Vase of Soissons
The Vase of Soissons was a semi-legendary sacred vase, probably in precious metal or a hardstone carving rather than pottery (though the material is not specified), which was kept in a cathedral in the Kingdom of Soissons during Late Antiquity. The existence and fate of the vase are known from Gregory of Tours (ca. 538–594), a Gallo-Roman historian and bishop. Because Gregory wrote his account more than a century after the vase presumably was destroyed, it is difficult if not impossible to distinguish myth from reality.
The fate of the Vase of Soissons
According to Gregory, the vase was of marvelous size and beauty and was stolen (together with other holy ornaments) from a church in the pillage that followed the Battle of Soissons (486), a battle won by the Frankish king Clovis I (who was at that time not yet Catholic).
Saint Remigius, the bishop of Reims, sent messengers to Clovis, begging that if the church might not recover any other of the holy vessels, at least this one might be restored. Clovis agreed to do so and therefore claimed the vase as his rightful part of the booty. One soldier disagreed and crushed the vase with his battle-axe. Clovis at first did not react to this and gave the broken vase to Remigius. A year later, however, he personally and publicly killed the crusher, using the soldier's own throwing axe and exclaiming, "Just as you did to the vase at Soissons!"
Media related to Vase of Soissons at Wikimedia Commons
- Texte de référence par Bruno Krusch : Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum, I / 1, p. 72 . - Traduction française (très près du texte) par L. Halphen (Paris, 1963, et nombreuses rééditions), traduction (beaucoup plus fluide, mais excellente) dans : Tessier, Georges. Le Baptême de Clovis – Paris, 1964 (nouv. éd. 1996), p. 52. - La traduction de la collection Guizot sur le site Gallica : Épisode du vase de Soissons dans l'Histoire des Francs, p. Missing parameter/s! (Template:P.)86-87, a trop mal vieilli pour être utilisable dans une discussion un peu serrée.
- Parallel article in French Wikipedia, viewed January 1, 2011.