The Liber Historiae Francorum – a Model for a New Frankish Self-confidence

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The Liber Historiae FrancorumThe Liber Historiae Francorum – a Model for a New Frankish Self-confidence

Philipp Dörler

Networks and Neighbours, Volume One, Number One (2013)

The Liber historiae Francorum was influenced by different historiographic traditions. In this paper, I pursue two arguments. First, I believe that the author of the Liber historiae Francorum juxtaposes and slightly transforms these traditions for his or her own purpose, which results in creating a new Frankish self-conception in which the Franks have utterly emancipated themselves from the Romans. This in particular can be observed in two previously somewhat neglected examples: the author’s use of the legend of Troy and his or her use of the Bible. Secondly, by doing so, the text responds to other texts within a network and therefore represents a competing model of a Frankish identity.




The Liber Historiae Francorum (hereinafter ‘LHF’) is a historiographical text that was most probably composed by an anonymous Neustrian author in the early eighth century AD. The text lays out the events from the origins of the Franks to the inauguration of King Theuderic IV in 720 AD from a Neustrian perspective.1 It is an important source for the understanding of the late Merovingian period as it was written in the time shortly before the transition of power from the Merovingian to the Carolingian dynasty when Charles Martel prevailed as princeps in the Frankish empire. Written from a Merovingian perspective, it already mentions the ancestors of the Carolingians, but characterises the period as far less chaotic than later Carolingian sources do.2 This although (or precisely because) the Frankish nobility plays an important role along with the Merovingian kings. Indeed, Gerberding argues that the balance of power between the Frankish kings and the Franci is the main subject of the text.

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Sharan Newman