The Last Prince from Gaul

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The joint rule of several princes was now familiar, and this system made it easy to raise the successful rebel to the rank of a lawful Caesar or Augustus. When the tyrant had won a certain part of the Empire and saw no hope of winning the rest, when the lawful prince kept a certain part of the Empire and saw no hope of winning back the rest, a compromise was easy.

The lawful prince could admit the tyrant as his colleague in the Empire, and thus, while raising his rival to the same level as himself, he could at least keep the rank of primus inter pares. The agreement of course, like other agreements, needed not to be kept any longer than was convenient.


If either of the new Imperial colleagues found a good opportunity of overthrowing his Imperial brother, of taking his dominions to himself or bestowing them on some colleague whom he liked better, that opportunity was seldom lost. The thing had happened over and over again. The lives of Carausius, of Maximus, of the great Constantine himself, supply many instructive examples.

Constantine then, master of Roman Gaul and Spain, still felt that there was something wanting to his position, and he hastened to make it good. Called to the throne by an army which had shown itself able to maintain him there, he still felt himself the upstart, the usurper, the tyrant, and owned the higher position of the Emperor who had come to the diadem by a line of those adoptions and associations of sons and colleagues which passed for lawful succession.

He sent an embassy, an embassy of eunuchs — the soldier from Britain had conformed to the depraved fashion of the time — to the court of Ravenna, asking the Emperor's forgiveness for his taking on himself the Imperial rank. It was not, his commissioners were bidden to say, his own act; the presumptuous step had been forced upon him by his soldiers. It is implied, though it is not said in so many words, that Constantine demanded the confirmation of their choice and his own recognition as an Imperial colleague.

Honorius was in no position to resist or to refuse; with Alaric and his Goths at no great distance, it was not for him to plunge into another war which might end as the enterprise of Sarus had ended. His kinsfolk were in the hands of Constantine — Theodosius had brought that news with him; neither he nor Honorius knew that they had been actually put to death before the embassy had been sent, and Honorius deemed that a favourable answer to the demands of their gaoler might be to their advantage. He therefore acknowledged the claims of Constantine; he sent him a robe of the Imperial purple.

The Roman world, so much of it as was still ruled from Ravenna, Constantinople, and Arles, had again three masters. Or it may be simply that Honorius was stirred to some sign of enmity when the news of the death of Didymus and Verenianus reached him, when he thus saw how he had been in some sort cajoled into an acknowledgement of the tyrant of Gaul. Its bearer was Jovius, who is described as a man of high culture and of other merits, but whom we have no means to identify with, or to distinguish from, other bearers of his own and like names.

He came to Honorius when that prince was not in a position to refuse anything; Alaric was on the point of laying siege to Rome. For the slaughter of the Spanish captives the new envoy made much the same excuse as the earlier messengers had made for the assumption of the diadem; it had not been done by any orders of Constantine himself. This statement we may venture to set down as a bare-faced falsehood; even the meekness of Honorius was stirred by it, and the words of our account seem to imply that the person of Jovius was in some danger.

But the Emperor was partly at least won over by the arguments of the envoy. With Italy in the state in which it was, it would be wise for him to yield; and if he, Jovius, was allowed to go back in safety to his master, Constantine would presently come to the relief of Rome at the head of the forces of Gaul, Spain and Britain, wherever these last were to be found.

We are, as we have seen, in the memorable year of Alaric's second siege of Rome; at that stage of it when the successive ministers or masters of Honorius are stepping into one another's places with amazing speed. The eunuch Eusebius has become the Emperor's chief chamberlain, and Allobich, a barbarian, perhaps a Frank, has been placed in command of the Roman cavalry. At the moment Constantine steps in; we read in two independent narratives that he entered Italy with an army; but we get exactly opposite statements as to the motive which took them thither.

In one version he is marching to Ravenna, to confirm or to carry out his engagements with Honorius, that is doubtless to give help to his Italian colleague against the Goth. In the other version, the master of Gaul and Spain sets out to add Italy to his dominions. We may therefore assume with safety that the one version represents the purpose that was openly avowed, and the other the purpose which was commonly suspected.

Thus, in all outward seeming, help was coming from Arles to Ravenna. But it was deemed at the court of Ravenna that such help was likely to be dangerous; it was believed that there were high officials about the Italian Augustus who were ready to displace him in favour of his Gaulish brother. Allobich, slayer of Eusebius, had won power, but not confidence; he was suspected of being in league with Constantine to transfer to him the whole dominion of the West.

It would seem that Honorius, as princes sometimes do, conspired against his minister, and found instruments ready to rid him of the suspected traitor. Allobich was cut down by the loyal assassins, and the Emperor, springing down from his horse, gave God thanks in the hearing of all men for having preserved him from a manifest traitor. So sultan-like had the dominion of Rome become that murder was the only way to forestall or to avenge murder.

He had crossed the Cottian Alps and had kept on the left side of the Po till he reached Verona. He was making ready to turn southward, and to cross the river on his way to Ravenna, when the news of Allobich's death met him. He then went back by the way by which he had come, to find troubles enough in the lands of which he was supposed to be the ruler without adding the defence of Italy against Alaric to his other difficulties. His troubles had indeed begun before he started for Ravenna. Spain had quietly submitted to the change of rulers in the first instance, and the land, it would seem, might have quietly settled down again after the movement of the kinsmen of Honorius, if Constantine had not wounded local feeling in a very tender point.

