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E02148: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (5.34), records in the year 580: the death of Dagobert, son of King Chilperic and Fredegund, and his burial in Paris in the church of *Dionysius/Denis (bishop and martyr of Paris, S00349); how Chilperic and Fredegund carried their sick elder son, Chlodobert, to the church of *Medard (bishop of Noyon buried at Soissons, ob. 557/558, S00168) in Soissons (northern Gaul) and made vows for their child's recovery; his death and burial in Soissons, in the church of *Crispinus and Crispinianus, (martyrs of Soissons, S01174). Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/594.

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posted on 2016-12-19, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 5.34

Post haec infantulus iunior, dum nimio labore tabescit, extinguetur. Quem cum maximo merore deducentes a villa Brinnaco Parisius, ad basilicam sancti Dionisi sepelire mandaverunt. Chlodoberthum vero conponentes in feretro, Sessionas ad basilicam sancti Medardi duxerunt, proicientesque eo ad sanctum sepulchrum, voverunt vota pro eo; sed media nocte anilus iam et tenuis spiritum exalavit. Quem in basilica sanctorum Crispini atque Crispiniani martirum sepelierunt.

'Meanwhile their [Chilperic and Fredegund's] youngest baby [Dagobert] wasted away before the onslaught of the disease and finally died. With broken hearts they carried him to Paris from their estate at Berny, and buried him in the church of Saint Denis. As for Chlodobert, they placed him on a stretcher and carried him to the church of Saint Medard in Soissons. They set him down before the saint's tomb and made vows for his recovery, but he died in the middle of the night, worn to a shadow and hardly drawing breath. They buried him in the church of the holy martyrs Crispin and Crispinian.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 240-241. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 298, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Denis, Dionysius bishop of Paris and martyr, ob. c.250 : S00349 Medard of Soissons, bishop of Vermandois/Noyon in Gaul, ob. 557/558 : S00168 Crispinus and Crispinianus, martyrs at Soissons, ob. 285/286 AD : S01174

Saint Name in Source

Dionisius Medardus Crispinus atque Crispinianus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tours Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family


Gregory of Tours wrote the Histories (Historiae) during his episcopate in Tours (573–594). They constitute the longest and most detailed historical work of the post-Roman West. Gregory's focus is Gaul under its Frankish kings, above all the territories of Tours and (to a lesser extent) Clermont, where he had been born and brought up. Much of his work tells of the years when, as bishop of an important see, he was himself centrally involved in Frankish politics. The Histories are often wrongly referred to as a History of the Franks. Although the work does contain a history of the rulers of Francia, it also includes much hagiographical material, and Gregory himself gave it the simple title the 'ten books of Histories' (decem libri historiarum), when he produced a list of his own writings (Histories 10.31). The Histories consist of ten books whose scope and contents differ considerably. Book 1 skims rapidly through world history, with biblical and secular material from the Creation to the death in AD 397 of Martin of Tours (Gregory’s hero and predecessor as bishop). It covers 5596 years. In Book 2, which covers 114 years, the focus moves firmly into Gaul, covering the years up to the death of Clovis in 511. Books 3 and 4, which cover 37 and 27 years respectively, then move fairly swiftly on, closing with the death of king Sigibert in 575. With Book 5, through to the final Book 10, the pace slows markedly, and the detail swells, with only between two and four years covered in each of the last six books, breaking off in 591. These books are organised in annual form, based on the regnal years of Childebert II (r. 575-595/6). There continues to be much discussion over when precisely Gregory wrote specific parts of the Histories, though there is general agreement that none of it was written before 575 and, of course, none of it after Gregory's death, which is believed to have occurred in 594. Essentially, scholars are divided over whether Gregory wrote the Histories sequentially as the years from 575 unfolded, with little or no revision thereafter, or whether he composed the whole work over the space of a few years shortly before his death and after 585 (see Murray 2015 for the arguments on both sides). For an understanding of the political history of the time, and Gregory's attitude to it, precisely when the various books were written is of great importance; but for what he wrote about the saints, the precise date of composition is of little significance, because Gregory's attitude to saints, their relics and their miracles did not change significantly during his writing-life. We have therefore chosen to date Gregory's writing of our entries only within the broadest possible parameters: with a terminus post quem of 575 for the early books of the Histories, and thereafter the year of the events described, and a terminus ante quem of 594, set by Gregory's death. (Bryan Ward-Perkins, David Lambert) For general discussions of the Histories see: Goffart, W., The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550–800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon (Princeton, 1988), 119–127. Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and Boston, 2015), 63–101. Pizarro, J.M., "Gregory of Tours and the Literary Imagination: Genre, Narrative Style, Sources, and Models in the Histories," in: Murray, A Companion to Gregory of Tours, 337–374.


Dagobert and Chlodobert died of dysentery, which spread throughout Gaul in AD 580. The church of Dionysius/Denis is the present-day Saint-Denis, about five kilometres to the north of central Paris. In the 7th century, it became the funerary church of the Merovingian dynasty (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 252-253). The feast of Crispinus and Crispinianus was celebrated on 25 October. In their church, Chilperic et Fredegund buried their son Chlodobert in 580 (Histories 5.34, see E02148). It was the oldest funerary church in Soissons and was located in the north-east part of the city (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 288-289; Gaillard 2006, 55-56). The church of Medard was built after the bishop's death. The construction was started by Chlothar and completed by his son Sigibert (Histories 4.19, see E02097). Before the church, there was a chapel constructed from small branches over Medard's tomb (Glory of the Confessors 93, see E02751). The church served as a very important funerary foundation for the Merovingians (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 289-290; Gaillard 2006, 56).


Edition: Krusch, B., and Levison, W., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Libri historiarum X (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.1; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1951). Translation: Thorpe, L., Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks (Penguin Classics; London, 1974). Further reading: Gaillard, M., "Soissons," in: N. Gauthier, B. Beaujard, and F. Prévot (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 14: Province ecclésiastique de Reims (Belgica Secunda) (Paris, 2006), 47-57. Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 63-101. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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