paid the debt of nature. Meroveus ruled after him. This Meroveus was not one of his sons, but he was of his lineage. From him came the first generation of kings of France; this lineage continued without fail until the generation of Pepin the second, the father of Charlemagne. This king did much good for the kingdom. In those days a race called the Huns crossed the Rhine, destroying the city of Treves, burning and laying waste all the country around Tongres. In this way all of Gaul was embattled and persecuted; everywhere cries, tears, griefs and sufferings, murders and pillage resounded; this terror reached all the way to the city of Orleans; they laid siege to the city, and set guards at the gates, so that no one could get out. At this time, Saint Anianus was bishop of Orleans; the holy man prayed to Our Lord that he might comfort the country and the city; Our Lord heard his prayer, and by his prayers and by his goodness the pride of the Huns was so crushed, that they fled and perished in such a manner that no one knows what happened to them, or where they live. King Meroveus died after he had reigned 18 years.




 King Meroveus had one son, whose name was Childeric; after the death of his father he was crowned, but he did not begin his reign very graciously. He was hated by his barons for his evil actions and for the shame to which he submitted them, for he took their daughters and wives by force when they pleased him, to accomplish the pleasures of the flesh; for this reason they chased him from the kingdom; they could no longer suffer the burden of his unbridled lust. Exiled, he fled to Bisinus, the king of Thuringia, who received him very graciously, and kept him with him very honorably for the entire term of his exile. But no one is so hated that he has no friend ever; this king Childeric had as a friend one of the barons, who had always been his confidant; his name was Guinement [Winomadus, in Aimon]. By his advice, he did many things while he governed the kingdom. The king, who knew very well that the barons did not like him, and were a threat to him, one day summoned Guinement, before he had been exiled from the kingdom; he asked him what to do in this case. He advised him to give place to the anger of the barons, because if he persisted, he would increase their ill-will more than was desirable, and human nature is such that envy and hatred are generated by those who are present, and no compassion is shown towards those who are absent. So he promised to test the hearts of the barons, and, if possible, he would pacify them; because he did not want to be tricked, he took a besant of gold and cut it in half, keeping one half, and giving him the other; then he said: "If I can reconcile you and the barons in France, I shall send you the part I have kept, and if you see that the pieces fit exactly, as they do now, that will be a sure sign of your reconciliation. Then you will come back to take over the kingdom, from which you are now exiled." After these words, the king went into exile, as we have said, and he remained to carry out his task.




 After king Childeric had left his  kingdom [Aimon, I, vii, borrowed from Fredegar III, xi, and LHF VII], the barons, who did not want to be without a ruler, elected a king, whose name was Egidius  [d. 464 -V]. He was a Roman, appointed by the Romans to protect what they held of the land of Gaul. They did not keep in mind the injuries and harm that they had done to the Romans and to Egidius himself. Human thought is very much blinded and deceived to think that men to whom they have done so much harm and damage might give them aid and counsel. Why would a man help his enemy, who had destroyed his goods, burned his house, killed his people and destroyed his cities? This Guinement, who was the friend of king Childeric, was wise and full of malice; in a short while he became so close to king Egidius, that he did nothing without consulting Guinement, because he thought him to be the most loyal friend that he had. Guinement understood that he suspected the French; therefore he advised him to pass the time in deceptions and falseness, and to burden them with tribute and exactions, because he thought that the French would never cease hating Childeric for such behavior, and because he thought that they would not remain faithful to Egidius, whom they had elected, he spoke to him in the following way: "You will not break the pride and criminality of the French, if you do not destroy some of the most noble and powerful of them; by this means, you will be able to bend the others to your will." Egidiuss, who was not aware of the malice in Guinement' mind, agreed to this plan, and charged him with carrying out the task. Guinement, who had waited until he saw the time and the place to do this, began with those who had most resisted king Childeric; he accused them of criminal action, and sent them to king Egidius to carry out justice. He had them charged with conspiracy and lésé-majesté. 


 When the other barons saw Egidius's cruelty, they were very angry with him; they went to Guinement, by whose counsel Egidius had done this, but they did not know that at all; they complained to Guinement of the cruelties enacted by Egidius. He replied to them that he was very much surprised by the fickleness of their hearts, since they were complaining about someone they had so praised a short time previously, and judged worthy of the kingdom; then he said to them: "What madness misled you to dismiss from his kingdom your rightful lord, born of your own race, and to submit to a proud man of an alien nation? Perhaps you will reply that it was for his lechery, and I ask you why you complain of the man you elected in your sovereign's place! You have scorned and driven off your king, born and nurtured of your own people, who was by nature courtly and might be even more so, and greatly beneficial for the kingdom, if he had not pursued bodily pleasure so, and he did not always do that. You have taken as ruler a tyrant, whom you should avoid and fear, because he was born of a foreign nation. If you follow my advice, I advise you to call him back, and that you pacify his heart, which is troubled towards you for the shame that you have caused him. Certainly it is a very hard thing that you were not able to endure the lechery of one man, and that you suffer the loss of so many noble princes."




 The barons, who were encouraged by these words (for it seemed clear to them that he spoke the truth), and angry at Egidius the Roman, replied: "We very much repent the shame and ill-treatment we inflicted on our own king, and if we knew where he might be found, we would send an emissary to him, and humbly ask him to return to his kingdom." Guinement was very happy when he heard these words. By a certain emissary he sent to king Childeric the half of the gold besant that he had left when he parted from the king, and he sent it in this manner: "Return to your kingdom and make benevolent use of your power as you desire." When king Childeric had received the emissary, and knew the truth by the testimony of the part of the besant, he returned happily to France. When he was half-way there, he sent a message summoning Guinemant, his loyal friend, quickly to him. He came there with a great company of barons, directly to a castle which is named Bar (le-Duc), commanding the townspeople there to receive the king their lord honorably. They did this willingly, receiving him with great joy, and they did him all the honor in their power. The king understood their good will, and for the honor that they did him, out of his liberality he freed them from the yearly tribute that the city owed to him. The barons were very happy, and humbled themselves before him. They joined forces to attack Egidius, who, by chance, was apprised of the conspiracy that they had made against him. They fought against him and beat him in the first battle. He fled, going to the city of Soissons, which he held, remaining there for the rest of his life. When he died, his son, Syagrius, held the city after him. 


 King Childeric, who was a good knight with his hand and wise in counsel, moved his troops against Odoacer, the king of Saxony, and they fought each other; Odoacer and his troops were defeated; he kept his life by fleeing. King Childeric, who was very eager to capture him, pursued him as far as Orleans, but he had already fled, not daring to wait for Childeric's arrival. The king laid siege to the town and captured it, killing the Roman count, named Paul, who was in charge. Thus the king extended his kingdom to Orleans, and afterwards to Angiers.




 When queen  Basina [The vision in this section, borrowed from Fredegar III.xii, transmitted by Aimon, I.viii, is perhaps ultimately to be derived from Daniel VII], the wife of king Bisinus of Thuringia, to whom the king had fled, learned that Childeric had come to a reconciliation with his barons, and was back in power, she left her husband, and came after Childeric in France, for, it is said that she had known him (carnally) while he stayed with her lord. He asked her why she had followed him and abandoned her lord, and she replied: "I came to you because I know and have tested your temperance and your ability, and if I thought that I could find a better man than you in any part of the world, no hardships of the journey, nor bodily labor could prevent me from going to find him." When the king heard this response, he married her, like the pagan he was, forgetting the benefits bestowed upon him when he was driven from France, by Bissinus, the king of Thuringia, her first husband. 