Spain, as we have seen, had been used to be defended by the arms of her own children. The legions that served in Spain had been Spanish legions, and the keeping of the Pyrenaean passes had been entrusted to what we may fairly call a national militia. Spain, marching on no land but Gaul, had no frontiers of the Empire exposed to barbarian attack; she was not therefore, like Italy and the East, accustomed to see her borders guarded by one body of barbarians hired to keep out another body of their fellows. These troops were further indulged by their commanders, by Gerontius, it would seem, in excessive licence in the way of plunder; they were, above all, allowed to harry the district of Palentia, which, doubtless as having supported the cause of Didymus and Verenianus, was dealt with as an enemy's country.

The demand of the Spanish legions that the barbarians might be withdrawn and the old state of things restored was refused, and great discontent arose. To quiet or to suppress that discontent, the new Augustus Constans was sent from Gaul. But, as far as we can see, Constans went about the time of his father's Italian expedition. It is plain that the new Spanish troubles were laid to the charge of the officers whom Constans, on his former visit to the peninsula, had left to represent his father, to the charge of Gerontius as the chief of them.

He now took with him a general named Justus, destined, it would seem, to supplant Gerontius, while Apollinaris lost his office of Praefect, which was bestowed on a certain Decimius Rusticus, who had hitherto been Master of the Offices. There was no safety for him under the rule of Constantine; the proclamation of a rival Emperor was almost a matter of course.

But we are so seldom taken behind the scenes, so seldom allowed to study the motives of the actors in this most confused story, that we can merely guess why Gerontius, instead of laying claim to the Imperial dignity in his own person, set up a certain Maximus as Emperor or tyrant. Why did he not place the diadem on his own brow? We see easily why at this very moment Alaric was setting up a puppet Emperor in Italy for his own ends, and why later in the century Ricimer set up and put down Emperors at pleasure.

For the days had not yet come for an avowed barbarian to mount the throne of the Caesars in his own person. Stilicho charged with plotting the elevation of his son Eucherius is a nearer case to this of Gerontius. But Stilicho was said to come of the stock of the Vandals. The lapse of another generation, the connexion by marriage between this house and that of the Emperors, may have caused the son to be looked on as more Roman than the father.

But Gerontius would seem to have been a provincial of the province of Britain, as good a Roman then, by the edict of Antoninus, as any man in Spain, Gaul, or Italy. It is therefore by no means easy to see why when he risked himself and all that belonged to him in a struggle for power, in a struggle against Honorius and Constantine at once, he did not at least run the risk on his own behalf and in his own name. Whatever were his motives, the fact is clear.

It was not himself but Maximus whom Gerontius chose for the dangerous honour. But who was Maximus? That one among our authorities who is on the whole the most trustworthy, but whose evidence has come down to us in the most fragmentary state, seems to call him the son of Gerontius, in which case we should have the closest parallel of all to the alleged designs of Stilicho.

Other writers speak more vaguely of Maximus as a friend or dependent of Gerontius. In any case, just as with Constantine himself, the name of the renowned British tyrant of the last century may have gone some way towards securing his elevation, though we are also told that Gerontius deemed him a man personally fit for the post. Maximus therefore assumed the purple and held his court at Tarragona.

And to maintain himself in that corner, he was driven, as far as we can make out from most unsatisfactory records of most important events, to enter on a scheme of treason of the widest kind, which in its results changed the whole history of Western Europe. He leagued himself with the barbarians, the Vandals, Alans, and Suevians, who had been laying waste the greater part of Gaul for the last two years.

He had proclaimed Maximus Emperor; in order to obtain support of some kind for so doubtful a throne, he did not scruple to invite the ravagers of Gaul to cross into Spain. Whether it amounted to a regular partition of the peninsula it is impossible to say; but the practical result was to bring about much the same state of things in Spain which there had been for two years in Gaul. The barbarians marched through the greater part of the land and harried at their pleasure, while a corner of the peninsula, in this case the north-eastern corner, the land of Tarragona, remained to the Roman dominion.

The effects of the passage of the allied barbarians from Gaul into Spain are of the very highest moment; but for the present we have to look at them only as their presence affected the succession of the contending princes in Gaul and Spain. We cannot have a better illustration of the way in which these tyrants rose and fell than the whole story of Gerontius, a story full indeed of striking adventures.

He reigns at Tarragona, over the fragment of Spain that the barbarians left to him, but without any such formal acknowledgement of his position as Constantine had won from the unwilling Honorius. His immediate enemy was Constantine, whose power in Spain he had overthrown; more immediately still it was Constantine's son Constans, by whom his father had been represented in Spain.

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Constans, though the greater part of his father's forces were under his command, could not stand against the movement which had raised Maximus to power. He and his praefect Decimius Rusticus, who seems to have been specially unpopular, fled into Gaul to Constantine. On this latter errand the Frank Edobich was sent beyond the Rhine to collect a force both of his own countrymen and of the Alemans.

Constantine himself, like his rivals, did his main work by deputy. He seems to have shut himself up at Arles, and to have entrusted the active defence of his territories to his son, whose head-quarters were at Vienne. It has indeed been suggested that the mention of Vienne must be simply a mistake, and that the quarters of Constans were really at Narbonne. Truly Narbo Martius is geographically far better suited than Vienna Allobrogum to be the head-quarters of a ruler of Gaul who is looking for an invasion from Spain.

