Historical setting: 589 C.E. Reims
The edges of kingdoms that meet in this vague land we travel may explain Reims. Like the aristocratic heritage of bishops, this city itself is steeped in ancient politics. It’s the legendary place of baptism and coronation of Clovis and Kings of the Franks to follow. Now the bishop is Egidius. But he isn’t here today to receive this messenger in person. So I must trust his assistant to pass the father’s letter along to him. The assistant tells me the bishop is off with an envoy of dukes and royals visiting kings, not with words of peace in the name of God, but with rumors and accusations. Apparently Egidius has far worse issues with the kings and bishops of these lands than does Father Columbanus.
The assistant doesn’t tell me this. But Ana learns of it in her inquiries about medical books and women practitioners. She doesn’t find what she is looking for here, but rumors run rampant through huddles of women who aren’t stopped from gossip-mongering by any rules of silence or by the decorum of royal politics.
Ana said it is rumored that Bishop Egidius had been touting a close friendship with the late King Chilperic. That’s the king, of course, who made the commoner Bertigan into a count and gave him land. It was not unusual for Chilperic to give away lands, so part of this rumor could have merit. But I know Bishop Gregory of Tours considered himself to be that King’s bishop because Chilperic was King of Nuestria. Then, of course, he and Chilperic had that little tiff over the essence of Trinity. But I’m certain Gregory wouldn’t want to hear that this other bishop, the Bishop of Reims claimed to be good friends of Chilperic. And now Childebert’s kingdom of Austrasia is trying to lay claim to villas that once had belonged to Chilperic as the dead king’s riches are divvied up. It is discovered that Bishop Egidius claims some of these valuable estates were gifted to him. He even seems to have the personal papers from Chilperic that support this. So the kings and even Gregory Bishop of Tours are all wondering how it happens that Egidius’s folio is so fattened by gifts from a king too dead to speak for himself. There seems to be a question of signatures. [footnote]
In these times kings and bishops are both ruling aristocracy. Kings wage wars with atrocities. Bishops wage wars with rumor.
[footnote] In 599 Egidius was defrocked and exhiled to the city now known as Strasbourg, found guilty of conspiracy to assassinate King Guntram’s heir. The notion that Egidius had forged Chilperic’s signature on the documents proving the gifting of the villas has not been substantiated by any source but the “History of the Franks” by Bishop Gregory of Tours and he had some skin in that game. Information for this note is from Gregory of Tours: the Merovingians, edited and translated by Alexander Callander Murray, Broadview Press, 2006. Page 227