Historical setting: 562 C.E. Gaul, but Lazarus is remembering Clovis in 495
“Why do I remember bits of times that make an argument with the kind doctor? I want to refute these politics that Dr. Neifus doesn’t even think belong in this generation. I defend.
“That King, Clovis, has no respect for the faith.”
“Brother Lazarus how can you think the first baptised Christian King of the Franks didn’t respect the Church? He is a saint you know.”
I should keep these thoughts to myself. I can hardly imagine Clovis a saint. Clovis is always blundering into sacramental things in a most unholy way. Some of us see his antics as heresy; others excuse power plays as signs of greatness. We have to wonder if it is by pagan superstition or by holy miracle that he declared himself Christian in the first place. He claims to have made his raucous style of negotiation directly with Christ.
— [His prayer] If You grant me victory over these enemies, and if I experience the power people dedicated to Your name claim… then I shall believe in You… — [Footnote 1]
He assumes God is like any other crowned head and is soon going to pay him écuage to keep the peace; which of course Clovis doesn’t keep. He only sells his promise then breaks it and executes his victim. He hasn’t the slightest thought of Jesus’s pacifism. He plays God like a chess piece. Dear God, surely you must already know this, and yet…
Now the doctor is questioning my knowledge of the King’s commitment. “How can you say the first Christian King of the Franks didn’t respect the Church?”
I’m sure I saw this myself when I was working at the inks. The king’s guards came into the monastery where we were working. I can only try to explain to the doctor what I saw.
“The King’s guards brought Clovis’s captives into the monastery. Chararic and Chararic’s son were said to be disloyal to the king. Clovis demanded they both be shaven and shorn with the monk’s tonsure. Then the king demanded Chararic be ordained as a priest and his son as a deacon. Doctor, how holy could be those Christian orders? Clovis only wanted to humiliate Chararic before their executions. It was nothing like a king respectful of Christianity. Really Doctor, I do remember some things.”[Footnote 2]
“Lazarus, my boy, you need to give yourself time to heal. Let not the ancient times bother you now.”
(Come back Tuesday, April 28)
Footnote 1 Gregory of Tours: The Merovignians edited and translated by Murray, Alexander Callander, series edited by Paul E. Dutton, “Readings in medieval Civilization and Cultures: X, Petersborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2006. p. 10.
Footnote 2 Ibid. p. 20.