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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1505: Books and Identities in the Early Middle Ages

Thursday 16 July 2009, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Charles West, Department of History, University of Sheffield
Paper 1505-aHow History Was Shaped in the Early Middle Ages: Fredegar's Reception of Gregory of Tours's Historiarum Libri Decem
(Language: English)
Daniel Russell, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München / School of History, University of Leeds
Index terms: Archives and Sources, Historiography - Medieval, Political Thought
Paper 1505-bSources and Resources: Reconstructing the Library of Fontenelle/St. Wandrille
(Language: English)
Andreas Inkmann, Projekt Hludowicus, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin
Index terms: Bibliography, Ecclesiastical History, Hagiography, Historiography - Medieval, Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Monasticism

Paper -a:
Lately the early medieval chronicle of the so-called Fredegar has become the focus of renewed research interest. Especially engaging with the only peripherally analyzed first three books, where Fredegar copies from various earlier sources, can lead to new results on the ideas and concepts of the author. This paper discusses how Fredegar incorporated Gregory of Tours' Historiarum Libri Decem, and how he worked with and reworked the source to make it fit his own text. Fredegar approached this in a rather confusing way, which leaves us with the questions of intention, stage of composition, and historiographical value of the chronicle. To adduce an example: after the murder of King Sigibert (575), Fredegar (III, 72) adopts Gregory's information (V, 1) on the coronation of the young Childebert and the exile of the queen mother Brunhilde. However, Fredegar slightly changes the plot and remodels the characters, making them less individual and more schematic, to fit into his recurring pattern of legendary stories and fables. This deliberate shaping of history shows how dramatically the idea and intention of historiography changed in the Merovingian kingdoms during the two generations after Gregory's death.

Paper -b:
Books are the brain of the spiritual and intellectual life of an early medieval monastery. The library is the base of the Scriptorium and therefore more or less the root of everything we know about monasticism and most parts of medieval historiography. Unfortunately, most of the libraries and especially their catalogues are lost - with that the knowledge of the sources of the medieval writers. In trying to reconstruct these libraries and in comparing the produced texts there is a chance to learn more about the intellectual horizon of the authors beyond the quotation of the bible and other 'standard' sources.
This paper tries to reconstruct the library of Fontenelle using the reports of the historiographical and hagiographical texts that were produced in that monastery. In a first step, all quotations concerning books that were available in Fontenelle are collected and analysed for the kinds of texts mentioned and for the way the acquirements and possessions are narrated. In a second step, these results will be compared with other Frankish monasteries like Corbie. As a last step, a short perspective on the relation between the texts written in St. Wandrille and the books that are mentioned in them will be given, without neglecting the role of books for the self-construction of the monastic community.