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Friday, 15 January 2016

Clovis, Towards a new Chronology part seven.

 Cholodoeus Rex Bellorum - the battles of  Tolbiac, Vouille and the death of Clovis.

506 The Battle of Tolbiac.

Alaric settled into peace well, and after dealing with the the last of the rebellions in his Spanish territory in 506, he called his first Aquitanian Religious Council at Agde. There he courted the support of Catholic Bishops and elsewhere promulgated new laws (Wood p.146). The Arians were actually very sympathetic towards Catholicism in their territories at this time, the purges of Euric long in the past; Gregory's picture of them totally at odds with the evidence.
Clovis by this time had turned north-eastwards again as the Allemani had by then become a problem in the Frankish Germanic provinces and needed action. In concert with other Frankish kings, like Sigibert of Cologne in Germania Secunda, he fought one major battle at Zulpich near Cologne, otherwise known as the Battle of Tolbiac against the Alamanni, defeating them after a hard struggle and killing their king. Sigibert's leg was injured in this battle and he became known as Sigibert the Lame.
Archaeology supports placing the battle at this time. In the early sixth century bow brooches of the developed Alamannic base form also appeared on the left side of the Rhine, in Francia. These could be termed Alamannic-Frankish and were apparently worn by Alamannic, as well as Frankish women. This basic form was then evident from the Seine to eastern Bavaria, showing how Frankish and Alamannic dress merged in upper class women1.
Gregory claims that Clovis, during a difficult time in this battle, asked for help from Christ and that victory came from this request and that Clovis subsequently converted to Catholicism soon after. I think this can now be safely dispatched to the graveyard of hagiographical invention. Shanzer has shown that Gregory did not even know when the battle was2. We could however suggest that there may have been a tradition, after the battle, that as a Catholic king, Clovis did indeed ask for help from his Christian God. If so, Gregory just used this anecdote to link it with his created baptism story.
GC518 places the battle of Tolbiac in the fifteenth year of Clovis which is 503, just two or three years out of place, but CC511 in 496, which as many scholars have noted, is woefully unsupported.
Theoderic congratulated Clovis on this victory over the Alamanni in a letter composed by Cassiodorus in early 507 but asked Clovis to show leniency towards the survivors and refugees who had fled to Theoderic's territory and to refrain from attacking them further in a veiled threat :

Theoderic to Luduin, King the Franks.

“Congratulations on your recent victories over the Alamanni. The ties of affinity between us are powerful (Theodoric having married the sister of Clovis). You have stirred up the nation of the Franks to new and successful encounters. It is a memorable triumph that the impetuous Alaman should be struck with such terror as even to beg for his life. Let it suffice that that King with all the pride of his race should have fallen: let it suffice that an innumerable people should have been doomed either to the sword or to slavery. I recommends that your men do not harm the panic-stricken refugees who have fled to my lands. I have always found that those wars were prosperously waged, which were ended moderately.”

Gregory must have known this as he states : " When the king had forbidden further war, and praised his soldiers, he told the queen how he had won the victory by calling on the name of Christ3 Theoderic appears to have settled the Alamanni in Rhetia, a province just north of Italy.

507. The Battle of Vouillé.

With the defeat of the Alamans Clovis marched back into Gaul in 507 intent on taking on the Visigoths with the help of his grateful Frankish allies like Chloderic, the son of Sigibert the Lame. Mathisen and Sivan suggest that Clovis launched the offensive in the spring of 507 because Clovis had trouble crossing the river Vienne due to heavy rains and one of Clovis' soldiers was punished for stealing hay from a poor man in Tours, which would not have been a problem in the summer4. However, following the battle Clovis had wintered in Bordeaux before taking Anguoeleme and Toulouse in 508 and Gundobad had not reached Barcelona until 508 as well. If they had attacked in the Spring surely Clovis would have had time to take Toulouse and Anguoeleme unless we envisage a long siege of Bordeaux, which is not evident from the record. So although spring seems plausible an autumn or winter offensive cannot be ruled out, especially as Clovis would have recently defeated the Alamanni possibly in late 506 or early 507. King Theoderic wrote to Clovis trying to prevent the war :

Theoderic to Luduin, King the Franks.

