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E02177: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (5.49), tells of how, in 580, Leudast, count of Tours, sought sanctuary in the church of *Peter (the Apostle, S00036) in Paris, and later in the church of *Hilary (bishop of Poitiers, ob. 367, S00183) in Poitiers (western Gaul). Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 580/594.

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posted on 2016-12-23, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 5.49

In the context of the aftermath of the council of Berny-Rivière, where Gregory triumphed over his enemies, Count Leudast and the priest Riculf, Gregory tells of the discomfiture of Leudast:

Leudastis vero haec audiens, basilicam sancti Petri Parisius expetiit.

'When Leudast heard what had happened, he sought the church of Saint Peter in Paris.'


Ille (Leudastis) vero cernens, se iam iamque capi, relictis rebus, basilicam sancti Hilarii Pictavensis expetiit. Berulfus vero dux res captas regi transmisit. Leudastis enim egrediebatur de basilica, et inruens in domibus diversorum, praedas publice exercebat. Sed et in adulteriis saepe in ipsam sanctam porticum deprehensus est. Commota autem regina, quod scilicet locus Deo sacratus taliter pollueretur, iussit eum a basilica sancta eici.

'When Leudast saw that he was on the point of being taken, he jettisoned everything and sought the
church of Saint Hilary in Poitiers. Duke Berulf sent the property which he had seized to the King. From time to time Leudast emerged from the church to break into the homes of various citizens and to rob them quite brazenly. He was even caught in adultery in the portico of the church (in ipsam sanctam porticum). Queen Fredegund, who took exception to this desecration of a place consecrated to God, ordered Leudast to be expelled from the church.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 261, 262-263. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 320, 322, lightly modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, ob. 368 : S00183

Saint Name in Source

Petrus Hilarius

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

Seeking asylum at church/shrine

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Officials


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.


The church of Saint Peter in Paris is earlier described by Gregory, when recounting the burial of Clovis in 511 (Histories 2.43, see E02031), as a church of the Apostles, not one exclusively of Peter. The church was built by Clovis and Clotild and much later (in the 9th century) became the church of *Genovefa/Geneviève (ascetic in Paris, ob. 502/512, S01156), who was buried there (E02747) (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 206-208; Duval et al. 1992, 116-119). The church of Hilary was a funerary one. Originally, Hilary of Poitiers was buried in the chapel that he constructed extra muros in the cemetery to the south of the city and dedicated to *Iohannes and Paulus (brothers and eunuchs, martyrs of Rome, ob. 361/363, S00384). Then this area was destroyed twice: in 412 by the Vandals and in 453 by the Huns. Later a new church was built, but there is no evidence when exactly. It must have been before 507, because Venantius Fortunatus and Gregory of Tours mention the church of Hilary and the help offered by the saint to Clovis in the context of the Vouillé campaign (Histories 2.37, see E02032). For more information about the church of Hilary in Poitiers, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 222-224, and Boissavit-Camus 1998, 85-87.


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: Boissavit-Camus, B., "Poitiers," in: N. Gauthier (ed.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 10: Province ecclésiastique de Bordeaux (Aquitania Secunda) (Paris, 1998), 65-92. Duval, N. et al., "Paris," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 8: Province ecclésiastique de Sens (Lungdunensis Senonia), (Paris, 1992), 97-129. 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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