But it is dangerous to reconstruct history in the shape in which, according to our ideas of geographical or military probability, things ought to have happened. And after all something may be said for the presence of the younger Augustus at Vienne at such a moment. The city of the Allobroges was a strong and noble one. Seated, like her fellows by the broad Rhone, not girded by the waters, like the Arelate of those days, not perched on her steep like the Gaulish Valentia, but nestling as it were in the arena of an amphitheatre of hills, Vienna could then show, whole and perfect, those mighty masses of brick-work whose ruins it is not always easy to distinguish from the face of the hills which they so boldly climbed.

The lovely relic of pagan days, second only to its fellow temple at Nemausus, was then untouched by age and havoc, perhaps already a house of worship of the new faith of Rome and Gaul. The obelisk beyond the walls, the shattered theatre within them, the amphitheatre whose site we now faintly trace, the whole range of buildings, rising tier on tier, colonnade on colonnade, must have made Vienna a prouder city to meet the eyes of an advancing enemy than aught that he had hurried by on the Valentian hill, or even among the lagunes of imperial Arelate. It was indeed a prize for which kings might strive which Constans guarded for his father, which Gerontius attacked, it may be, for his son.

But again not a word is vouchsafed to us to tell how Vienna fell into the hands of the patron of the new tyrant of Spain. We know not whether the city was stormed or whether it surrendered; we know only that Constans came into the power of Gerontius and was put to death by his conqueror. From the city defended by the son Gerontius marched to the city defended, or at least dwelled in, by the father.

The Briton who had followed Constantine from his island now laid siege to his master of yesterday in the august home that he had helped to win for him. In reading this story, the story of the double siege of Arles, we must bear in mind the topography of the country as it stood at the beginning of the fifth century. The branches of the river too were then many more than the Great and the Little Rhone that now are left.

Arelate was, then as now, parted from the great suburb, far greater then as Colonia Julia Paterna than it is now as the Fauxbourg de Trinquetailles , by the main stream of the river Rhone. That stream was yoked by its bridge, better represented in site by the bridge that now carries the railway than by the bridge that forms the ordinary communication between city and suburb. The Elysian fields lay between its banks and the city walls that rose above them.

Against the city thus fenced in by art and nature two armies marched at the same moment, each hostile alike to each other and to its defenders. For while Gerontius was marching from Vienne by the highway that, like the modern railway, skirts the left, the eastern, bank of the river, another army was on its march from Italy. The lord of Ravenna, however unable to save Rome, could, now that he who had threatened Rome, he who had sacked Rome, had passed away, now that Ataulf ruled the Goths instead of Alaric, find leisure and means to think again of the lands beyond the Alps. And he had those about him who could win back Arles to his obedience, who could rid him alike of the unwelcome colleague by whom Arles was defended and of the avowed rebel by whom it was besieged.

This last distinction, the fact that Constantine held the formal place of a lawful Augustus, while Maximus did not, must never be forgotten. Yet it is hardly wonderful if the distinction between colleague and rebel was not accurately drawn at the court of Ravenna. The acknowledgement of Constantine by Honorius as an Imperial colleague had hardly been an act of the free will either of Honorius himself or of those by whom he was guided. He no doubt personally felt some grudge against his fellow-Emperor on account of the slaughter of his kinsmen; he felt it none the less perhaps because of the pretences by which that slaughter had been feebly excused.

And the appearance of Constantine in Italy, an appearance which allowed of so many interpretations, might well be looked on as cancelling all claims on the part of the tyrant of Gaul to be looked on as any longer a fellow-Emperor with the son and grandson of Theodosius. Schooled in the wars of Theodosius, he was the best captain that Rome had left, and he had some merits beyond those of the mere man of war. We see in him traces of the generosity and greatness of soul of an earlier day, and there is something which calls for sympathy in his abiding love for the august lady, Roman princess and Gothic queen, whose marriage in the end raised him to the throne.

He is first brought into our story as the future husband of Placidia, the future father of the last Valentinian; but he may fairly claim a place on his own account as at any rate one of the least evil in a bad time. We are told in a marked way that Constantius at this stage was a man of many virtues, and specially open of hand, while after his imperial marriage he was fallen into covetousness and greediness he loved withal.

It was looked on as a deed of justice rather than of cruelty when, at some stage of his career, he caused Olympius, the slanderer of Stilicho, to lose his ears and to be beaten to death with clubs. We have his personal picture, a picture perhaps not altogether attractive. We can see Constantius with his wide head, his long neck, his large eyes, looking sad and stern as he went forth in warlike array, leaning forward on the neck of his horse, and turning his eyes hither and thither.

Men who saw him in such guise said that he bore on him the stamp of one who should one day be a tyrant, 44 a danger which was escaped by his peaceful admission among the ranks of lawful princes. But those who saw him in his lighter hours thought otherwise. At the table and at the banquet of wine he was ever cheerful, and bore himself as the equal of his companions. He would even rise and take his part in merry strife with the jesters who were brought in for the common amusement. Such he was in the hours of peace at Ravenna; at Arles he showed himself in his sterner aspect.

He set forth on his errand, taking with him as his second in command a valiant Goth who bore the renowned name of Ulfilas, a name whose chief renown has been won in other fields than those of warfare. At what point they first drew near to Arles would depend on the road by which they left Italy. They might take either side of the Little Alps and the Durance; they might or might not pass by Glanum with its plain among the hills, with its arch and its still abiding monument. In either case the last stage of their journey would be the same; they would draw near the city from the north-east; their approach would immediately threaten the Gaulish Gate with the palace of the Constantines rising to their right, while the huge mass of the amphitheatre, taken within the city and taught, like the lesser amphitheatre of Rome, to form part of its defences, rose in its vast bulk yet more proudly to their left.

