Gregory of Tours

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Our father among the saints Gregory of Tours was a sixth century Bishop of Tours and a Gallo-Roman historian. His most notable work is the Ten Books of Histories, better known as the History of the Franks (Historia Francorum). His feast day is November 17.


Gregory was born Georgius Florentius on November 30, about the year 538 in Clermont (now Clermont-Ferrand), in the Auvergne region of central Gaul. He was the son of Florentius, Senator of Clermont, and his wife Armentaria II who was the niece of the Bishop of Lyons Nicetius. He added the name Gregorius to his in honor of his maternal great-grandfather. Born into the upper stratum of the Gallo-Roman society, Gregory could count several bishops and saints as close relatives. As he had noted, of the eighteen bishops of Tours who preceded him, all but five were connected with him by ties of kinship.

Gregory succeeded Euphronius as Bishop of Tours in 573 and was consecrated in Rome. He came to the see of Tours during an era of endless civil war as the various royals contended for increased authority regardless of the effect their wars had on the people. In this atmosphere Bp. Gregory asserted his office of bishop with great courage and firmness. In the face of increased barbarism, as the old Roman civilization was replaced by that of the Frankish kings, the clergy led by Bp. Gregory preached to these kings that amongst their duties was that of a conscientious fulfillment of their royal duties for the good of souls.

At the time Tours was a center of these conflicts and Gregory was in the center of the infighting, becoming often the scapegoat for the warring factions. Placed on trial for allegedly defaming Queen Fredegunde, Gregory asserted his innocence under oath with such dignity and uprightness that king Chilperic afterward became more conciliatory in his dealing with Gregory. With the arrival of King Guntram of Burgundy after the death of Chilperic, Bp. Gregory enjoyed good relations with the king that lasted until his repose in Tours on November 17, in either 593 or 594.


At the beginning of his episcopate, Gregory began to write for edification. His works, that filled twenty volumes, were mainly to edify. Beginning with the miracles of Martin of Tours, his works covered many subjects, ten of history, seven of "miracles", one on the lives of the Fathers, one of the psalter, and one on ecclesiastical liturgy. Without his Historia Francorum the historical origin of the Frankish monarchy would largely be unknown today.

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Gregory of Tours
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Bishop of Tours
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Gregory of Tours]