Friday, March 18, 2011

Gregory of Tours: The Death Penalty and double standards.

"About this time Saint Martin's church was broken into by thieves. ... King Chilperic heard of this and he ordered the malefactors to be bound and brought before him. I was afraid that these men might be put to death because of the very Saint who while he was on earth had so often begged for the life of condemned criminals: so I sent a letter to the King beseeching him not to have them executed, and saying the we, who must make the charge, proposed not to do so. He accepted what I said and spared their lives. The stolen goods had been scattered, but he had them collected together with great care and ordered them to be restored to the church." - History of the Franks, VI.10

What raises an eyebrow here is the paragraph that Gregory has decided to include next regarding Theodore the Bishop of Marseilles:

"The clergy of Marseilles plotted with Dynamius to have Theodore expelled from his diocese. When he was on his way to King Childebert, he was detained on the order of King Guntram, and the ex-Governor Jovinus with him. The clergy of Marseilles were delighted when they heard this news, for if their Bishop was apprehended, he would no doubt be sent into exile, and things had come to such a pass that he would never return to the city. They took command off the church houses, drew up an inventory of the plate, broke open the chests, pillaged the strong-rooms and made free with all church property, just as if the Bishop were already dead. They levelled a great number of criminal charges against Theodore, but, with the help of Jesus Christ, these were later proved false." - VI.11

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