Week 8 - The History of the Franks

Week 8 - The History of the Franks - The History of the...

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The History of the Franks (Week 8) The reading for this week and next week is on the Franks, including The History of the Franks , written by Gregory of Tours (538-594 AD). We are looking at a Germanic, tribal society and culture (a warrior culture), and how it was Christianized and combined in a synthesis with the Roman-Christian culture of the West. This is the third element in the medieval synthesis. You will be struck by the "Germanization" or "barbarization" of Christian culture as the Church adapted to new converts and tried to accommodate the Germanic peoples and kingdoms of the West. We've already looked at some changes and compromises that reflect this flexibility and accommodation by the Church. Remember that the Church was the main repository for the Classical tradition in learning, literature, education and art. Nearly all written works and records in the Early Middle Ages were produced by clerics. Education meant monastic education. o Monks are called regular clergy because the Latin word for monastic rule was "regula." o Other clergy (i.e. bishops, priests, deacons, & the Pope) were called secular clergy because they lived in the outside world (not in a monastery) and served the Church and the laity in the world. Here's some help with Gregory of Tours' The History of the Franks . The book isn't easy reading: the narrative is sometimes as confusing as the chaotic events Gregory recorded and tried to comprehend. And as he notes, the history he focused on was a confusing mixture of blood feuds, war, crime, the "butchering of whole races," and the goodness & miracles of saints as well as God's protection & justice. Reading scattered sections of The History of the Franks isn't much different than if you were to read straight through the entire book: all seems chaotic! In a way, it is a collection of stories--stories with a moral, with lessons of history, as well as records of events. It is not a continuous, coherent and unified narrative. The main theme of the book is that history is the unfolding of God's plan for the world & humans leading to the Last Judgment and the eternal kingdom of heaven. The History begins with the Creation as related in Genesis. Gregory believes that history is providential, meaning that it is in God's control. He believes history is God's plan; it is a sacred history. Even ordinary secular events and developments are fitted into this sacred history. Gregory emphasizes that the history of the Franks, before and during his own time, is also part of this plan. Note Gregory's comments at the beginning and end of The History of the Franks . The sections we're reading have certain themes and topics, which include: 1. Gregory's statement of purpose, his orthodoxy (he's not Arian), and his main sources for Ancient History thru Late Antiquity; 2. Material on the career of St. Martin of Tours; he was the most effective protector of Christians in Frankish Gaul--even after his death, through his miracles. (Remember him from
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course HIST 111 taught by Professor Rutenburg during the Fall '05 term at Maryland.

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Week 8 - The History of the Franks - The History of the...

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