Austrasian Letters
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Austrasian Letters

The Austrasian Letters (Latin: Epistulae Austrasicae) is a collection of 48 Latin letters sent from or to Austrasia between the 470s and 590s. The collection is transmitted in a single 9th-century manuscript from the Abbey of Lorsch.[1]

The collection was probably assembled in Metz in the late 6th century.[2] It has been attributed to Bishop Magneric of Trier, who was a counsellor of King Childebert II in the 580s.[1] It is generally thought that the compilation was made for the use of the Austrasian chancery. Recently, however, it has been argued that the compilation was only brought together in the early 9th century at Lorsch.[3]

The letters give insight into the workings of Frankish diplomacy and life at the Austrasian court. The letters give insights into the literacy of the kings' inner circle, along with snippets of information not supplied by other sources of the period. They provide more contemporary evidence for the reign of Clovis I than any other source. The letters are particularly useful in illuminating the complex diplomatic relations between Austrasia and the Byzantine Empire.[4] A majority of the letters concern this relationship.[1]

Table of letters

Number Sender[5] Addressee[5] Date[6] Notes
1 Remigius of Reims Clovis I c.509?[i]
2 Remigius of Reims Clovis I 482/3[ii]
3 Remigius of Reims Heraclius, Leo and Theodosius 512
4 Remigius of Reims Falco of Tongres c.511?-533[iii]
5 Florianus Nicetius of Trier 543/552[iv]
6 Florianus Nicetius of Trier c.550
7 Nicetius of Trier Justinian I c.550-553[v]
8 Nicetius of Trier Chlodosuinth 561/567[vi]
9 Germanus of Paris Brunhild 575
10 Aurelian of Arles Theudebert I c.534 or 546-548
11 Mapinius of Reims Nicetius of Trier c.550 Only known source for the Council of Toul (550).
12 Dynamius of Provence Chaming about or before 580?
13 Gogo Chaming c.561?[vii]
14 Venantius Fortunatus Magneric of Trier c.566/585[viii]
15 Mapinius of Reims Vilicus of Metz c.542/549[ix]
16 Gogo Traseric of Toul c.565-before 581
17 Dynamius of Provence Vilicus of Metz 561-568[x]
18 Theudebald Justinian I 548/9[xi]
19 Theudebert I Justinian I 536-538[xii]
20 Theudebert I Justinian I 540-545[xii]
21 Rufus of Martigny Nicetius of Trier c.550
22 Gogo Peter of Metz after 568[xiii]
23 Auspicius of Toul Arbogast of Trier c.472-474[xiv]
24 unknown Nicetius of Trier 561
25 Childebert II Maurice 587-588[xv] These letters pertain to the embassy sent to the Byzantine Empire in late 587 or early 588.[7]
26 Brunhild Maurice 587-588
27 Brunhild Athanagild 587-588[xv]
28 Childbert I Athanagild 587-588[xv]
29 Brunhild Anastasia 587-588[xv]
30 Brunhild Anastasia 587-588[xv]
31 Childebert II John IV of Constantinople 587-588[xv]
32 Childebert II Honoratus the Apocrisarius 587-588[xv]
33 Childebert II Domitian of Melitene 587-588[xv]
34 Childebert II Theodore the Magister 587-588[xv]
35 Childebert II John the Quaestor 587-588[xv]
36 Childebert II Megas the Curator 587-588[xv]
37 Childebert II Paul 587-588[xv]
38 Childebert II Italica the Patrician 587-588[xv]
39 Childebert II Venantius the Patrician 587-588[xv]
40 Romanus (?) Childebert II 590[xvi]
41 Romanus Childebert II 590[xvi]
42 Maurice Childebert II 585?[xvii]
43 Fortunatus Theodosius 585 These letters pertain to the embassy sent to the Byzantine Empire in 585-586 with the possible exception of no. 46, which more likely pertains to that of 589.[7]
44 Brunhild Anastasia 585
45 Childebert II John IV of Constantinople 585
46 Childebert II Lawrence II of Milan 589[xviii]
47 Childebert II Maurice 585[xv]
48 Gogo Grasulf of Istria before 581?
  1. ^ before 486?
  2. ^ 486?
  3. ^ perhaps as early as 500
  4. ^ 550/552
  5. ^ before 565
  6. ^ before 568?
  7. ^ before 575?
  8. ^ c.568
  9. ^ c.540-550
  10. ^ 542-568
  11. ^ 547
  12. ^ a b 534-547
  13. ^ 568?
  14. ^ c.460
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o 584
  16. ^ a b 585
  17. ^ 590
  18. ^ 585 or 587


  • Gundlach, Wilhelm, ed. (1892). "Epistolae Austrasicae". Epistolae Merowingici et Karolini Aevi I. Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Epistolae 3. Berlin. pp. 110-153.
  • Malaspina, Elena, ed. (2001). Il Liber epistolarum della cancelleria austrasica (sec. V-VI). Rome: Herder.


  1. ^ a b c Dumézil & Loseby 2018.
  2. ^ McCormick 1991.
  3. ^ Barrett & Woudhuysen 2016, p. 3.
  4. ^ Barrett & Woudhuysen 2016, pp. 4-5.
  5. ^ a b Names of senders and addressees are drawn from the table in Barrett & Woudhuysen 2016, pp. 50-52.
  6. ^ Dates are mainly those of Malaspina 2001 drawn from the table in Barrett & Woudhuysen 2016, pp. 53-57; alternative dates in footnotes. Question marks indicate uncertainty.
  7. ^ a b Barrett & Woudhuysen 2016, p. 11 n29, citing Goubert 1951.


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