“The affinities of kings ought to keep their subjects from the plague of war. We are grieved to hear of the paltry causes which are giving rise to rumours of war between you and our son Alaric, rumours which gladden the hearts of the enemies of both of you. Let me say with all frankness, but with all affection, just what I think: "It is the act of a passionate man to get his troops ready for action at the first embassy which he sends." Instead of that refer the matter to our arbitration. It would be a delight to me to choose men capable of mediating between you. What would you yourselves think of me if I could hear unmoved of your murderous intentions towards one another? Away with this conflict, in which one of you will probably be utterly destroyed. Throw away the sword which you wield for my humiliation. By what right do I thus threaten you? By the right of a father and a friend. He who shall despise this advice of ours will have to reckon us and our friends as his adversaries. I send two ambassadors to you, as I have to my son Alaric, and hope that they may be able so to arrange matters that no alien malignity may sow the seeds of dissension between you, and that your nations, which under your fathers have long enjoyed the blessings of peace, may not now be laid waste by sudden collision. You ought to believe him who, as you know, has rejoiced in your prosperity. No true friend is he who launches his associates, un-warned, into the headlong dangers of war.”

The argument between Alaric and Clovis, according to Theoderic, was a “paltry matter” and may have been the substandard debased coinage that Alaric had paid his tribute with. Alternatively it could have been Alaric's propensity to exile Catholic Bishops from Tours into captivity and death. In 507 Verus had suffered a similar fate to his predecessor Volusianus ten years earlier. Clovis was now Catholic and held Tours in great regard as Gregory implies and if Alaric had reneged on a pledge to treat the catholic Bishops with respect Clovis may have used this event as a cause for war. Theoderic also wrote to Alaric trying to prevent the war:

Theoderic to Alaric, King of the Visigoths

“Surrounded as you are by an innumerable multitude of subjects, and strong in the remembrance of their having turned back Attila, still do not fight with Clovis. War is a terrible thing, and a terrible risk. The long peace may have softened the hearts of your people, and your soldiers from want of practice may have lost the habit of working together on the battlefield. Ere yet blood is shed, draw back if possible. We are sending ambassadors to the King of the Franks to try to prevent this war between our relatives; and the ambassadors whom we are sending to you will go on to Gundibad, King of the Burgundians, to get him to interpose on behalf of peace. Your enemy will be mine also.”

Clovis appears to have approached Gundobad with an alliance, promising a division of Aquitanian possessions. This would explain the silence by Gundobad when Theoderic wrote to him in 507 trying to avert war. In this letter Theoderic repeats the arguments about the ill effects of war and says that it is Theoderic's part to moderate the angry impulses of 'regii juvenes.' As well as trying to enrol Gundobad against Clovis, Theoderic also wrote to the Thuringians5, Warni and Heruli seeking an alliance :

Theoderic to the Kings of the Heruli, Warni and Thuringians.

“If Clovis succeeds in his unprovoked aggression on Alaric, none of his neighbours will be safe. 'I will tell you just what I think: he who inclines to act without law is prepared to shake the kingdoms of all of us. 'Remember how often Alaric's father Euric gave you presents and staved off war from your borders. Repay to the son the kindness of the father. I send you two ambassadors, and I want you to join your representations to mine and Gundibad's, calling on Clovis to desist from his attacks on Alaric and seek redress from the law of nations, or else expect the combined attack of all of us, for this quarrel is really the quarrel of us all.”

Theoderic's efforts were to no avail, Clovis and Gundobad would launch a two pronged attack. Gundobad would attack southern Visigothic possessions in Provence and Narbonensis and Clovis would approach from the north to meet Alaric at Poitiers. Theoderic, tied up in Italy with the approach of a Byzantine fleet that harried the coast, could not help Alaric6. Before progressing to the battle, Clovis issued orders that protected Catholic Church lands and the rights of Bishops and this letter is further confirmation he was already a baptised Catholic. He wrote to them in around 508 to remind them of his orders :

King Clovis to the saint seigneurs and to the bishops very dignified by the apostolic see.

