The Fredegar Chronicles Roger Collins 1 Table of Contents Abbreviations Bibliography Introduction: One Work or Two? Part One – The Fredegar Compilation. century that he was so called, though Fredegar is an authentic. Prankish name. He left behind him what, in a word, may be called a chronicle; and it is because. The fourth book of the Chronicle of Fredegar: with its continuations / translated from the Latin with introduction and notes by J. M. Wallace-Hadrill.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. One Work or Two? IIpp. Untersuchungen zum Herrscherethos Karls des Grossen Sigmaringen, Lebenswerk und Nachleben, II: Udalricum et Afram, vol. Studies on the Latin Writingspp.

Antiquae Lectiones, seu antique monumenta ad historiam mediae aetatis illustrandam, 6 vols. I Dijon, Sigmaringen,pp.

Empire and Society Manchester,pp. Martin Geneva, ,pp. Convegno di studi nel XII centenario: Appendix item sive liber XI centum et decem annorum historiam continens alio quodam autore quorum gratia totum opus recudimus. New Approaches Oxford,pp.

The Chronicle of Fredegar

Jahrhundert Frankfurt am Main and Berlin, Zur Interpretation von Fredegarii Continuatio c. Karl der Grosse III: F, L’Europe des invasions Paris, Dictys and Dares,” in: Chronixle Novel in the Ancient World, ed. The True Stories of the Trojan War”, in: The Latin Novel in Context, ed. Codices in Quarto Leiden, Munich and Darmstadt, Item auctores omnes derelicta ab Eusebio et Hieronymo continuantes Leiden, Empire and Society Manchester, Lindsay London,pp.

Verzeichniss der Handschriften der Stiftsbibliothek von St. Codices Reginenses Kf 2 vols Vatican, and The Diary of Humfrey Wanley, 2 vols. II, plates 73 and Of the major narrative sources for the history of Early Medieval Europe, the compilation known as The Chronicle of Fredegar is amongst dredegar most complex, confusing and contentious.

If it has rivals in these dubious claims to chrohicle, there are not many of them. Its authorship, contents, compositional history, structure and manuscript transmission are all topics that have generated scholarly disagreement over the last century and a quarter. Frevegar posed in all of these areas have made it chtonicle for a modern critical edition to encompass all of the seemingly contradictory variant elements that are to be found in the manuscripts within a single text or version.

In consequence the authoritative edition published in that has set the standard for all others that have followed is a hybrid, linking two text forms that never coexisted in the manuscript tradition. In particular it is a virtually unique source for events in the Frankish kingdoms between the point at which the Ten Books of Histories of Gregory of Tours stop soon before his death inand its own abrupt ending in It also contains information relating to Spain, Italy, the northern Slavs and the Byzantine Empire in the late sixth and first half of the seventh century that is not to be found elsewhere.

A revised and expanded eighth century version of the work is also one of the most valuable freeegar for the history of Francia between the establishment of Charles Martel’s dominance in eastern Neustria around and the joint royal inaugurations of Charlemagne and his brother Carloman in the autumn of For many of these decades it provides chroniclr unique if not unprejudiced witness.

See also idem, ‘Fredegar’s Kings’, in ibid. Treated as a deliberately formed historiographical compilation, it provides interesting insights into the scholarly resources available to its author or authors and to later generations of revisers, and into their perspectives on their own society and its past.

Its revised eighth century version also contributes to the better understanding of political attitudes and the constraints placed on the writing of historical narratives in the early Carolingian period. Linguistically, the original seventh fedegar version of the work is a very valuable source for curonicle investigation of the grammatical and orthographic peculiarities of Merovingian Latin, and the manuscript evidence of the fredehar version is almost equally useful in the study of the impact of the reforms of both fredegr and spelling of the reign of Charlemagne Also containing within itself 3 Roger Collins, ‘Deception and misrepresentation in early eighth-century Frankish historiography: But for its evidence for both seventh and eighth centuries to be properly assessed, it is essential that the questions concerning its authorship, dating, structure, contents and distribution be answered.

Attempts will be made here at least to review the current state of the arguments relating to these and other related areas of enquiry. To make this possible and to facilitate a better understanding rredegar this important text more generally, it may be necessary to take the radical step of regarding what is normally treated as a single work, to which has been added some later phases of continuation, as actually being two quite separate texts, albeit containing several items in common in their contents.

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A number of the confusions and difficulties, especially on the editorial side, can best be resolved by adopting such an approach.

Simply put, and leaving aside some of the detailed questions that will have to be examined subsequently, there exists a seventh century compilation of historical gredegar that between them cover the whole span from Creation to the year This consists of a freregar of earlier texts, explicitly borrowed, that have been put into more or less appropriate chronological order.

As well as numerous short insertions, there are also a few larger scale borrowings that are not acknowledged, and whose origins we do not know. These include a series of legendary stories relating to the supposed deeds of the Gothic king Theoderic and of the emperor Justinian I and his general Belisarius. The last part of the work, covering the years from to is almost entirely made up of new material not to be found in any other context, and some or most of this is normally thought of as representing the compiler or compilers’ own original composition.

The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar: With Its Continuations.

chronkcle As the uncertainty hinted at in the last sentence indicates, there have been arguments over the number of individuals who may have contributed to the making of the compilation and over the number of stages in which it came to be composed.

