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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

6 - The Frank Holy Man

from Part II


This chapter discusses the lives and letters of saints and bishops who were considered truth-tellers by their contemporaries. The selected letters and saints’ lives were written in Francia between c. 550 and c. 750. In addition, two hagiographic texts and one letter from Italy and Visigothic Spain are included to compare developments in Merovingian Francia with other kingdoms and regions of the former Western Roman empire. In the selected sources we encounter Gallo-Roman, Frankish, Visigothic, Anglo-Saxon and Irish holy men who ventured to criticise those in power. Although the rhetoric of these truth-tellers and the vocabulary of their biographers do not conform to classical standards, this chapter demonstrates that their frank speech and behaviour was very much related to the late antique tradition of free speech.