“The news having been announced concerning that which was done and ordered to all our army, before we entered the homeland of the Goths, this could not have escaped Your Beatitude.
Firstly, we order, in that which concerns the service of all the churches, that nobody should try to take away in any way either saint nuns or the widows of which we know that they were dedicated to the service of the Lord; that it may be the same for the clerics and the children of the aforementioned, both of clerics and of widows of which we know that they reside with them in their homes; the same, for the slaves of churches for whom it will be proven by the oaths of bishops that they were taken from the churches, the order to follow is to exercise no harm or violence towards them.
This is why we order, so that all this may be well known, that whoever among the aforementioned will have suffered the violence of captivity, either in the churches or outside of them, be totally and immediately given back. For the other lay prisoners that will have been taken outside of peace and that this be proven, we will not refuse letters written upon your decision for whom you will desire it. In effect, for those that will have been seized in our peace whether clerics or laymen, if you make it known to be true by letters signed with your seals, may they may be sent to us in any way and you will learn that the orders issued by us will confirm it.
Thus our people demand that, for all those that you judge worthy of your letters, you will not hesitate to say under oath in the name of God and with your benediction that this thing is true that needed to be proved, since the variations and falsifications of many were discovered to the point that, as it is written: “the just perish with the impious”. Pray for me, saint seigneurs and very dignified fathers by the apostolic see.”

Whether Alaric split his forces and hence lost the battle to Clovis due to this two pronged attack is unknown but he called upon the Auvernians to help, and the Catholic Apollinaris arrived with a force from Clermont to aid the Arian Visigoths at Vouillé. Clearly not a war of religion then. The Auvernians were slaughtered but Apollinaris escaped. Clovis at the tenth milestone from Poitiers7, crossed a river and prepared for battle. According to Gregory the armies held off for a while as they skirmished. Eventually battle was joined and the Visigoths with their allies soundly beaten. Alaric was killed in the engagement by Clovis but then Clovis himself was nearly killed by two Visigoths who struck at him with their lances8. His armour saved him, but injured, he was able to withdraw thanks to his fast horse.
The Burgundians took the cities of Provence (although Arles held out) and went into Spanish territory as far as Barcelona by 508. Clovis, taking Poitiers progressed southwards taking Bordeaux. He then wintered in Bordeaux, a very cold one where rivers all over Gaul froze, before taking Anguoeleme and Toulouse in 508. Gregory relates that the walls of Anguoeleme fell down as Clovis approached9. There was indeed a major earthquake in early 508 in northern Italy that may have been felt as far away as the Aquitanian fault around Anguoeleme. The Gallic Chronicle of 511 puts it this way :

“Alaric, King of the Goths, was killed by the Franks. Toulouse was burned by the Franks and Burgundians and Barcelona was taken by Gundobad, king of the Burgundians. King Gesalicus returned to Spain, his forces having experienced their worse defeat.”

According to Gregory, after Vouillé Clovis sent his son Theuderic to claim Albi, Rodez and Clermont for the Franks.

