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Chronicle of Fredegar

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The Chronicle of Fredegar is the conventional title used for a 7th-century Frankish chronicle that was probably written in Burgundy The author is unknown and the attribution to Fredegar dates only from the 16th century

The chronicle begins with the creation of the world and ends in AD 642 There are also a few references to events up to 658 Some copies of the manuscript contain an abridged version of the chronicle up to the date of 642, but include additional sections written under the Carolingian dynasty that end with the death of Pepin the Short in 768 The Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations is one of the few sources that provide information on the Merovingian dynasty for the period after 591 when Gregory of Tours' the Decem Libri Historiarum finishes


  • 1 Authorship
  • 2 Manuscripts
  • 3 Structure
  • 4 Continuations
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 References
  • 7 Sources
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links


None of the surviving manuscripts specify the name of the author2 The name "Fredegar" modern French Frédégaire was first used for the chronicle in 1579 by Claude Fauchet in his Recueil des antiquitez gauloises et françoises34 The question of who wrote this work has been much debated, although the historian J M Wallace-Hadrill admits that "Fredegar" is a genuine, if unusual, Frankish name5 The Vulgar Latin of this work confirms that the Chronicle was written in Gaul; beyond this, little is certain about the origin of this work As a result, there are several theories about the authorship:6

  • The original view, which was stated without argument as late as 1878, was that the Chronicle was written by a single person
  • In 1883 Bruno Krusch, in his edition for the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, proposed that the Chronicle was the creation of three authors, a theory later accepted by Theodor Mommsen, Wilhelm Levison, and Wallace-Hadrill
  • Ferdinand Lot critiqued Krusch's theory of multiple authorship and his protests were supported in 1928 by Marcel Bardot and Leon Levillain
  • In 1934, Siegmund Hellmann proposed a modification of Krusch's theory, arguing that the Chronicle was the work of two authors7
  • In 1963, Walter Goffart renewed the notion of a single author,8 and this view is now generally accepted9

Fredegar is usually assumed to have been a Burgundian from the region of Avenches because of his knowledge of the alternate name Wifflisburg for this locality, a name only then coming into usage This assumption is supported by the fact that he had access to the annals of many Burgundian churches He also had access to court documents and could apparently interview Lombard, Visigoth, and Slavic ambassadors His awareness of events in the Byzantine world is also usually explained by the proximity of Burgundy to Byzantine Italy


The chronicle exists in over thirty manuscripts, which both Krusch and the English medievalist Roger Collins group into five classes1011 The original chronicle is lost, but it exists in an uncial copy made in 715 by a Burgundian monk named Lucerius This copy, the sole exemplar of a class 1 manuscript, is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France MS Latin 10910 and is sometimes called the Codex Claromontanus because it was once owned by the Collège de Clermont in Paris1213 A diplomatic edition was prepared by the French historian Gabriel Monod and published in 188514 The Codex Claromontanus was also the basis of the critical edition by Krusch published in 1888 and of the partial English translation by Wallace-Hadrill published in 19601516 Most of the other surviving manuscripts were copied in Austrasia and date from the early ninth century or later17

The first printed version, the editio princeps, was published in Basel by Flacius Illyricus in 156818 He used MS Heidelberg University Palat Lat 864 as his text19 The next published edition was Antiquae Lectiones by Canisius at Ingolstadt in 1602


In the critical edition by Krusch the chronicle is divided into four sections or books The first three books are based on earlier works and cover the period from the beginning of the world up to 584; the fourth book continues up to 642 and foreshadows events occurring between 655 and 66020 In the prologue the author traditionally Fredegar writes:

I have most carefully read the chronicles of St Jerome, Hydatius and a certain wise man, of Isidore as well as of Gregory, from the beginning of the world to the declining years of Guntram's reign; and I have reproduced successively in this little book, in suitable languages and without many omissions, what these learned men have recounted at length in their five chronicles2122

In fact, Fredegar quotes from sources that he does not acknowledge and drastically condenses some of those he does He also inserts additional sections of text that are not derived from his main sources These inserted sections are referred to as "interpolations" For most of them the sources are not known9 Some of the interpolations are used to weave a legend of a Trojan origin for the Franks through the chronicle2324

Book I

The initial 24 chapters of the first book are based on the anonymous Liber generationis which in turn is derived from the work of Hippolytus The remainder of the book contains a compendium of various chronological tables including a list of the Roman Emperors, a list of Judaic kings, a list of popes up to the accession of Theodore I in 642 and Chapter 3 of the chronicle of Isidore of Seville25 On the reverse of the folio containing the papal list is an ink drawing showing two people which according to Monod probably represent Eusebius and Jerome2627

