Gregory of Tours was a sixth century bishop who wrote a long History of the Franks which is one of our principal sources of information about the Merovingian period in early medieval Europe. In the late spring of 1958, I read it along with many other books of European history in my desperate effort to prepare myself to join five brilliant young Harvard Assistant Professors of History in teaching Social Sciences 5. At one point, Gregory describes the rather scrimy life of a minor Merovingian princeling who spent his time feuding and whoring and killing and generally being a bad actor. The otherwise forgettable lout managed to live to be about 80, which was of course very long in those days, before dying peacefully in bed. Gregory sanctimoniously observes of him, “and thus God’s justice was demonstrated yet again” or something to that effect.
I thought about this passage when I got up this morning and
read that Henry Kissinger had died at the age of 100.