An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages (375-814)

By Ephraim Emerton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.
FRANKS AND MOHAMMEDANS, 638-741.

AUTHORITIES:--Next to Gregory of Tours comes (about 650)
a writer of whom nothing is known, but who passes under the
name of FREDEGARIUS. He begins his chronicle with the begin-
ning of the world, and comes finally to the story of his own times.
After him (about 725) appears a work called The Deeds of the
Frankish Kings" (Gesta Francorum), by an author whose very
name is unknown. These two writers give us a selection from the
mass of popular legends which were current in their day, which
Gregory does not give, and which but for them would have been
lost. They both have an eye for politics, as Gregory has for
church affairs. Here is a choice specimen from Fredegarius about
the birth of Clovis:--

"When Basina, wife of Bisinus, king of Thuringia, heard that
Childeric had been made king of the Franks, she left Bisinus and
came in all haste to Childeric. And when he anxiously inquired
why she had come to him from such a distance, she said: 'Because
I know thy bravery, have I come to be with thee. For if I knew
any man under heaven braver than thou, I would have gone to
him." Then Childeric was pleased with her beauty and took her
to wife.

"That night she said to him, 'Go out quietly and tell thy hand-
maid what thou seest in the outer court of the palace.' So he
arose, and saw the figures of beasts like lions and unicorns and
leopards wandering about in the courtyard. This he reported to
his wife, and she said to him, 'My lord, go out again and tell thy
handmaid what thou hast seen.' He went out again and saw
figures as of bears and wolves roaming about. And when he had
told her all this, she bade him go out once more and tell her what
he saw. The third time he saw figures as of dogs and other small
animals quarrelling and fighting with each other.

-114-

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