THE "HISTORIA EPITOMATA" (THIRD BOOK) OF THE "CHRONICLE" OF FREDEGAR: AN ANNOTATED TRANSLATION AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF INTERPOLATED MATERIAL
The Historia Epitomata, a summary of Books II-VI of the sixth century A.D. History of the Franks by Gregory, Bishop of Tours, is the third of four "books" composing a Chronicle attributed to Fredegarius Scholasticus. Little is definitely known of this Fredegar, but he would seem to have been a layman who may have served in some official capacity in the Merovingian kingdom of Burgundy in the first half of the seventh century A.D.
Fredegar's epitome is generally in accordance with Gregory's History, though much material has of necessity been omitted in the process of condensation, particularly material relating to ecclesiastical affairs. But Fredegar has also included in his epitome material not found in Gregory's work; specifically, he has interpolated into the Historia Francorum twenty-three bits of information, some very short, such as a person's name or a location, and others quite lengthy.
In Chapter I, Fredegar's Historia Epitomata is translated, for the first time, into English, the translation is annotated to fill out the often spare recounting of events, and the twenty-three interpolations are noted. In Chapter II each interpolation is examined and its validity, importance, and likely source(s) determined.
Only the first of the twenty-three interpolations was found to be historically improbable, though it and six others (2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 16) were probably part of the oral history (legend) of the early Franks (interestingly, the style and content of these particular segments are reminiscent of various Greco-Roman literary genres, rather than traditional annalistic history). Five other interpolated segments (12, 13, 17, 18, 19) seem to have come from the works of Greek, Gallo-Roman, or Germanic historians, some of which are extant, and the remaining eleven were probably found in lost documents once contained in ecclesiastical or royal archives in Burgundy and Austrasia.
Therefore, since Book III of Fredegar's Chronicle has value both for historical and literary studies, it helps to rank him with Gregory among important Frankish historiographers.