University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E02251: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (7.10), records the burial place and church in Brives-la-Gaillarde (south-west Gaul) of *Martinus (S01196), supposedly a disciple of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050). The church is burnt down and restored in 584; unspecified miracles occur. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 584/594.

online resource
posted on 2017-01-16, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 7.10

Qui (Gundovaldus) coniunctus cum supradictis ducibus Limovicinum accedens, Briva-Curretia vicum, in quo sanctus Martinus, nostri, ut aiunt, Martini discipulus, requiescit, advenit, ibique parmae superpositus, rex est levatus.
Magno ea tempestate incendio basilica antedicti Martini beati apud Brivam vicum ab inminente hoste cremata est, ita ut tam altarium quam columnae, quae de diversis marmorum generibus aptatae erant, ab igne dissolverentur. Sed ita haec aedes in posterum a Ferreolo episcopo reparata est, tamquam si nihil mali pertulerit. Vehementer enim admirantur veneranturque hunc sanctum incole, eo quod plerumque virtutes eius experiantur.

'Accompanied by the two Dukes Desiderius and Mummolus, Gundovald set off for the district of Limoges, coming to Brives-la-Gaillarde, where is to be found the tomb of Saint Martin, a disciple of our own Martin, or so they say (nostri, ut aiunt, Martini discipulus). There Gundovald was raised up as King on a shield.
As the army marched in, Saint Martin’s church in Brives-la-Gaillarde was burnt down by a terrible conflagration. The heat was so great that the altar and even the pillars, constructed of different kinds of marble, were destroyed in the fire. However, the building was restored for posterity by Bishop Ferreolus, with such skill that no one could see that it had been damaged. The local inhabitants worship and venerate this Saint Martin of theirs with great devotion, for time and time again they have received proof of his miraculous powers.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 332. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 394-395.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, disciple of Martin of Tours : S01196

Saint Name in Source


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

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Destruction/desecration of saint's shrine

Cult Activities - Miracles

Unspecified miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


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.


Gregory, in mentioning the posthumous miracles of this local Martin/Martinus, appears to fully accept his sanctity; but he seems rather doubtful whether Martinus had really been a disciple of Martin of Tours. In this church some architectural elements, that may date from the time of Ferreolus, have been found. For the details, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 71-72.


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: 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).

Usage metrics