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Saint-Denis in pictures

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The necropolis, city of the dead
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Now it's your turn
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Aregonde, a queen and her finery
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Title, subtitle and main picture of the page Queen Arnegunde
510/520 - 580/590


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Objects from the grave of queen Arnegunde, buried between 580 and 590 CE.
Objects from the grave of queen Arnegunde, buried between 580 and 590 CE. © RMN
Ring inscribed with the name ARNEGUNDIS.
Ring inscribed with the name ARNEGUNDIS.
© RMN
In 1959, Michel Fleury Michel Fleury (1923 - 2002)
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Archivist-paleographer, vice president of Paris's Commission du Vieux-Paris, and Director of Historic Antiquities in Ile-de-France from 1965 to 1982. He directed the excavation of the square in front of Notre-Dame, the Cour Carrée at the Louvre and the necropolis of the Saint-Denis basilica.
uncovered an exceptionally rich grave beneath the basilica. The stone sarcophagus held clothing and the remains of textiles-all in a remarkable state of conservation-thus allowing us to reconstruct the garments of a noblewoman from the Merovingian era.

Queen Arnegunde's stone sarcophagus.
Queen Arnegunde's stone sarcophagus. © UASD / J. Mangin.

The deceased wore a violet-coloured silk skirt, held in place by a large leather belt that had a sumptuously decorated buckle plate and buckle counter-plate. Her reddish-brown silk tunic, decorated with gold braid, was fastened with a pair of round brooches with a garnet cloisonné decoration. Two small pins and a large garnet encrusted pin held her silk veil in place. Her stockings were held up by garters and the straps on her leather shoes were fitted with small buckles, counter-plates and strap-ends with animal motifs.

Ring inscribed with the name ARNEGUNDIS.
Ring inscribed with the name ARNEGUNDIS.
© UASD / M.Wyss.
Two sphere-shaped earrings, in imitation of the then reigning fashion in the Byzantine world, completed the lady's rich gold and silver jewelry. On her thumb, a ring inscribed with a woman's given name, ARNEGUNDIS, surrounding a central monogramme that can be expanded to REGINE (queen). It was this same queen Arnegunde, wife of Clotaire I (511-561) and mother of Chilperic I, whom Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (538 - 594)
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Bishop of Tours, he was the author of the Ten Books of History, better known as the History of the Franks, a major source for the history of Merovingian France.
had described in the late sixth century. If we take into account historical data such as the birth of Chilperic around 537-539, and the dating of the most recent clothing items, the queen would have been buried sometime between 580 and 590, aged 70 to 80 years old.


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