• Ben

Episode 16: Brunhilda - Rise, Fall, and Rise Again

Hey, before we begin, I just want to say a few quick words about the current situation. If you’re listening to this in the future, well, this is that time way back in 2020 when we all got put on lockdown – in the UK anyway – and weren’t allowed to do much of anything. Well, I won’t dwell too much on the illness or the politics of the moment, but what I will do – as my attempt to be a bright spot in all of this – is to move up the timeline for this episode and the next to a 10-day release period instead of the normal 14. This might not sound like much, but what it means for you listening in the present is that you’ll have three total episodes of Thugs and Miracles to listen to during the time it normally takes to make just two. It may not be much, but it’s at least something that we here can do to make your life there a little less boring while we all wait to see what comes next. If The Princess Bride taught all of us children of the 80s anything at all, it’s that it’s way more exciting, while you’re sick and quarantined, to hear about medieval princesses, palace sieges and royal assassinations than to scroll through your news feed or social media for the 1,000th time. So, join us while we look at exactly these types of stories.

Finally, you’ll notice that all of the episodes of T+M are currently ad-free; let’s distract ourselves with some history right now, and when we’re on the other side of our modern-day story we can go back to worrying about ads and products and all the rest. I just got done listening to Mike Duncan’s latest episode of Revolutions, and I appreciated the sentiment he put forth in his forward when he mentioned how while he’s doing fine financially – and honestly, so am I, so I’m not asking for anything extra from anyone listening to this right now – but there are a lot of people out there like artists, performers and other podcasters who could use a little pick-me-up right now, so if you have the means and you’ve been holding off on making a Patreon donation, an NPR pledge, or just ordering take-away from a local restaurant, well, now’s a great time for any or all of those options. Alright, enough PSA. For now – relax, unwind, and enjoy two new episodes of T+M in the next ten days, as we begin by going back 1,454 years to the town of Metz to start the next episode of Thugs and Miracles now.

Or maybe Chilperic and Galswintha...
The marriage of Sigibert and Brunhilda

Brunhilda had everything.

As a Visigothic princess she had been raised to appreciate the finer things in life, to enjoy learning, and to know how to use her position and authority to influence those around her. As a Frankish queen, she was put in a place where she was beheld as a wonder by all around her, even her husband and his staff, as she dazzled them with her grace and intellect. She was courteous, kind and modest at all times in public – but behind closed doors Brunhilda was as busy as anyone in Francia, setting up lines of patronage and loyalty that would help to ensure she and her children would always have a place at court.

She had been married to Sigibert in the town of Metz in 566, making her the Queen Consort of Austrasia alongside of her husband. He was smart in this regard; his brothers had all given in to their more basic impulses and desires when choosing their queens, often choosing commoners and slaves with whom to marry. These had done nothing whatsoever to expand the glory of the kingdoms to which they had been elevated to lead, whereas Brunhilda served as an example to everyone that King Sigibert was more refined, better tied, and just generally a better ruler than his brothers. In a world where the legitimacy of a king to rule was tied directly to the perception of his people and their belief that he was the best suited to be on the throne, well, Queen Brunhilda gave that perception to the royal couple in spades. The poet Fortunatus got so excited when writing about the wedding between Brunhilda and Sigibert that he had proclaimed the King as a second Achilles, shot with an arrow of love by Cupid himself, and described the new Queen as “blooming in the flower of her virginity; she will delight a husband with her first embraces.”

On the morning after their wedding, Sigibert had given Brunhilda the traditional morgengabe, a gift given by the husband to the wife. For royalty this was often a very large gift, but for Brunhilda the morgengabe had been huge, consisting of everything from clothes and jewelry to lands that provided tax revenues and future income to her. Given that Brunhilda was also allowed access to the dowry she had brought with her from her father, she had a large treasure chest from which to draw on as she set about making new friends in the new land which she was tapped to rule. She had always found that her ability to make friends was directly proportional to her ability to give people what they wanted, and more often than not, people wanted money. The other great motivator of her time was religion, and being a politically astute actor, Brunhilda was easily enough convinced to give up her native Arianism in exchange for the Catholicism of the Franks. It was of small importance to her, but went miles when breaking down the barriers between her and her new people.

