Annales Mettenses priores

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The Annales Mettenses (priores) or (Earlier) Annals of Metz are a set of Reichsannalen covering the period from the rise of Pepin of Heristal in Austrasia (c. 675) to the time of the writing (c. 805), surviving as part of a wider compilation including, among other texts, the full entries of the Royal Frankish Annals for the years 806–829.

The Annales were probably composed at the monastery of Chelles towards 806 under the direction of Gisela, the sister of Charlemagne. Paul Fouracre and Richard Gerberding have rejected this hypothesis on the grounds that the Annales displays a misogynistic virulence towards Plectrude, but considering her part in thwarting the succession of Charles Martel, this may be unsurprising coming from Charles Martel's granddaughter (according to Rosamond McKitterick); the purpose of the composition was probably to justify the impending divisio regnorum (division of the kingdom) among Charlemagne's sons. The Annales were concerned to justify the Carolingian ruling house and lay stress to the idea of God's plan unfolding in the Carolingian rise to power, while simultaneously denigrating the former Merovingian dynasty, they were deeply concerned with the inheritance of Charlemagne's eldest son, Charles the Younger.

The earliest incident the Annales records is the murder of Gundoin by Pepin probably in the 670s; this story is found in no other written source and is commonly taken as legend. Gundoin supposedly murdered Pepin's father Ansegisel and then Pepin, when he was of age, tracked down and killed Gundoin, and seized power in Austrasia. According to the Annales, which is the earliest source for the Merovingian "decline", the king Theuderic III had become oppressive and unjust, thus forcing Pepin to invade his kingdom and defeat him in the great Battle of Tertry. Thereafter, we are told, Pepin held the reins of the kingdom even though he oversaw the succession of Theuderic's sons.


  • Fouracre, Paul (2005). "The Long Shadow of the Merovingians". In Story, Joanna (ed.). Charlemagne: Empire and Society. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719070899.
  • Hen, Yitzhak (2000). "The Annals of Metz and the Merovingian Past". In Hen, Yitzhak; Innes, Matthew (eds.). Uses of the Past in Early Medieval Europe. Cambridge University Press. pp. 175–90. ISBN 9780521630016.