Historia Francorum Senonensis

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The Historia Francorum Senonensis ("History of the Franks of Sens") is a short anonymous Latin chronicle of the Frankish kings from 688 down to 1015. It was written at Sens before 1034 and is hostile towards the Capetian dynasty that had taken the throne of West Francia in 987.[1] It was a popular text, widely used and its anti-Capetian view is largely responsible for the questions raised by many other authors over the dynasty's legitimacy.[2]

The Historia is found in a single manuscript, now in the Vatican Library, BAV, regin. lat. 753A.[1] This manuscript was probably copied in England in the twelfth century. Although it is the only full copy of the work on its own, much of the text of the Historia can be extracted from other works that borrowed liberally from it.[2] At the Abbey of Fleury it was a source for the continuation of Aimon's Gesta Francorum and for the Historia Ecclesiastica of Hugh of Fleury.[1] It was also mined by William of Jumièges for his Gesta Normannorum ducum, by Orderic Vitalis for his Historia Ecclesiastica and by the anonymous author of the Chronicon Sancti Petri Vivi.[1]

The Historia has much in common with other historical works from Sens from the same era, such as the Chronicon Sancti Petri Vivi and the Chronicon of Odorannus. All may have made use of a lost set of annals from Sens, the Annales Senonenses, for the years up to 956. The anonymous author of the Historia may also have consulted the now lost Gesta Remensium episcoporum (Deeds of the Bishops of Reims).[3]

Ferdinand Lot has written on the historical value of the Historia Francorum Senonensis,[4] but the chronicle is most useful to historians for the light it sheds on a minority political view. In the view of the Historia, following the death of Louis V in 987 the legitimate monarch was his uncle, Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine. The election of Hugh Capet was thus a rebellion against Charles.[5]

Joachim Ehlers argues that the anti-Capetian bias of the work is not the result of pro-Carolingian legitimism but is connected the dispute between the archdiocese of Sens and the archdiocese of Reims over their roles in the coronation of the West Frankish kings. The Historia provides clear evidence of a political conception of the state as distinct from the dynasty or person of the monarch.[6]



  1. ^ a b c d Régis Rech, "Historia Francorum Senonensis", in Graeme Dunphy and Cristian Bratu (eds.), Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle (Brill, online 2016), accessed 21 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b Fraser McNair, "A Post-Carolingian Voice of Dissent: The Historia Francorum Senonensis", Journal of Medieval Latin 28 (2018): 15–47.
  3. ^ Auguste Molinier, "1373. Historia Francorum Senonensis", in Les Sources de l'histoire de France – Des origines aux guerres d'Italie (1494), II. Époque féodale, les Capétiens jusqu'en 1180 (Paris: A. Picard et fils, 1902), pp. 90–91.
  4. ^ Ferdinand Lot, Les derniers Carolingiens: Lothaire, Louis V, Charles de Lorraine (954–991) (Paris: Émile Bouillon, 1891), app. vii, pp. 338–45.
  5. ^ Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, "Rewriting History in the Chanson de Hugues Capet", Olifant 15.1 (1990): 36: rebellavit contra Karolum Hugo dux Francorum ("Hugh, the duke of the Franks, rebelled against Charles").
  6. ^ Joachim Ehlers, "Die historia francorum senonensis und der Aufstieg des Hauses Capet", Journal of Medieval History 4.1 (1978): 1–25.

Further reading[edit]

  • Werner, Karl Ferdinand. "Die Legitimität der Kapetinger und die Entstehung des Reditus regni Francorum ad stirpem Karoli." Die Welt als Geschichte 12 (1952): 203–25.