Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1791
During the absence of Bishop Gregory of Tours (Gaul) in his city, Presbyter Riculfus seizes the episcopal power. He is then sent to a monastery, but escapes to Nantes (Gaul), AD 580. Account of Gregory of Tours, "Histories", Tours (Gaul), AD 580-594.
Nos vero cum Dei gratia Turonus reversi, invenimus ecclesiam conturbatam per Riculfum presbiterum. Nam hic sub Eufronio episcopo de pauperibus provocatus, archidiaconus ordinatus est. Exinde ad presbiterium admotus, recessit ad propria. Semper elatus, inflatus, praesumptiosus; nam, me adhuc commorante cum rege, hic, quasi iam esset episcopus, in domo ecclesiae ingreditur impudenter, argentum describit ecclesiae reliquasque res sub sua redegit potestate. Maiores clericos muneribus ditat, largitur vineas, prata distribuit; minoribus vero fustibus plagisque multis etiam manu propria adfecit, dicens: "Recognoscite dominum vestrum, qui victoriam de inimicis obtinuit, cuius ingenium Turonicam urbem ab Arvernis populis emundavit"; ignorans miser, quod praeter quinque episcopos reliqui omnes, qui sacerdotium Turonicum susceperunt, parentum nostrorum prosapiae sunt coniuncti. Illud saepe suis familiaribus dicere erat solitus, hominem prudentem non aliter nisi in periuriis quis decipere possit. Sed cum me reverso adhuc despiceret nec ad salutationem meam, sicut reliqui cives fecerant, adveniret, sed magis me interficere minitaret, cum consilio provincialium eum in monasterio removeri praecipio. Cum que ibidem artius distringeretur, intercedentibus Felicis episcopi missis, qui memoratae causae fautor extiterat, circumventum periuriis abbatem, fuga labitur et usque ad Felicem accedit episcopum, eum que ille ambienter collegit, quem execrare debuerat.
(ed. Krusch 1937: 262)
When, by the grace of God, we [i.e. Gregory of Tours] returned to Tours, we found the Church disordered by Presbyter Riculfus. This man had been raised up from the poor by Bishop Eufronius [Gregory's predecessor in bishopric], and ordained an archdeacon. After his promotion to presbyterate, he showed his true nature. He was always above himself, inflated, and presumptuous. When I was detained by the king [Gregory was accused of conspiring against Queen Fredegundis, see [1790]], Riculfus had the impudence to enter the church-house as if he were already the bishop. He made an inventory of all the silver [argentum describit, i.e., probably, liturgical vessels] and assumed control over the rest of the Church property. He enriched the higher clergy (maiores clerici) with gifts, granted them vineyards, and assigned meadows (prata) to them. To the lower [clergy] he appealed with sticks and scourges [administering blows] with his own hand, saying: "Know your lord, who has obtained victory over his enemies, by whose ingenuity the city of Tours has been purged of the people from Clermont [i.e. Gregory and his supporters]". This poor man was unaware that, apart from five, all other bishops who held episcopacy (sacerdotium) in Tours were related to the families of our [i.e. Gregory's] relatives. Riculfus often used to say to his trusted friends (familiaribus) that one can deceive a prudent man only by perjury. But when I returned he continued to treat me with contempt. He did not come to welcome me (ad salutationem meam), as all the other citizens did, but rather threatened to kill me. I took the advice of the other bishops from my province and ordered him to be sent to the monastery. Although he was kept there under close surveillance, by the intercession of the servants of Bishop Felix [of Nantes], who supported the conspiracy outlined above, Riculfus tricked the abbot by perjury and made his escape. He went to join Bishop Felix, who should have excommunicated (execrare) him, but instead welcomed him warmly.
(trans. Thorpe 1974: 321-322, altered by J. Szafranowski)


These events took place in the year 580. Presbyter Riculfus rose to prominence due to collaboration with Count Leudastis of Tours, see [1790].

Place of event:

  • Gaul
  • Tours

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.


Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Usurping episcopal power
Ecclesiastical administration - Administering Church property
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Deacon
Relation with - Lower cleric
Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
Administration of justice - Exile
Monastic or common life
Episcopal ambitions
Conflict - Violence
Administration of justice - Imprisonment
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1791,