 When they went to sleep in the evening, and they were in the privacy of their bed, the queen advised him to refrain from lying with her that evening, but to get up and go to the door of the palace, and she told him to describe what he saw. The king got up, and did what she told him to do. When he was in the front of the room, he seemed to see the large shapes of beasts, like unicorns, leopards, and lions, which were going and coming in front of the palace. He returned, frightened, and told the queen what he had seen. She told him not to be afraid, and to go back. When he returned, he saw large images of bears and wolves, as though they were running at each other. He returned to the queen's bed, and told her his second vision. She told him to go back one more time. When he returned, he saw the shapes of dogs and little animals attacking each other. Returning to the queen, he told her everything he had seen. He asked her to explain the significance of these three visions, because he knew very well that she had not sent him for nothing. And she told him that he should remain chaste that night, and in the morning she would explain to him the significance of the three visions. Thus they remained until morning, when the queen called the king, who looked very troubled. Then she said to him: "Sir, remove these thoughts from your heart, and hear what I shall say. Understand clearly that these visions are not so much references to present events, as they are of things to come. Pay no attention to the forms of the animals you have seen, but to the facts and to the behavior of the lineage that will descend from you. For the first heir who will be born from you will be a man of noble prowess and great power, and that is what the shape of the unicorn and of the lion signifies, for they are the noblest and strongest of the beasts. The meaning of the second vision is this: the form of the bear and of the wolf represent your son's children, who will be as rapacious as these beasts. The meaning of the third vision is this: the form of the dog, who is a worthless, lecherous animal, unable to do anything without the aid of men, represents the wretchedness and lethargy of those who, towards the end of the century (age) will hold the scepter and the crown of France. The crowd of small animals fighting among each other signifies the lower classes killing each other, because they will be without fear of the prince. Sir," said the queen, "this is the explanation of the three visions, which clearly indicate things to come." Thus the king was brought out of the thought into which he had fallen in response to the visions, and was happy with the noble lineage, and great number of fine men who would issue from him.




 An incident.   At that time Odoacer [Aimon, I.ix; Paul Diac., I.xix. ], a prince who was the lord of a people who live on the banks of the Danube, came to Italy. He had become overweening because of a victory he had won against Feletheus, the king of Rugia [The Rugians were a Germanic tribe, found along the shores of the Danube in the late fifth century]. Before he entered the country, he went to speak to Saint Severin, who lived in those parts. The saint spoke to him prophetically: "O you, Odoacer, who are now dressed in the old skins of beasts, you will very soon be master of all Italy." For, at the time that he went to visit the holy man, he was dressed in an animal skin. Having heard this speech, he went to Lombardy. There he did much damage and killing, laying waste the country, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. Anthemius, the emperor of  Rome [467-472 --V.], died at this point, murdered by the treason of his son-in-law, Ricimer. Odoacer began to threaten the city of Rome seriously, and the Romans [Aimon says that the Goths were particularly eager to send for help; Primat suppresses  maxime Gothi] were frightened at his threats, particularly since they now had no emperor or leader to govern them. Therefore they sent emissaries to Leo, the emperor of Constantinople, and asked him to send one of the princes of his palace, by whom they might be protected and defended against their enemies. 


 At that time, Theodoric was one of the greatest princes of the emperor's palace. He was the son of Theodore, who was born in one of the parts of Greece which is called Macedonia, and his wife, whose name was Lilia, was also born there. They had been servants to one of the noblemen of the palace, whose name was Idatius. Theodore [This paragraph is taken from royal ms. 16 G VI; see Fredegar II.vii.] began to love Lilia passionately, and when her master, a powerful man at court, saw that Theodore loved her, in his wisdom, and on the advice of his wife Eugenia, he gave her to him, because he knew that she was well born. Then his wife, who knew very well that she would never bear a child, commanded Lilia to tell her without delay the dream and the vision that she would see the first night she lay with her husband. That first night she dreamt that a tree so large that it reached to the roof of the house grew out of her  navel [Both Fredegar (II.57) and the seventh-century Gesta Theoderici Regis (Krusch p. 202) describe the tree as penetrating the sky; Aimon (Bouquet III, p. 33) limits it usque ad tecta domus. Presumably Aimon has civilized his characters, by representing them as sleeping indoors, and not under the sky, even in their dreams]. She told her husband what she had seen, and also what his wife had told her. He was afraid that if she told her, she would have the child killed, and therefore he told her not to tell her the dream; instead, he said: "You will tell her that in a dream you saw a mare, the most beautiful horse in the world, and a little one following them." Lylia did so, and announced this contrived dream to her mistress. Then the mistress, perceiving that Lylia was pregnant, came to an agreement with her husband, because they had no children, and when the child was born, took it as their adopted child. 


 This Theodoric was so well made, and always so reliable, that he was one of the most valuable men of the emperor's court, for his intellect and for his prowess; he surpassed the others in size, in strength, and in courage. The emperor liked him very much at that time, as did many senators, for his intellect and for his valor. When the emissaries to the Romans came before the emperor, and he heard the reason for their trip, he sent them Theodoric, making him patrician and defender of all Italy. When he arrived, and the Romans had received him, he prepared his troops, and fought against Odoacer several times. One day, in fighting against him, he and his men were defeated, and he had to flee. He fled to Ravenna, where his mother ran to urge him to return to battle. But when she saw that he refused, and was afraid to return, she said to him: "Lovely son, believe me, you have no fortress nor hideaway where you may flee or hide yourself, unless I raise my skirt so that you may enter the house from which you issued at birth." When the young man heard this, he was outraged and shamed by his mother's words; he took courage, got together whatever of his men he could, and returned to the field of battle, where his enemies lay here and there in the fields, like men secure in the victory they had won. He killed some of them, and the others fled. He captured Odoacer and killed him immediately. Thus he delivered the Romans and all of Italy from Odoacer and his people. 


 An incident. In the city of Toulouse, it happened that a great river of blood ran through the middle of the city every day. Both countries were astonished at this marvel, and the wisest men said that it signified the destruction of the city, and the growth of the power of the French.




