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E07747: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (3.13), describes how the fortress of Vollore, near Clermont (central Gaul), was captured by King Theuderic I in c. 525, and Proculus, a presbyter, killed there, as punishment for wrongs he had committed against *Quintianus (bishop of Rodez and Clermont, ob. 525, S00028). Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/594.

online resource
posted on 2019-08-29, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 3.13

Lovolautrum autem castro hostis expugnant Proculumque presbiterum, qui quondam sanctum Quintiano iniuriam intulerat, ad altarium eclesiae miserabiliter interficiunt. Et credo, ob illius causa fuerit ipsum castrum in manibus traditum iniquorum, quid usque illa die defensatum est. Nam cum eum hostes expugnare non possent, ad propria iam redire disponerent, audientes haec obsessi, iam laeti atque securi decipiuntur, sicut ait apostolus: Cum dixerint: 'Pax et securitas', tunc repentinus superveniet interitus. Denique per ipsius Proculi presbiteri servum* iam securi populi traduntur in manus hostium.

* stuprum (Omont and Collon)

'The troops stormed the fortress of Vollore, and the presbyter Proculus, who had once done wrong to Saint Quintianus, was cruelly cut down at the altar of his own church. And I believe it was his fault that the fortress was allowed to fall into enemy hands, for until this moment it had always been inviolate. Theuderic’s soldiers were not able to capture it and they were already preparing to return to wherever they had come from. When the besieged heard of this they were lured into a false sense of security and happiness, as the Apostle foretold: ‘For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.’ In the end the inhabitants, who thought themselves safe, fell into the enemy’s hands, through the slave [or 'the sin'] of the priest Proculus.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 109. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 172, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Quintianus, bishop of Rodez and Clermont, ob. 525 : S00028

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 - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle Miraculous interventions in war

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy


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 feud between the presbyter Proculus (PCBE 4, 'Proculus 5') and Bishop Quintianus (PCBE 4, 'Quintianus') is related in the Life of Quintianus in Gregory's Life of the Fathers (E00036), where Gregory mentions the violent death of Proculus in front of his altar. The claim that the very fall of the fortress of Vollore to Theuderic was a punishment for Proculus however appears only in the Histories. This is a very rare occasion in which the text of the Histories by Omont and Collon (used by Thorpe for his translation) disagrees with the text of Krusch and Levison in a way that affects the presentation of the power of a saint. Both editions agree in the words used to introduce Gregory's explanation of the fall of the fortress: Et credo, ob illius causa fuerit ipsum castrum in manibus traditum iniquorum ('And I believe it was his fault that the fortress was allowed to fall into enemy hands'). However, in Omont and Collon's text this is subsequently reinforced by the statement that the fortress fell because of the 'sin' (stuprum) of Proculus, while Krusch and Levison's text has it falling because of a slave (servum) of Proculus. Both readings have support from manuscripts (see Krusch and Levison's apparatus criticus). On the face of it, Omont and Collon's reading would seem preferable, given that Gregory has already emphasised that Proculus' sin made him responsible for the fall of the fortress, while he says nothing anywhere else about a slave of Proculus, and nothing to indicate how the slave caused the fortress to fall. It may, however, be impossible to resolve the question decisively.


Edition: Krusch, B., and Levison, W., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Libri historiarum X (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.1; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1951). Omont, H., and Collon, G., Grégoire de Tours, Histoire des Francs, 2 vols. (Paris, 1886-93). 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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