Revisiting the Murder of the Jew Priscus in Sixth-Century Paris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The murder of Priscus the Jew seems to be one of the earliest documented episodes of murder involving Jews in the European Middle Ages. The incident, described by Gregory of Tours (Gregorius Turonensis) in his great work, Decem Libri Historiarum (Ten Books of Histories) involves the murder of the Jew Priscus at the hands of Phatir, his former coreligionist and new convert to Christianity, which occurred in the Frankish Kingdom of Neustria in 581 or 582, during the reign of King Chilperic I. In this study, based on a close reading of the relevant texts I attempt to illuminate what this incident may teach us about Jewish social and political life in the Merovingian kingdoms. I suggest, contrary to previous scholarship that saw the theological aspects of the conversion as paramount, that the murder was the result of a competition among the elite in the court of the king and highlight what we may learn from this case about the sources of Jewish religious law and what Jews and Christians living in this time knew about them. Thus, after a careful reading of the primary source, I propose an interpretation of the circumstances that precipitated the violent act, as well as the manner in which it was recorded in the writings of Gregory of Tours.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedieval History Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2023


  • Gregory of Tours
  • Jewish studies
  • history of crime
  • medieval Jewish history
  • medieval history
  • religious conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'Revisiting the Murder of the Jew Priscus in Sixth-Century Paris'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this