• Ben

Episode 21: A Family Divided


Fredegunda Standing Over Sigibert

Brunhilda was in a bind.

In this year of 596, the Queen Mother was in a spot many mothers have found themselves in with sons, when young men decide it’s time to break free of a mother’s protection and act as an adult in their own right. In Brunhilda’s case, however, the stakes of this yearning for independence were infinitely higher than for most. You see, Brunhilda had been a power player in Austrasia for many years but, unfortunately for her, her power was always tied to a man, even if that “man” was only a child. Her ability to exercise control in the kingdom only extended as far as she was able to exercise control over the king, so for young Childebert to have grown up and now want to actually make his own decisions and rule in his own right… well, this was really inconvenient for Brunhilda – even if the “boy” was now 26 years old.

You see, Brunhilda was constantly having to find new ways to assert herself. When she had first arrived on the scene in 567 as a young, pretty Visigothic princess from Hispania, she had had almost no say in anything that was going on around her. However, as a 24-year-old woman who had been offered some education while growing up in her home court, it didn’t take long for her husband, King Sigibert, to notice that she was much more than just a pretty face. She earned his trust and respect, and he often listened to her counsel. He also shared her hatred of Fredegunda for that witch convincing Chilperic, King of the Neustrians, to murder her sister, Galswintha. Before long, Sigibert and Brunhilda went on campaign against Neustria, and by all indications things had been going swimmingly. Brunhilda had never felt so powerful, knowing that a word from her, whispered into her King’s ear, had the power to move armies.

That power vanished in an instant, the moment Fredegunda succeeded in infiltrating assassins into Sigibert’s presence. Wild with grief and well out of her depth following the assassination, Brunhilda did the only thing she could think to do. She gave her five-year-old son, now King Childebert II of Austrasia, to a trusted duke riding a fast horse, then prayed they would make it back to Metz before the Neustrians caught them. She knew there was no way out for her and, sure enough, she soon found herself residing in a prison cell.

Then along came Merovech. Merovech was Chilperic’s son, a boy barely able to grow a proper moustache, but despite his age, his blood made him a player in the Francian kingdoms. Brunhilda was still pretty at this point, a 32-year-old widow who possessed an intoxicating mixture of sadness, intelligence, worldliness and beauty; on top of all of this, she was known far and wide as Queen Fredegunda’s nemesis. This last bit did as much, if not more, than anything else to drive Merovech into Brunhilda’s arms. He hated his stepmother with a passion and would do anything to annoy her and harm her position. Given all of this, marrying the former Austrasian Queen seemed like a great idea. Of course, his dad went ballistic when he found out and the couple had to hide in a church until Chilperic calmed down, but he did eventually calm himself. Merovech and Chilperic left town for a while after that, ostensibly to discuss upcoming campaign plans, but Brunhilda had no doubt that part of the trip was also intended to drive a wedge between herself and Merovech. If this happened, she was through; Brunhilda had no intention of simply letting fate take its course, and instead took matters into her own hands. She went to the stables, used her force of presence and her title as the Crown Prince’s wife to scare the bejeezus out of a stable boy, and was on the road to Austrasia before anyone in Neustria noticed. She rode hard for a few days, and with a mix of luck and courage she was able to get across the enemy lines and back into her home kingdom. Merovech eventually chased after her and tried to get to her once she was firmly back in Austrasia. He pledged his love and devotion and made quite a show of himself before the court; Brunhilda had to admit, he was cute and he genuinely seemed to love her… but love did nothing to increase her power, and there was no chance of her bettering her position while a Neustrian prince was present in court. So, without ever saying a word to Merovech or answering his pleas, Brunhilda stood and left the chamber. She had used Merovech for what he was worth, and now that he had no more value he could go. The boy was dead just a few years later, an impostor to Austrasia and a traitor to Neustria.