We would fain know whether it came on them as a surprise to find that they had to deal with two enemies, within and without the city. It was a strange errand on which the army of Constantius had come. Their march had led them to a besieged town, but they did not come to relieve it; their object was not to deliver but to capture; only they were for a moment hindered from capturing because yet another power had stepped in before them to besiege. As the troops of Gerontius had come from the direct north, their last stage must have been the same as the last stage of the march of Constantius.

The army of Italy must have found the army of Spain actually encamped before the very gate by which either of the roads, one of which they must have taken, would lead them to the walls. Here there was an enemy to be dislodged before they could throw up a bank or shoot an arrow against the city itself. Those who attacked and those who defended Arles were alike traitors to the lawful Emperor whom Constantius served. Constantine the tyrant was within; Gerontius the general of Maximus the tyrant was without. If the soldiers of Italy would discharge the errand on which they had been sent, themselves to besiege Arles and to arrest its Emperor, they had first to deal with those who had come out of Spain on the like errand.

The work was not a hard one. It may be that the soldiers of Gerontius were in some way moved by the thought that the army of Constantius was the army of a lawful and undisputed Emperor. It is certain that Gerontius had by the sternness of his discipline kindled disaffection in his own ranks. He himself with a small party escaped into Spain. We must presently follow him thither to listen to the thrilling tale of his last hours; for the present there is more serious work amongst the streams and the lagunes of Arles. By the flight of Gerontius and his few companions the army of Italy, the army of Constantius, had taken the place of the army of Spain as the host to whose lot it fell to besiege Constantine in Arles.

Meanwhile it will be remembered that the Frankish Edobich, now at all events the best officer in the service of Constantine, had gone beyond the Rhine to seek for allies for his master among Franks and Alemans. His mission was not in vain. Arles did not yield in a moment. Warfare beneath its walls lasted longer than it had lasted beneath the walls of Valence or seemingly beneath those of Vienne. The siege was already in its fourth month when the news came that Edobich was drawing near with a vast and motley host of barbarians to the relief of Constantine.

But the march of Edobich was too speedy to allow this timid scheme to be carried out. The besiegers of Arles were on the left, the eastern, side of the Rhone; Edobich seems to have been marching southward along the western bank. When the news came that he was actually encamped in their near neighbourhood, on the peninsula that is covered by the Julian colony, the furthest point to the north-east of the dreary region of the Camargue, all thought of retreat was cast aside by the generals of Honorius. They determined to face the enemy boldly.

They crossed the river to give battle to the new comers. For the followers of Edobich, unlike the followers of Gerontius, did meet the army of Constantius in open fight. According to the plan arranged between him and Ulfilas, Constantius, at the head of the infantry, awaited the attack of the enemy. Ulfilas, with the horse, seemingly a small body, lurked in ambush at no great distance. The host of Edobich, eager for battle, marched by the hidden foes without suspecting their presence, and met the troops of Constantius face to face.

At a given signal Ulfilas and his horsemen dashed out of their lurking-place, and charged straight on the rear of the enemy. The battle was at once decided; the barbarian host was broken; some fled, some were slain; the more part threw down their arms, craved for mercy and received it. When the day was lost, like the traitors at Maldon or the vanquished remnant on Senlac, he mounted his horse and rode for his life.

Not far from the place of battle was the country-house of one Ecdicius, a man whom Edobich deemed a friend, one to whom he had in former days done many good offices. With him he sought shelter. But in the mind of Ecdicius there was no place for the thought either of hospitality or of thankfulness. Yet it would also be difficult to clearly define what might constitute such an alternative ethnicity.

In their day the Gibichungs were no doubt aware of their special ancestry, and yet it would be incorrect to expand this awareness to include the governed populace. Generally speaking, we could say that for the time being, Merovingian kings of Burgundy were particularly interested in rallying to their cause the established local elites, and that this preference was mirrored in their selection of patricii.

Toward the end of his reign, Guntram was presumably moving away from this paradigm with the nomination of Leudegisel to an Arles-based patriciate, although this too did not last. The footprint of the formidable Brunhild, the next figure to decisively shape the image of Burgundy, is apparent in the tenures of her son, Childebert ii, and her grandson, Theuderic ii. With the death of Childebert in ad , Burgundy again assumed a form reminiscent of the one it had under Guntram.

Under Theuderic, the patriciate continued to be given to members of this aristocracy, who characteristically carried well-known Roman names. Reading through the pages of Fredegar, one cannot escape the impression that the chronicler of this composition was earnestly interested in questions of origin, incorporating as he had an ethnic indicator into many of the entries that dealt with important promotions After ad , the only instances in which the Burgundians are mentioned — apart from.

New honores for a Region Transformed references to Burgundaefarones that probably carried no ethnic meaning The glaring absence of Burgundiones from the storyline makes it quite clear that for Fredegar, this was not a relevant ethnic category We should then assume that men who were not specifically called Franci were, by default, Romani, even if they had names like Wulf. But let us return to Protadius.

Much like his predecessors, the extent of his patriciate is not entirely clear , given that he had initially replaced a dux,. After he was lynched, Protadius was replaced by Claudius, whose title was likewise. Protadius and Claudius are among the earliest instances wherein a mayor of the palace is mentioned , and the earliest in which it is ascribed a military capacity. The first deviation from the tradition of appointing men of Roman origins to the patriciate took place in ad Quolen, a Frank of unknown background, was made patrician by Theuderic ii. Given the proximity of this nomination in.

