• Ben

Episode 18: Guntram - King and Pawn

Alright, we’re back again; the lockdown here in the UK now extends to May 11, so that means we’ll be rolling out three more episodes between now and then to help keep you engaged and your mind diverted. For what it’s worth, I’m not alone in these efforts; there are a lot of other great shows out there that you should check out if you can’t get enough history. Written In Blood History just put out an awesome episode on Orson Welles and his War of the Worlds broadcast that seemed incredibly timely, what with everyone nowadays acting a little jumpy about everything in the news. Stephen also discussed how changing media formats added to people’s confusion; back in the early 20th century the jump was from print to radio. Nowadays the jump is from network media to social media, and while it’s not an exact correlation, there are plenty of historical parallels to think about. Another great show to listen to is Happy Hour History: Kayden just finished a two-parter on Agrippina, and even threw a little cut footage into a supplemental where she talked about Nero. If you want to skew more medieval and listen to a podcast with a lot of overlap with this show, I can’t recommend The History of Byzantium strongly enough. Robin starts in 476, just like us, and then proceeds to explain how and why things worked out the way they did in the east of Europe, and particularly with the Eastern Roman Empire. He’s got 205 episodes on his feed as of this show, so there’s plenty of back episodes to binge on. Moving back to the 20th century there’s The Year That Was, a show exploring the year 1919 from multiple angles. Elizabeth, the host of the show, has been on hiatus as of late, but her catalogue is a really wonderful listen and very well researched. I hope to hear new episodes from her soon and hope that maybe, if we boost her numbers, we can incentivize her to return. She was just about to get into the Black Sox baseball scandal and, with baseball and all the other sports having gone dark for the moment, I would love nothing more than to hear about Shoeless Joe Jackson, Chick Gandil, Bill Burns, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, and all of the other “boys of summer” from that crazy year. Finally, I recommend taking a listen to Inside History, The History of the British Isles, and Pax Britannica for anyone looking more deeply at English history, and there’s The Age of Napoleon, The Siècle, and The French History Podcast for those who want more of a French fix. All of these podcasts are on my personal playlist, so no recommendation comes to you without a personal listen. What I find best about all of these shows is that, even if two or more podcasts cover the same period, they all come to you with such different formats, energy and personality that they always feel fresh and different. So, give one, a few, or all of them a try, and enjoy listening while we all have some extra time for extra listening. With all of that said, let’s get back to the 6th century and start our show now…


Roi des Franks
King (and Saint) Guntram

Guntram had a problem with women.

This isn’t to say that he didn’t like women or was abusive toward them, but he did seem to have an almost magical knack to misread, misunderstand, and poorly choose those ladies that he kept in his company. It hadn’t always been that way; early in life he had taken up with a young woman named Veneranda, a slave girl, and for a brief, shining moment he had enjoyed what it felt like to be young, in love, and happy. Unfortunately, Veneranda could never be more to Guntram than a concubine; he was to be a king, and he could find no way in which he would be allowed to elevate a slave to be his queen. While the situation was perhaps unfair for Veneranda, both understood that this was the way of the world. Still, they enjoyed their time together and eventually had a son, a boy they named Gundobad. Perhaps Guntram and Veneranda could never be an official couple, but Gundobad would be allowed to be elevated to the royal trappings of his father. Guntram loved his son, and Veneranda took heart in knowing that her boy, the offspring of a slave, would rise well above her station.

Eventually, however, Guntram had to pull himself away from the happiness he felt with his son and his concubine. The real world, as it does for all of us, intruded on the young prince. His father, Chlothar, died in 561, and upon his death he split his kingdom in four parts. Guntram became the King of Burgundy, and as King he was forced to make the decisions that were best for his kingdom and his people. This sense of duty led him to marry a proper noblewoman named Marcatrude, the daughter of Magnar. It was a proper marriage and Guntram gave it his best effort to make things work. Within a short amount of time, Marcatrude was pregnant. His new Queen didn’t care for his illegitimate son, which Guntram could understand to an extent, and while it made him sad to do so, Guntram sent the boy away to Orleans so as to not upset his new wife as she went through her pregnancy. Now, away from the woman he had once loved and the son they had had together, Guntram settled into his new life as King alongside of his “proper” woman and waited for the next of his children to be born.

