Historical setting: 562 C.E. Gaul, remembering 497 C.E.
I argue what I remember with the doctor. “I do remember Nantes when it was an important Roman shipyard and a thriving port.”
“It’s the Emperor’s dream that even here in Gaul the Empire will again be Roman. The wish is called the ‘Justinian recovery.’ Perhaps you heard this from an old great-grandmother who would tell you tales of the magnificent Roman cities of times past.”
“Doctor, I’m sure what I saw was Nantes. Seeing it now, I can clearly recall.”
“Old stories abound. Before Clovis won the wars for the Franks, all along the Saxony Shore every Roman port had a thriving civitas with roads and bridges. My grandparents talked often of the old Roman times when they were young. You have, no doubt, heard stories.”
I know the reason for this rot and disrepair. It is Clovis himself. Clovis, the King of the Franks plunders everything for his own selfish gain. But I try to stay far away from the politics and wars in the writing room of the monestary. How can I explain?
“You know Doctor, Clovis uses every sort of treachery and one-by-one subdues each king even of other Frankish tribes. Some pay him tribute. Regardless, in the end, they’re all assassinated or executed.”
The doctor argues. “Clovis the King was of another time? [Footnote] Brother Lazarus, I’m telling you, these tales of the first king bringing the Franks together as one winning people are just stories. If they happened ever, it was long before you or I were born.”
He says I’m confused yet he tells me nothing of a time that is now if it isn’t then. And I so wish to weave together enough of remembering that I may find my way back to the familiar places and people. The new bandages around my head now allow me to see clearly, and they leave enough space that I can touch my head and find that, indeed, my hair is tonsured as a monk’s. The doctor notices my hand exploring my tonsure.
“Don’t touch the wound.” He must be watching me every minute just so he can worry over the wraps that he, himself wove from the nest of gauze.
“I wasn’t touching the wound. I was just touching to notice that my hair and beard are indeed tonsured, and only slightly growing back. The bare part is fuzzy now. So I am trying to think of a monastery to set my memory right.”
[footnote] Gregory of Tours, Bishop of Tours, bshp. 571-595 wrote the “History of the Franks” c 594 CE. [(under a different title) Translated by Ernest Brehaut in reprint for First Rate Publishers.] The Christian conversion of Clovis was significant to the Christian history of Europe. Gregory’s history is clearly flavored with his own superstitions and biases. Most interesting to this blogger is that Gregory included the deceit and power-plays Clovis used while also presenting this first king as a worthy Christian saint.