So wonderful was her life and so great was her appeal that King Chilperic, Brunhilda’s brother-in-law, sent off to Brunhilda’s father, King Athanagild of the Visigoths, asking for the hand of her sister, Galswintha. Athanagild said yes, put together yet another dowry, and sent his second daughter to take the seat next to Brunhilda’s in Francia. Now, in the year 567, these two Visigothic princesses sat in thrones in kingdoms next to one another. Brunhilda, her power and influence growing daily, realized during this time that she had fulfilled her ultimate role as Queen and become pregnant. She was growing her family at the same time that her family was growing its influence. She was happy with her position, to the point where she was even able to start getting used to the colder and gloomier weather of the north. “Everything is perfect,” she would say to herself. In her mind, it was impossible to think that anything could go wrong.

Then, as so often happens when such thoughts cross a person’s mind, everything did go wrong.

The first domino fell in Galswintha’s house. From the moment her sister had arrived she had had to deal with Chilperic’s “ex” wife, Fredegunda. Fredegunda was low-born, but she had managed to get herself closer and closer to the king over time. She had started as a serving girl to Chilperic’s first wife, Audovera, then worked her way into the king’s bed and was taken as a concubine. She must have been amazing at whatever she did behind closed doors, because she was somehow able to get Chilperic to set Audovera aside and take her as his new Queen. Still, she couldn’t shake the stigma of her non-royal roots, and when Brunhilda showed up on the arm of Sigibert; well, let’s just say that Chilperic’s advisors had placed more and more pressure on the King to do the right thing and marry someone more befitting of his rank. This is where Galswintha had entered onto the scene, ostensibly as the new and improved consort that Fredegunda could never hope to be. The problem was, Chilperic never got rid of Fredegunda. He may have remarried, but he never moved on. This was obvious to everyone, Galswintha included, and she rightfully began to demand that either Fredegunda went, or she did.

Galswintha’s ultimatum was perfectly understandable and perfectly reasonable, and against almost any other opponent she likely would have won and had her way. Fredegunda was something else, however, and she held more sway over Chilperic than anyone could have realized. One night, Galswintha and the King had a fight wherein she had accused him of disrespecting her with his enduring outrages. She said he had no honor and asked to leave him and the torment of Fredegunda; she just wanted to go home and forget that her marriage had ever, ever happened. Chilperic was able to calm her down after some time, but he realized that she needed to be dealt with and soon.

To this day, no one knows who gave the order. Chilperic may have finally made a decision after the final fight, or perhaps Fredegunda decided her position was strong enough that she could make a power play without repercussions. More than likely the pair colluded to bring about the plot. No matter how the decision was made or who spoke the order into existence, the end result was the same. On that subsequent morning, Galswintha’s servant entered her room as she always did to prepare her mistress for the day. At first, she thought the young queen was simply still asleep, but it was only a moment later that she saw the young woman’s blue face, bulging eyes and fixed gaze. Galswintha had been murdered, strangled to death in her own bed.

The news shocked everyone, Brunhilda most of all. Her sister, the young Visigoth who was supposed to have done for Soissons what she herself had done for Austrasia, was dead, and she knew as well as everyone else why that was. Worse yet, Chilperic and Fredegunda had the audacity to confirm everyone’s suspicions when, just a few days into the mourning, the couple renewed their vows and came back together as King and Queen. Galswintha was practically still warm in her grave, and Fredegunda had taken her place in the King’s bed. This could not stand.

Fredegunda, the low-born concubine come queen, would now get to feel Brunhilda’s rage, the rage of a proper queen from a proper line. Brunhilda soon had her husband readying his army to crush the royal couple of Soissons, and she also reached out to King Guntram in Burgundy to do the same. Together, they moved into Soissons and beat Chilperic back. In a few years of fighting he was pushed into the city of Tournai, where he made his stand and awaited his fate. Nothing, it seemed, would block his inevitable end from the scene.

But fate can be tricky, and armed conflict seldom ends in the exact place people aim for when they first enter into battle. Brunhilda, the Queen who had everything, looked ready to vanquish her rivals and take their lands. She was prepared to land the coup de grâce and avenge her sister by ending the life of the concubine she so hated. She had no idea, as she stood at this pinnacle of her power, that she would soon be in a prison cell in the city of Rouen at the behest of that same concubine; that her husband would be dead in battle; and that her five-year-old son would be torn from her to be installed as the new King of Austrasia. And all of this, for as long as it had taken to will her place in life into existence, would be taken away in the blink of an eye.

This is Thugs and Miracles. Episode Sixteen: Brunhilda – Rise, Fall, and Rise Again.

