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E07749: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (3.16), describes how Sigivald was punished for seizing an estate at Clermont that had been bequeathed to the church of *Julian (martyr of Brioude, S00035). Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/594.

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posted on 2019-08-31, 00:00 authored by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 3.16

Sigivaldus autem cum in Arverno habitaret, multa mala in ea faciebat. Nam et res diversorum pervadebat, et servi eius non desistebant a furtis, homicidiis ac superventis diversisque sceleribus, nec ullus muttiri ausus erat coram eis. Unde factum est, ut ipse villam Bulgiatensim, quam quondam benedictus Tetradius episcopus basilicae sancti Iuliani reliquerat, temerario auso pervaderet. Sed cum ingressus in domo illa fuisset, statim amens effectus, lecto decubuit. Tunc mulier admonita per sacerdotem, elevatum in basterna ut in aliam villam transtulit, sanum recipit. Et accedens, exposuit ei omnia, quae pertulerat. Quod ille audiens, vota beato martiri vovens, quae vi abstulerat duplicata restituit. Meminimus et huius virtutis in libro Miraculorum sancti Iuliani.

'As long as Sigivald stayed in Clermont-Ferrand he did a great amount of harm there. He made off with the personal property of many people, while his dependants committed a long series of thefts, murders, assaults and other crimes, but no one dared to complain openly. A climax was reached when Sigivald dared to seize the villa of Bonghéat, which the saintly Bishop Tetradius had bequeathed to the church of Saint Julian. As soon as he set foot in the house he had a fit and collapsed on a bed. His wife was warned by the priest: she had him lifted on to a litter and carried to another villa, where he recovered. She joined him there and told him what had happened. As soon as he heard the story he made a vow to the blessed martyr and restored the double of all that he had taken. I have described all this in my book Miracula Sancti Juliani.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 116-117. Translation: Thorpe 1974: 179.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Julian, martyr of Brioude : S00035

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

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Punishing miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



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.


These events occurred in c. 525/527, during the invasion of Burgundy by Theuderic I (r. 511-534), related by Gregory in Histories 3.11-13. Sigivald (PLRE IIIB, 'Sigivaldus 1') was placed in charge of Clermont by Theuderic. The same incident is described in Miracles of Julian 14 (E05155).


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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