 When Theodoric left the  emperor [Aimon I, x, borrowing from Fredegar II, lvii, following Gesta Theodorici regis, Monum. script. rer. merov II, p. 205, chap. xi and xii], envy, which always exists, aggravated the hearts of some of the senators. They began to malign him and his deeds, which were worthy of praise; they went to the emperor, confusing him so about one thing and another, that they twisted the good will that he had towards Theodoric, so that his grace turned into hate. They made the emperor thinks that Theodoric intended to take the kingdom of Esperiel -- that is, the kingdom of Italy, which can be called the kingdom of Hesperia, as though to call it by the name of the star [Hesperus -V.] -- others say that it is named for a king who reigned in this land, whose name was Esperus. The emperor, who believed them too easily, was so strongly stirred up against him, that he recalled him, ordering him to return to Constantinople. He hated him with such fierce hatred, that he proposed to have him killed, and cut off from his people. But Ptolemy, one of the senators, who was a very wise man, and had always loved Theodoric very much, was unmoved by the malice of his enemies, and remained steadfast in his love. When he perceived the betrayal they were plotting against his friend, he went to the emperor, when he saw the time and place were right, and spoke to him in this manner: "In the past, Roman emperors have achieved glory and praise, not only for battles and victories, but for the merits of pity and complete trustworthiness towards their subjects. The greatest of our princes of old wanted to conquer their enemies by pity rather than by rights of arms and by the law of battle. This can be shown by many examples: Scipio, one of the Roman senators, acquired great reputation and praise from the Carthaginians, but he was most praised and honored because, not only did he attend the funeral of one of his mortal enemies, but he helped carry the bier on one of his shoulders. Pompey, so fine and powerful, deserved great glory for conquering Mithridates and his people, but he should have greater praise not only for raising from the ground king Tigranes kneeling before him, holding his crown on his knees asking for mercy, but for putting the crown back on his head, lifting him from the ground, and seating him next to himself. Regulus, on of Rome's senators was a man full of great loyalty, who preferred to die among his enemies and perish under torture, than to break his oath. He and many others, whose names we have not mentioned, once kept loyalty and justice, and are not praised without good reason. Good emperor, do not therefore accept the false speeches of those who want to diminish the glory of the empire and of your name by their false advice. What will the world say, if you kill, without reason, a man so valiant and strong, and who can do so much good for the empire; but if you are willing to follow my advice, Theodoric should be sent for; he should be taken and bound as soon as he enters the palace; then some of the senators should be sent to the Romans to announce this, and to report their response." Ptolemy suggested this plan to the emperor, because he had already sent one of his own emissaries to the nobility of Italy, telling them to put in prison the senators sent to them by the emperor, and to send back these words: "We shall not give you back these senators, if you do not give us back our sworn defender." What he ordered was carried out after the emperor sent them his senators. When the emperor saw this, he feared that they would do worse, and therefore gave them Theodoric, and got back his senators. Thus Theodoric was delivered from mortal danger by the shrewdness of his friend. When he returned to Rome, he fought various battles against her enemies, and won glorious victories everywhere, as a man who is wise and powerful in arms will do. 


 Several times he fought against a people called the Avars; many times he conquered them, and sometimes he was beaten [Viard points out that Aimon, upon whom Primat relies here, mixed up the region of Pannonia with those who occupied it after Theodoric died in 526; the Avars came to Pannonia after 558]. One day he fought them, beat them, and chased them from the field, killing many as they fled; he pursued them as far as a river named Hester [the Danube]. When he had spread his tents at the edge of this river, he took some of his knights, and went along the bank of the river to spy upon his enemies, who were on the other side. He saw Xerxes, one of his enemies, coming along the other side, also out to spy on his enemy, and he sent three of his company to take him. When Xerxes saw them coming, he pretended to flee; when they chased him, he killed all three, one after the other. After these three, he sent three others, who were killed in the same manner. When Theodoric saw that his company refused to go, he dug his spurs into his horse, and went to fight himself. They fought long and hard, but at the end Xerxes was wounded in the arm; he was captured and led to his enemies' tents. When he was imprisoned, Theodoric who was very impressed with his strength and chivalric qualities, and valued him very much in his heart, first begged him with kind words and blandishments, then menaced him with threats, in an attempt to compel Xerxes to remain with him, and he submitted him to shame and torture. When he saw that he could not compel him in any way, he let him go back, free, to his people. Xerxes set out into the water, and when he was half-way across the river, he turned toward Theodoric's army, and began to shout: "Because I am now," he said, "beyond your power and authority, I promise you that I shall now, out of my own free will, return voluntariy to you, as my lord, and I shall serve you as your loyal servant as long as I live." After saying this, he turned back, and submitted himself to Theodoric's authority.




 After the victorious prince Theodoric had fought so gloriously against his enemies in  Italy, [borrowed from Aimon I.x, in turn borrowed from Fredegar II.lvii, in turn borrowed from Gesta Theodorice regis, XIV] ] accusations were made against him to the emperor in Constantinople, and he was attacked and maligned by the poisonous tongues of false traitors. The emperor was again stirred up against him, because they made him understand that Theodoric was a spy, and an enemy of the empire; therefore the empire summoned him back to Constantinople. All the senators assembled to discuss killing him, swearing not to reveal the secrets of their meeting. When he heard the emperor's command, Theodoric was very much afraid, and before setting out, sent an emissary to Ptolemy, his loyal friend, asking him to let him know whether or not it would be a good thing to obey the emperor's summons. 


 When Ptolemy had heard the emissary, he was anxious about the oath he had given to the emperor to keep the secrets of the meeting; he was uncomfortable about his position, and did not know what to do. His old friendship for the prince, and concern for the emissary won out, compelling him to say to the emissary: "The emperor will celebrate his birthday today. I and all the other senators must eat with him. When the dining hall is filled, mingle with the servants; take care to get as near to me as possible, so that you may clearly hear what I shall say to the emperor and to the senators, and then tell your master what I shall say, in the manner that you hear me tell it." 


 When the emperor and all the senators were seated at dinner, and they were all heated with meat and wine, Ptolemy began to speak in this way: "Because this day is solemn, and abundant with meat and wine, it is proper that we tell tales and stories to divert and to solace ourselves. Let us then perform for the pleasure of those who delight in hearing such things." When he had said this, and he saw that everyone was waiting to hear what he would say, he began to speak like this. 


 "In the time," said he, "when beasts spoke, all the wild beasts got together to make a king, for the human rule displeased them. When they had come to an agreement, they went to the lion; they pleaded with him not to go against their will, because they wanted to have him as their king, for he was wise and strong. They agreed, by their own will, on the lion. He accepted the lordship, was crowned as king, and placed on the throne. All the beasts came to greet and to honor him as their lord and their king. Among the others, the stag came; he was very fine-looking, and noble, and had lofty, branched horns. As he bent down to pay homage to the king, the lion seized him by the horns, to eat him. The stag, who sensed the trick, shook his head with all his power, and, because he was strong and swift, twisted loose from the lion, leaving his horns behind. He ran off swiftly into the woods. The king was very angry at being humiliated by the stag, and began to threaten him greatly. The animals began to complain of the dishonor that the stag had done to their king, but there was no one who would dare go after him to take vengeance. Among the others was the fox, an expert in deceptive speaking. They asked him to go after the stag, and bring it back to the king. The fox did what they asked. When he came to the stag, he said that he had great sympathy for his sufferings, and that it seemed to him that the king had treated him so brutally, without cause. The stag began to curse the lion because he had wounded him so sorely, tearing off his beautiful horns, when he wished to honor him. The fox said to him: "See if he did not do out of love what you say he did out of base motives. Perhaps, when he took your head, he wanted to make amends to you in peace and in love. It seems to me that this might be true, since it bothers him very much that you have gone off. He speaks only of you; all of his thoughts and concerns are for you. Return to him, and put yourself in his power." So persuasive was the fox, that the stag returned. When he had knelt before the king, as he had done before, the lion leaped up and grabbed him. The other animals leaped up, and all tore at him. The fox, who was close by, tore out his heart and ate it in secret. The king looked for the heart for a long time; unable to find it, he grew very angry. When the animals saw that the king was angry, they were very much afraid. Each asked the other what had happened to the stag's heart. Finally suspicion fell on the fox, because he had been seen near the stag while he was being eaten; he was seized, and said that he knew nothing. Because no one believed him, they began to torture him. He began to shout: "Alas, why do I suffer such torments without reason? Why do they ask me for what they know very well does not exist? For certainly, if the stag had a heart, he would not have returned. He fled first, his horns torn off, completely disarmed of the weapons nature had given him. Then he put himself in mortal danger, though he had perceived the lion's cruelty. Certainly, if he had a heart, he would not have returned. Therefore he could not have had a heart, since he did not know how to follow its advice." When Ptolemy had finished his story, he fell silent. Theodoric's emissary, who understood Ptolemy's exemplum well and wisely, returned to his master and told him everything exactly as he had heard it. When Theodoric had heard this exemplum, he remained where he was, and did not obey the king's summons. A short time later, they made him prince of Italy and lord of the country. Thus he was saved by his loyal friend.




