Liber historiae Francorum

The Liber historiae Francorum (‘Book of the History of the Franks’) is a short chronicle which builds upon a heavily abbreviated version of the work of Gregory and Fredegar, extending the narrative up to AD 727, ‘the sixth year of Theuderic IV’. It stands as the last ‘Neustrian’ chronicle before the Pippind usurpation of the mid eighth century. It is also famous for its account of the Trojan origins of the Franks and circulating with Dares Phrygius’s De excidio Troiae.

Earlier generations of historians debated whether the chronicle was composed in Rouen (Krusch) or St Denis (Monod and Kurth). Richard Gerberding, in his 1987 monograph on the text, argued that its perspective was Soissons and probably St Medard’s. Yet Jinty Nelson pointed out a couple of years later that Notre Dame in Soissons was just as plausible and could not be ruled out because it was a female religious house. This view has most recently been supported by Martina Hartmann’s analysis of the chronicler’s interest in women as political agents.

There are two early recensions extant. Krusch’s A is best witnessed by Bern, Burgerbibliothek, 599 (possibly Fleury, 790s). B perhaps edits the text for some Austrasian sensibilities, however defined, and the oldest witness (but not the best) is BAV Pal. lat. 966 (possibly Lorsch, 790s). A third early witness discovered by Gerberding – Paris, BnF, lat. 7906 – uses both A and B suggests that the evolution of the text was more complicated than Krusch believed.

Latin Text: ed. B. Krusch, MGH SRM, 2 (Hanover, 1888), pp. 215-328 [link]

Translated Text:

There are three main translations. A full but rare translation was published by Bernie Bachrach (Lawrence, KT, 1973). Translations of the final chapters are in Fouracre & Gerberding’s Late Merovingian France (Manchester, 1996) and Alexander Callander Murray’s From Roman to Merovingian Gaul (Peterborough, Ont., 2000).

Select Manuscripts Online:

(See above for further information).

Select Bibliography:

Richard Gerberding, The Rise of the Carolingians and the Liber historiae Francorum (Oxford, 1987).

Martina Hartmann, ‘Die Darstellung der Frauen im Liber Historiae Francorum und der Verfasserfrage’, Concilium medii aevi, 7 (2004), 209-37 [link].

Janet Nelson, ‘Gender and Genre in Women Historians of the Early Middle Ages’, in her The Frankish World (London, 1996), pp. 183-97.