One morning a few months later, while out on a hunt, a messenger rushed up to the hunting party and delivered news from Orleans to the King: Prince Gundobad was dead. He had been gone to bed one evening after supper complaining of a sick stomach; when his servants went to wake him the next morning, they found the boy passed from the world. Guntram was beside himself at the news. His son, his boy, the link connecting him to Veneranda and that time not so long ago when he had been happy, was gone. He excused himself from the hunt and returned to the castle, the messenger at his side. When they were alone, the young man delivered a second message to the King, one that the sender in Orleans had asked him to give to the King only when they were alone. The King read the message, then headed straight for Marcatrude’s chambers.

He found the Queen combing her hair, her belly looking more swollen with their child day-by-day. He approached her, and though he wanted to kill her on the spot, he was soft and sweet and kind. He took the comb from her hands and started to stroke her hair himself. The Queen looked back, and it was only then that she saw the tears on the King’s face. “Why are you crying?” she asked.

He stared back at her and she could see his eyes go cold toward her. “I just received word that Gundobad is dead.” He paused for a moment, then added, “It appears that he was poisoned. Someone had him killed.”

The words took a moment to seep in before Marcatrude realized the magnitude of the statement. The king was implying, in no uncertain terms, that the boy’s death could be laid at her feet. She began to get up, to recoil from Guntram before he could strike her. It was unnecessary; the King would never do anything to possibly harm the child inside of her, though he very much wanted to harm her. Things would have been much different if she hadn’t been pregnant. The two stared at each other for several moments; there was something about the way in which she looked back that convinced Guntram beyond a doubt that she had definitely been involved in the boy’s death, and the look disgusted him. Without saying another word, he left the room. He couldn’t be away from her fast enough.

Marcatrude, left alone in a state of bewilderment, began to seriously reconsider what she had done. She had sent poison to Gundobad’s house, and she had wanted the boy to go away so her child could be the oldest in the line of succession, but at the same time, she had never had anything against Gundobad personally. She began to cry, partly for her part in everything that had happened, but mostly for the damage the plot had done to her position with the king. She spent the next hours and days trying to work out how to rectify what had happened; she sent for the king, but he wouldn’t see her. She stopped eating and was up until all hours of the night, until finally she was barely sleeping at all. Then, just as could be expected when a pregnant woman stops taking care of herself and begins living on grief, guilt, and fear, Marcatrude went into labor. Only, she was only at five months, and there was no way a child would survive at this point. The midwives came and did all they could to stop the labor, but there was nothing that could be done. Marcatrude ended up giving birth to her stillborn baby, a boy, within the same month that Gundobad had died.

Finally, Guntram came to see her. She was woozy, sick, and sleep deprived. He couldn’t seem to have cared less. He stood before her bed and delivered his verdict: She was to leave the next morning. She was to take nothing of value with her. She could go wherever she pleased, but he had already passed word to the monasteries and villages that no one was to help her in any way. He had arranged a burial for their son and he would take care of all arrangements, but she was not to take part in any ceremonies. He knew that she had been involved in Gundobad’s death, and the loss of her child only proved to him that she had run afoul of God’s judgement. And so too, she had run afoul of his. Before she could protest, Guntram turned his back and walked out the door to the room. He could her her wailing for him to return, to take her back. He walked on.

The next day, Marcatrude was taken to the gates of the castle and shoved off with rough hands into the chill of a Burgundian morning. She could barely walk, and now she was told to make her way, alone and unaided, in a world where everyone would avoid her like the plague. She was a queen, a daughter of privilege; she had never had to fend for herself and was in no position to figure out how to do so now. She stumbled away from the castle, looking back with tears on her face and with hope in her heart that maybe, just maybe, Guntram would show her mercy and view all of this as a lesson learned. Unfortunately for her, Marcatrude’s prayers went unanswered. She walked until the castle was out of sight, then entered a small wood.

It was there, several weeks later, where the dogs of the hunters found her lifeless body.

This is Thugs and Miracles. Episode Eighteen: Guntram – King and Pawn.

Alright, welcome back! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier. Today, we’re going to take a quick pause from the back and forth of Brunhilda and Fredegunda to get our bearings and re-evaluate who’s still in play. In all of the excitement, assassinations, illicit marriages and murders in the midst of the Easter Mass, it’s easy to forget that there were more than two people who were vying for control of Francia at this time. The most prominent of these “other” fighters was Guntram, the last of the four sons of Chlothar remaining alive and still the King of Burgundy. Of the four, Guntram was the only one to be acknowledged by the Catholic Church as a saint, which is relatively surprising given the opening story. But then again, it was the sixth century and things were… different. So maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.