 At that time the apostle Anastasius  died [borrowed from Aimon I.xi, who is borrowing from Liber Pontificalis (Duchesne I, p. 260) and Dialogues of saint Gregory the Great: de anima Paschasii diaconi IV.xl]. There was great dissension among the people after his death, for some supported a man named Laurentius, and others, sounder and better, as became evident afterwards, supported another man, named Symmachus. It happened that they were both ordained on the same day, and since neither would give way or cede his place to the other, the two parties agreed that the battle would be settled by the judgment of king Theodoric, of whom we have spoken above. He gave his judgment, and said that he who had been elected by the majority of the clergy and people should remain in the seat. In this way Symmachus remained the apostle, and the other became the bishop of another city. As Saint Gregory relates, saint Paschasius took the side of Laurentius in this dissension. He was a holy man of lofty behavior, who chastised his body by abstinences; he loved the poor, and gave alms generously to them for the love of Our Lord. It happened that, when he died, and his body was carried to the tomb, a man possessed by demons touched his dalmatic, and was instantly freed of the devil that had entered his body, and although he assented in the election of Laurentius, of whom I spoke before, he thought that he was behaving piously, but he did not make his choice wisely. It happened that a bishop of the city of Capua, whose name was Germain, went to bathe in the baths of Angouleme, on the advice of some physicians, for a sickness that he had. When he got into the baths, he found saint Paschasius in the great heat within, all ready to serve him. When this bishop saw him, he was frightened; he asked him how such a great man, of such repute, as he had been, had ended up there. He replied that he suffered the heat for no other reason than that he had consented to the election of Laurentius: "And if you would pray for me," he said, "to Our Lord, and don't find me here when you return, you will know that God heard your prayer." When this great man returned, he offered masses and prayers for him, and returned to the baths; he did not find him. 


 An incident. At that time there was a very great famine through all of Burgundy, which caused one of the senators to do something which was very pleasing to Our Lord; the senator's name was Ecdicius. He sent his servants everywhere, and assembled up to 4000 poor people, of those who had suffered great harm, taking care of them at his own expense. Then it happened that a voice said to him: "Oh you, Ecdicius, because you have fed my limbs, and supported and raised up the poor in a time of necessity, your descendants will never lack bread." He was happy with such a response.




 Now we must return to the order of our matter, into which we have woven some An incidents which are agreeable to relate. When the king Childeric had governed the kingdom of France 24 years, he died. He had a son with queen Basina, named Clovis; he was very good-looking, worthy, and elegant. As he grew and improved in body, he also grew in nobility of heart and good manners. 


 He received the kingdom as his inheritance, and was crowned after the death of his father. He was noble in battle, glorious in victories, more than any one of those who had reigned before he did. He drove out of the city of Soissons Syagrius, the son of Egidius the Roman, of whom we have spoken earlier; he took the city and put it under his control. At that time, the French hosts ran through the whole country, robbing and carrying off whatever they could find and carry off from monasteries and churches, for they were still pagans and non-believers. At that time the noble saint Remigius was archbishop of Rheims; it happened that among the other things that they carried off, they took an ewer of silver, which was very large and very heavy. The noble man sent an emissary to the king, begging that, even if he would not do any other favor, that he would give back his ewer. The king replied that the emissary should follow him to Soissons, because all the things that they had pillaged would be placed there, and distributed by lot: "And if I get the ewer that your are asking for as my share, I shall give it to you now." When the king and his men arrived at Soissons, he ordered the army to collect the booty to be distributed, and to give to each man what he should have by rightful lot; but, because he was afraid that someone else might get the ewer, and that he himself might not get it as his share, he addressed his princes and the noblest knights, and said to them: "Nobles, my knights and companions, when a prince or a king wishes to obtain his will in affairs that concern his people, it is more correct and reasonable, in accordance with his dignity, that he command than that he beg; however, I prefer to ask things of you out of mildness and graciousness than by violence and the authority of power. For a tyrant accomplishes his will by cruel commands, but a good prince by mildness and gentle words. The dignity of my name must be in keeping with the example of my gracious father; I count it more important that I be honored and revered for my gentleness and mildness, than out of fear. Therefore I ask you all, more out of love than out of respect for authority, that you grant me this ewer as my share, and I promise you that I shall reward you for your goodness at the right time and place, if I am able to obtain this thing from you, in love and in grace." The barons replied: "Sir, noble king, we acknowledge that we have sworn fealty to you, and that we are all ready to die, if need be, to protect the prosperity of your kingdom and your own physical well-being. Therefore, if the life of the body is more precious than any wealth, there is nothing that you can ask of us that we may refuse to give you. We renounce all rights to the spoils; none of it belongs to us. Do whatever you wish; you may, throw the spoils into the river, or burn them in fire." When the king heard this reply, he marveled at the good will that the barons and the whole army had towards him. One of the French, moved by foolhardy courage, leaped up and struck the ewer with his sword, saying to the king: "You will carry away nothing of this booty, except what is yours by lot and exact portion." They all wondered at this madness and at his foolish courage, but the king, who masked his anger, took the ewer and gave it to saint Remigius's emissary, as he had promised. 


 One year after these things had happened, the king sent for his princes and barons, issuing the general order that they come armed and equipped to defend his body, and to attack his enemies. When the army was assembled, and each man was armed as well as possible, the king went out to look over his army, to know how and with what arms each had been equipped. When he had made the circuit of his troops, he came to the man who had, the year before, struck the ewer with his sword; he looked at him carefully, and said: "I have looked over the entire army, and I have seen how each is armed, and I have seen no one as wretched as you, nor arms less sufficient than yours, for your lance, your shield, your helmet, and your sword are worthless." With these words he took the man's sword and threw it to the ground. When he bent down to pick up the sword, the king drew his own sword, and struck him so great a blow to the head, that he fell down dead. Then the king said to him: "That's what you did with your sword to the ewer at Soissons." After the man died in this way, the king departed, and everyone went back to his own section of the country. This deed frightened all the French so much, that no one thereafter dared resist the king's will. The king was of a very open and noble countenance; wisdom, pride, and happiness mingled in his face and in his look; the pride frightened malefactors, the joy encouraged and set at ease good men.




