Thegan of Trier

Thegan of Trier

Thegan of Trier, or Degan of Treves, (died ca 850) was a German Roman Catholic prelate and chronicler, the author of Gesta Hludowici imperatoris, a principle source for the life of Louis the Pious.


Very little is known of his life; he appears to have come from a noble Frankish family in the middle Rhine-Moselle region. All that is certain is that by 825 he was chorbishop of Trier and was a warm friend of Walafrid Strabo, who was the earliest editor of his Gesta. A single letter and some verses survive. His modern biographer Ernst Tremp asserts that he is identical with Theganbert, provost (praepositus) of the Monastery of St. Cassius at Bonn, who placed the relics of Saints Chrysanthus and Daria in the church at Münstereifel.


Thegan wrote a history of Louis the Pious, Gesta Hludowici imperatoris ("The deeds of emperor Ludwig"), a narrative in rough workaday Latin judged by the standards of the day, written with hortatory intent and based on personal knowledge and communication with friends; as history it would be disappointing if judged by the standards of a later time, written as it is in the form of scanty annals. It begins with Saint Arnulf of Metz, describes the vicissitudes of the brothers of Louis and gives a more detailed account of Louis' reign during the years 814-835. It was composed in 836-37. The later narrative is probably a continuation by another author. Walafrid Strabo wrote an introduction to the chronicle and divided it into chapters. The narrative is very partisan, as the merits of Louis are exalted, though his councillors are denigrated, while the actions of Lothair and of a number of bishops, especially Bishop Ebbo of Reims, are severely criticised.


The Gesta has been given a modern edition and translated into German, by Ernst Tremp in MGH: Scriptores in Rerum Germanicarum in usum Scholarum separatim editi, 64 (Hanover, 1995).


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