“Let us set out the beginnings of the kings of the Franks and their origin and also the origins of the people and its deeds.”1.Liber Historiae Francorum, ch. 1.
Thus opens the Liber Historiae Francorum, one of the early medieval sources that relate an origin tale about how the people to be recounted came to their place in the world, and who their original ancestors were. I have found a half-dozen sources from the early medieval era that describe such origin stories. These stories come in two flavors: the first is a straight forward telling that usually starts with some sort of biblical, old testament epitome, continues with the Roman Empire, and then fits in the particular tribe or people.
This first model includes Gregory of Tours, who wrote in the sixth century. The first book of his History of the Franks is all distant history, beginning with the creation of the world. He paraphrases much of the genealogy of the Old Testament, then moves smoothly to the Roman emperors.2.Gregory of Tours, bk. 1. Gregory is usually a “just the facts” kind of writer; he doesn’t even include that fascinating story that Merovech, first king of the Merovingians, was fathered by a sea monster! So disappointing. Although he does include some other juicy tidbits.
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