Vase of Soissons

Vase of Soissons

The Vase of Soissons was a semi-legendary sacred vase that was held in a church in the Domain of Soissons during the Late Antiquity. The existence and the fate of the vase is mostly known due to the writings of Gregory of Tours (c. 538–594), a Gallo-Roman historian and bishop. Because Gregory wrote about this vase more than a century after it was presumably destroyed, it is difficult (if not impossible) to separate myth and reality.

The fate of the Vase of Soissons

According to Gregory the vase was of marvelous size and beauty and was stolen (along with other holy ornaments) from a church in the pillage that followed the Battle of Soissons (486), a battle which the Franks led by their king Clovis I (who was at that time not yet Christian) won.

Saint Remigius, the bishop of Reims sent messengers to Clovis, begging that if the church might not recover any other of the holy vessels, at least this one might be restored. Clovis agreed to do so and therefore claimed the vase as his rightful part of the booty. One soldier however disagreed and crushed the vase with his battle-axe. Clovis at first didn't react to this event and gave the broken vase to Remigius. One year later however he personally and publicly killed the crusher of the vase, using the soldier's own axe.

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