Writing Assignment Option #1 – Historical Analysis

Gregory of Tours was an elite catholic bishop with ties to some Merovingian Frankish royalty.
His Ten Books of History aims to tell the history of the world from the perspective of Francia,
with a particular focus on his own century, the sixth. Using the Ten Books of Histories (including
passages outside of those assigned for class as well as those you read for class), write a short
essay (3-4 pages, or 1000-1500 words) in response to the prompt below. Your essay should take
the form of an argument with a single thesis, and be supported by specific examples from the

PROMPT: How did Gregory portray the Christian religion of Francia in his narrative?
What elements of religious worship did Gregory approve of? What did he not approve of?
Your essay should address one or more of the following topics: magic, Jews, heresy, the
pope, miracles, bishops, monastic orders.

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Writing Assignment Option #2 – Historical Fiction

The world of Gregory of Tours is often depicted as a world of violence, a “dark age” in which
chaos ruled, nuns and bishops were corrupt, and kings and queens murdered each other in their
sleep. While sixth-century Frankia certainly had its share of violence and corruption, that was not
all this society had to offer. Demonstrate one of the more peaceful elements of Merovingian
culture by writing a short (5-6 pages, or ca. 2000 words) fictional narrative in response to the
prompt below. Your narrative should encompass a complete scene (if not a complete short story)
and remain faithful to the world of Gregory by citing specific places in the text that influenced
your narrative.

PROMPT: An elite woman who is an acquaintance of Gregory’s stumbles upon some
interesting gossip and decides she must know more. (Is someone’s life at stake? Their soul?
Reputation?) What does she do? To whom does she turn? Your main character should act
in accordance with her social status and pursue a believable course of action.


Papers are due as a hard copy on Tuesday, October 3, at the beginning of class. Late papers
should be slipped under my office door and will be subject to a penalty of 1/3 of a letter grade for
each day beyond the deadline (i.e. a paper late by 1 day would go from a B+ to a B).

All papers will be typed in Times New Roman, size 12, double-spaced with 1 inch margins on all
sides. Headings will appear in the upper left hand corner and consist of Student’s Name / Course
Name / Assignment (“Gregory of Tours Paper”) / Date. Citations will be in-text and refer to
Gregory of Tours Ten Books of History by book and chapter number: e.g. (V.23).


Criteria for Evaluation

Papers will be evaluated on the basis of three criteria: (1) argument, (2) use of evidence, and (3)
writing. Each criterion is given equal weight. The most successful papers will meet all of the
criteria outlined below. All papers MUST follow the assignment instructions. Failure to do so
will result in a lowered grade.

(1) Argument
Your essay should have a clear thesis in which you make a claim in response to the question for
this assignment. Ideally, the thesis should come early in the essay, and be followed by a series of
paragraphs that explain the reasons for your claim. Effective argument also requires the writer to
anticipate possible objections, skepticism, or alternative approaches and respond to them. The
conclusion of your essay should raise some of the larger implications of your argument.
For the historical fiction assignment, your “argument” will be reflected in the faithfulness by
which you represent Gregory’s world in fiction. Thus, historical accuracy and the ability to
construct a setting, main character, and narrative that can be supported by the Ten Books of
History constitutes a successful argument.

(2) Evidence
The reasons that you give to back up your claim(s) must be supported by evidence from course
readings. Reference to Gregory are required for this assignment. The evidence used should be
relevant to your argument, correct, and correctly cited by book and chapter number in
parentheses (V.23). Essays that are especially effective in their use of the evidence take into
account evidence that does not support or even appears to contradict the overall argument, and
thus explain Gregory’s specific bias or potential reasons for conflict in such instances. For those
writing historical fiction, remember, Gregory can be a character in your story.

(3) Writing
In your essay, the written expression of the argument should be correct and clear. Poor written
expression may distract the reader from the central content of the essay or even obscure it. Your
writing, therefore, should be free of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. The easiest way to
avoid such errors is to proofread your essay carefully before you hand it in. Proofreading can
also help to improve the style and therefore the clarity of your writing. If you reread your essay,
and a sentence seems too long, or its parts are in a convoluted order, or it is full of abstractions –
it may well detract from your overall argument. Revise your essay to make your expression as
clear and as precise as you can.
Argument analysis essays as well as historical fiction stories need to make use of paragraphs and
have a structure that makes sense, including a beginning, middle, and an end. For help with
structure, you can visit the student writing center.


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