Heiligt der Zweck alle Mittel? Legitimation von Gewalt bei Gregor von Tours

Zusammenfassung / Abstract

“Does the end justify all means? The Legitimation of Violence in Gregory of Tours’ Historia Francorum” – The world that Gregory of Tours (538–594) depicts in his Historia Francorum is very violent. In this world, no one is immune from the possibility of suffering physical violence, whether at the hands of God or man. Offenders are punished severely, often at the hands of God, quite regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or social or political position. Examining five representative instances of violence in his Historia, this essay analyses Gregory’s approach to physical violence and explores how he conceived of its legitimation. It argues that rather than forming a theory of physical violence or even consciously reflecting on its legitimation, Gregory set his moral compass largely according to the Old Testament notion of retributive justice and applied, and sometimes tailored, this notion to the cultural, political, and legal context of the Merovingian world. According to his model, the act of retribution was of crucial importance, but the dimensions of retribution irrelevant. Characteristically, the retribution demanded often exceeded the brutality that occasioned it in the first place.

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