The nomination of Quolen signals a shift in policy, and is approximately concurrent with the advent of the mayoralty as a senior military position. In fact, it was probably the first senior appointment he made after having taken power three years earlier. Once Brunhild settled in Burgundy, future nominations — not least those of patricius.

While it seems to have kept its exclusivity, and was only open to a select number of local aristocrats all of which incidentally had Roman names , its character was changing. The responsibilities associated with the earliest Burgundian patriciates are hard to accurately pinpoint, but it does appear that the role was gradually becoming more territorial. Whether the later patricii. The introduction of the office of maior domus is relevant to the temporary decline in the importance of the patriciate.

While under Guntram, the. In all likelihood, his patriciate was no different than the command entrusted to his ducal predecessor. It is therefore evident that as mayor, he was the senior military commander in Burgundy, and not the patrician. Not surprisingly, his successor as patrician, Wulf, was implicated in his downfall Ricomer, Aletheus, and Willebad. The three next patricians are in a group of their own. Be it their theoretical ancestry, their actions, or a combination of the two, all have been linked to the Gibichung dynasty and, by extension, to a renascent sense of Burgundian particularism, reaching its apogee in an isolated instance of disloyalty to the Merovingians.

In what follows, these claims will be addressed and, I hope, conclusively dispelled. In ad , Ricomer was installed by Theuderic as patricius of Burgundy Aside from the account of his nomination, Ricomer is never mentioned again by Fredegar. For Theuderic, the years following his appointment were anything but peaceful — he was intermittently at war with his brother and with Chlothar — but Ricomer never surfaces as a commander in any of these crucial military junctures.

His episcopal accomplice is all but unknown , although Ricomer himself is given the vague title princeps nobilis. Seventh-century hagiographers were hardly pedantic when it came to describing rank and office , though we may deduce from the fact that Ricomer enjoyed direct access to the king and the friendship of bishops that he was acting in some senior official capacity.

The other claim that has been made regarding Ricomer is that he was descended of royal Burgundian stock.

Last Prince From Gaul - Perrick, Anton

The rationale behind this claim is based on two remarkably hypothetical notions, which are as follows. There are a number of problems with this claim, the most important one being that the Gibichungs never cared enough for the name to give it to one of their own, which means that it was never really considered an apt name for a Burgundian king. It is therefore somewhat curious that the name, recurring as it did at such a late stage, should be suspected of carrying any Gibichung overtones. The second is, of course, that Ricimer and Ricomer are not necessarily identical. Considering that Fredegar made the effort to call Ricomer a Roman, together with the fact that the name recurs in the episcopal cadres at a time when it was almost exclusively dominated by Gallo-Romans, the Gibichung theory is inevitably weakened Who of the two — Aletheus or Bertrude — was the proud descendent of the Gibichung.

All things considered, however, Bertrude appears to be the better guess.

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The relative abundance of Ricomers could mean that this was an entirely different Ricomer, which would align nicely with the fact that these events took place in the furthest point from Burgundy still in Gaul. As always, the waning of royal power gave rise to independent local authority, and this phenomenon repeated itself here as it had after ad. Consequently, his control over these newly acquired kingdoms came, as it had for his grandfather and granduncles, with time. His first round of nominations is testimony to his dependence on local authority.

He reaffirmed Alethius as patrician, Warnachar as maior domus ,. Unlike Ricomer, Alethius appears to have been intimately involved in the planning stages preceding ad Fredegar reports that he had given his consent to the move, together with other important duces from Burgundy His inclusion in this list, as well as his later attempt to snatch the kingship, suggest that he commanded an army, and was not simply a court functionary, however senior.

Nevertheless, the prime mover of the conspiracy to betray Brunhild had always been Warnachar, the mayor of the palace. He was the one Brunhild initially targeted, setting the plot in motion; he was the one who held deliberations with the Burgundian leudes, and he eventually became the big winner when his plan succeeded. Until his death in ad , Warnachar operated relatively free of royal pressure. Chlothar did not visit Burgundy even once, and when his son, Dagobert i, decided to do so, it caused the Burgundian aristocracy to react with such panic that their feverish preparations for the visit became a spectacle Chlothar acquiesced to the demands of the Austrasian aristocracy, and placed Dagobert as sub-king there in ad , but Burgundy never again received its own king.

After Warnachar died, his son, Godinus, briefly attempted to take the mayoralty for himself Chlothar objected, fearing perhaps that to permit such a thing would be to allow a mayoral dynasty to form in Burgundy Godinus escaped to Dagobert, but in the end was hunted down and killed. Shortly after he returned from his Burgundian excursion in ad , Dagobert ordered Brodulf, the uncle of his brother Charibert, killed.

The job was assigned to the dukes Arnebert and Amalgar, and to the new patrician, Willebad This confluence of events left Dagobert free to appoint a. New honores for a Region Transformed representative in Burgundy, but he did not send a mayor, opting for a local man instead. For the next 14 years, Willebad served as patrician in Burgundy, until an attempt to introduce a new maior domus put the two men on a collision course that would cost both their lives. The feud between Willebad and Floachad, the new mayor, is a long story full of twists and turns, but its specifics are not all that relevant here.

In the absence of a formidable figure such as Dagobert to keep the Burgundian aristocracy in check, the court in Paris probably arrived at the conclusion that a more direct approach was called for. Floachad, a Frankish ally of Erchinoald was dispatched to Burgundy, but was met with a reluctant Willebad, who refused to accept his authority. Two hagiographical compositions, the Life of Eligius of Noyon and the Life of Sigiramn of Longoret, paint a very personal picture of this feud. It is not impossible to believe that the two disliked one another, but it is difficult to conclude that this would have led to the outbreak of a war.

