Love and grief in post-imperial diplomacy: the letters of Brunhild

Andrew Gillett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A cluster of letters written in the name of the Merovingian dowager queen Brunhild, preserved in the late-sixth century letter collection Epistolae Austrasicae, concern her separation from her grandson, a hostage held at the court of the emperor Maurice in Constantinople. These letters have been read as genuine expressions of grief, offering insight into the personality of Brunhild herself or the emotional history of the early medieval period. Examination of the letters in the context of their composition - the larger set of diplomatic letters for which they were prepared, and patterns of communication between the royal courts of Gaul and Constantinople - suggests a more complex function for emotional imagery. The letters represent a script to be performed, deploying emotive scenarios as a tactic to bring indirect pressure on the emperor, and revealing a sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of communication and negotiation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in emotions and power in the late Roman world
Subtitle of host publicationpapers in honour of Ron Newbold
EditorsBarbara Sidwell, Danijel Dzino
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
PublisherGorgias Press
Number of pages39
ISBN (Print)9781617199141
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameGorgias précis portfolios
PublisherGorgias Press
ISSN (Print)1935-3871


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