The Construction of Communities in the Early Middle Ages: Texts, Resources and Artefacts

By Richard Corradini; Max Diesenberger et al. | Go to book overview

SOCIAL NETWORKS AND IDENTITIES IN FRANKISH
HISTORIOGRAPHY. NEW ASPECTS OF THE TEXTUAL
HISTORY OF GREGORY OF TOURS' HISTORIAE

Helmut Reimitz

In the third book of his Historia Langobardorum, Paul the Deacon recounts the story of a devastating defeat suffered by the Franks at the hands of the Lombards under king Authari: Tantaque ibi strages facta est de Francorum exercitu, quanta usquam alibi non memoratur.1 Therefore. says Paul in the chapter's concluding sentence, he is all the more surprised that he had found the news of this battle not in the historiola of Secundus but only in the Franks' own history:2

Mirandum sane est, cur Secundus, qui aliqua de Langobardorum gestis scripsit,
hanc tantam eorum victoriam praeterieret, cum haec quae praemisimus de Francorum
interitum in eorum historia hisdem ipsis pene verbis exarata kgantur.
3

The historia in question is that of Gregory of Tours, from which Paul did indeed borrow the greater part of his own account of the battle, including the events leading up to it, which were hardly flattering for the Franks.4 In Gregory's account, as well as in Paul's, the conflict started with the Frankish king Childebert II's decision not to marry his sister to the Lombard king as they had previously agreed, but

1 Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum III, 29, ed. G. Waitz and L. Bethmann,
MGH SS rerum Langobardicarum saec. VI-IX (Hannover 1878) pp. 11 If. I am
grateful to Stuart Airlie, Kate Cooper, Richard Corradini, Max Diesenberger, Mayke
de Jong, Conrad Leyser, Rosamond McKitterick, Walter Pohl, Barbara Rosenwein,
Ian Wood for reading earlier versions of this article and for many suggestions and
inspiring discussions. I would also like to thank Christina Pössel for the English
translation of this paper.

2 For Paul the Deacon and Secundus of Trento see W. Pohl, “Memory, identity
and power in Lombard Italy”, The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Y. Hen
and M. Innes (Cambridge 2000) pp. 17ff.; cf. also id., “Paulus Diaconus und die
'Historia Langobardorum'. Text und Tradition”, Historiographie im frühen Mittelalter.
ed. A. Scharer and G. Scheibelreiter, Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Oster-
reichische Geschichtsforschung 32 (Wien and München 1994) pp. 377f; id., “Paolo
Diacono e la costruzione dell' identita longobarda”, Paolo Diacono. Uno scrittore fra
tradizjone longobarda e rinnovamento carolingio. Convegno Internazjonale di Studi, Cividale del
Friuli-Udine, 6–9 maggio,
ed. P Chiesa (Udine 2000) pp. 413–426.

3 Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum III, 29, ed. Bethmann and Waitz, p. 112.

4 Gregory of Tours, Historiae IX, 25, ed. B. Krusch and W. Levison, MGH SS
rerum Merovingicarum 1, 1 (Hannover 1951) pp. 444f

-229-

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