Department of History
University of California, Irvine
Instructor: Dr. Barbara J. Becker
Book IX, History of the Franks (c.590)
by Gregory of Tours (539-594)
Chapters 21 and 22. The Plague at Marseilles in 588
...It was told at the time  that Marseilles was suffering greatly from the bubonic plague and that the disease had spread swiftly as far as the village in the country of Lyons called Octavus.
But the king [Childebert II], like a good bishop, was for providing remedies by which the wounds of the sinful people could be cured, and ordered all to assemble at the church and engage devoutly in prayer.
He directed that nothing else than barley bread and clean water should be taken in the way of food and that all without intermission should keep watch....
...It was then commonly told among the faithful that a woman whose son was suffering from a four-day fever and was lying in bed very ill, approached the king's back in the throng of people and secretly broke off the fringe of the royal garment and put it in water and gave it to her son to drink, and at once the fever died down and he was cured.
I do not regard this as doubtful since I have myself heard persons possessed by demons in their furies call on his name and admit their ill deeds, recognizing his power.
Since we have told above that the city of Marseilles was sick with a deadly plague it seems suitable to give more details of what the city suffered....
... a ship from Spain put in at the port with its usual wares and unhappily brought the seed of this disease.
And many citizens bought various merchandise from her, and one household in which were eight souls was quickly left vacant, its inmates all dying of this plague.
But the fire of the plague did not at once spread through all the houses, but after a definite time like a fire in standing grain it swept the whole city with the flame of disease....
The plague passed away in two months, and when the people, now reassured, had returned to the city, the disease came on again and they who returned perished.
Later on the city was many times attacked by this death.