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
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
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