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E07729: Gregory of Tours, in his Histories (1.39), briefly describes the career as a preacher and missionary of *Martin (ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397, S00050) and notes his miracles, including resurrecting three men from the dead. He also refers to the death of *Hilary (bishop of Poitiers, ob. 367, S00183) and states that he too was said to have revived the dead. Written in Latin in Tours (north-west Gaul), 575/594.

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posted on 16.08.2019, 00:00 by dlambert
Gregory of Tours, Histories (Historiae) 1.39

Tunc iam et lumen nostrum exoritur, novisque lampadum radiis Gallia perlustratur, hoc est eo tempore beatissimus Martinus in Gallias praedicare exorsus est, qui Christum, Dei filium, per multa miracula verum Deum in populis declarans, gentilium incredulitatem avertit. Hic enim fana distruxit, heresem oppraessit, eclesias aedificavit et, cum aliis multis vertutibus refulgeret, ad consummandum laudes suae titulum tres mortuos vitae restituit. Quarto Valentiniani et Valentis anno sanctus Helarius apud Pictavus, plenus sanctitate et fide, multis virtutibus aeditus, migravit ad caelos; nam et ipsi legitur mortuos suscitasse.

'At that period, too, our new luminary began to shine, and Gaul became bright with new rays coming from its lamps, for this is the moment when Saint Martin began to preach in this country. By his many miracles he overcame the disbelief of the Gentiles and made it clear to the people that Christ, the Son of God, is Himself the true God. He destroyed pagan temples, suppressed heresy, built churches and earned great renown for many miracles, crowning his claim to fame by restoring three dead men to life. In the fourth year of the Emperors Valentinianus and Valens, in the town of Poitiers, Saint Hilary went up to heaven, full of holiness and faith, and famous for his many miracles. He, too, is said to have restored the dead to life.'

Text: Krusch and Levison 1951, 27. Translation: Thorpe 1974, 91-92.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Hilarius/Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, ob. 367 : S00183 Martin, ascetic and bishop of Tours, ob. 397 : S00050

Saint Name in Source

Helarius Martinus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)



Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tours Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

Gregory of Tours

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Power over life and death Unspecified miracle

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops


Gregory of Tours wrote the Histories (Historiae) during his episcopate in Tours (573–594). They constitute the longest and most detailed historical work of the post-Roman West. Gregory's focus is Gaul under its Frankish kings, above all the territories of Tours and (to a lesser extent) Clermont, where he had been born and brought up. Much of his work tells of the years when, as bishop of an important see, he was himself centrally involved in Frankish politics. The Histories are often wrongly referred to as a History of the Franks. Although the work does contain a history of the rulers of Francia, it also includes much hagiographical material, and Gregory himself gave it the simple title the 'ten books of Histories' (decem libri historiarum), when he produced a list of his own writings (Histories 10.31). The Histories consist of ten books whose scope and contents differ considerably. Book 1 skims rapidly through world history, with biblical and secular material from the Creation to the death in AD 397 of Martin of Tours (Gregory’s hero and predecessor as bishop). It covers 5596 years. In Book 2, which covers 114 years, the focus moves firmly into Gaul, covering the years up to the death of Clovis in 511. Books 3 and 4, which cover 37 and 27 years respectively, then move fairly swiftly on, closing with the death of king Sigibert in 575. With Book 5, through to the final Book 10, the pace slows markedly, and the detail swells, with only between two and four years covered in each of the last six books, breaking off in 591. These books are organised in annual form, based on the regnal years of Childebert II (r. 575-595/6). There continues to be much discussion over when precisely Gregory wrote specific parts of the Histories, though there is general agreement that none of it was written before 575 and, of course, none of it after Gregory's death, which is believed to have occurred in 594. Essentially, scholars are divided over whether Gregory wrote the Histories sequentially as the years from 575 unfolded, with little or no revision thereafter, or whether he composed the whole work over the space of a few years shortly before his death and after 585 (see Murray 2015 for the arguments on both sides). For an understanding of the political history of the time, and Gregory's attitude to it, precisely when the various books were written is of great importance; but for what he wrote about the saints, the precise date of composition is of little significance, because Gregory's attitude to saints, their relics and their miracles did not change significantly during his writing-life. We have therefore chosen to date Gregory's writing of our entries only within the broadest possible parameters: with a terminus post quem of 575 for the early books of the Histories, and thereafter the year of the events described, and a terminus ante quem of 594, set by Gregory's death. (Bryan Ward-Perkins, David Lambert) For general discussions of the Histories see: Goffart, W., The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550–800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon (Princeton, 1988), 119–127. Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative," in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden and Boston, 2015), 63–101. Pizarro, J.M., "Gregory of Tours and the Literary Imagination: Genre, Narrative Style, Sources, and Models in the Histories," in: Murray, A Companion to Gregory of Tours, 337–374.


Edition: Krusch, B., and Levison, W., Gregorii episcopi Turonensis Libri historiarum X (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum I.1; 2nd ed.; Hannover, 1951). Translation: Thorpe, L., Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks (Penguin Classics; London, 1974). Further reading: Murray, A.C., "The Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours and Its Bearing on the Political Narrative", in: A.C. Murray (ed.), A Companion to Gregory of Tours (Leiden-Boston 2015), 63-101. Vieillard-Troiekouroff, M., Les monuments religieux de la Gaule d'après les œuvres de Grégoire de Tours (Paris, 1976).

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