 Now we shall tell how he was converted to the Christian faith, and how he took a wife: a niece of king Gundobad of Burgundy, whose name was Clotild. The king sent his emissary to king Gundobad of Burgundy to establish peace and an alliance, as ancient princes used to do. When they had accomplished the task for which they had been sent, they observed what was going on in the palace, and they saw the virgin Clotild, who was unusually beautiful. They asked who she was, and from what race she had been born. The reply was that she was the king's niece, daughter of his brother; the king her uncle watched over her, since she was an orphan. The emissaries returned to France; they announced to the king how they had accomplished the purpose for which they had been sent, then they spoke of the virgin whom they had seen, who was so beautiful that she was worthy of being married to the most powerful king in the world, since she was also of royal lineage. When king Clovis heard that this virgin was of such great beauty, he was overcome with love, although he had never seen her. Through her he hoped to have the kingdom of Burgundy. He sent one of his servants, whose name was Aurelius, to Burgundy, to speak to the virgin, and to bring gifts and jewels to her, on behalf of the king. He was also commanded to bring back a full and exact description of her beauty, and to determine whether she would marry the king if he asked her. Aurelius prepared himself, taking a ring with other jewels, and went to Burgundy as quickly as he could. When he came near the city in which the young lady lived, he left his companions in the woods, dressed himself in the clothing of a poor man, and joined a group of poor people who were waiting to receive charity from the young lady. He approached the palace at the most convenient spot he could find for speaking to her. It was Sunday, and the woman had gone to the abbey to make her oblations to God. After the service, she left the chapel, moving among the poor to distribute alms, as was her custom. Aurelius moved to the front to receive alms. When she offered him the coin, he seized her hand, lifted her sleeve, brought her hand to his mouth, and kissed her bare hand. She began to blush with the shame of a young and pious girl. When she returned to her room, she sent a young lady to inquire after the poor man, as she thought, who had kissed her hand. He came before her, and she asked why he bared her hand and kissed it. Aurelius replied that he was an envoy from Clovis, the powerful king of France, who had heard men speak of her beauty and nobility, and that he very much wanted to marry her; therefore he had sent to her his ring, and other jewels for the espousal. Having said this, he went back to look for the jewels, which he had left in the sack behind the door of the room, but he didn't find them until a search had been made, for someone had moved the sack. [The significance of this detail is clearer in LHF, where the emissary's disguise seems to protect the jewels:

Respexit retro hostium camerae; non invenit saccolum suum et molestus coepit tristare. Illa vero sollicite requista, ait: "Quis tullit pauperi istius saccolum suum?" Et invenit eum recepitque ille abscondite ornamenta sponsalia. (Krusch, p.255)]

He presented the jewels to the virgin, as one who was sure of the betrothal, for she had replied to him, when she heard tell of the marriage, that it was not right for a Christian woman to marry a pagan. But, if the Creator of the world had ordained that the pagan recognize the Creator through her, she could not refuse him, but His will would be done. Aurelius assured her that the king would do everything that she wished. The virgin begged him that this be kept secret, so that her uncle and others might not know about it. He swore and promised that no one would know through him. The virgin took the ring and put it in her uncle's treasury. Aurelius, who had done his task very well, returned to his lord, who was happy and pleased with the young woman's positive reply.




 Not long afterwards, the king sent the same Aurelian to king Gundobad of  Burgundy [Aimon, I.xiv, borrowing from LHF XII; Gregory, II.xxviii quite sketchy, and Fredegar III, xviii & xix, is also different]. He asked him to send his virgin that he might take her in marriage. When Aurelius had gotten there and made his lord's offer, king Gundobad replied that he was unable to give a response in this matter, because he did not know what woman he was asking for; but because he feared that Aurelius had come to spy upon him and upon his kingdom, he said to him: "See to it that you have not come under guise of this request to deceive me, my people, and my reign, because then I would treat you very badly, and shamefully drive you from this palace." Aurelius replied to him: "I am," he said, "the emissary of Clovis, your lord and the powerful king of France, who through me, demands, if you wish to make Clotild his wife, that you appoint a particular place where he will come to ask for her." When king Gundobad heard that the powerful king Clovis wanted his niece, he was much surprised; he sent for his barons and his people to consult with them about what to do in this matter. But the Burgundians, who feared the strength of the French very much, and were afraid that the powerful king Clovis would make war on them if they did not send him the girl, chose the sanest and best course, for they customarily defended their land by wisdom rather than by arms. They replied to their lord in this manner: "Sir, we advise you to find out what the young lady's desires are; if she agrees to the marriage and the king has sent her his ring or other jewels, and she has accepted them, you may not resist the marriage, but must deliver her to the emissary without delay." The king asked the girl all these things; she replied that she certainly had accepted the ring and the gifts, and that the marriage pleased her very much. When king Gundobad heard this, he gave the girl to Aurelius, though it went against his feelings and his wishes; he showed clearly that the marriage did not please him much, for he wished to give nothing to the girl from his treasury, neither jewels, nor anything, but Aurelius saw to it that his lord, powerful king Clovis, got much of it. When the king had expanded and enlarged his kingdom as far as the Loire River, he gave Melun to Aurelius, together with the entire duchy, as a reward for his service. Aurelius took the girl, and left the king of Burgundy's territory as fast as possible, to return to his lord. When Clotild saw that she was approaching the kingdom that her father had held, she commanded the French who were leading her to sack the country, and to burn the castles and villages. They willingly obeyed her orders; they went out of Burgundy sacking and burning everything before them. When the girl saw that the country and the land had been badly damaged, she raised her hands to the sky and said: "Sovereign God, I thank you for this lovely beginning of vengeance for my father and mother." For her uncle, king Gundobad, had arranged a terribly cruel death for her father, and had arranged to drown her mother in a river, with a stone tied to her neck. The king received his wife with heartfelt pleasure, in the city of Soissons, and married her there with great honor and ceremony. After they had been together for a while, the holy woman preached to him several times, doing what she could to convert him to the Christian faith. but he said that he could not do that, and that he would not abandon the law and customs that the French and the ancient princes had always kept and maintained. The lady patiently awaited the will of Our Lord




 A short time later, the queen conceived a child. When he was born, she had him baptized; Ingomer was his name, and he died very shortly after being baptized. The king was angry and filled with rage at the death of the child; and he upbraided her with words like these: "Our God took the life from the child's body because he was baptized in the name of your God." The good queen, who was full of patience and great hope, replied to him: "I give thanks to the all-powerful God, who has deigned to receive into his kingdom the eldest child and the first fruit of my womb." She conceived a second son; when he was born and baptized, he was named Chlodomer. The child became ill, the king was so unhappy that he began to blame the queen, saying to her: "This second child will not live long, for our gods hate him for your false belief." But the holy woman, who felt very bad about the king's reproaches, and about his hatred of the Christian faith, prayed so to Our Lord that the child recovered fully. 


 At this point, while the king was still an idolater, he assembled his army to attack the Germans, whom he wanted to make his tributaries. The king of Germany (for at that time there was a king) responded by summoning as many people as he could, so that the two kingdoms came up against each other with all their might. When they were on the field of battle, and the battle-groups were formed on both sides, powerful king Clovis gave the signal to his people to begin the fight. The Germans, who were fighting to defend their freedom, gave them a fierce reception, and the battle lasted a long time. Many were killed on both sides, for the French were fighting to acquire glory and praise, and the Germans to protect their lives and their freedom. But when the king perceived the slaughter of his people and the bravery of his enemy, he had greater fear of defeat than he had hope of victory. He looked at the sky humbly, and spoke in this way: "Most powerful God, whom queen Clotild worships and adores with her heart and mind, I promise you perpetual and completely faithful service, if you grant me victory now over my enemies." As soon as he said this, his people became aflame with bravery, and such a great fear came upon his enemies, that they turned their backs and abandoned the battle, and the victory went to the king and to the French. The German king was killed. When the Germans saw that they were defeated and that their king was dead, they gave themselves to the service of the king, and became his tributaries. Therefore, one must not think that this happened by chance, but it was divinely ordained.