Dating Vouillé

How did the date for Vouille get so confused. Gregory in CC511 gives the correct 25th year so, 507. But the proposed interpolator's scheme to moved these events into a different time-scale. The date for the battle of Vouillé is very secure. The Gallic chronicle of 511 doesn't give dates, but places the battle before 511.
The fragmented Chronicle of Saragossa, which only exists as marginal notes in the chronicles of Victor of Tunnuna and John of Biclarum,10 bases its dates at this time on consular years and places Vouillé in 507. Other circumstantial evidence comes from the actions of King Theoderic, who successfully launched retaliatory attacks from mid 509 onwards against the new Burgundian and Frankish possessions in southern Gaul and Spain. By 511 he had taken over the regency of the Visigothic empire in Spain. The new Visigothic King Gessalic, the illegitimate son of Alaric, exiled in 508, had returned at this time but was then captured and killed by Theoderic. Theoderic had supported the other son of Alaric, the juvenile Amalaric, his grandson, but he was too young to rule. Also, Alaric had called for a synod at Toulouse in 507/8 which never took place. The earthquake that shook Anguoeleme in 508 is also evidence. There can be no question then that the battle took place in 507.
So why was there an effort to move the battle to 513? There were probably several reasons. The first answer may lie in efforts to confirm when Clovis was awarded the honorary consulate; the second, for it to agree with the interpolated five year segments, and the third, to hide the defeat of Clovis by the Arian Theoderic and his death in 511. Gregory states that Anastasius awarded the Consulate soon after the battle. The only year available in the west with no consul was 514. Cassiodorus, who on Theoderic's behalf had tried to prevent the war, was the eastern consul. Did the interpolator therefore have a consular list and decided to move it to 513/14 to satisfy his desire to place Clovis' subsequent `consulship' in an empty year?
He further states that the battle took place around the twenty-fifth year of Clovis' reign, which would be 513 in the interpolated chronology. The five year segments were the fifth year Syagrius, tenth year Thuringians, fifteenth year Alamanni and twenty-fifth Vouillé. He obviously missed out the twentieth year, 509, which would actually have been much closer to the real date for Vouillé. Why? Because this was the year Clovis was defeated by the Arian Theoderic in southern Gaul. As Clovis was being portrayed as the Catholic saviour and defeater of Arianism, he had to hide this defeat. In doing so Vouillé was sent to a position six years later, but this would create an hiatus in the chronology and cause much confusion.

508 Honorary Consulship and Patriciate

Gregory tells us that after the battle of Vouillé, Clovis was awarded an honorary consulate. By this time Clovis was in Tours near the Loire :

“Clovis received an appointment to the consulship from the emperor Anastasius, and in the church of the blessed Martin he clad himself in the purple tunic and chlamys, and placed a diadem on his head. Then he mounted his horse, and in the most generous manner he gave gold and silver as he passed along the way which is between the gate of the entrance [of the church of St. Martin] and the church of the city, scattering it among the people who were there with his own hand, and from that day he was called consul or Augustus. Leaving Tours he went to Paris and there he established the seat of his kingdom. There also Theuderic came to him”

Mathisen has argued that it would have included a Patricianship, suggesting that Clovis would need to be ranked as high or higher than Gundobad who had been awarded the Patriciate and this may well be the case11.
Mathisen also successfully deals with the diadem sent to pope Hormisdas by Clovis, showing it was an invention on Hincmar's part, that subsequently found it's way into the Liber Pontificalis.12

509. The revenge of Theoderic

Following the battle of Vouillé, King Theoderic sent his armies in late June 509 to retake the cities in Provence and Narbonensis, writing a stirring letter to his countrymen, here is a part :

Theoderic to all the Goths

“To the Goths a hint of war rather than persuasion to the strife is needed, since a warlike race such as ours delights to prove its courage. In truth, he shuns no labour who hungers for the renown of valour. Therefore with the help of God, whose blessing alone brings prosperity, we design to send our army to the Gauls for the common benefit of all, that you may have an opportunity of promotion, and we the power of testing your merits; for in time of peace the courage which we admire lies hidden, and when men have no chance of showing what is in them, their relative merits are concealed. We have therefore given our commander, Nandius, instructions to warn you that, on the eighth day before the kalends of next July, you move forward to the campaign in the name of God, sufficiently equipped, according to your old custom, with horses, arms, and every requisite for war. Thus will ye at the same time show that the old valour of your sires yet dwells in your hearts, and also successfully perform your King's command...”

The Burgundians bore the brunt of his anger losing not only Provence but territory in Burgundy. Clovis though appears to have hung onto his central possessions and Bordeaux. In 509 Clovis would have been busy defending as best he could his new Gallic possession against the wrath of Theoderic and having lost them returned to the north. Theoderic though appears to have abated once Provence and Narbonensis were re-taken, preventing Clovis direct access to the Mediterranean. He rewarded the citizens of Arles for their stoic defence and rebuilt other cities. Theoderic then in 510-511 exempted citizens of the newly repossessed provinces from tax. This shows the recovery of those provinces must have happened between June 509 and August 510:

King Theoderic to all the Provincials settled in Gaul.

“We wish promptly to relieve all the distresses of our subjects, and we therefore at once announce to you that the districts ravaged by the incursions of the enemy will not be called upon to pay tribute at the fourth Indiction [Sept. 510, to Aug. 511]. For we have no pleasure in receiving what is paid by a heavy-hearted contributor. The part of the country, however, which has been untouched by the enemy will have to contribute to the expense of our army. But a hungry defender is a weak defender.”