Alright, welcome back! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier. Today we’re going to turn our attention toward Brunhilda, that first and more noble of the two queens, at least insofar as her birth. There are several things we have to note about Brunhilda to begin to understand the foundation of this person who will do so much to dominate our story. First and foremost, Brunhilda was born in Toledo, in what is today Spain, in the year 543. This is significant for multiple reasons, the most important of which is to note that Brunhilda was not an overly young woman when she was courted by Sigibert to come north. As a 23-year-old woman she would have been more likely to have completed her education, or at least to have gone further in it, than a younger woman. She perhaps would have had some amount of agency in the negotiations taking her to Austrasia; and even if she didn’t have an actual say in the matter, she would have at least been privy to the discussion and would have learned much about diplomatic interactions and deal-making from listening to the discussions about her. There’s also every reason to believe that a 23-year-old would be more independent, confident and willing to assert herself than a “marriageable” girl of 13. All of this is reflected in the following passage from our historian friend O.M. Dalton, who wrote:

“She represents a level of culture and attainments above that of other Merovingian queens. We have seen that Sigibert, an orderly man with some respect for royal dignity, was ashamed of certain marriages contracted by his brothers with women of no education and little character, and how he sought an alliance which should do honour to his country. He looked naturally to the Visigothic court, which was probably more civilized than that of any Frankish kingdom, and choosing the younger daughter of King Athanagild and Queen Goisvinth, was successful in his suit. The princess Brunhilda came to Gaul in 566, and we have, from the pen of Fortunatus, who was at Sigibert's court at the time, a nuptial poem in his most elaborate manner, though on this occasion the subject of the eulogy deserved it better than was usually the case with those who received his praise. It is said that Brunhild herself was one of the very few present who knew enough Latin to understand this epithalamion.”

This nuptial poem really was written in the “most elaborate manner,” with Fortunatus comparing Sigibert to Achilles. There is a level of flattery involved that I personally find eye-rolling, but certainly speaks to the level at which those looking for a place in the Merovingian court or seeking patronage from the monarchs would have felt compelled to adhere to. From the poem:

“Soon, when Cupid with conquering dart saw the gentle king burning with virgin passion, he said in exultation to Venus: “Mother, I have fought my campaign; a second Achilles is defeated by me by his inflamed heart; Sigibert, in love, is consumed by passion for Brunhild; she pleases him, ready for marriage, of sufficient years to be married, blooming in the flower of her virginity; she will delight a husband with her first embraces, she suffers no hurtful shame, but thus growing in power, is hailed as queen; thus, growing all the more mighty, she is hailed as queen.”

And she did grow more powerful, of that there is no doubt. Brunhilda was quick to accomplish her most important duty and was pregnant shortly after her marriage. Between 567-570 she bore her King three children: Ingund, Chlodosind, and Childebert; the last of these three was a boy, the heir to the throne. Besides children, she also ingratiated herself to her new people in much the same way as Clovis over 70 years prior: she converted to Catholicism. This was a canny move, and one that we should appreciate all that much more for having been done by a woman, now in her late twenties, who had spent the rest of her life raised as an Arian. As we’ve noted in earlier episodes, a lot was made of the difference between the Arian sect and the Catholics, with both sides accusing the other of heresy. The fact that Brunhilda was willing to make this conversion firmly establishes the notion for us that she politically astute, at least moreso than she was fixed in her religious convictions. Finally, in addition to pregnancy and religion, it is safe to assume that Brunhilda’s influence and example was the driving factor behind Chilperic choosing to marry her sister, the ill-fated Galswintha.

As far as this sister was concerned, most of what I conveyed in the opening story appears to be the consensus of history. Galswintha came to Chilperic’s court more as an attempt for him to not be outdone by his brother, rather than as any sort of love match. And a love match would have been especially difficult in this case, as Chilperic’s recently “divorced” wife Fredegunda was still on the scene. It just made for a very awkward situation, as you can imagine. At any rate, Chilperic did at least make an economic attempt to sort the situation out by gifting Galswintha the five cities of Bordeaux, Limoges, Cahors, Lescar, and Cieutat. However, even this morgengabe was likely tainted, and done more in an effort to demonstrate how rich Chilperic was than to appease his new bride. Ultimately, none of this much mattered for Galswintha, mainly due to Fredegunda’s willingness to resort to homicide to get what she wanted. Now in fairness, the history is confused as to whom actually ordered this murder, but given how future incidents will play out, I personally place my stock in the camp that believes Fredegunda was the prime mover in bringing this situation into existence and ensuring its conclusion.

