The history of historiography in the Merovingian period

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The writing of history played an important part in Merovingian society, a fact that is well documented in the Merovingian authors’ writing and rewriting of history. The different histories and versions of history also show that Merovingian culture was not a culture in decline after the end of the western Roman Empire. A closer look demonstrates that the transformation of historical knowledge and culture demanded a higher degree of sophistication, expertise, and originality than modern scholars have been willing to allow for the authors of Merovingian histories. The extant historical works from the Merovingian period testify to the historical sophistication and education of their authors. They also show that their authors were well aware of a variety of histories, historical interpretations, models, and genres. This chapter suggests that we might understand the work of these historians better if we take their generic choices more seriously than we usually do. They all worked with the preconception of a genre to define the subject of their historical inquiry while attempting to transform the expectations and patterns of reading and writing history in a post-Roman world. Such an approach might also help us to understand the diversity of generic choices and forms of historical writings in the Merovingian period as one of the characteristic features of a Merovingian historiography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780190234188
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Chronicle
  • Eusebius
  • Felix of nantes
  • Fredegar
  • Gregory of tours
  • Historiography
  • Jerome
  • Letter-writing
  • Liber historiae francorum
  • Manuscript transmission
  • Marius of avenches
  • Venantius fortunatus


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