Book II

The first 49 chapters of the second book contain extracts from Jerome's Latin translation of the Chronicle of Eusebius The text includes some interpolations The remaining chapters contains extracts from the Chronicle of Hydatius2128

Book III

The third book contains excerpts from Books II-VI of the Decem Libri Historiarum by Gregory of Tours with several interpolations Fredegar's source appears to have lacked the last four books of Gregory's text and his narrative ends in 58428

Book IV

The 90 chapters in the fourth book contain details of events concerning the Burgundian court Fredegar does not reveal his sources but the earlier chapters are presumably based on local annals Chapters 24-39 contain an accounts from witnesses of events between 603 and 61328 Chapter 36 is an interpolation on the life of Saint Columbanus that is copied, almost without change, from the Vita Columbani by Jonas of Bobbio2930 The book ends abruptly in 64228 Book IV has been the most studied by historians as it contains information that is not present in other medieval sources


One group of manuscripts Krusch's Class 4 contain a reworking of the Chronicle of Fredegar followed by additional sections that describe events in Francia up to 678 These additional sections are referred to as the Continuations Krusch in his critical edition, appends these extra chapters to the text of the Codex Claromontanus creating the false impression that the two parts originate from the same manuscript931

Class 4 manuscripts are divided into three books The first begins with a section based on the treatise De cursu temporum by the obscure fourth century Latin writer Quintus Julius Hilarianus This is followed by a version of Fredegar's Book II incorporating an expanded account of the Trojan origin of the Franks The second book is an abridged version of the histories by Gregory of Tours corresponding to Fredegar's Book III The third and final book consists of the 90 chapters of Fredegar's Book IV followed by the Continuations9

The Continuations consists of three part The first ten chapters are based on the Liber Historiae Francorum, an anonymous Neustrian chronicle that ends in around 721 The second part Chapters 11–33 covers the years up to 751 At this point a colophon is inserted in the text explaining that the writing of the chronicle was ordered by Charles Martel's brother, Count Childebrand Wallace-Hadrill's translation is:

Up to this point, the illustrious Count Childebrand, uncle of the said King Pippin, took great pains to have this history or "geste" of the Franks recorded What follows is by the authority of the illustrious Count Nibelung, Childebrand's son32a

The chronicle then continues for another twenty chapters covering events in Francia up to the year 76834

The medievalist Roger Collins has argued that the text in the Class 4 manuscripts is sufficiently different from the Fredegar Chronicle of the Codex Claromontanus that it should be considered a separate work He has proposed the new title Historia vel Gesta Francorum which occurs in the colophon mentioned above He has suggested that one author was responsible for the text up 751, and that a different author probably wrote the additional chapters3536


  1. ^ The Latin text is: Usque nunc inluster vir Childebrandus comes, avunculus praedicto rege Pippino, hanc historiam vel gesta Francorum diligetissime scribere procuravit Abhinc ab inlustre viro Nibelungo, filium ipsius Childebrando, itemque comite succedat auctoritas33


  1. ^ Monod 1885, p 25 fn 1
  2. ^ Schwedler 2013, p 73
  3. ^ Collins 2007, p 16
  4. ^ Fauchet 1579
  5. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1960, p xv
  6. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1960, pp xvi–xxv
  7. ^ Hellmann 1934
  8. ^ Goffart 1963
  9. ^ a b c d Goffart 2009
  10. ^ Krusch 1882
  11. ^ Collins 2007
  12. ^ Goffart 1963, p 209
  13. ^ "Frédégaire Latin 10910" Bibliothèque nationale de France Retrieved 24 August 2014 
  14. ^ Monod 1885
  15. ^ Krusch 1888
  16. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1960
  17. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1958, pp 527-528
  18. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1958, p 529
  19. ^ Krusch 1888, p 16
  20. ^ Goffart 1963, p 206
  21. ^ a b Goffart 1963, p 210
  22. ^ Krusch 1888, p 123
  23. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1958, pp 536-539
  24. ^ Goffart 1963, p 215
  25. ^ Goffart 1963, pp 211-212
  26. ^ Monod 1885, p 25 fn 1
  27. ^ Goffart 1963, p 211
  28. ^ a b c d Schwedler 2013, p 74
  29. ^ Goffart 1963, p 232
  30. ^ Krusch 1888, pp 134-138
  31. ^ Krusch 1888, p 168
  32. ^ Wallace-Hadrill 1958, p 528
  33. ^ Krusch 1888, p 182
  34. ^ Fouracre 2000, p 7
  35. ^ Collins 2009a
  36. ^ Collins 2009b


