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The Frankish Empire

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Book topics: Gregory of Tours, Franks & Merovingians, Their World, Coronations, Religion, Women, Miscellaneous, Carolingians, Charlemagne, Europe

Gregory of Tours

The History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, translated by Lewis Thorpe. A dramatic narrative of French history in the sixth century, written by a bishop who became a Catholic saint. Gregory of Tours knew King Sigibert, Queen Brunhilda, and others about whom he wrote. He was tried for slandering Queen Fredegund, but was acquitted.

Gregory of Tours: History and Society in the Sixth Century by Martin Heinzelmann, translated by Christopher Carroll. This new interpretation of Gregory's Histories finds connections between apparently unconnected, adjacent chapters.

The Franks & Merovingians

The Franks by Edward James. A scholarly book, based on archaeological evidence.

The Merovingian Kingdoms, 450-751 by Ian Wood. Discusses the lives of Clovis, Chlothar, Brunhilda, Fredegund, and other powerful people upon whom the fate of western Europe depended.

A Sacred Kingdom by Michael Edward Moore. Bishops and the rise of Frankish kingship, 300-850.

Long-Haired Kings and Other Studies in Frankish History by J. M. Wallace-Hadrill.

The Kingdom of the Franks: North-West Europe Before Charlemagne by Peter Lasko. Published in 1971, this book provides a brief overview of the history of the Franks. Most of the book is devoted to Frankish art and archaeological discoveries. Includes 101 black-and-white illustrations, 21 color illustrations, and a Merovingian royal family tree.

An Historical Assessment of Leadership in Turbulent Times: Lessons Learned From Clovis I, King of the Franks by Nathan W. Harter. This book uses King Clovis as an example of successful leadership during times of uncertainty and change.

Books About the Carolingians

The Merovingian World

Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World by Patrick J. Geary. Presents the Merovingian period as an integral part of late antiquity, tracing the Romanization of barbarians and the barbarization of the Romans which ultimately made these populations indistinguishable.

Roman to Merovingian Gaul: A Reader edited by Alexander Callendar Murray.

Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages edited by Bonnie Effros. Assesses what contemporary archaeology can tell us about the Frankish kingdoms.

Creating Community With Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul by Bonnie Effros. Feasting and fasting were central to social interaction in Gaul both prior and subsequent to Christianization of Franks and Gallo Romans.

The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 2, c.700-c.900 edited by Rosamond McKitterick. Covers most of the period of Frankish and Carolingian dominance in western Europe. The authors examine the interaction between rulers and ruled, how power actually worked, and the society and culture of Europe as a whole.

Books About the Age of Charlemagne

Frankish Coronations

The Royal Patronage of Liturgy in Frankish Gaul to the Death of Charles the Bald, 877 by Yitzhak Hen. Frankish patronage of liturgy started in the Merovingian period, but it was the Carolingians who used it to ease the acceptance of new political ideals.

Ordines Coronationis Franciae: Volume One edited by Richard A. Jackson. Texts and ordines for the coronation of Frankish and French kings and queens in the Middle Ages (the texts are not translated from Latin). Volume one contains the general introduction and the 19 texts and ordines up to the beginning of the 13th century.

Ordines Coronationis Franciae: Volume Two by Richard A. Jackson. Contains the later six ordines, bibliographies, indexes, and illustrations.

Frankish Religion

The Frankish Church by J. M. Wallace-Hadrill. This survey of the development of the Frankish Church under the Merovingian and Carolingian kings (approximately AD 500-900) is the first of its kind to appear in English.

Caring for Body and Soul: Burial and the Afterlife in the Merovingian World by Bonnie Effros. Funerals and burial sites were important means for establishing or extending power over rival families and monasteries.

Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul A.D. 481-751 by Yitzhak Hen. Although often depicted as barbaric, Merovingian Gaul was a Christian society and a continuation of Roman civilization.

Dreams, Visions, and Spiritual Authority in Merovingian Gaul by Isabel Moreira. Describes how, over the course of the Merovingian period, the clergy came to accept the visions of ordinary folk -- peasants, women, and children -- as authentic.

Frankish Women

Women in Frankish Society by Suzanne Fonay Wemple. Marriage and the cloister, 500 to 900.

The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak. Brunhild was a foreign princess in 6th century Merovingian France. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a slave. And yet both women reigned over vast realms.

Saints' Lives and the Rhetoric of Gender: Male and Female in Merovingian Hagiography by John Kitchen. Examines texts by authors of both sexes and casts doubt on the assumption that male authors were hostile to female concerns.


Dark Age Naval Power by John Haywood. A reassessment of Frankish and Anglo-Saxon shipbuilding and seafaring, which were far more advanced than previously thought.

Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th-9th Centuries by Rosamond McKitterick. Essays about manuscripts from the Merovingian and Carolingian periods.

Franks and Alamans in the Merovingian Period: An Ethnographic Perspective edited by Ian Wood. The Alamans were swallowed up by Frankish expansion. This volume considers the origin of both peoples; the urban, social, and legal history of the Franks; and the uses of silver in the early Middle Ages.

The Nibelungenlied translated by A.T. Hatto. This great German epic poem of murder and revenge, written around 1200 by an unknown author, recounts a quarrel between two queens named Brunhild and Kriemhild. It may have been inspired in part by the rivalry of the Frankish queens Brunhilda and Fredegund.

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Gregory of Tours: History of the Franks
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