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A. Tyrrell
Merovingian Letters and Letter Writers

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XXXI+386 p., 2 b/w tables, 178 x 254 mm, 2019
ISBN: 978-2-503-58358-7
Languages: English
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Retail price: EUR 90,00 excl. tax
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Online content: https://www.brepolsonline.net/action/showBook?doi=10.1484/M.PJML-EB.5.116644
This book, useful for both scholars and students of Late Antique Gaul, is a survey of 600 plus Latin letters written during the Merovingian era (ca. 500-750) by bishops and other clergy, highly-placed laymen, women, popes, and royalty. Various aspects of the correspondence are discussed, including amicitia, literary circles, gift-giving, letter-bearers, Scripture usage, and women’s writing. An appendix supplies English summaries of the letters, many of which have not received translation into any modern language.

Primary sources from the Frankish kingdom during the Merovingian era (ca. 500-750) are few and far between. This volume is a survey of more than 600 Latin letters, selected by the author, that were exchanged between persons in Gaul during that time period. Many are almost entirely unknown and have never been translated into any modern language. While most of the letters were authored by clerics and highly-placed laymen, a small but significant number was composed by women, both religious and lay.

For elite individuals, letter networks were the social media of their day. Letters were written to maintain the bonds of friendship, to seek or extend patronage and political alliance, to instruct, rebuke, defend, console, and recommend. Many have come down to us in collections; others are strays embedded in other texts or deperdita that come to light only in the replies of others.

This book is a valuable tool for scholars and students alike. In seven readable chapters, the author discusses numerous aspects of the letters and explores how they fit with, and enlarge upon, the better-known sources of the period such as the works of Gregory of Tours, Fredegar, the anonymous History of the Franks (LHF), and various saints’ vitae. An appendix containing a summary of each letter in translation renders these texts more readily accessible to the English speaker.
Alice Tyrrell received her Master’s and PhD degrees in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. She is currently an independent scholar living in Victoria, BC.
Table of Contents

Introduction and Timeline of Letter Collections

Chapter 1: Amicitia Networks Part 1: Sidonius Apollinaris to Nicetius of Trier and Friends
Chapter 2:  Amicitia Networks Part 2: Venantius Fortunatus and the Later Sixth Century
Chapter 3: Amicitia Networks Part 3: Columbanus to Boniface and Lull
Chapter 4: Kings and Popes
Chapter 5: Women’s Letters
Chapter 6: Bearers and Gifts
Chapter 7: Letter Writers and the Bible

Conclusion
Appendix: Summaries of Individual Merovingian Letters

Review

"Yet, ultimately, the nature of the book as more of a summary of material than a source of novel argumentation will mean that it is most useful to postgraduates and upper level undergraduates seeking to go beyond the historical narratives. For this target audience, though, the book's importance cannot be overstated. Tyrrell provides a lucid and clear overview of a vast array of letters, many of which are only available in Latin. In this regard, her several translations - mostly partial - and the appendix summarizing the individual letters will be welcomed by those who want to use these letters but may not yet have the language skills to tackle the MGH editions." (Richard Broome, in Sehepunkte, 19.12, 2019)

 

Interest Classification:
Classics, Ancient History, Oriental Studies
Latin literature
Early Christian & Patristic Latin literature
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : main subdisciplines
Cultural & intellectual history
Medieval History (400-1500) : subperiods
Merovingian & Carolingian period

This publication is also distributed by: Proquest e-books, ISD, Marston
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