More likely, their mutual scorn exacerbated what was already a volatile situation. The Burgundian ruling class had become accustomed to dealing directly with the king Warnachar, the previous source of local authority, was apparently trusted by the locals and the Neustrian court alike. Once he was gone, Dagobert must have preferred to deal directly with the Burgundians and for a time it worked quite well.

But the vulnerability of a court ruled by a regent and a minor necessitated different measures The manoeuvres that ensued, both military and political, help to more clearly understand the difference between the mayor and the patrician at this stage. Both men had a strong following, although Floachad, who initially enjoyed the support of the queen , obviously had the upper hand.

Willebad was forced to assume a more defensive stance, and did his best to avoid large gatherings, such as placita and councils, which were traditional venues for settling such scores Finally, when he had no other choice, Willebad recruited support. This included bishops and other nobles and military leaders, signalling that a substantial faction of the Burgundian elite had rallied to his banner.

It also demonstrates that the patriciate was seen to have territorial limits, which did not necessarily correspond to those of Burgundy Whether this was an actual region governed by the patrician, or an administrative unit for the purposes of holding a levy, as Kiener suggests, is impossible to say Since he was a close ally of Erchinoald, and the battle took place during a royal conference in Autun, the attendees are not indicative of the force Floachad would have regularly had at his command.

Still, it would be safe to assume that Floachad depended on Neustrian troops and northern backing more heavily than his opponent. According to Fredegar, followers from both sides appeared less than enthusiastic to join battle. Aside from Manaulf and his troops, this must have been equally true for the Burgundians, and so in the end the feud was concluded between a much smaller number of belligerents than had been present to begin with. Once Willebad and his close followers were killed, the Neustrian dukes joined in, but their involvement was limited to pursuit and to looting the Burgundian camp.

This, in turn, could suggest that Willebad had used Chalon as a centre of government. Floachad did not live to enjoy his victory, having died of fever several days later. After his death, no new maiores domus were ever again sent to Burgundy. Willebad was also the last attested patricius of Burgundy. This continuity is perhaps, more than anything, indicative of the fact that once the storm of. From the time of Chlothar I onwards, we witness the emergence of the patricius.

Burgundian kings utilised Roman titulature as a means of legitimating their rule and as a gesture of allegiance toward the Eastern Roman court. These two components of their diplomacy were crucially important for their survival, considering the regional political constellation. For the first generation under Frankish rule our evidence of Burgundian affairs is unfortunately lacking, but generally speaking, it does look as though the local population acquiesced to the change in circumstances and was quite willing to take part in the political game, both on the municipal and the regnal stage.

This makes sense when we realise that the removal of the Gibichungs was not understood by contemporaries as the destruction of a polity circumscribed or legitimated by notions of ethnicity. Initially, the Merovingian patriciate would have entailed military command, and possibly some civilian responsibilities as well. Under Guntram and his successors, it increasingly evolved into a territorial governorship, although it was attached to areas that particularly concerned the Merovingians, such as the eastern border with the Alamans the. The Arelate patriciate was created by Guntram as part of a greater effort to take Septimania.

Patricii based in Arles undoubtedly carried military responsibilities, but since they never overlap with patricii Massiliensis, there is no reason to conclude that the two were perceived as different in nature. At any given point in time, the Burgundian army would have had one patrician, whose activity would have corresponded to areas of strategic concern.

The rectorship of Marseille was, in all likelihood, an administrative office. Rectores were in charge of ensuring the flow of goods and the minting of coins, but the frequent disagreements between Merovingian kings surrounding the access to and the control of Marseille necessitated the presence of military forces in the area. Certain rectores were conceivably promoted to the patriciate in Provence, an advancement that probably carried with it some military obligations.

The creation of the Ultrajuran patriciate might have had some deeper reasons behind it. While it could have corresponded territorially to the historic. Sapaudia, and thus designed to foster a sense of continuity with the previous regime , the fact that it was held alternatively by Frankish dukes and Roman aristocrats indicates that it was perceived, first and foremost, as a pressing. New honores for a Region Transformed military necessity Although a patricius was plausibly a higher rank than.

Members of the senatorial aristocracy were very successful in monopolising the Gallic bishoprics during this time. Since we see them transitioning quite freely from the patriciate to the episcopacy, it may conceivably have been seen as more fitting for Romans to carry the title patricius than dux when they were charged with governing a territorial unit, but this is again a foray into the realm of speculation.

That being said, it is clear that Guntram made an effort to shape his patrimony into a coherent political entity, and in many respects he was very successful. An anti-Burgundian military alliance between Neustria and Austrasia, which was, for a time, the result of his growing influence, would have been a highly unlikely prospect in the seventh century, when Burgundy was reduced to a somewhat ancillary status by northern kings. The reappearance of Germanic names in the patriciate is another point touched upon here.

Attaching ethnicity to names has been shown on countless other instances to be a risky endeavour. With the exception of Leudegisel, the first time we witness this phenomenon having taken place is concurrent with the emergence of Frankish mayors as important office-holders, which can mean one of two things. Granted, Germanic Burgundian and Frankish names were on occasion different, but this can only take the ethnic argument so far.

Burgundian families integrated into the Frankish leadership — the Meaux Burgundofarones. Ethnic reasoning was also brought as a supporting argument for explaining the insubordinate behaviour demonstrated by certain patricians, Alethius being the clearest example. Upon closer inspection, however, it would not be difficult to find other motivations that provide far better explanations for this behaviour than the notion of Burgundian patricians moved by nationalistic or ethnic sentiments.