Anyway, the opening line of the opening story was, “Guntram had a problem with women.” I stand by this assertion, though I will clarify that this was not necessarily his fault. He was simply on the scene for two of the most daunting females in history, so it’s not as if he brought all of his problems on himself. Along with this opening line, the story runs true to what Gregory tells us about Guntram’s love life. He had a son, Gundobad, with a slave girl. He then married Marcatrude, who was no fan of the young prince; she “sent poison, they say, and poisoned his drink,” and then she proceeded to miscarry her own pregnancy before being banished by the King. We’ve talked about royal banishments before and discussed how they were basically death sentences: to expect a posh noblewoman to go out into the real world on the spur of the moment, and almost always under less-than-ideal conditions, and suddenly turn into Bear Grylls was just not realistic. And so it was with Marcatrude; she “died not long after.” Now that he was back to no heirs, Gregory tells us that Guntram next took as his queen a woman called “Austerchild, also named Bobilla. He had by her two sons, of whom the older was called Chlothar and the younger Chlodomir.”

At this point, we can see a confluence of events involving Guntram beginning to form that would ultimately aid Brunhilda in returning to Austrasia and claiming her spot as her young son’s regent. The first thing to note is that Guntram, saintly or otherwise, was no better than his brothers – at this time in his life at least – when it came to taking advantage of the other’s missteps. Throughout the years leading up to 575, Guntram changes allegiances with his brothers several times. In 575 itself, Brandon Taylor Craft tells us, “Chilperic sent a messenger to his brother Guntram asking for support against Sigibert. Guntram agreed to support the attack, and so Chilperic once more invaded Sigibert’s lands.” However, Sigibert eventually turned the tide and successfully counterattacked, killing Chilperic’s son – who had been commanding the opposing forces – and desecrated the man’s body. This act of desecration seems to have stuck with Guntram. Craft tells us, “It appears then that Sigibert’s intention was not simply to reprimand his brother and restore his lost cities, but to destroy Chilperic and his kingdom. Recognizing Sigibert’s intention, Guntram made peace with Sigibert. After learning of Guntram’s withdrawal from the war, Chilperic fled to Tournai with his wife and children.”

So long story short, Chilperic would have every right to be upset with Guntram once he was free of Tournai. After Chilperic – or, more likely, Fredegunda – had successfully managed to arrange for Sigibert’s assassination, Chilperic would go on a rampage to grab as much Austrasian territory as possible while their armies were in disarray. And Guntram, seeing this, would have to had to assume that he was a potential target for Chilperic: he was the last brother alive and he had been as disloyal as one can be, giving Chilperic more than enough pretext to come after him. On top of all of this, he also wanted more lands and cities, and was willing to use the confusion of Sigibert’s death to do so, grabbing several Austrasian cities as his own during the interregnum. However, in 577, Guntram appears to have had a significant change of heart when it came to fighting with his northern neighbors. It was in this year that his two young boys, Chlothar and Chlodomir, became ill with dysentery and died.

Now, losing a child is always tragic, and throughout history there have been countless stories of people going nearly mad with grief over this type of loss. But for Guntram, this loss would have been professional as well as personal. The boys were his heirs, the people to whom he was going to pass on the kingdom. To lose them both, and at the same time, had to have been profound. Also bear in mind that Guntram has now lost four boys: Gundobad, the concubine’s son poisoned by his first wife; the miscarried child of that same wife; and now the two boys he had had with Austerchild. For a God-fearing man of the 6th century, he likely felt that he was either cursed or had done something to bring these losses upon himself; would he ever be able to have a boy of his own mature to adulthood? Add to all of this the fact that he was getting older, and well… he needed to figure something out to ensure his kingdom would pass on peacefully once he was no longer there. With that in mind, we get the following from Craft, who himself is quoting Gregory in the beginning:

King Guntram sent envoys to his nephew Childebert to sue for peace and to suggest a meeting. Childebert with his leaders came to meet Guntram.” Guntram made Childebert II his heir and promised that even if he were to have other sons in the future, he would still consider Childebert one of them. While Gregory does not elaborate on what the two kings were fighting over, or how long it had been occurring, the need for Guntram to sue for peace implies that both kingdoms were at war.”

