University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E02319: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (8.21), describes how the Frankish aristocrat Guntram Boso was accused of taking advantage of the feast of *Remigius (bishop of Reims, ob. 533, S00456) to rob a tomb in a church at Metz (eastern Gaul), 1 October 585. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 585/594.

online resource
posted on 2017-02-02, 00:00 authored by kwojtalik
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 8.21

Tunc contra Bosonem Guntchramnum causa exoritur. Ante paucus autem dies mortua propinqua uxoris eius sine filiis, in basilicam urbis Metinsis sepulta est cum grandibus ornamentis et multo auro. Factum est autem, ut post dies paucus adesset festivitas beati Remedii, quae in initio mensis octavi caelebratur. Discedentibus autem multis e civitate cum episcopo et praesertim senioris urbis cum duci, venerunt pueri Bosonis Guntchramni ad basilica, in qua mulier erat sepulta. Et ingressi, conclusis super se osteis, detexerunt sepulchrum, tollentes omnia ornamenta corporis defuncti, quae reperire potuerant.

'Then a case was brought against Guntram Boso. A few days earlier a relative of his wife had died childless. She was buried in a church at Metz, together with much gold and a profusion of ornaments. It so happened that a short time later there was celebrated the feast-day of Saint Remigius, which is held on the first day of October. A great crowd of the local inhabitants went out of the city with their Bishop and they were accompanied by the Duke and the leading men of the place. Thereupon Guntram Boso’s servants made their way to the church where the woman had been buried and went in. As soon as they were inside they shut the doors behind them, opened the tomb and stole as many of the precious objects from the dead body as they could lay their hands on.'

The thieves are then spotted by monks attached to the church and forced to return what they had stolen.

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 387-388. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 453, lightly adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Remigius, bishop of Reims : S00456

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 - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Crowds Ecclesiastics - bishops


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.


Though this passage has sometimes been interpreted as indicating that Guntram Boso's relative was buried in a church dedicated to Remigius, Gregory's presentation indicates fairly clearly that this was not so. He refers to the place where she was buried merely as 'a church at Metz' (basilicam urbis Metinsis), then states that the bishop, the duke, and other leading inhabitants went out of the city to celebrate Remigius' feast (discedentibus ... e civitate), upon which Guntram Boso's men entered the church to rob her tomb, with the absence of the townspeople giving the thieves their opportunity. This is the interpretation of Vieillard-Troiekouroff 1976, 174-5; in the first edition of the Topograpphie chrétienne chapter on Metz (Gauthier 1986, 53) the church is taken as being dedicated to Remigius, but this is corrected in the 2014 update (Gaillard and Héber-Suffrin 2014, 189). Gregory's account does however indicate indirectly that an extramural church dedicated to Remigius existed at Metz, and was the destination of the townspeople celebrating his feast. Such a church is known later in the middle ages, but is not directly attested until the 8th century (Gaillard and Héber-Suffrin 2014, 189).


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: Gaillard, M., and Héber-Suffrin, F., "Metz," in: F. Prévot, M. Gaillard, and N. Gauthier (eds.), Topographie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 16: Quarante ans d'enquête (1972-2012): 1. Images nouvelles des villes de la Gaule (Paris, 2014), 181-192. Gauthier, N., "Metz," in: N. Gauthier and J.-Ch. Picard (eds.), Toppgraphie chrétienne des cités de la Gaule des origines au milieu du VIIIe siècle, vol. 1: Province ecclésistique de Trèves (Belgica Prima) (Paris, 1986), 33-53. 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

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity