Bede, Gregory and Fredegar


Otherwise known as:

Venerable Bede, Saxon Saint and Northumbrian monk. Bede did not move from Jarrow from the age of seven till his death. Though well-learnt and not at all travelled, Bede was a humble scientist still remarkable by nowadays standards. 672-735 .

Gregory of Tours . Frankish Courtier, Gallo-Roman aristocrat and Saint Bishop. Gregory served Charibert’s widow , attended the court of the Kingdoms of Paris and Orleans and other elated spheres and did not approve of queens from humble backgrounds. 538-594

Possibly more than one, possibly female (monks wrote, nuns wrote), certainly a group over one if not two centuries of very anonymous to the point some exegetes ponder if his/her chronicles may well have been written by the’ pseudo-Fredegar’. To provide a timeline to our anonymous thus more vcouragous in his/her opinions, is thus harder. His first books are simply a rehashing of previous chronicles… but the fifth book starting in 584 is original, spontaneous. So we can imagine a writer who had access to archives long disappeared for us starting from 584 getting more personal from 604 until 641 as it is a follower who holds the pen from 642. Hence my proposal of 584-641.

Yes. 538 to 735. Two centuries of memories, biographies,chronicles… and more than often bile, invectives and anathemas. The Dark Ages may have shone ver short-cut lives; these lives were lived to the full and with robust resentments.

As you know, my tumblr is dedicated to the so-called Dark Ages. These men are major characters because they are the ones to tell the tale. The ones who sold me the story. The enlightened ones for whom there was no dark; just the age of the day. Follows my one timeline:

Starting in Britain from the last ships leaving Dover or Richborough carrying back to the mainland the last Roman Legions. 410.

449: Adventus Saxonum. The Saxons are coming. Said Gildas, Nennius and Bede.

451, Attila, Scourge of God is coming to Gaul. This time, some legions are still there. Between the Romans, the Gallo-Romans as the Gaus are now known and their Allies the newcomers Franks, Attila decides that Italy is probably sunnier, plumper and easier to pluck. The Franks get rid of the Legions. Adventus Francorum? No. Why kill the golden goose? The Franks will become Christian, keep the bishop, the litteracy and the matching bureaucracy. Plus the taxes.

Within roughly a century, the Frankish kings establish as royal standard Merowech’s bloodline. Precisely Clovis’s bloodline. Slowly they will start the long process which will end up in France, French and about everything which blends Southern insouciance and Northern rigour, sometimes with curious results. From what our European neighbours tell us.

Regardless my point of view is that the so-called Dark Ages started from the day Rome left Britannia which conquest had caused Claudius Imperator to name his son Britaniccus. 410. Until roughly depending on my mood somewhere between 711-751. Yes, not a big discovery. Though I may chatter about the original Parisian basilica(350 AD) which housed Clovis much later.


711 : fall of the Visigothic Kingdom in Spain. The Reconquista will start soon but this is the matter for another post.

751 : the last of the Merovingian king is forever locked in a monastery.

757 : Offa of Mercia appears on the royal radar.

You have it: between our three guys we have two thirds of the Dark Ages being brought to light for us. From 410 to 550… all depends on miraculous archaelogical finds and arcane books hidden in libraries written by academics flying way above your humble snail-cum-frog.

Regardless, we have three writers with, naturally, three agendas.

Bede: Romano-Brittons and Mercia are bad; Bishops with the Church in general and Northumbria are the good guys.

Gregory: Chilperic and his whore Fredegund are bad (oops, she is Queen. Awful says he). Gunthramm, Orleans good. Plus all the prejudices of a high born, high flying courtier

Fredegar : I/We do not agree with Gregory. At all. Austrasia is great. And I/We will spare you NOT one detail however unbelievable of the hagiography when the chronicle reaches the Rise of the Pippinids… Carolingians good. Not Merovingians.

A monk, a bishop and some anonymous clerks. History seen through their eyes. History coming alive. Like Venantius Fortunatus reading his latest poem/homily/entry in his own chronicle to the well-educated ladies/nuns serving the nun-queen Radegund…
Let’s listen: our guys’s turn is coming.

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