French History

Einhard: Life of Charlemagne

Coin of Charlemagne. Image by Wikipedian PHGCOM

The Life of Charlemagne or Life of Charles the Great (Latin: Vita Karoli Magni) is a biography of the great Frankish ruler and founder of the Holy Roman Empire. It was completed some time between the death of its subject in 814 CE and the death of its author in 840.

Einhard was a prominent member of the Frankish court, and adhered closely to classical models in a way which vindicated Charlemagne's imperial status. His work is nevertheless still well-regarded as providing a wealth of authentic detail.

The Life of Charlemagne at online book stores
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Free online texts
English translations
Gutenberg: Early Lives of Charlemagne, translated by A. J. Grant. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: Life of the Emperor Karl the Great, translated by William Glaister (1877 edition). EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: Early Lives of Charlemagne by Einhard and the Monk of St Gall, translated by A. J. Grant. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
Wikisource: Vita Karoli Magni, translated by A. J. Grant. HTML and other formats.
Latin texts
Internet Archive: Einhard's Life of Charlemagne (1915 Clarendon edition). EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
Wikisource: Vita Karoli Magni. HTML and other formats.

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Jean Froissart: Chronicles

WPuserPaulHermans-Chroniques_de_Froissart_(15e_eeuw)_-_Slag_op_het_BeverhoutsveldThe Chronicles (French: Chroniques) of Jean Froissart are a prose history centred on the first part of the Hundred Years' War between England and France but incorporating developments across Western Europe between the 1320s and the end of the Fourteenth Century.

In his early life, Froissart was a courtly poet, patronised by Philippa of Hainault, wife of the English King Henry III. In the Chronicles, he turned to a prose form which was beginning to become the accepted medium for serious history. Nevertheless, his work is animated by the chivalric spirit of earlier romances.

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Rousseau: Confessions

Jean_Jacques_and_Mdlle._De_Boufflers_Confessions_Aldus_Pb202The Confessions is an autobiographical work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1765 and 1770. The first volume was published in 1782, four years after his death, while a second appeared in 1789.

The work was the first secular autobiography inaugurating a form which was soon widely imitated.

The Confessions at online book stores
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Free online texts
English translations
Gutenberg: The Confessions(expurgated translation). EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: The Confessions. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Confessions, translated by W. Conyngham Mallory. EPUB, MOBI and HTML formats.
Wikisource: The Complete Confessions, translated by S.W. Orson. HTML and other formats.
French texts
Wikisource: Les Confessions. HTML and other formats.
Other Resources
Librivox: The Confessions. Free public domain audiobook.
Wikipedia: Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Confessions (Rousseau)
Further reading
Bloom's Western Canon: The Confessions is listed.
French Language resources 


Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France

Edmund_Burke_by_James_NorthcoteReflections on the Revolution in France is a 1790 work by Edmund Burke. The best-known critique of the revolution, it was originally written with a polemical purpose which deployed elements of satire as well as more considered arguments in attacking the revolutionaries and their British supporters.

Although many of Burke's factual claims have warranted close historical scrutiny, the influence of his ideas about the organic nature of society and the dangers of radical change based on abstract theory, have nevertheless made the Reflections a founding text of modern conservative thought.

Reflections on the Revolution in France at online book stores
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Free online texts
Early Modern Texts: Reflections on the Revolution in France, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.
Gutenberg: The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol III. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: On the Sublime and Beatiful, Reflections on the French Revolution, Letter to a Noble Lord. Harvard Classics edition. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): Reflections on the Revolution in France. EPUB, MOBI and HTML formats.
Wikisource: Reflections on the Revolution in France. HTML and other formats.

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Gregory of Tours: History of the Franks

Saint_Grégoire_Sacramentaire_de_Marmoutier_à_l'usage_d'AutunThe Ten Books of Histories (Latin: Decem Libri Historiarum), more commonly known as The History of the Franks (Latin: Historia Francorum) are the major work of St Gregory of Tours (538-594 CE).