Following all of this, Brunhilda used her position as Queen Mother to slowly grow and strengthen her position at court. She regularly outmaneuvered those around her and was finally able to take over as Childebert’s regent. She worked deals for the boy, making treaties and pacts with King Guntram in Burgundy to ensure that her boy remained in the King’s good graces. She constantly had to fight with various factions in the court around her, one of whom tried to sneak in the impostor king, Gundovald, to fight against Guntram. It took everything in her arsenal to convince the King that she had no part in these shenanigans and to keep her boy in the Burgundian line of succession. Quite honestly, Guntram never fully trusted her – but he didn’t let this stand against the boy, and Childebert remained the heir to Guntram’s crown. This was of the utmost importance to Brunhilda: Childebert would gain much more territory through diplomacy and good family relations than through warfare, and the outcomes of politics were more certain than the outcomes of battles.

Even after Childebert turned 15 and was recognized as a “man,” Brunhilda continued to effectively run the country. Everyone knew this, both inside and outside the kingdom. It was the reason that Pope Gregory wrote letters directly to her rather than the King when he wanted something done in Francia; she truly was the power behind the throne. The years passed and Brunhilda became more and more associated with Austrasia; thanks to Salic Law, she could never be the legal sole monarch of her kingdom, but Salic Law didn’t control public opinion and certainly couldn’t stop her from being the de facto monarch of the land.

Now here we were in 596. Brunhilda was 53, past those years in which she might become a mother, but still able to use her charm, innate beauty and – most of all – her intelligence to manipulate those around her. What she had lost in girlish prettiness had been more than made up for by her understanding of the kingdom and its government; if anyone wanted anything done, they came to her. If someone found themselves having run afoul of Brunhilda, well, this was going to make things tough on them. It was for this reason, this ability to run the show from behind the curtain, that Brunhilda had a fair number of enemies to go along with her admirers. One of these, shockingly enough to Brunhilda, was King Childebert’s young Queen Consort, Faileuba. The girl, a quiet little waif of a concubine that Brunhilda had let into the King’s presence in order to satisfy the young man’s lustful urges, had worked her way up from simply being a companion to the king to being his wife. She had two sons by him, and it felt like every passing day brought more confidence to the girl. She began to make comments about Brunhilda’s constant presence around her son. She began to point out that he could make the same decisions his mother was making; as King, he could probably make better decisions than his Mommy. Faileuba was sly, she was surreptitious, and she was effective. By 592, Childebert was looking for ways to assert himself and finally grow out of his mother’s shadow; when Guntram died in that year and left his entire kingdom to Childebert, the young king of most of the Franks decided that the time was ripe for him to finally be his own man. He listened to his wife, he listened to some of the renegade anti-Brunhild commanders, and he listened to his desire to be a strong military commander. He sidelined Brunhilda and her constant political machinations, instead opting for a full-frontal attack against Fredegunda so as to end the civil wars in Francia once and for all. He did this over Brunhilda’s repeated attempts to talk sense into the boy. She reiterated that diplomacy and good family relations were better bets than warfare, which had uncertain odds even at the best of times. She did her best, but Childebert wouldn’t listen. He pressed on with his plan… and he lost. Fredegunda had managed to get her forces to all of the right places and was willing to use anything at her disposal, to include camouflage, denial, and deception to get a tactical advantage over the Austrasians. She did all of this, and her people listened to her… and she won. Brunhilda had spoken and nobody listened. And they lost.

So, here was the bind in which Brunhilda sat as we began today’s episode. She needed to do something to reassert her control, to make sure her son didn’t let his moron wife and his overinflated pride and ego lead them all to death and damnation. They had every strategic advantage, yet somehow managed to lose a battle. And worst of all, they had lost to Fredegunda. Brunhilda could not let this stand.