For his part, Clovis had made Paris the new capital of his expanded Kingdom in 508 and his son Theuderic joined him there.

511. The Council of Orleans13

After 509/10, with no further aggression from Theoderic, Clovis was to emulate Alaric and hold his first religious council at Orleans in 511. Inviting Bishops from many of his new Aquitanian possessions as well as those from the provinces of the three Lugdunensi and southern Belgica II he formulated with them how Arian churches would be converted and incorporated into the Catholic system of administration. After the successful council and the establishment of new Salic laws to deal with his expanded Frankish empire, Clovis then turned to establishing himself as the only King of the Franks. He was certainly “king by right of war”. This leaves a particular problem. How would Clovis conceivably fit in the consolidation of his empire as described by Gregory, where he kills off all the other kings and his relatives? We have seen that in 508/9 he was organising his victory and honorary Consulship at Tours and in 509 he was defending and losing his Aquitanian possessions to Theoderic, then by 510 was organising events that culminated in the Council of Orleans in 511. He was now at the height of his power, conqueror of Gaul and leader of an empire that would give birth to modern day France. Remigius commented that Clovis was “Regionum Praesul, custus patriae, gentium triumphato” – Leader of the Provinces, protector of his country, celebrated by his people.14

Attendees at the First Council of Orleans in 511
Bishops in bold attended the second council of Orleans in 533.
Ambiani (Amiens)
Andecavis (Angers)
Ecolisnum (Angoulême)
Auscis (Auch)
Autissiodoro (Auxerre)
Abrincates (Avranches)
Burdegala (Bordeaux)
Betoregas (Bourges)
Cadurcis (Cahors)
Carnotis (Chartres)
Arvernis (Clermont)
Constantia (Coutances)
Elosa (Eauze)
Ebroicas (Évreux)
Cenomannis (Le Mans)
Nammetis (Nantes)
Veromandui (Noyon)
Aurelianis (Orléans)
Oxommo (Uxuma)
Parisius (Paris)
Petrocoriis (Périgueux)
Redonis (Rennes)
Rutenis (Rodez)
Rotomo (Rouen)
Sanctonis (Saintes)
Silvanectis (Senlis)
Suessionis (Soissons)
Turonus (Tours)
Trecas (Troyes)
Vasaticae (Bazas)
Veneticae (Vannes)
Pectavae (Poitier)