 The king returned to France after this victory. When he was in the city of Toul, he found saint Vaast, who was then the bishop of Arras. He commanded him to come with him. The king came to Rheims and told the queen everything that had happened; together they gave thanks to God. The king confessed with the faith of his heart, and in good will. The queen, who was extremely happy with her lord's conversion, went quickly to Saint Remigius, who was then archbishop of the city; she told him all about how the king was converted, then asked his advice about what they should do. He hurried quickly to the palace to teach the king the way to God, since his mind was still not firmly committed. For the queen said that she feared that his heart had not been lifted by the victories and fortunate adventures that had happened to him, and that he despised the sovereign giver who had given him everything. Saint Remigius hurried to reach the king, presenting himself boldly before him, although shortly before this time he had hid himself, not daring to show himself before him. When he had instructed him in the faith and in the manner of belief, and the king had recognized the truth, he promised firmly that he would always serve him who was the one, all-powerful God. Then he said to the queen and to Saint Remigius that he would try the hearts and will of his barons, and of the ordinary people, for they would convert more devoutly, if they were converted gently, by mild words rather than by force. This condition pleased Saint Remigius and the queen very much. The people and the barons all assembled at the king's command; the king got up in the middle of them, and began to speak like this: "Noble French, descended from the lofty lineage of Troy, keep the nobility of your name and lineage in mind, and remember what gods you have served until today. For it seems to me right that you first recognize what kind of gods you worshipped, that you may be certain of their falseness; therefore you should more willingly recognize him who is the true God, and this will be done directly if you look at the greatest deeds of our lineage. Take as your paradigm the noble city of great Troy, which thought that it was fortified so strongly by so many gods, who did not prevent its being taken and destroyed by the Greeks, and more by trickery and deception than by force of arms. They say that the gods were made and constructed with their own hands, and there were still in the towers of the city images, consecrated in their names, to prevent their enemies from taking the city by assault. What aid can these gods give us, who could not even save themselves? Let us then leave their vain worship, and let us cast them from us, for we have certainly shown that they cannot help us; let us serve and worship God the father, Jesus Christ the son, and the Holy Spirit, who are one God in three persons. And here is master Remigius, our father and leader, who will teach you this holy religion and its holy doctrine, and lady Clotild, our partner and our spouse, is of this faith and this belief, and she advised me to place my hope in the holy, sovereign power in all dangers and in all needs. And know well that this same God whom I preach has given you victory over your enemies in the battle that you just won over the Germans. Therefore let us lift up our hearts in righteous hope, and let us send righteous prayers to heaven, and let us ask the sovereign defender, who grants all things to those who place their hope in him, to save our souls, and grant us victory against our enemies." When the faithful king had preached and advised the people, they removed false belief from their hearts and acknowledged their creator. Saint Remigius certainly had great joy from this, seeing the newly converted king become an apostle to his people, even before he was baptized.




 The noble Saint Remigius now prepared the fonts to baptize the king and those who had been converted by his preaching. When everything was ready, the king descended into the font like another Constantine. As saint Remigius recited the manner of Jesus Christ's suffering, how he was tied to the stake, beaten, and scourged with whips, and then crucified, the king, who felt great compassion for the harm that he was told had been done to Christ, said something eloquent: "Certainly," he said, "had I been there, with all my French, I would indeed have taken vengeance for the atrocities done to him." Our Lord showed very clearly that he found the newly converted king's faith acceptable, by the great miracle that happened. For exactly at the point that the king was being annointed, he who was to administer the holy oil could not make his way through the crowd of people; a dove suddenly flew from the sky, though not a dove, but the Holy Spirit in the semblance of a dove. In its beak, which was very bright and shiny, it carried the holy ointment in a small vessel, which it put in the hands of the holy archbishop who was blessing the font. Those who were present were overjoyed, and they began to shout thanks and praise to Our Lord; in this way part of the people were baptized. When the king had been baptized, and the ceremony of baptism was over, he went forth from the church pleased and delighted; he went to Paris, which was from that time the seat and head of his kingdom. He showed the faith and devotion of his heart by establishing, very soon afterwards, on the advice of the queen, a church in Paris, in honor of the prince of the apostles (Peter), which is now called Saint Genevieve, in which Clovis now lies, together with his queen Clotild, and two of his grandchildren, who were the sons of his son Clodomir, the king of Orleans, of whom we shall speak later. Faith, religion, and a passion for justice remained strong in him all the days of his life. 


 The citizens of Verdun rebelled against him, and he laid siege to the city; he had catapults and mangonels drawn up to attack the walls; he had battering-rams raised to batter the gates. Those who were within the city were very much afraid when they saw the preparations that the king made; finally, the king spared the city at the request of Saint Euspice, who was the arch priest of the city. When the king had received the city, and the citizens had given themselves up to him, he returned to France, to set out for the city of Orleans. He ordered saint Euspicius and his nephew saint Maximinus to follow him, and they did as he ordered. He gave them a large piece of land and great possessions, and he gave them a charter authorized with his own seal, so that they and those who came after them might hold it uncontested. 


 An incident. At that time, saint Fursin came to France from  Ireland [See Viard, pp. 73-74, for confusion of two Clovises and two Sigeberts, in Aimon and in Primat]. He built the monastery of Lagny on the Marne by a grant from king Clovis. Before coming to France, he had been in Saxony, and had founded an abbey there, by the will of king Sigebert, who had received him very honorably. 


 We can find nothing in the old histories about this king Sigebert, except for what can be found in the life of saint Fursin, who says only that the king received him in his home. But one finds in the chronicles of Gregory [II.27&40], the archbishop of Tours, that a king Sigebert sent his son Ch(l)oderic to Clovis, the king of France, to ask for help against the Goths, and, later in the same chronicles, he says that they were both killed by the trickery of the French, who invaded and seized their king and treasures after their death; but because of the errors of the scribes, the books in which we find this written do not enable us to know exactly of what people he was the king, nor the cause of his death; we may only say that king Clovis of France took his king and treasures. 


 Powerful king Clovis, urged and entreated by queen Clotild, assembled his armies and entered Burgundy against king Gundobad, of whom we spoke above. Her reason was that Gundobad had murdered king Chilperic, his own brother, who was the father of queen Clotild, and he had drowned Chilperic's wife, Clotild's mother, the queen, with a large rock around her neck. After a hard battle, Gundobad was defeated, together with all of his people. The king captured the country, and utterly destroyed it. After a long siege, Gundobad became a vassal of the king. Godegesile, a brother of king Gundobad, allied himself with the French against his brother. King Gondobad gave so much silver and other wealth to the king that he returned to France. He did this all by the counsel of a wise man named Aredes, who had come to him from Arles to help him against the French. Before returning to France, the king left Godigisel, king Gundobad's brother, together with 5000 French, in Burgundy, to conduct the war. After king Clovis had returned, king Gundobad, who grew confident with Clovis absent, lay siege to his brother in the city of Vienne. He entered the city from the  Rhone [Viard points out that this is a mistranslation of Aimon's per aquaeductum urbem ingressus (I.9)], killed his brother, and slaughtered many others. He had the French, who were stationed in a tower, killed.




