I’ve been interested in the Merovingian period of (proto-)France for some time. So I was very happy when I finally got Ian Wood’s The Merovingian Kingdoms for my birthday.

It’s not a great book. Though I’d say for the period it is a necessary way-point to better.

Well, better from the viewpoint of the less-dedicated reader. Wood does an excellent job of detective work, comparing various sources and teasing out bias, coming up with ways to re-align sources to explain inconsistencies, and, with the insights thus gained, expose the likely motivations that moved the all too nebulous figures of the Merovingian Dynasty.

I’ve had an interest in the period for some years, but it is very hard to study. There’s not a great deal known, and even less written in English. Wood’s book helped me out a great deal, as he takes a look at several subjects (such as Roman literary continuity) and shows how they tie together across a period of time. This fragments his presentation in other ways, and I don’t think I have any sort of grasp of how any one point in time worked, but the tools are there to reconstruct it from his different chapters.