The preface to Book V of Gregory of Tours' Histories: Its Form, Context and Significance

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The preface to Book V of Gregory of Tours' Histories has long been known as a central passage in the Bishop of Tours' works, expressing his view of good kingship. This article analyses the style of the passage to reveal it to be a complex rhetorical piece of prose and shedding more light on Gregory's skill as a writer. Investigation of the passage and its context within the Histories allows the suggestion that it originated as a letter or sermon composed at Easter 576. In turn this permits a solid foundation for the chronology of Gregory's writing of the Histories, can only have begun then, and no earlier. The examination of the political history of the period between 575 and 576 and of Gregory's message reveals that the bishop was a skilled and subtle politician well able to cope with the dangers and dramas of Merovingian politics. Finally, it is suggested that Gregory was initially influenced in the composition of the Histories by Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-317
Number of pages20
JournalEnglish Historical Review
Issue number496
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007



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