As she sat and stewed, Brunhilda’s grandchildren entered the grand hall in which she sat and went about playing various games of sword fighting. They jumped around and smiled and laughed, and when they were done, they ran to their grandmother and let her hug and kiss them and give them her blessing. She loved being around them, loved how they were still on her side and willing to listen to what she had to say. The world had not yet gotten to these children, these boys who would be under her charge to watch and to make sure grew into proper kings if and when anything were to happen to their mother and father. But what were the odds of something bad happening to both Childebert and Faileuba at the same moment? They were both so young and vital, and they would both have to leave the scene together for Brunhilda to become regent again. It was a horrible, treasonous thought to think about the death of the King - but at the same time, the situation was beginning to feel like something drastic might need to be done before Faileuba and Childebert did too much more to weaken Austrasia with their stupid wars and ignorant advisors.

“Stop it,” Brunhilda thought to herself. “It’s one thing to think about the situation, but it’s another altogether to imagine the death of your son.” She left the hall to go lie down and to think about this notion. Was she willing to do something as awful as killing her boy, this man-child she herself had worked for so long to maneuver into ever greater heights of power? And were her motives really so pure as removing Childebert for the good of Austrasia, or were they intended mainly as a way to allow her to stay in power? Was she willing now, like some 6th-century Abraham, to place her son on the altar in exchange for a renewed regency with her grandsons? Just how much was Brunhilda willing to sacrifice to remain in power?

This is Thugs and Miracles. Episode Twenty-One: A Family Divided.

Alright, welcome back! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier. When we left off last week, Fredegunda was sitting pretty after her victory in Droizy. While the battle was a clear victory for the Neustrians and an embarrassment for the Austrasians, it still wouldn’t have had the effect of significantly changing the balance of power in Francia. The Austrasians were in control of much more territory, had much more access to a body of manpower from which to conscript new soldiers, and had an economic base to match all of this. In betting parlance, they were the “gorilla” sitting at the table: they didn’t need to be better or more skilled than the other people in the game, simply because they could afford to make bets and take losses that those around them couldn’t. Fredegunda could win all of the battles on her home turf that she wanted; she would almost never be able to break out. On top of all of that, battles were more costly for her due to the lack of resources at her disposal. If she got into a fight and was able to kill 3,000 of the enemy while only losing 1,000 of her men, it would seem like a win until she realized that 1,000 men equaled 10 percent of her available forces, whereas 3,000 only equaled three percent of her enemy’s. Add to that the disparity in recruitment, and suddenly we realize that every person and resource in the Neustrian army is a precious commodity that can’t be lost frivolously. Fredegunda would have been tied to asymmetric warfare and on the lookout for opportunities where she could get the most “bang for the buck.” With that said, she would have looked for low-cost, high-reward opportunities outside of military action to bolster her standing. One of these was the old stand-by: weddings.

Fredegunda had two remaining children: her son, Chlothar, and a daughter, Riguntha. If you can believe this, Fredegunda wasn’t an incredibly warm mother, to her daughter at any rate. Still, the girl was useful as a bride in an attempted dynastic alliance, and the time was ripe to form one with the Visigoths. Besides Neustria being in a weak position and in need of some outside support, the Visigoths had just gone through their own falling out with the Austrasians. If you remember back just a few episodes, Brunhilda had sent her daughter Ingunda down to Hispania in an attempt to forge a marriage alliance, but the girl was beaten and shamed soon upon her arrival when she refused to convert to Arianism. This led to her breaking off with her new husband, Hermenigild, and the two of them trying to lead an ill-fated insurrection. Long story short, the Visigoths still had another son to be married, Reccared, and they weren’t going to send back to Austrasia for another match. Enter Riguntha.

Riguntha was an odd choice – in my opinion anyway – and one that shows how vulnerable the Visigoths must have been feeling at this point in history. Remember, Riguntha was the daughter of the woman who murdered the daughter of the Visigothic queen, Goiswintha. I understand that national interests trump everything, but this would still have been a difficult black mark to look past. Additionally, Riguntha was Catholic, just as Ingunda had been. She is never noted as having converted to Arianism, and there’s nothing remaining in the historical archives to indicate that she definitely would convert upon her arrival. So… Goiswintha and Leuvegild, the Visigothic king, were putting themselves into another situation that could rightly turn out just as poorly as the Ingunda issue. Finally, Neustria – as we have already discussed – was small and struggling itself. It wasn’t exactly a powerful ally, and one that I doubt would have been able to send much in the way of support to the Visigoths, militarily or economically, if the latter needed it. So, I say again: it was a weird match.

