Friendship in the Merovingian Kingdoms
Friendship in the Merovingian Kingdoms
Venantius Fortunatus and His Contemporaries
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
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Table of Contents
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Chapter 1: The Friendly Patron and His Client
Chapter 2: Episcopal and Lay Building Projects
Chapter 3: Friendships with Merovingian Women
Chapter 4: Writing for Royalty
Chapter 5: Literary Friendships and Elite Identity
Select Bibliography

Reviews and Features

"Williard provides a vivid and detailed picture of Merovingian society, not only of the friends in high places that belonged to the literary network of Venantius Fortunatus, but also of the complex and heterogeneous society to which they belonged. […] This is the best study on Merovingian history and society I have read in a while."
- Helmut Reimitz, Professor of History, Princeton University

Hope Williard

Friendship in the Merovingian Kingdoms

Venantius Fortunatus and His Contemporaries

This book explores how one early medieval poet survived and thrived amidst the political turbulence of sixth century Gaul—with a little help from his friends. Born in northern Italy, Venantius Fortunatus made his career writing for and about members of the Merovingian elite. Although he is no longer dismissed as an opportunistic poetaster who wrote undistinguished flattery for undeserving kings and aristocrats, his work remains unduly neglected. This book reframes Fortunatus as a writer uniquely suited to his times, a professional poet who addressed his contemporaries’ needs and wishes for the prestige and sophistication of Classical culture. His poems and letters enabled his aristocratic patrons to situate themselves in networks, which they made and maintained in order to navigate a post-imperial but not post-Roman world. It makes an important contribution to our understanding of friendship in the Middle Ages and offers a fresh look at the Frankish kingdoms of Merovingian Gaul.
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Hope Williard

Hope Williard researches the letters, messages, messengers, and travel which enabled medieval people to make and maintain connections with each other. She has held visiting research fellowships in Manchester and Oxford. She currently works as an academic subject librarian and associate lecturer at the University of Lincoln, UK.