Fredegar

Fredegar remains a shadowy figure in the history of the Frankish kingdoms. Even his name isn’t attested anywhere until the sixteenth century, the oldest extant manuscript of his chronicle simply calling him ‘a certain wise man’. There remains little consensus as to whether he was a literate layman or a member of the clergy. The original part of his chronicle extended up to 643, but the latest event referred to occurred in 659, so he is usually said to have died c. 660. His work displays clear knowledge of Burgundy but much of the focus of his work suggests he was writing in Austrasia, possibly in Metz.

The work is really a compilation of chronicles:

I – Liber generationis

II – Liber chronicorum – an abbreviated version of the chronicle of Eusebius-Jerome and other material

III – The chronicle of Isidore of Seville

IV – Abbreviated version of the six-book version of Gregory of Tour’s Historiae

V – Chronicle of a Certain Wise Man (= Fredegar)

Latin:

ed. by B. Krusch, MGH SRM, 2 (Hanover, 1888), pp. 1-194 [link]; J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar (London, 1960).

Manuscripts:

1 Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, lat. 10910 – written in a rather undistinctive uncial script with features of spelling and decoration which suggest an origin in ‘France’. Similarities have been noted with the script of Lyon, Bibliotheque municipale, 602, ff. 95-149, although the form of G, D and R are often completely different (one would be better to compare the script in the first part of the same manuscript which is still clearly related). That manuscript is likely late-seventh-century and from Lyon itself. A note on f. 184r, now barely legible because of the deterioration of the folio, records the priest Lucerios’s calculation that there were 74+10 years left from the fourth year of Dagobert III’s reign until the Year 6000 (= AD 799). This provides a date of 715 for the note – but since it was clearly added in a different script in different ink after the body text, all this provides is a terminus ante quem. In 782 a list of popes on f. 23r was updated to fill the gap from Theodore (d. 649) to Hadrian I (pope 772-785 and given ‘an. xvi’/ 16 years in the list).