The first major historian of post-Roman Western Europe, Gregory relates the Christianization of Gaul and the rule of Merovingian Frankish kings down to his own time. He is less concerned with the interests of the Frankish Kingdom as such than with those of the church, and some modern historians have therefore seen the History of the Franks title, which was not Gregory's own, as something of a misnomer.

The History of the Franks at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Internet Archive: History of the Franks, translated by Ernest Brehaut (1916). Multiple formats.

Internet History Sourcebook: History of the Franks, Books I-X, abridged translation by Ernest Brehaut (1916). HTML format.

Latin Library: Libri Historiarum. Latin text. HTML format.

Wikisource: Historiarum Francorum libri X. Latin text. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

Wikimedia Commons: Division of Gaul  511 CE, map of Gaul at the death of King Clovis.

Wikipedia: Gregory of Tours

YouTube: Clovis and The Franks. YaleCourses. The Early Middle Ages, 284--1000 (HIST 210), with Paul Freedman.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Virgil: The Aeneid

Sallust: The War with Catiline - one of the classical works known to have been read by Gregory.

Martianus Capella

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans.

Latin Resources: Online materials for learning Latin.


Julius Caesar: Commentaries on the Gallic War

ButlerGaulCaesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War are his account of his campaigns of 58-50 BC. The apparently objective, third person style of the commentaries probably conceals a propaganda purpose - shoring up Caesar's position in the political struggles at Rome which would lead to the conflict with Pompey and the Senate recorded in his later Commentaries on the Civil War.

The Commentaries are notably as a description of Celtic Gaul, and an early account of much of Western Europe. Caesar's campaigns took him across the Rhine into Germany and across the channel into Britain, and often involved diplomatic alliance-building as much as fighting, at least until the general revolt of the Gauls under Vercingetorix which ended with the climactic siege of Alesia. An eighth book, by Caesar's lieutenant, the later consul Aulus Hirtius, covers the period between Alesia and the Civil War.

The Gallic War is often the first authentic text used in introducing students to Latin, much as Xenophon's Anabasis is for Ancient Greek. Some of the free resources below may be useful for that purpose notably the bilingual Loeb and Perseus texts, and the Memrise flashcard app. Dr Butler's 1851 map is still useful for following the narrative.

The Gallic War at online book stores
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 Free online texts

Gutenberg: "De Bello Gallico" and Other Commentaries by Julius Caesar, translated by Thomas De Quincey. Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: C. Iuli Caesaris De Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar. Latin text. Multiple formats.

Internet Classics Archive: The Gallic Wars, by Julius Caesar, translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. HTML and text formats.

Latin Library: C. IVLI CAESARIS COMMENTARIORVM DE BELLO GALLICO LIBER PRIMVS. Latin text. HTML format.

Loebulus. L072 - Caesar -- The Gallic War. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Standard Ebooks: Commentaries on the Gallic War, translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn. AZW3, EPUB, KEPUB and Advanced EPUB formats.

Perseus: Latin text (T Rice Holmes ed., 1914). English translation (McDevitte & Bohn, 1869). HTML texts.

Wikisource: Commentaries on the Gallic War, Online text.

Other Resources

BBC Radio Great Lives: Julius Caesar. Matthew Parris with Barry Cunliffe.

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: Julius Caesar. Melvyn Bragg with Christopher Pelling, Catherine Steel and Maria Wyke.

Dickinson College Commentaries: Selections from the Gallic War - Latin text, notes, vocabulary, and media for selections from The Gallic War by Julius Caesar, intended for readers of Latin. 

Gallia: Map from Dr. Butler's Atlas of Ancient Geography by Samuel Butler, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1851.Perry-Castañeda Library
Map Collection.

Librivox: Commentaries on the Gallic War - public domain audiobook.

Memrise: AP Latin Caesar, by billclausen. One of a number of relevant vocabulary courses on the site.

Wikipedia: Commentarii de Bello Gallico

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