Fredegunda had a way of overcoming some of these concerns: gold. A lot of gold. She sent the dowry along with Riguntha down to the south, clearly hoping to buy her way into a positive dynastic alliance. However, Riguntha is one of those historical figures for whom nothing ever seems to go right, and this trip was the epitome of poor planning and bad luck. According to Ted Byfield, in his book Darkness Descends:

“Rigunth was betrothed to Reccared, son of King Leuvegild of the Spanish Visigoths, and set out in the fateful year 584 with fifty carts of gold, silver, and fancy clothing. Much of this treasure was allegedly stolen along the way by her extensive entourage. The rest disappeared when they stopped at Toulouse, where they got the news of Chilperic’s assassination, and Rigunth took refuge in a church. Some of her attendants struggled home to tell Fredegund, who naturally jailed and tortured them.”

Yeah, it was a bad spot to be in to have to tell Fredegunda anything she didn’t want to hear. She is said to have once cut the hands and feet off of a cleric who she had sent to murder Brunhilda but who was caught before he could carry out the act. In the case of Riguntha, the men returning to tell Fredegunda of her daughter’s capture were men that were supposed to have secured the treasure – and, oh yeah, Riguntha too. Instead, they had come back to Neustria with no gold, no girl, and no Visigothic alliance. Add to all of this that Chilperic had recently been murdered, and well, I can only say that I don’t envy these men for having to be the bearers of bad news. Gregory tells us the scene played out like this:

“While queen Fredegunda was living in the church at Paris, Leonard, formerly an officer of the household, who then came from Toulouse, went to her and began to tell her of the abuse and insults offered to her daughter, saying: “At your command I went with Queen Riguntha and I saw her humiliation and how she was plundered of her treasures and everything. And I escaped by flight and have come to report to my mistress what has happened." On hearing this she was enraged and ordered him despoiled in the very church and she took away his garments and the belt which he had as a gift from King Chilperic and ordered him out of her presence. The cooks and bakers, too, and whoever she learned of as returning from this journey, she left beaten, plundered, and maimed.”

Alright, so we can see that a political dynasty was not in the cards for the Neustrians, at least not right now. And this brings us back to Fredegunda’s other, and arguably favorite, form of asymmetric warfare: assassinations. These attacks make perfect sense when viewed from a strictly economic point-of-view; Fredegunda incurred no personal risk with such an attack, she stood to gain a huge reward if the attempt was successful – such as we saw with the death of Sigibert in 575 – and if the attempt failed, she was only out one assassin. These attacks against Brunhilda and Childebert had to have felt pretty commonplace for everyone in play at this time. According to Byfield, “Fredegund’s agents seem to have failed in at least half a dozen assassination attempts.”

All of this brings us back to 595-6. Childebert is at the height of his power, minus a few failed military campaigns. He has his wife, his kids, and the future is bright. Ian Wood noted that “In the early 590s Childebert was clearly a successful monarch,” and the authors of Les Grandes Chroniques de France wrote thatKing Childebert was very powerful, for he possessed two kingdom[s].” There seems to be no real argument that the power of the Franks and their subsequent lines will run through this young king – and that makes his sudden, unexplained death all that much more tragic. François de Mézeray tells us the following:

