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The Merovingian centuries were a foundational period in the historical consciousness of western Europe. The memory of the first dynasty of Frankish kings, their origin myths, accomplishments, and failures were used by generations of chroniclers, propagandists, and historians to justify a wide range of social and political agendas. The process of curating and editing the source material gave rise to a recognizable 'Merovingian narrative' with three distinct phases: meteoric ascent, stasis, and decline. Already in the seventh-century Chronicle of Fredegar, this tripartite model was invoked by a Merovingian queen to prophesy the fate of her descendants. This expert commentary sets out to understand how the story of the Merovingians was shaped through a process of continuous historiographical adaptation. It examines authors from across a millennium of historical writing and analyzes their influences and objectives, charting the often-unexpected ways in which their narratives were received and developed.


‘Demonstrating that the most foundational post-Roman dynasty also had the best stories to be retold, Yaniv Fox‘s sensitive reading of well and less known narratives explains the Merovingians‘ continuous appeal and relevance for later writers, thereby questioning commonly-held assumptions on this period and the inspiration to look at it with new eyes.’

Stefan Esders - Freie Universität Berlin

‘The Merovingian period was a formative stage in the history and historiography of Western Europe, and as such it served as a reference point for many a generation to come. In his thought-provoking and lucid book, Yaniv Fox presents a dazzling panorama of insights into the ways the Merovingians and their history were used and abused by medieval and early modern chroniclers, propagandists, and Humanists.’

Yitzhak Hen - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

‘This original and captivating study sheds light on the manifold ways in which historical writing in the Middle Ages engaged with the earliest history of what became the kingdom of France. The intelligent structure of the book ensures a fascinating and entertaining read.’

Rob Meens - Utrecht University

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