This turn of events would have been a huge boon not only for Childebert, but his mother as well. Up until this point Brunhilda has been having a difficult time. She is the former queen; according to Ian Wood, “She had apparently been ignored by the Austrasians when Gundovald took over the protection of Childebert [in 575]; Gregory, recounting the events of 587, says that Ursio and Berthefred wished then to humiliate the queen as they had done when she was first widowed.” Even the circumstances of her return to Austrasia shed light on how low she had become in the wake of her husband’s death. She had married Merovech, a move that was at best impetuous; even if it had been done for protection or, God forbid, love, the match would still look disgraceful for her. She had a court looking to fill the power vacuum she had once filled and a relationship that made her look like damaged goods, and she wasn’t even her son’s regent. To put it mildly, Brunhilda had the deck stacked against her. Still, she appears to have been able to learn from her experiences and slowly rebuild her position. According to Dalton:

“Her fortunate escape from a most serious peril perhaps taught her prudence, and after her return to her son's kingdom she did not allow her passing inclinations to interfere with her policies; she had now two aims in life, to subdue the spirit of the Austrasian aristocracy, and to be revenged on Fredegunda. In the prosecution of these aims she at first walked warily, biding her time, and only braving open opposition when her faithful adherents were threatened with destruction… She was learning politics in a rude school, but profited by the schooling. In dealing with the irritable and suspicious Guntram, she showed tact and restraint under frequent provocation.”

Despite growing her influence with her son and his court, Brunhilda was still in a position where she had to overcome a great deal of pushback to her presence. The atmosphere around her had to have been extremely partisan, because what happens next is one of the most dramatic turn of events we have seen or will see, and that says quite a lot considering all that has happened already. At any rate, we must remember that, in the year 581, Childebert II was only 11 years old and therefore had little, if any, real influence over the court that ruled the Kingdom of Austrasia in his name. His mother, along with a man named Gogo, were the leaders of the dominant party within the King’s court; Gogo was officially recognized by the title of nutricius, a term that historian Kathryn Dutton tells us “emerged in the late Roman period to describe an older concept encompassing fosterage, protection, tutelage, and nursing, and bears a clear relation to nutrix, a female wet-nurse or midwife. Under the Merovingian kings, the function of nurse to the royal heir was appropriated by the mayors of the palace.” Clearly, the role of foster and mentor to a young sovereign and his heirs would be much coveted, at this time and in the future.

The second party – the opposition party – in the court of Childebert was led by Bishop Egidius of Reims; according to Walter Goffart, Egidius received money from Chilperic to act as a Neustrian agent. Both sides wanted to secure succession agreements with their respective partner king; although Brunhilda’s side had effectively managed to accomplish this with Guntram in 577, Egidius and his faction remained hopeful they could sway Childebert back into an agreement with Chilperic. Their chance to do this became much more pronounced in 580 when Chilperic and Fredegunda lost two more children, both boys who would have been heirs to the throne, and a job opening suddenly appeared for someone to be named as successor in Neustria. Gogo, Childebert’s nutricius and Brunhilda’s primary collaborator, subsequently died in 581, and suddenly we can see the situation wherein Childebert was leaning toward Guntram swing back to a situation where Childebert leaned toward Chilperic. Again, the boy-king was all of 11 at this time, so the amount of agency he had in the actual direction of his court is probably very low.

At this point, as if things were not already confusing enough, Egidius and his faction decided that it would be a great time to introduce a new wrinkle to the dynastic plot: they reached out to bring back the long-lost son of King Chlothar, a would-be brother to Guntram and Chilperic and co-claimant to power, back from exile in Constantinople. This son – Gundovald – was to arrive and lead an army in an uprising against Guntram; the army would be raised and funded, at least initially, by the anti-Brunhild cabal in Austrasia and powerful elements in Neustria. And this is more or less what happened: Gundovald landed in Marseilles in 582 and quickly got to work overrunning towns in Guntram-controlled areas of Aquitaine in southwest France.

