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E02317: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (8.16), recounts three miracles (one cure, and two punishments of perjurers) performed by *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) in the church built and dedicated to him by *Vulfilaicus (late 6th c. stylite and monastic founder, S01199) near La Ferté-sur-Chiers (north-east Gaul); AD 565/585. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 585/594.

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posted on 2017-02-02, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 8.16


Vulfilaicus, asked by Gregory of Tours, tells him about three miracles performed by Martin in the church he had built and where he had placed relics of Martin and other saints. The church was on the top of a hill about eight miles from the fortress of La Ferté-sur-Chiers.

The saint cured the son of a noble Frank, who was deaf and dumb. The boy was brought to the church. All day he prayed and at night he slept on a bed in the church. Martin appeared to Vulfilaicus in a vision and ordered him to move the boy out of the church, because he had been cured.

The second and the third miracles were punishing ones. A certain man, who used to clear himself of theft and other crimes by swearing false oaths, when accused of having committed a robbery, went to the church of Martin and tried to prove his innocence. When he came through the door, he fell to the floor with a severe spasm in his heart and confessed his crime. Another man was accused of having burnt down his neighbour’s house and also tried to swear that he was innocent in Martin's church. Vulfilaicus stopped him in front of the church and pressured him to swear his oath there. He committed perjury and then fell to the ground. The man shouted that he was being burnt up and died.

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 383-384. Summary: Katarzyna Wojtalik.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Vulfilaicus, late 6th c. stylite and monastic founder near Trier : S01199 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours (Gaul), ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source

Vulfelaicus Martinus

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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Other lay individuals/ people Aristocrats

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic


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 with relics of Martin was part of Vulfilaicus' monastery constructed eight miles from La Ferté-sur-Chiers (castrum Eposium). The monastery was ruined in Carolingian times. For more details, see Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 120-121.


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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