Gender and violence in Gregory of Tours' 'Decem libri historiarum'
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The Decem Libri Historiarum of Gregory of Tours, our only coherent narrative source for the latter half of the sixth century in Gaul, has been the subject of much lively scholarly debate as to its reliability and original purpose. Literary approaches have proved useful; however, the findings of gender studies, applied so fruitfully in many other areas of historical research, have thus far had virtually no impact on the study of Gregory’s work. For the first time, this thesis examines the role of gender in the DLH. Just as gender assumptions were vital to the thought world of the writers of the books of the Old Testament, so too they were vital to Gregory, who took these books as his main inspiration. It will be shown that gender can offer a fresh and vital perspective on some of the most contentious issues associated with the DLH, taking us closer than ever to a full appreciation of Gregory’s objectives. In exposing Gregory’s literary devices and strategies, this study goes beyond Gregory’s viewpoint, with implications for the study of kingship, and particularly queenship, in the sixth century. It will be shown that competing norms of elite masculine and feminine behaviour were in flux over the period, and required careful negotiation. This study also has repercussions for gender studies more widely. In demonstrating the usefulness of gender approaches in analysing a text to which such approaches have never before been applied, the thesis indicates that gender must be considered an essential analytical tool in historical research.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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