Furthermore, its structuring in the form we now have it is in either four or five books, but it is not certain if this plan was original, or whether this was imposed upon it as part of a slightly later editorial process. No manuscript or other early evidence gives any indication of cgronicle or of the intended title of the work. The second work, which needs to be clearly distinguished from its seventh century predecessor, has never previously been recognised as having a separate identity, but this is the most useful and also the least anachronistic way of treating it.

At the simplest level, the only part of its contents that has really interested historians is the fredeagr section that covers the years from to In consequence little notice has been taken of other changes elsewhere in fredrgar text, both in the form of removals and of additions, or of its restructuring as curonicle three rather than four or five book work.

Treating the two works as if they were one has created particular difficulties for all of the editors of the Fredegar chronicle.

Ffedegar other extant manuscripts of this work, as will be seen, its editions, some of the ways in which the Fredegar compilation has been regarded result from editorial decisions and chroniclee made in the seventeenth century, which have added to the difficulties of reaching a proper understanding of the text and its history.

Furthermore, it omits some of the latter’s contents and adds new items both borrowed and original, and restructures the whole collection into a three book work.

The final book does indeed contain materials that extend the narrative of the seventh century Fredegar from its abrupt ending in up tobut this chronological expansion was not the author’s sole or even main purpose.


This has been obscured in particular by the scholarly concentration on what were thought to be multiple continuations of the original Fredegar. In part this was the product of the recognition by Leopold Ranke and by various MGH editors in the nineteenth century that many of the sets of Frankish annals relating to the 5 Chronlcle below pp.

A series of up to five separate sections were thought to have been detected. One of these was recognised, as previously mentioned, as a borrowing from the Liber Historiae Francorum, but the rest could be regarded as discrete continuations of the kind that had become familiar from the chronicel of the compositional history of the annals.

Such an approach could only be sustained by ignoring the wider changes that had been made to its contents and structure, because these clearly indicate that this eighth century version is not just a copy of the seventh century original with no more than a chronological extension of its concluding narrative. In fact the whole thing is the product of a major editorial revision that must have taken place at a single time, as the changes effected are testified to in all known manuscripts of this version.


The late ninth or early tenth century Vatican MS Reginensis lat. Vsque nunc inluster vhronicle Childebrandus comes avunculus praedicto rege Pippino hanc historiam vel gesta Francorum diligentissime scribere procuravit. Historia vel Gesta Francorum. Abhinc ab inlustre viro Nibelungo filium ipsius Childebrando itemque comite succedat auctoritas.

So, from this point onwards the authority for the work comes from Childebrand’s son Count Nibelung. On this manuscript see below pp. Although no doubt of great social and political importance in their time, both Childebrand and Nibelung have left few traces of themselves in the records of eighth and early ninth century century Francia. It was once generally thought that he must have been a half-brother of Charles Martel, and thus the son of the latter’s mother Alpaida by some other liaison.

It applied only to paternal chronilce, not maternal ones. So Childebrand had to be a son of Pippin II.

As there chrronicle never any question of him or his heirs being regarded as potential candidates for the throne, it is most likely that he was illegitimate. Admittedly, the legitimacy of Charles Martel is itself a controversial issue. It could be argued that the colophon indicates that the main compositional and editorial activity took place aroundas it implies the wider project of writing a ‘History and Deeds of the Franks’ was by then fully formed.

By this view the short final section that covers the years from toshould rightly be seen as a continuation; the only one to be associated with this work. In other words the work only survives in the form it acquired afterand there is no codicological evidence for the Thus the work would have been written as a whole sometime after However, this takes no account of the codicological evidence for such a division in the chronixle.

It may be that Childebrand’s compilation was either unfinished or enjoyed a very limited dissemination, and that the continued form of the text produced under his son Nibelung was either the first properly finished version or just enjoyed a far wider readership.

Fredegag view be taken of this particular problem, it will be appreciated that there is no way that a critical edition can be prepared chroincle tries to include all or part of the original seventh century Fredegar along with some or all of the Childebrand-Nibelung Historia vel Gesta Francorum. They never circulated together or as a composite text in any form. The manuscript traditions are entirely separate, except for the point at which a codex relatively far removed from the original form of the Fredegar compilation was used to provide some of the text that was incorporated into Childebrand’s Historia.

Decisions as to how best to edit the Childebrandine compilation are far more chronocle, and such an attempt has yet to be made, but whatever choices be made, the manuscripts used would not be the same as those upon which the editions of the seventh century Fredegar are based. It may be hoped that enough has been said so far to provide at least prima facie justification for the division of the contents of this book into two parts; the first being devoted to the seventh century Fredegar compilation, and the second to the Childebrand- Nibelung Historia vel Gesta Francorum that in part derived from it, but which is in all other respects an independent work in its own right.

This also has the added advantage of not requiring potentially confusing discussion of particular features of one of these works while at the same time having to take account of its role, or lack thereof, in the other. Both will receive full but separate treatment. The seventh century text can also here just be known as Fredegar or the Fredegar compilation, while the eighth century work, hitherto regarded as just a series of continuations, will be called the Historia vel Gesta Francorum.

This particular title is not intended to prejudge the question of whether a full form existed in the time of Childebrand or was only achieved under his son.