“About the month of October, in Anno 595, Childebert and his Wife were both snatched out of the world by sickness, near the same time; perhaps it was by poison from Fredegunda’s shop, or of Brunehaud’s preparation: Fredegonda being their avowed enemy, and Brunehaud put beside her authority by her son’s age, which she might possibly endeavour to recover in the minority of her [grand]children. Childebert died in the 25th of his age, and the 20th of his Reign. I know there are some chronologists that allow him three years more; as also 33 years Reign to Gontran: but let us leave them to handle these briers and thorns. He had two sons, Theodebert and Thierry, who succeeded him; Theodebert had Austrasia, Thierry had Burgundy, and the Kingdom of Orleans.

de Mézeray’s rendition of the history doesn’t do much to pinpoint how Childebert and his wife died, but it does clarify the idea that scholars and historians have had equal suspicions of Brunhilda and Fredegunda for this event for centuries. Fredegunda’s involvement in a poisoning makes perfect sense; if anything, it would have been fully expected. What makes it difficult for me to understand is how she would have been able to pull off the poisoning. Childebert was no debutant when it came to the idea of Fredegunda making attempts on his life; as such, there should have been layer upon layer of security for the king, not just from physical attacks but also from poisons. An assassin would have had to have been in a position of trust and authority, or would have had to bribe or coerce someone to grant them access to the king’s food and drink. Finally, as only the king and queen are noted as having died, this indicates the poison was planted and targeted at them directly. It wasn’t stirred into a stew or some sort of communal dish that affected everyone. It seems like the list of suspects able to apply this level of direction would be fairly short; however, none of the histories note a suspect being caught or punished.

Now, one author in particular, writing in times nearer to Childebert and Brunhilda, claims in no uncertain terms that the royal couple was poisoned. This author was the Lombard historian Paul the Deacon, and he was writing in the 8th century. While this sounds much closer to events than ourselves, let’s remember that this still places Paul somewhere between 100 and 200 years distant of the actual events, and in a completely different region. It would be akin to me writing about the Battle of Waterloo based on oral histories and a handful of closely guarded documents, with no access to modern libraries, the internet, or any other forms of media. Basically, let’s take Paul with a grain of salt. Ian Wood tells us that “from Fredegar's chronicle it is possible to date the king's death to 596, but Paul is the only author to record unequivocally that Childebert was murdered.”

Who knows… perhaps the King and Queen both happened to eat bad fish or drank tainted wine. Perhaps they both caught a very bad case of the flu, or some other communicable disease. Perhaps they died while taking part in some sort of lewd act and Brunhilda had her people sweep it under the rug so as to preserve their dignity. Perhaps Brunhilda had them killed, or maybe Fredegunda finally had a plot work to fruition. Perhaps Brunhilda let one of Fredegunda’s plots work so she could take back control of the throne while still blaming the Neustrians. Honestly, there’s no shortage of potential storylines and “what-ifs” here, but we’ll probably never be able to confirm or deny any of them. So, let’s stick with what we do know: King Childebert is dead, so long live Kings Theudebert II and Theuderic II. Brunhilda holds the puppet strings of their regencies, making this the third generation of Merovingian kings she has exercised control over either as Queen or Regent.

This, finally, leads us to the event we have been waiting for, the showdown of all showdowns. Chlothar II was only 12 years old when Childebert got poisoned/fell ill/died, meaning that his mother was still running the show in Neustria. Brunhilda, as we just pointed out, is the regent to a nine- and a ten-year-old. This confluence of events, of so many dead princes and kings, is how two women – people who, by the Salic law, were not allowed to own their own property or wear the royal crown in their own right – became the de facto heads of state in Francia. And, because they hated one another, it’s also how they were able to leads their respective armies against one another. However, more than hatred was at play as Neustria and Austrasia went back to war. According to Craft:

Fredegund, similar to many previous Frankish rulers, was taking advantage of the misfortunes befalling another Frankish king. Childebert II’s death left a power vacuum in his kingdom, one which would eventually be filled by his two sons, but, in the wake of his death, his kingdom was in a weak position. The kingdom was being divided among his two sons. Seizing this opportunity, Fredegund expanded her son’s dominion, an action which most of the Merovingian kings…would have taken.”

