Today in early medieval history

Today is the feast of St Martin of Tours, the Bishop of the French city of Tours during the fourth century. Martin was a cavalry officer in the Roman Army, and it was while he was a soldier that the most famous story of his life occurred: outside the gates of the city of Amiens, Martin saw a beggar and on the spur of the moment, cut his military cloak in half to share with him. That night, Martin dreamed of Christ and in the morning woke to find that his cloak was whole again.

Martin is reported to have stayed in the army until announcing that his faith prohibited him from shedding blood, after which he was released. He would go on to become a monk, a hermit and later the Bishop of Tours.

The abbey of Marmoutier, outside Tours, was founded by Martin and became wealthy and influential, as a result of which it was attacked by Vikings in the ninth and tenth centuries.

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