  • Collins, Roger 2007, Die Fredegar-Chroniken, Monumenta Germaniae Historica Studien und Texte, 44 in German, Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, ISBN 978-377525704-6 
  • Collins, Roger 2009a, "Fredegar", in Thomas, David Richard; Roggema, Barbara; Sala, Juan Pedro Monferrer, Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 600-900, Leiden: Brill, pp 137–138, ISBN 978-904744368-1 
  • Collins, Roger 2009b, "Historia vel Gesta Francorum", in Thomas, David Richard; Roggema, Barbara; Sala, Juan Pedro Monferrer, Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 600-900, Leiden: Brill, pp 293–294, ISBN 978-904744368-1 
  • Fauchet, Claude 1579, Recueil des antiquitez gauloises et françoises in French, Paris: Chez Iacques du Puys, OCLC 862092071 
  • Fouracre, Paul 2000, The age of Charles Martel, Harlow, England: Longmans, ISBN 978-058206475-1 
  • Goffart, Walter 1963, "The Fredegar Problem Reconsidered", Speculum, 38 2: 206–241, doi:102307/2852450, JSTOR 2852450  Reprinted in Goffart, Walter 1989, Rome's Fall and After, London: Hambledon Press, pp 319–354, ISBN 978-185285001-2 
  • Goffart, Walter 8 February 2009, "Review of: Collins, Roger Die Fredegar-Chronikon Monumenta Germaniae Historica Studien und Texte vol 44 Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2007", The Medieval Review 
  • Hellmann, Siegmund 1934, "Das Fredegarproblem", Historische Vierteljahrschrift in German, 29: 36–92 
  • Krusch, Bruno 1882, "Die Chronicae des sogenannten Fredegar", Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft für Ältere Deutsche Geschichtskunde in German, 7: 247–351, 421–516 
  • Krusch, Bruno, ed 1888, "Chronicarum quae dicuntur Fredegarii Scholastici libri IV cum Continuationibus", Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum, Volume 2 Fredegarii et aliorum Chronica Vitae sanctorum in Latin, Hannover: Monumenta Germaniae Historica 
  • Monod, Gabriel 1885, Études critiques sur les sources de l'histoire mérovingienne La Compilation dite de "Frédégaire" in Latin, Paris: F Vieweg 
  • Schwedler, Gerald 2013, "Lethe and 'Delete'—Disgarding the past in the early Middle Ages: the case of Fredegar", in Goeing, Anja-Silvia; Grafton, Anthony; Michel, Paul, Collectors’ Knowledge: What Is Kept, What Is Discarded / Aufbewahren oder wegwerfen: wie Sammler entscheiden, Leiden: Brill, pp 71–96, ISBN 978-900426216-4 
  • Wallace-Hadrill, JM 1958, "Fredegar and the history of France", Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 40: 527–550  Reprinted in: Wallace-Hadrill, J M 1962, "Fredegar and the history of France", The Long-Haired Kings, and other studies in Frankish history, London: Methuen, pp 71–94, OCLC 1102824 
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J M, ed and trans 1960, The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar: with its Continuations, London: Nelson, OCLC 401901 

Further readingedit

  • Guizot, François, trans 1823, "Chronique de Frédégaire", Collection des mémoires relatifs à l'histoire de France: Histoire des Francs, Volume 2 in French, Paris: J-L-L Brière, pp 153–265 
  • Heydemann, Gerda 2006, "Zur Gestaltung der Rolle Brunhildes in merowingischer Historiographie", in Corradini, Richard, Text and Identities in the Early Middle Ages, Wien: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, pp 73–85, ISBN 978-3-7001-3747-4 
  • Lot, Ferdinand 1914, "Encore la chronique du Pseudo-Frédégaire", Revue historique in French, 115 2: 305–337, JSTOR 40943537 
  • Reimitz, Helmut 2006, "The art of truth: Historiography and identity in the Frankish world", in Corradini, Richard, Text and Identities in the Early Middle Ages, Denkschriften Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 344 Band Forschungen zur Geschichte des Mittelalters, 12, Wien: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, pp 87–103, ISBN 978-3-7001-3747-4 
  • Wood, Ian N 1994, "Fredegar´s Fables", in Scharer, Anton; Scheibelreiter, Georg, Historiographie im frühen Mittelalter, Wien: Oldenbourg, pp 359–366, ISBN 978-348664832-4 

External linksedit

  • "Geschichtsquellen des deutschen Mittelalters: Pseudo-Fredegarius" Historical sources of the German Middle ages: Pseudo-Fredegar in German Bayerische Staatsbibliothek 
  • "Scan of Codex Palatina latin 864 Lorsch c AD 800" Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek 

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