One good example would be the Agilolfings, of which the. Burgundofarones were a branch We only ever encounter them as agents of the Frankish royal court, and loyal ones at that, at least until the Bavarian branch of the family locked horns with the Carolingians The second is that even if these were truly nobles of Burgundian ancestry who nurtured a strong sense of local identity, the Merovingians who were making the nominations were confident enough to entrust them with senior command posts and governorships.

This would hardly be a surprising move, considering their ability to command local allegiance from the populace, and is really no different than the processes taking place all over Francia. Attempting to preserve local identity or expressing a reluctance to accept foreigners do not automatically translate into political separatism.

A Roman honorific of little substance, the patriciate was adopted first by the. New honores for a Region Transformed Gibichungs and then by the Merovingians as a means of exercising dominion over the highly Romanised and tentatively held regions of their kingdom. As time progressed and the political necessities changed, so too did the office of patrician. With the final triumph of Charles Martel, the sun had set on the office of patrician, as it had on many of the offices of the previous dynasty. Nevertheless, Provence and Burgundy remained the stage for future encounters of new groups, situated as they were on the new frontier of the Christian world Yaniv Fox, New honores for a Region Transformed.

The Patriciate in Post Roman Gaul. I would like to thank Yitzhak Hen, Hope Williard, Ian Wood and the anonymous readers for their comments and assistance. Any remaining errors are, of course, my own. The following abbreviations were used throughout this paper : aass :. Chevalier, Gallia Christiana novissima. Geary, Aristocracy in Provence. Seven men are included in this category, but for our purposes only three are relevant : Philippus, Auderdus, and Felix, patricius of Toulouse. For these men, see Fritz Kiener, Verfassungsgeschichte der Provence seit der Ostgotenherrschaft bis zur Errichtung der Konsulate ,.

Leipzig, Dyksche Buchhandlung, , p. Geary, Aristocracy in Provence, op. Sidonius Apollinaris, Lettres, ed. John R. On this, see now Ian N. Wood, eds. Western Perspectives on the Mediterranean. The Emergence of States. Regna and Gentes. Wilhelm Gundlach, mgh epp, 3, Berlin, Weidemann, , p.

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Wieser, eds. Peiper, Berlin, Weidemann, mgh aa, 6,3 , 46A, p. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, , p. Levison, Hannover, Hahn, mgh srm 1,1 , ii. Tours, lh]. Bruno Krusch, mgh srm, 2, Hannover, Hahn, , p. Halsall, Barbarian Migrations, op. Eo anno contra Flodomerem regem Francorum Viseroncia proelavit ibique interfecto Chlodomere.


For , see Gregory of Tours, lh iii. Marius of Avenches, s. Friedrich Vogel, Berlin, Weidemann, mgh aa, 7 , p. Avitus of Vienne, Letters and Selected Prose, ed. Wood, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, , p. Jahrhunderts, Berlin-New York, W. Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Texte zur Forschung, 69 , xii. For an English translation, see Ammianus Marcellinus, Res gestae, ed. John C. Friedrich Vogel,. Berlin, Weidemann, mgh aa, 7 , lxxx, p.

Avitus of Vienne, op. Concilium Lugdunense , ed. Bruno Krusch, mgh srm, 3, Hannover, Hahn, , p. Henry B. Dewing, 5 vols. One tradition has him escaping to the Valgaudemar, near Grenoble. Bachrach, Merovingian Military Organization, op. Holmes, ed. One could perhaps adduce such similarities from the formula dealing with the appointment of a dux, patricius, or comes, found in Marculf,. Formularum libri duo, ed. Alf Uddholm, Uppsala, , i. Still, as Stefan Esders has shown, the attempt to define these offices emerges from a very specific and limited historical context, relevant primarily in Austrasia.

See Stefan Esders, Sacramentum Fidelitatis. Frankish Formulae, c. My thanks to Professor Reimitz for allowing me an early look at his book. See Gregory of. Tours, lh iv. Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms, op. On the division itself, see Ian N. Almost all Gauls are tall and fair-skinned, with reddish hair. Their savage eyes make them fearful objects; they are eager to quarrel and excessively truculent.

When, in the course of a dispute, any of them calls in his wife, a creature with gleaming eyes much stronger than her husband, they are more than a match for a whole group of foreigners; especially when the woman, with swollen neck and gnashing teeth, swings her great white arms and begins to deliver a rain of punches mixed with kicks, like missiles launched by the twisted strings of a catapult. The first century BCE Greek historian Diodorus Siculus described them as tall, generally heavily built, very light-skinned, and light-haired, with long hair and mustaches:.

The Gauls are tall of body, with rippling muscles, and white of skin, and their hair is blond, and not only naturally so, but they make it their practice to increase the distinguishing color by which nature has given it. For they are always washing their hair in limewater, and they pull it back from their forehead to the top of the head and back to the nape of the neck Some of them shave their beards, but others let it grow a little; and the nobles shave their cheeks, but they let the mustache grow until it covers the mouth.

Jordanes , in his Origins and Deeds of the Goths , indirectly describes the Gauls as light-haired and large-bodied via comparing them to Caledonians , as a contrast to the Spaniards, who he compared to the Silures. He speculates based on this comparison that the Britons originated from different peoples, including the aforementioned Gauls and Spaniards. The Silures have swarthy features and are usually born with curly black hair, but the inhabitants of Caledonia have reddish hair and large loose-jointed bodies. They [the Britons] are like the Gauls and the Spaniards, according as they are opposite either nation.

