Avitus and the Legend

According to the legend that was told about Avitus, he was born “of good family”. Being born “of good family” implied wealth and in the Roman Empire that meant land, suggesting that Avitus’ family owned and farmed an estate. He was born at Varennes, outside the Garonne Valley; therefore he would have been considered a Gallo-Roman rather than a Visigoth. He was probably literate and a Roman Christian, the official religion of the state; otherwise, a person “of good family” would not be able to advance in that society. However, this conflicts with the legend that states that he was converted to Christianity while a slave of the Franks, but this can be explained.


The legend goes on to tell how he fought in the army of the Visigoths against the Franks in 507. He would have been drafted by the Visigoths, following the Roman tradition of demanding a levy of men from estates. Despite the fact that the Visigoths were heretics and originally foreign, the Gallo-Romans supported them against the Franks under Clovis, even though the Franks had converted to Roman Christianity and Clovis had adopted the patron saint of Aquitaine, St Martin of Tours.

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