Tonantius Ferreolus (senator)

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Tonantius Ferreolus (also called Tonance Ferréol in modern French) (between about 440 and 450–between 511 to after 517), was a vir clarissimus , or Gallo-Roman senator.



Tonantius Ferreolus lived in Narbo (modern Narbonne). He was a witness when Sidonius Apollinaris, then bishop of Clermont, between 461 and 467, sent a letter to his friend, Donidius, describing a visit he made, a "most delightful time in the most beautiful country in the company of Tonantius Ferreolus (the elder) and Apollinaris, the most charming hosts in the world". Tonantius was on the estates of his father when Sidonius Apollinaris visited between 461 and 467. As Sidonius relates, "at Prusianum, as the other (estate) is called, (the young) Tonantius and his brothers turned out of their beds for us because we could not be always dragging our gear about: they are surely the elect among the nobles of our own age".

He is known to be a friend and relative of Sidonius Apollinaris. He was the son of Tonantius Ferreolus and Papianilla. Papianilla is generally regarded as belonging to the Arvernian family of the Aviti, though in a generation senior to Sidonius' wife of the same name. [1] The younger Tonantius' wife was Industria from Narbonne, born ca 450 to 460, married after 475, believed to have been daughter of Flavius Probus, [2] Gallo-Roman Senator, and his wife Eulalia, cousin-german (first cousin) of Sidonius Apollinaris. [3] He was regarded as a senator even after the fall of the empire as was customary in Visigothic and Merovingian Gaul because his family had held the highest grades senatorial rank during the empire. [4] No church offices are known for the younger Tonantius Ferreolus [1] and he held no known positions under the Visigothic kings in the period leading up to the Battle of Vouille unless he continued in his father's position of Rector Galliarum. [4] He may also have been appointed Defensor Pedensis (Royal official in the city of Pedena, now in Croatia) by Ostrogothic King Theodoric in 511. [4] He had several siblings whose names are not preserved. There is some argument as to whether Ferreolus of Narbo referred to as husband of Industria and father of Firminus is Tonantius Ferreolus or a brother. [4] [5] Narbo was within the realm of the Visigoths and Tonantius Ferreolus almost certainly remained loyal to Euric and Alaric II prior to the Battle of Vouille. His involvement in that Battle is not known. Following the collapse of the Kingdom of Alaric, Southern Gaul including Narbo was briefly under the control of the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy. However, subsequent to the fall of the Burgundian Kingdom in the early 530's, the Austrasian Franks under Theodoric quickly took control of Burgundy and Provence as far as the Mediterranean and along the coast from at least Uzes on the west to the Italian border on the east leaving Narbo, except for one or two brief incursions, in Visigothic hands. The familial control of the See of Uzes, within whose borders much of the property of the Ferreolan villa of Prusianum was included, began during the time of Tonantius Ferreolus. Although Tonantius Ferreolus was not noted for any particular political or ecclesiastic initiative, his survival and that of his familia and properties following the loss of Gaul, first by the Roman Empire, and then the Visigoths, was to have important repercussions for the durability of Gallo Roman political identity, autonomy, laws and customs during the Merovingian and subsequent eras.

What is known of Tonantius Ferreolus' descendants from that time is derived either from the history of the see of Uzes or from those few noblemen in the family such as Ferreolus, father of Ansbert and Agilulf, who apparently relocated out of the Visigothic Kingdom or were taken as hostages, (cf Gregory of Tours' relative Attalus [6] ) to the heartland of the Austrasian Kingdom in the vicinity of Metz and Trier. Since Ferreolus' grandfather, Tonantius Ferreolus the Elder was Prefect of Gaul (451) and possessed consular ancestors including the two Syagrii during the reign of Theodosius, [7] Tonantius Ferreolus' Austrasia bound son Ferreolus would have possessed sufficient standing in the eyes of the Franks to marry a Frankish princess of a minor house. At the time Ferreolus will have been relocating to Austrasia from Narbo, or more likely Frankish Provence, his second cousin Parthenius, Patrician of Provence in 542 (Austrasian Governor - typically a Gallo-Roman. The title was concurrent with the title of Rector of Provence) and Tax Collector at Trier by 548 was in a position to have interceded for him. [8]

By his wife he had the following issue:

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  1. 1 2 Mathison, 1979, p. 79.
  2. Settipani, 2002, p. 13.
  3. Mathison, 1979, p. 274.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Martindale, 1980, p. 466.
  5. Mathison, 1979, p. 114.
  6. Thorpe's Translation of Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, 1977, p. 175.
  7. Mathisen, 1979, p. 78.
  8. Thorpe's translation of Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, 1977, p.191.
  9. Settipani, 2000, p. 221
  10. NEGHR, 1947
  11. Mathisen, 1979, p. 56.
  12. Settipani, 1991, p. 198.

References and sources