Now, what the main story failed to mention was the fact that Sigibert and Chilperic had been going at each other for a long time, and the murder of Galswintha merely served as a pretext to launch future periods of fighting and to deepen their already deep animosity; it was not the first time the brothers had gone to battle with one another. According to Brandon Taylor Craft:

“Among the kings participating in the civil wars until the Treaty of Andelot [in 587], Chilperic and Sigibert deserve much of the blame. Even though Fredegund might have played a role in persuading and inciting Chilperic to action, the fact still remains that even before Fredegund arrived at court, Chilperic had already proven he was willing to initiate civil war with his brothers. That is not to say that Chilperic and Sigibert were alone in fault ‒ Guntram and Childebert II also instigated wars with their relatives ‒ but it was Chilperic and Sigibert who were most often inciting and prolonging conflict.”

As I mentioned in the last episode, Chilperic was only a half-brother to the other three with whom he would compete. Additionally, he had originally tried to take all of Chlothar’s kingdom for himself; this situation would have done little to ingratiate himself with his half-brothers, and almost certainly would have required military force on their behalf to wrest control of the kingdom away from Chilperic. Once the kingdom was partitioned, the brothers would fight endlessly about the exact borders and who controlled which cities, to the point that Gregory, writing in his Histories, would note:

“I am weary of relating the details of the civil wars that mightily plague the nation and kingdom of the Franks; and the worst of it is that we see in them the beginning of that time of woe which the Lord foretold: "Father shall rise against son, son against father, brother against brother, kinsman against kinsman."”

So, as we can see, civil wars in the wake of the 561 partition were not new. They were a huge drain on the Merovingian Dynasty in these times, and almost certainly escalated to a new and more personal level following the 567 death of Charibert, mainly because his death would open up much more land to fight for. And they were so commonplace and prevalent that chroniclers such as Gregory were able to start seeing portents of the apocalypse in the amount of destruction they were causing to the Kingdom. The reason I bring all of this up is to reiterate the point that these brothers needed no extra motivation to bring them into a fight, and the queens of this situation – while certainly far from innocent – were typically not the ones “inciting and prolonging conflict[s].” However, the situation with Galswintha seems to mark a moment when the commonplace cycle of fighting took on a heightened level of animosity. Historians have gone deep into creating definitions of what constitutes a blood-feud versus what is simply a higher level of violence, and I’ll not bore everyone with these attempts at placing extremely detailed definitions over top of bloody, cruel and vicious behavior. I will leave at this: however one wants to classify this uptick in violence, the term blood-feud gets used and debated quite enough to make it very apparent that this period of time has taken on a different tone and tenor than the history that precedes it. Moving into the year 573, the historian Thomas Greenwood writes:

“Gregory of Tours, who depicts the character of that prince [Chilperic] in a peculiarly hateful light, assures us that he ravaged the open country with fire and sword, that churches were burnt to the ground, priests slain at the altar, monks driven from their cells and virgins devoted to heaven made to quench the brutal lusts of the savage warriors. But the less active Sigibert succeeded in dragging his slothful brother Guntram… into the field, and by their united efforts… they soon reduced the refractory Chilperic within the bounds of moderation. The conquests he had made in Aquitaine and central Gaul were recovered.”

Following the campaign to retake the land taken by Chilperic, Guntram decided to change sides and fight alongside of Chilperic against Sigibert. There are any number of reasons he may have chosen to do this, but the most likely – based on what we know of Merovingian family politics and the notion of Occam’s Razor – is that Guntram saw a potential weakness in Sigibert and looked to take advantage of it for his personal gain. Whatever his motivation, he appears to have fallen well short of his mark and caused no great injury to Sigibert or his army.

This brings us to the conclusion of our opening story for today. It was the year 575, and the three brothers who had fought and fought with each other finally seemed to be settling into a marked course. Chilperic had taken his shot and had been rebuffed, leaving him holed up in Tournai, and Guntram had flip-flopped between brothers to no avail; this left Sigibert and Brunhilda looking to be the overall winners, if we want to use such a term, of the sordid and sad situation of so many civil wars. They had moved into Paris, and the Franks of the region had sent him an embassy asking him to be their king in the place of Chilperic. Everything was coming up aces for Sigibert, and he now looked to remove Chilperic from the equation once and for all. However, Gregory tells us that as he was preparing his army for a siege against Tournai, Sigibert was visited by Bishop Germanus. From Gregory:

“The holy bishop Germanus said to him, "If you go and do not purpose to kill your brother you shall return alive and victorious; but if you have another purpose in mind you shall die. For thus said the Lord through Solomon: 'You who prepare a pit for your brother shall fall into it.' But because of his wickedness he failed to pay heed.”

