Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gregory of Tours: Onward Christian Soldiers?

Gregory's History of the Franks has descriptions of military campaigns one after another complete with the horrors and consequences, yet rarely passes judgment on anything. The following note is an exception.

"Two brothers called Salonius and Sagittarius, both of them Bishops, fought in this battle. Instead of seeking protection in the heavenly Cross, they were armed with the helmet and breastplate of this secular world and, what is worse, they are said to have killed many men with their own hands." - History of the Franks, IV.42

Then there were the civil wars:

"A dispute now began between the two Kings Guntram and Sigibert. King Guntram called a council in Paris of all the bishops in his realm, to decide which of them was in the right. The two Kings, however, refused to listen to the bishops' advice and as a result of their sinful behavior this civil war grew more and more bitter." - IV.47

Things then went crazy ...

"He continued to advance with his troops and invaded the Limousin, the district of Cahors and other territories near by, all of which he ravaged and sacked. He burned the churches, stole their holy vessels, killed the clergy, emptied the monasteries of monks, raped the nuns in their convents and caused devastation everywhere. There was even more weeping in the churches at this period than there had been at the time of Diocletian's persecution." - IV.47

In the end, there is a lament from the year 574:

"The older folk listened with all their heart to the Lord's bishops and had great reverence for them; nowadays they not only do not listen, but they persecute instead. Their forefathers endowed the monasteries and churches; the sons tear them to pieces and demolish them." - IV.48

How could Christianity survive another generation?

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