 Powerful king Clovis fought a battle against Alaric, king of the Goths, because the Goths, corrupted by the Arian heresy, had supported the Burgundians against him. They had already taken and occupied France from the Loire to the Pyrenees. Another reason for the battle may have been that the powerful king Clovis had sent to King Alaric an emissary whose name was Paternus, to discuss peace and other topics for the benefit of both parties. He told him to indicate where he would like to have the meeting, and that king Alaric might touch the beard of king Clovis, as his adopted son, according to the tradition of ancient kings. When the emissary arrived, and had revealed his purpose, king Alaric replied that he would not fail to meet with his lord. Paternus asked him if he would come with a few people, or with many; he replied that he would come with a few, and secretly. Then he asked if his own men would be armed or unarmed, and he said that they would be entirely unarmed, if their men also would be unarmed. The emissary returned and told the king Alaric's wishes, and how he had agreed to come to a meeting. The king went to Aquitaine; but before he went to the place where the meeting was to be held, he sent Paternus ahead of him with an emissary, to find out how the Goths were dressed, and how they had outfitted themselves to meet him. The emissary arrived; as soon as he spoke to king Alaric, he felt and perceived that the king carried in his hand a bar of iron [une verge de fer, as Viard points out, is a mistranslation of Aimon's uxos, a short sword, or a long knife] in place of a stick, and it was the size and weight of a "gate-bar," and each of the king's men carried one. Paternus took Alaric by the hand, and said to him: "O king, what have my lord and the French done, that you intend thus to deceive them by your malice and treachery?" The king replied that this was not what he was thinking, and he had intended no harm. Paternus spoke against what he was doing. They had words, and began to quarrel; finally, they agreed that the quarrel would be mediated by Theodoric of Italy, [Viard's note refers to the letters that have survived, authenticating the historical element in this incident] of whom we have spoken earlier. The two kings sent their emissaries for the judgment. When king Theodoric had heard both sides, he said, by way of correct judgment, that the emissary of the king of France should mount a horse, and should hold a straight lance before the gates of the palace of king Alaric; king Alaric and the Goths should then throw enough silver coins on the point of the lance to cover it, and king Clovis and the French would have these coins. The emissaries returned, reporting Theodoric's decision. The French all praised it, but it did not please the Goths, because they said that they could not agree to such a great sum of coins. They did not restrain themselves from harming the king's emissary; when he went to sleep one night in a high room of the house, they removed the planks in front of his bed. Unaware, he got up in the night to perform a necessary task, and fell in the opening so badly that he broke one of his arms, and was so badly smashed in another part of his body, that he almost died. He returned to king Clovis as quickly as he could, and told him how things had turned out, and then complained of the harm the Goths had done to him. The king, who did not want to delay avenging this deed, because he was very angry at the shame and harm done to his emissary, assembled his army. When they were all together, he exhorted them with these words: "Oh French nobles, my companions and my knights, I do not urge you to battle, because I have no doubts about your strength and your courage, which are feared by our enemies, since they wanted to kill our emissary not openly, but treacherously. By this deed they have clearly shown that they could not endure the wrath of our race, since they were so afraid of the steadfastness of a single emissary. Understand that we are not fighting them for women or for children, or for earthly riches, but for the Holy Trinity, indivisible, which they, in their evil, make out only through damnable error. We also fight for divine and human laws, which command that one do no harm to those who are sent as mediators between armies, and who, as emissaries, carry the words of some to others, for emissaries should be guaranteed safety when moving among armed enemies. He is not an enemy who is part of an embassy. Let us hurry, then, to battle, and strike fiercely among our enemies, sure and confident that Our Lord Jesus Christ aids us." When the king had finished speaking, the brave men were eager to fight against their enemies; they were ready either to die, if need be, or to gain victory over those who were against them.




 Before the king fought against king Alaric, he received a certain sign of victory, in the ancient way, in a manner I shall describe to you. He sent his emissaries to the monastery of St. Martin of Tours, to bring gifts and offerings to the holy body, and said to them: "Go, and bring me back a sign of victory." When the emissaries entered the church, they heard someone singing this verse, which is written in the Psalter: Precinxisti me, Domine, virtute ad bellum, et inimicorum meorum dedisti mihi dorsa. This means, in French: "Sir, you have girdled me and armed me with virtue for the battle, and you have shown me the backs of my enemies" [Ps. XVII.40, 41]. 


 The emissaries, who heard this, were overjoyed. They made their offerings, then returned to the king, reporting to him the sign of victory from Our Lord. He was extremely pleased, and confident of victory. After he had assembled his army, he moved against his enemies. The French came to a river called the Vienne; they thought to cross it, but they could not, because the water was much deeper than usual, because of recent great rains. The king was unhappy when he saw that neither he nor his men could cross the river; immediately he asked for Our Lord's help, with such words: "Holy Trinity, and God, single in majesty, grant me victory against the enemies of the Christian faith, and permit me to pass easily over this river." Our Lord heard his prayer, and in the morning, at the time when the army was awoken and prepared itself, a stag suddenly appeared before them. When the French, who had traditionally been more enthusiastic hunters than any other people, saw the animal, they thought that they had found a prey. They set out swiftly on the chase, and the stag dashed into the water and crossed the river, showing them where to cross. By this sign they were able to perceive that Our Lord would show them the way. The king and his entire army crossed the river where the stag had shown the way, and they moved on to Poitiers. The king had his tent set very close to the monastery of Saint Hilary, and gave the order that no one should be so bold as to take by force wine or food, or any other necessary item in the entire region. 


 In the middle of the night, when everything was quiet, a great ray of burning fire suddenly broke from the church of Saint Hilary, descending on the king's tent, exactly where he was sleeping. Those who saw the sign thought it to be of great significance. In the morning, everyone got up, and the king ordered them to arm themselves; he drew up the battle lines well and wisely, and they rode out in order against their enemies, who were waiting to fight them. After the king gave the sign to begin fighting, the French attacked their enemies with fierce ardor. Both sides fought hard, but the Goths were finally defeated; they turned their backs and fled, just as the sign had foretold. Powerful king Clovis threw himself into the battle at the point where he could find king Alaric among the best of his men; he fought him man to man, and knocked him to the ground. As he held him down, looking for a place to strike him dead, two Goths struck at him from both sides with swords, but could not wound him, because God's power and the hauberk protected him. He did not move until he had killed king Alaric. In this way the king was victorious over his enemies, with the aid of Our Lord, like a man always under his protection.




 King Alaric reigned twelve  years [actually 22 years, 485-507, says Viard; although V. says that Gregory got the number right, in Thorpe's translation, the number is 12 -- check the variant readings]. After he was killed and his army defeated, as you have heard, the great king Clovis sent one of his sons, whose name was Theuderic, together with a great army, into the sovereign parts of his realm. He went all through Provence, compelling all the Rodais, Caorsins, and Auvergnians to submit to his father's authority. He returned as a glorious conqueror, reaching his father in the city of Bordeaux, where he was spending the winter. At the end of the winter, when spring returned, the king returned to Toulouse, bringing the treasures that had belonged to king Alaric. From there he went to the city of Angouleme, whose walls trembled at his arrival, without any display of force, by God's will; he entered the city and put to the sword all the Goths whom he found within it. Through all the neighboring cities he killed all of his enemies, and garrisoned them with his own people. When he had conquered the entire region, garrisoned the cities and castles, and put everything in order, he came to Tours. 


