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E02269: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (8.10), records the burial in 585 of the Frankish princes Merovech and Clovis in the church of *Vincent (deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, S00290) in Paris. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 585/594.

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posted on 2017-01-20, 00:00 authored by mszada
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 8.10

Denique cum interitum Merovechi adque Chlodovechi saepius lamentaret nesciretque, ubi eos postquam interficerant proiecissent, venit ad regem homo, qui diceret: Si mihi contrarium in posterum non habetur, indicabo, in quo loco Chlodovechi cadaver sit positum'. Iuravit rex, nihil ei molestum fieri, sed potius muneribus ampliari. Tunc ille: 'Veritatem', inquid, 'me loqui, o rex, ipsa ratio quae acta est conprobabit. Nam quando Chlodovechus interfectus est ac sub stillicidio oraturii cuiusdam sepultus, metuens regina, ne aliquando inventus cum honore sepeliretur, iussit eum in alveum Matronae fluminis proici. Tunc intra lapsum, quod opere meo ad capiendorum piscium necessitatem praeparaveram, repperi. Sed cum ignorarem, quisnam esset, a caesariae prolixa cognovi Chlodovechum esse, adpraehensumque in humeris ad litus detuli ibique eum cespite superposito tumulavi. Ecce, salvatis artubus, quod volueris effice!' Quod cum rex conperisset, confingens se ad venationem procedere, detectoque tumulo, repperit corpusculum integrum et inlaesum. Una tantum pars capillorum, quae subter fuerat, iam defluxerat, alia vero cum ipsis crinium flagellis intacta durabat. Cognitumque est, hunc esse, quem rex intento animo requirebat. Convocato igitur episcopo civitatis, cum clero et populo ac cereorum innumerabilium ornato ad basilicam sancti Vincenti detulit tumulandum, non minus plangens nepotes mortuos, quam cum vidit filios proprios iam sepultus. Post haec misit Pappolum Carnotenae urbis episcopum, qui Merovechi cadaver requirens, iuxta Chlodovechi tumulum sepelivit.

'The King still grieved for the death of Merovech and Clovis, bewailing the fact that he did not know where their
bodies had been thrown after they were slain. One day a man came to him and said: ‘If I can be sure that it will not be held against me in the future, I will show you where the body of Clovis lies.’ The King swore that no harm should come to the man, but that on the contrary he should be richly rewarded. 'My lord King, the events as they occurred will vouch for the truth of what I say,’ he answered. ‘When Clovis was killed, he was buried beneath the eaves of a certain oratory. The Queen was afraid that the body might one day be discovered and receive honourable burial. She therefore ordered it to be thrown into the bed of the River Marne. I had constructed a trap there for catching fish, and in it I found the corpse. At first I was not sure who it was, but when I saw the long hair I knew that it was Clovis. I put the body on my shoulders and carried it to the bank, and there I buried it under a heap of turves. The limbs had not been harmed. It is now for you to do with the corpse what you will.' As soon as the King heard all this, he set out as if on a hunting expedition. He located the grave and uncovered the body, which was intact and unharmed. Part of the hair, which was underneath the head, had disintegrated, but the rest of the corpse, with its long flowing locks, remained untouched. It was obvious enough that this was the man whom King Guntram had sought so intently. He summoned the bishop of the city and had the body carried to Saint Vincent's church and buried there, with a cortege of clergy and people, and with so many candies that it was not possible to count them. He wept for his dead nephews as bitterly as when he had seen his own sons buried. Later on he sent Pappolus, Bishop of Chartres, to ask for Merovech’s body, and this he had buried next to the grave of Clovis.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 376-377. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 440-441.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Vincent, deacon and martyr of Saragossa and Valencia, ob. c. 305 : S00290

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

Burial ad sanctos

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.


The church of Vincent in Paris was built by King Childebert, and dedicated in AD 557/558. It is probable that Childebert brought some relics (the tunic?) of Vincent from Saragossa after he besieged the city in 542. Later the church became Saint-Germain-des-Prés, because *Germanus (bishop of Paris; S01166) was buried there in 576. Like the church of the Holy Apostles (described also as dedicated to Peter, and later Saint-Geneviève), the church of Vincent served as a funerary church for the Merovingian dynasty. The church in plan was in the shape of a cross (Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 211-214; Duval et al. 1992, 119-122).


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: 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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