511. The Death of Clovis, aged 38.

No Bishops from northern Belgica Secunda, Belgica Prima or Germania Secunda attended the Council in 511 showing that at that time they were not within his jurisdiction. So he, or someone, certainly did have to bring these territories under his power for them to be passed on to Theuderic his son. Gregory portrays these events as happening in the later years of his life but there are no later years in CC511 chronology to fit them in after 511. The answer may be that he had already bequeathed those territories to Theuderic before 511 and so they were now in his jurisdiction but why would he prevent Bishops going to the Council of his father? So we are left with only one option, Clovis did not undertake this consolidation mentioned by Gregory and this was instead carried out by his son Theuderic. It's possible Clovis had started the offensive with his son in 511 but was killed in an early battle with one of the kings. We know that by 521 Theuderic ruled these regions with his son Theudebert, as Danes under Chlochiliac had invaded and the young valiant Theudebert saw them off in a sea battle15.
It has always seemed a little strange that Clovis, a good Catholic king who had defended the faith successfully would then turn on his very kin that had brought him to power. Take away these questionable consolidations, that surely would have been mentioned in letters, especially the one where Remigius and Clovis are criticised16, and we are left with a good Christian king who strove to extend his Catholic kingdom, defeating pagans and Arian Visigoths along the way. In any event Clovis would not need to remove his relatives as he was the heriditary king of the Franks by rights anyway. This had been clear since the time of Chlodio when his two sons chose their alliances on his death. I proposed Childeric had inherited the kingship from Chlodio, and from Childeric so did Clovis.
There is an hiatus in the work of Gregory between 511 and 51617 and it must have been during this period that Theuderic and his borthers consolidated the Belgic and Germanic provinces under their rule. Gregory does not portray Theuderic in a good light following the death of Clovis, whereas he lavishes praise on Theudebert his son. This goes beyond the mere illegitimacy of Theuderic due to his concubine mother and suggests Gregory took these consolidations and applied them to Clovis to enlarge his accomplishments and in so doing lessen Theuderic's, weaving tales of sin and morals to pass on to his readers18. Theuderic's ruthlessness was also evident later in the 530's when he laid waste the Auvergne in revenge for them accidentally inviting in Childeric due to a rumour that Theuderic had been killed in battle.
Whether the consolidation happened the way Gregory relates is unlikely. Clovis' other children were too young to take part in this consolidation except perhaps Chlodomer, the eldest, who was around seventeen. For these reasons I will leave out the story of the consolidation as portrayed by Gregory. In reality most of the Kings, like Clovis, had probably passed away by this time and possibly sons too in the many battles. With many of them actual relatives of Clovis, the next in line to the portions of those territories could have fallen to one of Clovis' sons. If so Theudebert was quick to assert his authority and expand his kingdom eastwards.
Neither Gregory, or any other source, mentions how Clovis died. He had made many enemies on his way to total power. He would be about thirty-eight years of age. The only possibilities are that he died as a result of his wars against the other northern kings, as above, or he suffered an illness and died, or that he was assassinated, usually by poison, a typical Roman execution. That Gregory is silent about his death suggests that he died as a result of war against pagans or war or poisoning by Arians, Theoderic the Great comes to mind. Take your pick.

1Fries-Knoblach, Janine. Steuer, Heiko. Hines, John. The Baiuvarii and Thuringi: An Ethnographic Perspective Boydell Press, 2014, Ch.8, Max Martin, Ethnic Identities as Constructions of Archaeology(?) The Case of the Thuringi, p.253
2Ibid Shanzer, Dating the baptism of Clovis. pg.52 Greg states “at some time or other
3Greg. Histories II.30
4Ibid Ferreiro, Mathisen, Sivan, 2012 p.60
5As mentioned previously, the Thuringians would not have been approached if they, like the Alamanni had recently been defeated, so the Thuringian battle must be placed much earlier.
6Ibid Daley, 1994, p.644. “Meanwhile the imperial fleet approached the Italian coastline. Its arrival prevented him from moving north in time to aid his son-in-law when Clovis invaded the Visigothic kingdom”
7I agree with Mathisen that Vouile is the correct location for the battle. Ibid Ruricus of Limages P.17
8According to Gregory.
9Greg. Histories II.37
10Ibid Collins p.33
11Mathisen, Ralph W., Clovis, Anastasius, and Political Status in 508, C.E.The Frankish Aftermath of the Battle of Vouillé. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
12Ibid Mathisen :“Likewise, in the 9th century Hincmar of Reims, in his life of Remigius, presented his own version of Gregory’s account, in which Gregory’s diadem likewise was replaced by a “jewelled golden crown.”Hincmar then took the story one step further, continuing, “In the time of the pontificate of the sainted Hormisdas, the aforementioned glorious King Clovis sent to Saint Peter, at Remigius’s suggestion, a crown, of gold with gems, which was usually called ‘Kingship’ [Regnum or Regnus].” This report is repeated in the Liber pontificalis, which reports, for the papacy of Hormisdas”
13 Table of attendees and their sees is in the appendix.
14Delgado, Noel Lazaro, Ph.D The Grand Testamentum of Remigius of Reims: Its authenticity, juridical acta and bequeathed property University of Minnesota, 2008 P.30. Alternative “governor of the region, guardian of the land and conqueror of the pagans
15 Bachrach, Bernard S. Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751 Minnesota University Press , 1972, p.18
16 Criticised by Heraclius, Leontianus and Theodosius. To be discussed below in chapter on the Bishops and full letter is in the appendix.
17Book III of Histories starts in 516 with the death of Gundobad.
18 The greed and patricide of Chloderic, the cowardice of Chararic and benevolence of Clovis and the debauchery of Ragnachar and greed of his Lords.

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