Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1714
Frankish King Chararicus is ordained presbyter against his will in 508. Account of Gregory of Tours, "Histories", Tours (Gaul), AD 573–594.
Post haec ad Chararicum dirigit. Quando autem cum Siagrio pugnavit, hic Chararicus, evocatus ad solatium Chlodovechi, eminus stetit, neutre adiuvans parti; sed eventum rei expectans, ut cui evenerit victuriam, cum illo et hic amicitia conligaret. Ob hanc causam Chlodovechus indignans, contra eum abiit. Quem circumventum dolis coepit cum filio vinctusque w totondit et Chararicum quidem presbiterum, filio vero eius diaconem ordinari iubet. Cumque Chararicus de humilitate sua conquireret et fleret, filius eius dixisse fertur: "In viridi", inquid, "lignum hae frondis succisae sunt nec omnino ariscunt, sed velociter emergent, ut crescere queant; utinam tam velociter qui haec fecit intereat!" Quod verbum sonuit in aures Chlodovechi, quod scilicet minarentur sibi caesariem ad crescendum laxare ipsum.
(ed. Krusch 1937: 91-92)
Clovis next marched against Chararic. When Clovis was fighting against Syagrius, this Chararic, who had been summoned to his aid, remained neutral, giving help to neither side and awaiting the issue of the conflict, so that he might offer the hand of friendship to whichever leader was victorious. This was the reason why Clovis now attacked him in his wrath. He hemmed Chararic in by some stratagem and made him prisoner. Chararic and his son were both bound and then Clovis had their hair cut short. He ordered Chararic to be ordained as a presbyter and he made his son a deacon. Chararic objected to this humiliation and burst into tears. His son is said to have exclaimed: "These leaves have been cut from wood which is still green and not lacking in sap. They will soon grow again and be larger than ever; and may the man who has done this deed perish equally quickly". The statement came to the ears of Clovis. As they were threatening to let their hair grow again and then to kill him, he had their heads cut off. When they were dead he took possession of their kingdom, their treasure and their people.
(trans. Thorpe 1974: 156, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


King Chararicus did not help Chlovis in ca 486. He was captured along with his son in 508.

Place of event:

  • Gaul

About the source:

Author: Gregory of Tours
Title: The History of the Franks, Gregorii episcopi Turonensis historiarum libri X, Histories
Origin: Tours (Gaul)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Gregory of Tours (Gaul) wrote his ten books of Histories (known commonly in English as the History of the Franks) during his episcopal reign in Tours between 573 and 594. The books vary in scope and length. The first book covers 5,596 years from the creation of the world to AD 397, that is the death of Saint Martin of Tours, Gregory`s predecessor in bishopric. The second book deals with the history of Gaul between 397 and 511, the latter being the year of death of King Clovis I. The third and fourth books cover the next 64 years till the death of Austrasian King Sigibert II in 575. Finally, the following six books describe exclusively the sixteen years from 575 to 591. Probably in 594, Gregory added the list of bishops of Tours in the end of the Histories, with brief accounts of their actions.
B. Krusch ed., Gregorii Episcopi Turonensis Historiarum Libri X [in:] Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingiciarum 1.1, Hannover 1884 (repr. 1951): 1­-537.
Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, trans. L. Thorpe, London 1974.


Non-Latin Origin - Frankish
Social origin or status - Monarchs and their family
Family life - Offspring
Food/Clothes/Housing - Hairstyle
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Reasons for ordination - Involuntary ordination
Attributes of clerical status
Public functions and offices before ordination
Relation with - Deacon
Relation with - Children
Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
Further ecclesiastical career - None
Administration of justice - Secular
Administration of justice - Capital punishment
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1714,