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

7 - Gregory of Tours

from Part II


This chapter is a case study of the Histories of Gregory of Tours (d. 594). Other case studies in this book focus on letters of one particular author who criticised a person in power. This chapter is the exception, in that it treats not letters but a historiographical narrative, to see how the author presents himself as a truth-telling actor in the historical events he describes. It examines the models that may have inspired Gregory to present himself as a fearless defender of truth, and analyses the ways in which he embeds criticism in the autobiographical parts of his narrative. Two well-known episodes that Gregory described in his Histories, in which he confronts a Merovingian king, is studied in more detail; one concerns a clash with Chilperic I (d.584), king of Neustria, and the other a brush with Guntram (d. 592), king of Burgundy. A question that is addressed towards the end of this chapter is that of how Gregory’s professed ideal of telling the truth frankly relates to the reports of rumours and gossip in his Histories.