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E02266: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (7.42), tells how *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) in 585 protected from royal exactions one of his religious houses in the region of Bourges (central Gaul). Martin makes an offending official collapse, and then heals him. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 585/594.

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posted on 2017-01-20, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 7.42

Post haec edictum a iudicibus datum est, ut qui in hac expeditione tardi fuerant damnarentur. Biturigum quoque comes misit pueros suos, ut in domo beati Martini, quae in hoc termino sita est, huiusmodi homines spoliare deberent. Sed agens domus illius resistere fortiter coepit, dicens: 'Sancti Martini homines hii sunt. Nihil eis quicquam inferatis iniuriae, quia non habuerunt consuetudinem in talibus causis abire'. At illi dixerunt: 'Nihil nobis et Martino tuo, quem semper in causis inaniter proferis; sed et tu et ipsi pretia dissolvitis, pro eo quod regis imperium neglexistis'. Et haec dicens ingressus est atrium domus. Protinus dolore percussus caecidit et graviter agere coepit. Conversusque ad agentem voce flebili ait: 'Rogo, ut facias super me crucem Domini et invoces nomen beati Martini. Nunc autem cognovi, quod magna est virtus eius. Nam ingrediente me atrium domus, vidi virum senem exhibentem arborem in manu sua, quae mox extensis ramis omne atrium texit. Ex ea enim unus me adtigit ramus, de cuius ictu turbatus corrui'. Et innuens suis rogabat, ut eieceretur de atrio. Egressus autem invocare nomen beati Martini attentius coepit. Ex hoc enim commodius agens, sanatus est.

'Some time later a decree was issued by the judges that anyone who had shown unwillingness to join this military expedition should be fined. Ollo, the Count of Bourges, sent his representatives into one of the religious houses of Saint Martin in that region, with orders that the churchmen there should pay the fine. The steward of the house resisted vehemently. ‘These men serve Saint Martin,’ he said. ‘They are not in the habit of taking part in military manoeuvres.' This Martin of yours, whom you keep quoting in such a fatuous way, means absolutely nothing to us,’ they replied. ‘These men must pay the fine, and so must you, too, for disobeying the King’s command.’ As he said this, one of them marched into the courtyard of the house. He immediately fell to the ground in great pain and became extremely ill. He turned to the steward and said in a feeble voice: ‘Make the sign of the Cross over me, I beg you, and call upon the name of Saint Martin. I fully recognise how great is his miraculous power. As I walked into the courtyard of this house, I saw an old man holding in his hand a tree, the branches of which spread out until they soon covered the whole yard. One of the branches of that tree touched me, and I was so affected by the contact that I collapsed.’ The steward made a sign to his men and threw the interloper out. From where he stood outside the building, he began to call fervently upon Saint Martin’s name. He soon felt better and was cured.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 364. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 426; lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050

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 - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Punishing miracle Healing diseases and disabilities Miracle after death Miraculous protection - of church and church property

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.


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).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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