German History

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.

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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.


Jordanes: Getica

The Getica otherwise known as the The Origin and Deeds of the Goths (Latin: De Origine Actibusque Getarum) is a mid-sixth century Latin work by Jordanes, apparently intended as a summary of a lost work on the Goths by Cassiodorus.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Gothic History of Jordanes, translated by Charles Mierow (1915). Multiple formats.

The Latin Library: Iordanis De Origine Actibusque Getarum. Latin text, HTML format.

Northvegr: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

University of Calgary: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

Wikisource: The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, trans. Charles C. Mierow. HTML format.

Other Resources

Georgetown University: The Aims of Jordanes, by James J. O'Donnell, Historia, 31(1982) 223-240.

Wikipedia: Getica.

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

Tacitus: Germania - The first major account of the Germanic peoples.

Orosius: Seven Books of History Against the Pagans - used as a source by Jordanes.

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Tacitus: Germania

Txu-pcl-maps-oclc-70574898-germania-1851The Germania (Latin: De Origine et situ Germanorum),  is an extended account of the Germanic peoples encountered by the Romans on the northern frontiers of their empire. Completed by Tacitus in around AD 98,the work describes the land of Germany and the customs of the Germans as a whole, before discussing individual tribes in turn, dividing them into three main groups, the Ingaevones, the Herminones and the Istaevones.

Tacitus contrasted the simplicity and liberty of the Germans with the decadence of Rome, in an influential example of the rhetorical trope that would come to be known as the myth of the noble savage.

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Online Texts

Bibliotheca Augustana: De Origine et Situ Germanorum - Latin text, HTML format.

Internet Archive: The Agricola and Germania, translated by R.B. Townshend. Multiple formats.

Loebulus. L035 - Tacitus -- Dialogus, Agricola, Germania. PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

The Latin Library: De Origine et Situ Germanorum - Latin text, HTML format.

Medieval History Sourcebook: Germania, translated by Thomas Gordon. HTML format.

Perseus: De Origine et Situ Germanorum, edited by Henry Furneaux - Latin text, HTML and XML formats.

Perseus: Germany and its Tribes, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb. HTML and XML formats.

Poetry in Translation: The Agricola and Germania, translated by A.S. Kline (2015). Multiple formats.

Sacred-texts: Germany - Latin and English side by side. HTML format.

Wikisource: The Situation of the Germans, translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, 1876. Online, downloadable as PDF/MOBI/EPUB.

Other resources

Classical Wisdom Weekly: Tacitus' Germania - The Mythology Behind German Nationalism, by Benjamin Welton.

Librivox: Tacitus' Germania - public domain audiobook.

Livius: Tacitus.

New York Times: The Idea of Germany - from Tacitus to Hitler, by Cullen Murphy.

Tertullian.org: Tacitus and his Manuscripts.

The Great conversation: further reading at Tom's Learning Notes.

Caesar: The Gallic War - includes an account of the first Roman incursion into Germany.

Pliny the Elder: Natural History - includes some material on the Germans in Book IV. Pliny's lost writings on the German Wars were probably a major influence on his contemporary, Tacitus.

Tacitus: The Annals - From the Death of Augustus to Nero.

Tacitus: The Histories - the Year of the Four Emperors and the rise of the Flavian Dynasty.

Tacitus: The Agricola.

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 Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

 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.

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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