Hence some have supposed that from these lands the island received its inhabitants. In the novel Satyricon , written by Roman courtier Gaius Petronius , a Roman character sarcastically suggests that he and his partner "chalk our faces so that Gaul may claim us as her own" in the midst of a rant outlining the problems with his partner's plan of using blackface to impersonate Aethiopians.

Battle of Alesia

This suggests that Gauls were thought of on average to be much paler than Romans. All over Gaul, archeology has uncovered numerous pre-Roman gold mines at least in the Pyrenees , suggesting that they were very rich, also evidenced by large finds of gold coins and artefacts. Also there existed highly developed population centers, called oppida by Caesar, such as Bibracte , Gergovia , Avaricum , Alesia , Bibrax , Manching and others. Modern archeology strongly suggests that the countries of Gaul were quite civilized and very wealthy. Most had contact with Roman merchants and some, particularly those that were governed by Republics such as the Aedui , Helvetii and others, had enjoyed stable political alliances with Rome.

They imported Mediterranean wine on an industrial scale, evidenced by large finds of wine vessels in digs all over Gaul, the largest and most famous of which being the one discovered in Vix Grave , which stands 1. Agris Helmet. Discovered in Agris , Charente , France. A belt made of 2. Celtic helmet decorated with gold " triskeles ", found in Amfreville-sous-les-Monts , France. Gaul, Curiosolites coin showing stylized head and horse circa BC. Gaul, Armorica coin showing stylized head and horse Jersey moon head style, circa BC.

Gaulish society was dominated by the druid priestly class. The druids were not the only political force, however, and the early political system was complex. The fundamental unit of Gallic politics was the tribe, which itself consisted of one or more of what Caesar called "pagi". Later, the executive was an annually-elected magistrate. The tribal groups, or pagi as the Romans called them singular: pagus ; the French word pays , "region", comes from this term were organised into larger super-tribal groups that the Romans called civitates.

These administrative groupings would be taken over by the Romans in their system of local control, and these civitates would also be the basis of France's eventual division into ecclesiastical bishoprics and dioceses , which would remain in place — with slight changes — until the French Revolution. Although the tribes were moderately stable political entities, Gaul as a whole tended to be politically divided, there being virtually no unity among the various tribes.

Only during particularly trying times, such as the invasion of Caesar, could the Gauls unite under a single leader like Vercingetorix. Even then, however, the faction lines were clear. The Romans divided Gaul broadly into Provincia the conquered area around the Mediterranean , and the northern Gallia Comata "free Gaul" or "wooded Gaul". Caesar divided the people of Gaulia Comata into three broad groups: the Aquitani ; Galli who in their own language were called Celtae ; and Belgae. In the modern sense, Gaulish tribes are defined linguistically, as speakers of dialects of the Gaulish language.

While the Aquitani were probably Vascons , the Belgae would thus probably be counted among the Gaulish tribes, perhaps with Germanic elements. Julius Caesar , in his book, Commentarii de Bello Gallico , comments:. Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilisation and refinement of our Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind; and they are the nearest to the Germani, who dwell beyond the Rhine, with whom they are continually waging war; for which reason the Helvetii also surpass the rest of the Gauls in valour, as they contend with the Germani in almost daily battles, when they either repel them from their own territories, or themselves wage war on their frontiers.

The Belgae rises from the extreme frontier of Gaul, extend to the lower part of the River Rhine; and look toward the north and the rising sun. Gaulish or Gallic is the name given to the Celtic language that was spoken in Gaul before the Latin of the late Roman Empire became dominant in Roman Gaul. Gaulish is paraphyletically grouped with Celtiberian , Lepontic , and Galatian as Continental Celtic. The Lepontic language and the Galatian language are sometimes considered to be dialects of Gaulish. The exact time of the final extinction of Gaulish is unknown, but it is estimated to have been around or shortly after the middle of the 1st millennium.

The Gauls practiced a form of animism , ascribing human characteristics to lakes, streams, mountains, and other natural features and granting them a quasi-divine status. Also, worship of animals was not uncommon; the animal most sacred to the Gauls was the boar , which can be found on many Gallic military standards, much like the Roman eagle.

Their system of gods and goddesses was loose, there being certain deities which virtually every Gallic person [ citation needed ] worshiped, as well as tribal and household gods. Many of the major gods were related to Greek gods; the primary god worshiped at the time of the arrival of Caesar was Teutates , the Gallic equivalent of Mercury.

The "father god" in Gallic worship was "Dis Pater". However, there is no record of a theology [ citation needed ] , just a set of related and evolving traditions of worship. Perhaps the most intriguing facet of Gallic religion is the practice of the Druids. There is no certainty concerning their origin, but it is clear that they vehemently guarded the secrets of their order and held sway over the people of Gaul. Indeed, they claimed the right to determine questions of war and peace, and thereby held an "international" status. In addition, the Druids monitored the religion of ordinary Gauls and were in charge of educating the aristocracy.

They also practiced a form of excommunication from the assembly of worshippers, which in ancient Gaul meant a separation from secular society as well. Thus the Druids were an important part of Gallic society.

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  • After completing the conquest of Gaul, Rome converted most of these tribes into civitates , making for the administrative map of the Roman provinces of Gaul. This was then perpetuated by the early church, whose geographical subdivisions were based on those of late Roman Gaul, and lasted into the areas of French dioceses prior to the French Revolution. The Gauls played a certain role in the national historiography and national identity of modern France.