Gregory of Tours

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Saint Gregory of Tours (November 30, c. 538 – November 17, 594) was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather.[1] He wrote in an ungrammatical and barbarized style of late Latin; however, it has been argued that this was a deliberate ploy to ensure his works would reach a wide audience.[3] He is the main contemporary source for Merovingian history. His most notable work was his Decem Libri Historiarum or Ten Books of Histories, better known as the Historia Francorum ("History of the Franks"), a title given to it by later chroniclers, but he is also known for his credulous accounts of the miracles of saints, especially four books of the miracles of Martin of Tours. St Martin's tomb was a major draw in the 6th century, and Gregory's writings had the practical aspect of promoting this highly organized devotion.

Contents

Life

Gregory was born in Clermont, in the Auvergne region of central Gaul. He was born into the upper stratum of Gallo-Roman society as the son of Florentius, Senator of Clermont by his wife Armentaria II, niece of Nicetius, Bishop of Lyons and a granddaughter of Florentinus, Senator of Geneva, and of Saint Gregory of Langres. Gregory was able to count several noted Bishops and saints as close relatives (indeed, his family effectively monopolised the Bishoprics of Tours, Lyons, and Langres at the time of his birth), and, according to Gregory, of the eighteen bishops of Tours who preceded him, all but five were connected with him by ties of kinship; in addition, an early Gallic martyr, Vettius Epagatus, was a paternal ancestor. His father evidently died while Gregory was young and his widowed mother moved to Burgundy where she had property. He spent most of his career at Tours, though he travelled as far as Paris. The rough world he lived in was on the cusp of the dying world of Antiquity and the new culture of early medieval Europe. Gregory lived also on the border between the Frankish culture of the Merovingians to the north and the Gallo-Roman culture of the south of Gaul.

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