I ask you now to place yourself in Sigibert’s shoes and consider the options that lie before you at this moment. You have your half-brother, the man who has attacked you relentlessly for 14 years and who murdered your sister-in-law, locked up in a city in the north. The people of his territory are pledging fealty to you en masse, your wife wants revenge for her sister, and you want to secure your kingship. One short siege is all it would take to drive Chilperic out of the city, and then it would all be over. As you stand at the precipice of gaining everything you want, gaining all of the territory of Francia outside of Burgundy and basically getting to proclaim yourself the winner, you have a single bishop come to you and tell you not to kill your brother. He doesn’t offer any concrete case as to why you shouldn’t do this except to quote Solomon. Would you, in this moment, honestly be able to call off the attack against Tournai based on so little as a bishop’s admonition?

If you – like myself – answered “no” to that question, you couldn’t call of the attack, well… you would be just like King Sigibert. He took his army and headed north, getting so far as the city of Vitry. Here he was placed on a shield and raised up as the true King, accepted by all of the people of the land. He reveled in his power and the glow of victory… until he felt the sharp pain of a knife being thrust into his body from either side. It was in this moment of victory, as Sigibert let his guard down, that he “was assassinated by agents sent from the court of his brother King Chilperic, acting under orders from Chilperic's wife, Queen Fredegunda.” The knives used in this attack were said to have been poisoned, thus ensuring that even if Sigibert didn’t die from the trauma of the stabbing he would still die from the toxins placed into his body.

The Assassination of Sigibert

This power play tells us much about Queen Fredegunda. First off, if true, she had pulled off one of the great last-second moves to pull victory from the jaws of defeat of all time, and she appears to have done so alone. Gregory recounts that Chilperic had been sitting in Tournai at this time and was “in suspense and did not know whether he should escape or perish, when messengers came to him to tell of his brother's death.” Second, it says something of how people viewed her that, whether she truly was the one to make the call to assassinate Sigibert or not, that she was still viewed as being capable of planning and ordering such an action. And finally, it speaks to the Queen’s powers of persuasion that she would be able to convince two men to walk into what would have been near-certain suicide to commit the murder. Dalton notes this effect she had by writing:

“She moves before us like some primitive creature beyond the pale of the moral law, and full of cruel instincts. She was the more dangerous through the fascination by which she cast a spell over men. She could always find a human instrument ready to commit for her the most inhuman crimes. Time after time appear the devoted assassins, prepared to risk their own lives in her service.”

Beyond Fredegunda’s personal charisma to get people to commit violent acts for her, we learn from the historian Edward James how, in this particular case, the assassination affected those involved:

“This assassination was a crucial event, which helps to explain many of the political events of the next generation. Sigibert's kingdom was not partitioned. Sigibert's Austrasian followers clearly wanted to preserve their independence as a kingdom, and, perhaps, to increase their own political influence; they, or at least one faction among them, installed Sigibert's five-year-old son Childebert II as king in 575. Chilperic took immediate advantage of the situation, invading Childebert's territories, notably the front-line civitas of Tours.”

So, this is how everything in Brunhilda’s otherwise perfect and well-ordered life fell apart, and it really stands to outline the key problem in an authoritarian government: the monarchy is always one death away from anarchy. Fredegunda cut through to the heart of this dilemma, literally and figuratively, by ordering the assassination of the Austrasian king and seeing the plot through to its end. Now of course, there is debate about how much agency Fredegunda really had in the plot. Some have argued that it all just makes for a good story, that the evil and conniving queen took charge while her craven and broken husband wallowed and waited for defeat. And for what it’s worth, there is fair reason to place some amount of stock in this argument, at least when viewing the primary sources. The two main books we can turn to for answers are Gregory’s Histories or the eponymous The Chronicle of Fredegar. Gregory was writing while Brunhilda was in power, and hence had every motivation to portray her well and Fredegunda poorly. By that same logic, Fredegar, writing after Brunhilda was well off of the scene and in disgrace, was writing to appease masters who wanted Fredegunda shown in a positive light. So really, there is no way of telling exactly what really happened, at least not to a level of proof that we could take to a modern court.