 Messengers from Anastasius, the emperor of Constantinople, arrived at Tours, carrying presents from their lord, and letters which declared that it would please the emperor and the senators if he would become the friend of the Empire, a patrician and adviser of the Romans. When the king had read these letters, he put on the robe of a senator which the emperor had sent him, mounted a horse, and rode into a broad square between the church of St. Martin and the city; there he gave great gifts to the people. After that, he was always called senator and Augustus. He sent 100 sous to buy back a  horse [The following story about the horse offered to St. Martin's church is not in Gregory or in Aimon, but in LHF XVII] which he had sent as an offering to Saint Martin's reliquary, with many other gifts. Those who were sent there could not move the horse from the place. When the king heard about it, he ordered that another 100 sous be offered; this was done, and they easily brought back the horse. The king made a joke about this: "Saint Martin," he said, "helps those in need very well, but he wants to be well paid." After these things had been done, and peace established everywhere, the king returned to Paris. 


 He captured King Chararic and one of his sons, by some scheme, because this king had promised to aid Clovis against Syagrius, the son of Egidius the Roman, of whom we have spoken; but when he was supposed to help, he held himself out of the battle, intending to follow the winning party. Clovis had them tonsured, then had the father made a priest, and the son a deacon. When Chararic complained that he had been humiliated and shamed, his son said to him, showing him his newly-cut beard: : "These leaves which have been cut from a green tree will soon be grown; may the man who did this to us be dead and gone as quickly." The king heard of these words, and straightway ordered that they be killed. Then he seized their treasures and their kingdom, but the chronicles do not tell where he came from, or of what country he was  king. [Salian French, Thorpe offers]




 The king prepared his troops to go against duke Ragnachar, who held the city of Cambrai, and the entire  duchy [Aimon I.23. ] He was his cousin, but Clovis hated him, because Ragnachar behaved abominably; his own people detested him, because he had entirely abandoned himself to lechery, and to many other vices. One of his servants, named Farro, he kept near him, believing him to be sagacious. Farro, who was deceitful and treacherous, had driven him so mad and so far from good sense, that whenever anyone made a present to the king, he would say: "This will be for me and for my advisor Farro." Ragnachar's foul behavior and sloth had provoked his own people, and those who rode with him, to the point that they complained and consulted with each other on how to rid themselves of the shame they shared. For this purpose they asked powerful king Clovis to look for an occasion to fight against him, and if he would give them gifts, they would throw him their support before the battle began, turning Ragnachar over to him. In accordance with their request, the king moved forward with a large force, first sending to the traitors gifts of shoulder-armor of gold-plated copper, swords, and other similar objects. Those who received them believed them to be made of pure gold. When they arrived at the place of battle, those who plotted the treachery pretended to flee. Ragnachar was captured as he prepared to flee, and turned over to the king by his own people. The king had him killed, because he was evil and degenerate. The king also had one of Ragnachar's brothers killed, blaming him for not wanting to help his brother, permitting himself, instead, to be captured. In this way he had many of the king's relatives killed, seizing and taking their treasures, so that no one who plotted to kill him would have his kingdom after his death. 


 He sent an emissary to the city of Le Mans, commanding that Rignomer, the brother of duke Ragnachar, be killed, because he thought that he was most likely to try to take the kingdom. One day it happened that the king made a statement in front of all the greatest barons of France: "Because I am a widower and am orphaned of all my relatives, I am very much afraid for my life, for I have no man close to me in blood who may guard my life and my well-being." The barons, who interpreted this statement in a sense other than the literal one, understood that he said it to find out if anyone would come forward, claiming to be of his lineage. When the traitors who had sold their lord perceived that the king had deceived them by sending them false gifts, they returned to him, complaining, and asking that he make up their loss; but the king replied: "You are not grateful for what has been done for you, since you are not mindful of the things I have done for you. With what punishments do you think they should be tortured who betrayed their lord, and caused his death? Go back, and let this sad, unworthy life that remains for you be enough for you." When the traitors heard such words, they were very much afraid, and they quickly left.




 In that time Saint Severin lived; he was the head of the abbey of Saint Maurice d'Agaune, which today is called Chablis. The king, who had been sick with a fever for nearly a year, sent for him. When the holy man arrived, he prayed to Our Lord that the king would recover his health completely. The saint, however, did not then return to the place from which he had come, but remained in France, in the region of Gastinois, in a castle called Chateau-Landon. There he lived a holy life for the rest of his life, then went gloriously from this mortal life to everlasting joy. 


 In these same times, Saint Genevieve lived. She was born near Paris, in a town called Nanterre. A holy virgin, shining with the merits of a holy life, she was baptized and blessed by the hand of St. Germanus of Auxerre, who went, in that time, to Britain, to destroy the Pelasgian heresy, with which the holy church was corrupted in those parts. When her father and mother had died, she came to Paris, in the time of powerful king Clovis, and lived there until the time of king Lothar and king Childebert. 

 In that time Saint Germanus also was alive, a holy man, bishop of Paris (555-576), full of great virtues, as is written in his life. 


 At this time, the empire of Constantinople was governed by Justinus I (518-527), who had received it after the death of Emperor Anastasius. 


 At this time saint Benedict lived, the glorious confessor, blessed in life as well as in name, whose memory is renowned throughout the world for the merits of the lofty life that he led. 


 At this same time the church of Rome was governed by an apostle named Hormisda; he received it after the death of the apostle Symmachus. In his time, the powerful king Clovis sent to the church of Saint Peter a crown of gold, adorned with precious jewels, on the advice of saint Remigius [Viard points out that Clovis died in 511, and Hormisda was not elected Pope until 514]. He clearly showed by this deed that he did not wish to receive in vain the grace which Our Lord had shown to him, nor to be guilty of the vice of ingratitude towards Our Lord, by whose power he governed his realm so gloriously, when he sent the royal shroud to the church of his apostle. Sosius, one of the Roman consuls, had done the same thing; when he captured Jerusalem, he offered a crown of gold in the Temple. But Clovis' gift was more pleasing to Our Lord, because it was superior in faith, in intent, and in honoring the holy Church, while Sosius was a pagan, who worshipped idols. 


 An incident. In that time there were quakings and tremblings of the earth so great in the city of Vienne, that many churches and houses trembled on Easter day itself, exactly at the hour when saint Mamert, bishop of the city, was singing Mass. The palace of the king was burned by a fire which came down suddenly from the sky. Bears and wolves came out of the woods and did much damage to the citizens, chasing them, driving them into the town, and eating some of them. For this reason, saint Mamert delivered a sermon to the people, advising them to fast for three days, to march in processions, and to chant litanies. From this event came the beautiful practice and custom still maintained in the holy Church everywhere that God is served and honored, as some would  say. [Rogations: the attribution to St. Mamert is supported by Sidonius Appolinaire and several others, according to Viard] 


 Powerful king Clovis, who had lived the limits of his life, passed out of this world when he had reigned thirty years as a Christian, in the eleventh year after he had killed king  Alaric. [Battle of Vouille was in 507, Clovis died in 511; Viard points out the difficulty; Gregory and Aimon give the correct arithmetic] He was buried in Paris, in the church of Saint Peter, which is now called Saint Genevieve, which he had founded at the request of his wife, queen Clotild. On his tomb an epitaph was placed, in beautifully composed verse, probably written by Saint  Remigius. [For the epitaph see Bouquet II, p. 538] He died 112 years after the death of St. Martin.