Chapter

The Contribution of History

J. M. Wallace‐Hadrill

in The Frankish Church

Published in print December 1983 | ISBN: 9780198269069
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600777 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198269064.003.0003

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 The Contribution of History

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An examination is made of the contribution of the History of the Gallo–Frankish Church (Libri Historianum Decem) by Bishop Gregory of Tours to the development of the Frankish Church itself. One purpose, if not the main one, of Gregory's History was to give the Gallo–Frankish Church, and within it the sixth‐century Church of Tours, a record of its past. Book I of the History spans the ages between the Creation and the death of St Martin in 397, Book II covers the Frankish advance to the death of Clovis in 511, and the remaining eight books cover the eighty years from 511 to 591. Gregory had a sense of moral fear and despair at what was happening to Gallo–Frankish society as a unit of the Church (although that society was not exceptional in terms of violence and vice), and believed that the world was approaching its promised end; this is the context of his History, which he starts with a profession of his faith in the orthodox Nicene tradition. The History shows how the Franks have made a permanent difference to the Church as it was in the 5th century: in the process of conversion they have done something to the Church's idea of religion, shifting the emphasis towards warfare, and bringing the elements of miracles and magic to the forefront; in its turn the Church itself is also trying to change the Franks towards a resumption of mission.

Keywords: change; Frankish Church; Gallo–Frankish Church; Gallo–Frankish society; Gregory of Tours; History; magic; miracles; mission; religious history; warfare

Chapter.  8709 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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