But for what it’s worth, here’s my take on the situation: Fredegunda was integral to the assassination. Even if she didn’t personally pick the assassins and place the poisoned scramasaxi in their hands, she certainly would have been in a position to influence the king and his actions. She had been able to get herself into the right position, at the right time, time and time again throughout our history to this point. She clearly had a hold of some sort over Chilperic if she was able to get him to re-marry her so shortly after the death of Galswintha; to show such blatant disrespect to the Visigothic princess, both in having her murdered and then by holding a ceremony practically over her dead body, would have sent a message to her contemporaries that Fredegunda was “in it to win it,” so to speak. She was a strong woman in times that required strong personalities to survive, and any literary discourse to disparage her is unsurprising given the treatment that we’ve seen afforded to women by most historians. It was typically easier to brand a woman as evil, plotting, or as a witch for actions that were regularly attributed to men as good, brilliant, or a sign of strong character and leadership. So, while I personally think that Fredegunda was probably a bit of a bully and not likely to be someone that I would want to spend too much time with, I will at least hand it to her that she did what she needed to do survive and to thrive, and she would have been willing to use all of the weapons at her disposal to accomplish her ends.

But I digress; this episode is supposed to focus on Brunhilda, not Fredegunda. But, for what it’s worth, I think the conversation we just had serves to spotlight the fact that these two women were so intertwined in history that it’s really hard to talk about one without inevitably bringing up the other. It’s funny in a way, how it worked out that two such vigorous enemies will always be brought up together. At any rate, Brunhilda would have been relatively blindsided by everything that happened. Remember, up until this point she had been a well-liked but not especially remarkable queen consort. She wouldn’t have had the education in court politics that her queenly rival would have had, and it’s honestly somewhat remarkable that Childebert II, now a five-year-old king, was able to even survive the situation. The historian Thomas Greenwood tells us:

“[Sigibert’s] army dispersed and Chilperic found no difficulty in resuming possession of his kingdom. His movements were so rapid that Brunhilda and her daughters were made prisoners at Paris and the youthful Childebert II, the only son of Sigibert, was, with difficulty, saved from captivity and probably from death by the promptitude of the Austrasian duke Gundebald, by whom he was conveyed to Metz and presented to his father's lieges as their sovereign. Brunhilda was imprisoned at Rouen and Austrasia fell a prey to the evils of a minority.”

Some stories, admittedly of lesser scholarly repute, attempt to tell us that the situation was so dire that Childebert II had to be smuggled away from Paris in a sack. It’s a fun story, but, being the father of two kids, I find it hard to believe that a five-year-old boy, freshly pulled from his mother’s arms in what would have undoubtedly been a chaotic situation, would meekly and quietly curl up in a sack for a fair amount of time while being transported by a horse. I think we can all agree, however, that it was a bleak situation for Brunhilda, who would have had to have made the choice to take a gamble on being parted from her boy, the crown prince and now-King, as the best chance for him to survive. Well, the gamble worked and Childebert II lived, but that left Brunhilda sitting in a prison in Rouen, the guest of the royal couple who had murdered her sister, assassinated her husband, and who had just retaken their territory with little or no trouble. Things weren’t looking too good for Brunhilda as we leave the story for this week in the year 575, but luckily for her, she wasn’t the only person having family problems, and she certainly wasn’t alone in her hatred of Fredegunda.

CONCLUSION: Next week, we’ll take a closer look at Fredegunda and fill in some of the gaps that have formed so far. Where did she come from originally? What other crimes is she accused of? And how would she take advantage of the situation that was now formed, wherein the kingdom next door is being run by a five-year-old whose mother is under her control? How much power did she really wield, and where do we go from here? Believe me, unless you’re already familiar with this story, you can’t even begin to imagine the twists and turns yet to come.

OUTRO: Alright, as always, the music used for the show comes from Josh Woodward and includes his songs “Bully” and “Lafayette.” For a free download of these songs or hundreds of other great tracks, check out his site at joshwoodward.com. Notes on this episode, a list of sources, a monarchy/family tree, and much more is available online at thugsandmiracles.com; check it out and be sure to sign up for the e-mail list. Speaking of email, you can write to me at thugsandmiracles@gmail.com, you can hit me on Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end), or you can leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram at @ThugsAndMiracles. Finally, I’d ask that if you have found yourself with a bit of downtime due to current events, consider taking the time to rate and review the podcast on whichever platform you use to listen; we always love five stars and warm comments.

Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and I look forward to seeing you in just ten days as we continue down the road of the lives and times of these two great Queens in our next episode of Thugs and Miracles.