So, let’s pause here for a moment to take a look at Gundovald’s resumé. He was born in the mid 540s, about nine months – as is so often the case – after Chlothar had a romantic tryst with the wife of one of his mill managers. Chlothar accepted his role in the situation and took the boy into his care; according to Bachrach, Gundovald “is described in a contemporary account as being "very carefully raised" and as having been provided with a serious education, to which he took with some enthusiasm.” The boy was considered as a possible heir to Childebert I, who had been childless, but Chlothar but a quick end to those notions by sending a note to his brother to send the boy back to him post-haste. As the two had been warring for some time and Childebert didn’t seem to be looking for any additional trouble, he acquiesced and sent Gundovald over. Chlothar, rather than simply disappearing the young man as we could easily imagine he might do to someone causing him trouble, chose to hold a paternity ceremony. This event, slightly less reliable than formal DNA testing, basically had Chlothar looking the boy over and then making a determination as to whether or not the kid was his. As Bachrach describes the situation:

“After examining Gundovald, Chlothar came before the court with the youth and, pointing at him, declared: "This one I did not father." The king then gave the order that Gundovald's long hair was to be cut short. This clearly was the ritual act by which the king emphasized that Gundovald had no legitimate claim as an heir to a portion of the regnum Francorum.”

Now, you might think this would be the end of the story, but obviously there’s more. Charibert, one of Chlothar’s accepted four heirs, looked favorably on Gundovald and seemed to keep him around in Paris as a possible claimant to the throne. Sigibert also seems to have accepted Gundovald for a while. However, when Charibert died in 567, none of the remaining brothers were looking to cut another person into the inheritance. Add into the mix that rumors had been spread about Gundovald and Brunhilda acting toward each other in ways unbecoming of in-laws and, well, long story short, Gundovald had to go (Side note: These rumors are likely untrue. Brunhilda was noted for her poise and seemed to be well aware of her position, and as such she would have been unlikely to have done something so rash as to romantically engage her husband’s half-brother. More likely, the two – who were closer in age than Brunhilda was to Sigibert, and who both were reported as intelligent – would have been seen talking, maybe even animatedly, which in turn would have started the gossip machine). At any rate, Gundovald was given a haircut – again, although this time at the hands of Sigibert – and sent on his way to the relatively out-of-the-way city of Cologne. One of the great Byzantine generals and intriguers of this time, Narses, noted all of these shenanigans with a fair amount of interest and decided to take Gundovald into the Byzantine fold, just in case he could ever prove useful in the future. Narses made arrangements to smuggle the would-be prince out of Gaul, and in short order Gundovald made his way to first Ravenna, then Constantinople. Gundovald’s use to the Byzantines is best summed up in the following quotes:

“Gundovald maintained his long hair; in other words, his patrons kept him available as a Frankish king should one be needed.” Bachrach continues a few pages later, “His value to the empire was primarily as a long-haired puppet-king who might be used in a variety of ways to help effect imperial policy in Italy, and more particularly, in the “Frankish provinces.” Broadly speaking, this might be done directly, as Narses likely had planned, or indirectly, through pressure that could be exerted upon King Sigibert of Austrasia and possibly upon King Guntram in Burgundy to support imperial interests in Italy rather than face a legitimate rival sustained by resources mustered in Constantinople. In light of the wars in Italy that had only recently ended and in which the Franks had played a role, the Merovingian kings and their advisers had some appreciation of the potential use to which a man of Gundovald's status could be put by the Byzantines. In short, the Merovingians were well aware of how Justinian (d. 565) had used such surrogates to provide a basis for an imperial policy of intervention.”

And this returns us to 582, Marseilles, and an attempted usurpation supported by elements of Frankish high society and the Byzantines. Gundovald, now nearing 40 years old and who had spent his entire life in a state of flux vis-à-vis his right to a position in the Frankish empire, was now back and ready to fight for his place. And his benefactors were ready for him to win; if he did, the Frankish parties involved would be on the ground floor of a new king, and the Byzantines would have a strong ally in place in Gaul who had arrived there with their support.

CONCLUSION: Alright, at this point I’m going to pause in the story, mainly because Gundovald’s arrival into Francia marks a good and memorable stopping point for the next episode. Quite honestly, if I push through to the end of the story at this point we’ll not only go WAY long, but I’ll also start to run low on research material since the library remains COVID closed. What I would like to do in these last few minutes is to acknowledge that, due to my attempts to introduce each key leader in their own episode, the narrative has taken on a bit of a Tarantino-esque, Pulp Fiction-type feel; characters arrive, they get fleshed out, and then they eventually merge into the main narrative and overlap with the other characters at key intervals. So, in an effort to save everyone listening the effort of having to re-listen and mark down the highlights, I offer the following rundown, starting from the death of Chlothar in 561.

