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Gregory of Tours:
Enslaving Noble Families, 511

Members of noble families and others were often reduced to servitude as a consequence of war. Sometimes it was impossible to redeem such captives by reason of the ransom demanded.

Book III, Chapter 15: But Theoderic and Childebert entered into a treaty and each took an oath that neither would wage war upon the other. They took hostages so that they might the more firmly adhere to what they had promised. Many sons of senatorial families were thus given but when a new quarrel broke out between the kings they were reduced to servitude on the fiscal domains. And those who had taken care of them now made slaves of them. Nevertheless many escaped by flight and returned to their own country, others were kept in servitude; among whom was Attalus, nephew of the blessed Gregory, Bishop of Langres, who was made a public slave and put in charge of the horses. He was the servant of a certain Frankish barbarian living in the district of Treves. Finally the blessed Gregory sent his men to inquire about the youth. They found him and offered gifts to his master, but he rejected them, saying, "One of such a family ought to be redeemed with ten pounds of gold."


J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1849), Vol. LXXI, p. 255; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 288-289.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998