In 561 Chlothar dies and leaves his kingdom to his four boys, Charibert, Sigibert, Chilperic, and Guntram. Charibert got Neustria, the western lands; Sigibert received Austrasia, the eastern kingdom; Guntram got Burgundy in the south; and Chilperic was given the original Frankish stomping grounds of Soissons and the north. Chlothar had earlier failed to acknowledge his paternity of a fifth child, Gundovald, who inherits nothing but is still allowed to hang out with his not-officially-half-brothers. The first of these brothers, Chilperic, took up with four different women, yet failed to produce a male heir. He married off one of his daughters, Bertha, to the pagan king Æthelberht in Britain – a move that will be significant later in our history, but also one that Charibert likely had no idea would be all that important. Charibert would eventually get excommunicated from the Church and would die in 567 before he had a chance to officially respond to that action. Charibert’s death and lack of an heir would send the remaining three brothers into a fight for control over his kingdom. They were fighting with one another pretty regularly anyway, but dividing Charibert’s lands was definitely the most lucrative prize they fought for up until this point. Outside of fighting, the three brothers had looked to do their duty through marriage. Guntram’s lack of success in this arena was spelt out earlier in today’s story, while at around the same time Chilperic was in the process of replacing Audovera, the mother of five of his children, with a servant girl named Fredegunda. Sigibert, seeing how well his brothers were failing in marriage, went the high road and married the Visigothic princess Brunhilda in 567. She made such a splash on the scene that Chilperic put Fredegunda aside in order to take on Galswintha, Brunhilda’s sister, as a proper queen. But Galswintha bored him, and her presence made Fredegunda murderous, which is, ironically, what happened to Galswintha. She was strangled in her bed in 568, the early Middle Ages version of celebrity “conscious uncoupling.” Fredegunda and Chilperic went right back to being a couple, and the brothers all had something to fight over again. While this was happening, Gundovald was starting to really outstay his welcome at Sigibert’s house and was moved to Cologne; he took off for the Byzantine Empire before anyone decide to “uncouple” him and would stay on the downlow for the next 15 years or so. From 568-575 the brothers would fight on-again, off-again, and Sigibert would eventually get the upper hand over Chilperic. He had him locked up in a siege in Tournai and really couldn’t possibly lose… until Fredegunda figured out a way to kill him with a few well-placed assassins. Chilperic broke out of Tournai, Brunhilda went to prison in Rouen, and her child with Sigibert, Childebert II, became the new King of Austrasia in Metz at the age of 5. Brunhilda did whatever she could to escape her imprisonment and get back to Childebert; in this frame of mind, she married the stepson of her nemesis, Merovech, a move that both served to get her some male support in these extremely patriarchal times, and also to really upset Fredegunda. Chilperic swooped in after the wedding to take Merovech away for a while and try to talk some sense into the boy, and in this tumult and confusion Brunhilda was able to slip back to Austrasia and begin re-building her power base. Merovech would never see Brunhilda again and would die a few years later, spurned by both his wife and father. Speaking of power bases, King Guntram worked to increase the ties between Austrasia and Burgundy at this same time of 577, mainly because it seemed more likely for him to build a good relationship with a kid he could name as his heir rather than rebuilding the relationship with his brother Chilperic. Also, his own boys had recently died from dysentery, so there was that. Ironically, Chilperic’s boys from Fredegunda would die a few years after this in 580, also from dysentery, leaving him without an heir. This fact, coupled with the changing court dynamics surrounding young Childebert and his regency, left an opening for a potential usurper backed by the Byzantine Empire to sneak back into Gaul in the form of Gundovald, which he did in 582. And that brings us up to the present in our story! I hope this irons out some of the wrinkles and any confusion you may have had, because I know the exercise did wonders for myself personally…

And that’s where we’ll pick up next week. Gundovald is in Marseilles and getting ready to tear things up in southern France and we have to ask: how far will he get? Will the support given to this usurper benefit those in the Austrasian and Neustrian courts who backed him, or will the whole affair just blow up gloriously in their faces? Welcome to the real Game of Thrones; just like in the show, you either win or you die. The stakes are no different, but in this case, they’re real.

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 also a list of all of the episodes I recommended at the beginning of this episode are 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, as always, we’d love to see reviews. If you have a chance to leave us a written review, that’s great! We can’t wait to read it. But if you only have a chance to leave five stars, well, we’d love to see that too!

Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and I look forward to seeing you in just ten days, as we find out who will rise and who will fall in our next episode of Thugs and Miracles.