In this regard, I completely agree with Craft. Up until this point in our history, we have repeatedly seen kings pounce upon the hardships experienced by their brothers to better their position. Chlothar I and Childebert I both stabbed their own nephews to death to get their kingdom. Guntram, saint that he was, sent Charibert’s wife off to exile when that king died in 567, and later on he had various elements of rival kingdoms call in the usurper Gundovald to challenge his kingdom when he was perceived as weak. We know that there is no level too low to stoop to for these kings if the end result is that they may be rewarded with some extra land or a bit more power, so should we really be all that surprised that Fredegunda would do the same?

At any rate, according to Fredegar:

“That year [596], Fredegunda, with her son the king Chlothar, grabbed Paris and some other cities, in the manner of the barbarians and without a declaration of war. An army left from a place named Latofa to march against the sons of Childebert, Theudebert and Theuderic. The two armies came together, and Chlothar rushed with his warriors on Theudebert and Theuderic, making a large carnage of their soldiers.”

This is about all we really know of the Battle of Laffaux, the city now named for Latofa that was mentioned in the quote. Much like Droizy, the armies of Austrasia should have been larger and better armed than those of the much smaller Neustrians and, much like Droizy, the Austrasians managed to lose the battle. However, unlike Droizy, the Neustrians apparently won the day at Laffaux through the use of a military charge for the ages; this tactic would have been much different than the stealthy use of camouflage and deception used to sneak up on the enemy in the first battle. This shows us that the Neustrians were an adaptive military force, and this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: being smaller, they would have been forced to resort to whatever tactic gave them the best chance of success on any given day, and also would have to take advantage of keeping their enemy surprised and guessing. In the case of both battles, the credit for the win can go to the person in charge at this time: Queen Fredegunda. She had successfully managed to hold onto power and grow an army, then retake cities and hold off an Austrasian coup de grâce multiple times over. She had set the example for her son, Chlothar, as to how to use all of the means at their disposal to survive, move forward, and win. And it was with this final battle, this final display of how to defeat one’s enemy through whatever tactic is needed on any given day, that Fredegunda finally handed over power to her son.

We’re told that Fredegunda died quietly and of natural causes on 8 December 597. She would have been 52 at the time of her death, an age that was neither young nor particularly old. No matter how long she lived, however, one must admit that she lived about as action-packed a life as any one person could live, and she did so mostly of her own volition and skill. Unlike every other person in our story that has done great things, she started with almost nothing to give her an advantage. She wasn’t royal, she had no pedigree, she had no money, and the laws of the land were designed to keep headstrong women in their place. Honestly, she’s unlike anyone we’ve seen to this point, and reminds me most strongly of the Byzantine Empress Theodora. In her case, she too rose from a low position – as an actress, and perhaps even as a prostitute – and rose through the attachment she was able to form with a powerful man, Justinian. During the Nika riots – described wonderfully in Robin Pierson’s History of Byzantium podcast – Theodora almost single-handedly altered the course of history when she convinced her husband to stand and fight rather than running to his ships to flee. She told him and his advisors:

My lords, the present occasion is too serious to allow me to follow the convention that a woman should not speak in a man’s council. Those whose interests are threatened by extreme danger should think only of the wisest course of action, not of conventions. In my opinion, flight is not the right course, even if it should bring us to safety. It is impossible for a person, having been born into this world, not to die; but for one who has reigned it is intolerable to be a fugitive. May I never be deprived of this purple robe, and may I never see the day when those who meet me do not call me empress. If you wish to save yourself, my lord, there is no difficulty. We are rich; over there is the sea, and yonder are the ships. Yet reflect for a moment whether, when you have once escaped to a place of security, you would not gladly exchange such safety for death. As for me, I agree with the adage that the royal purple is the noblest shroud.”

Empress Theodora at the Coloseum

This action, leading her husband to take action that allows him to live another day and remain Emperor, are strikingly similar to how Fredegunda took action for Chilperic when the couple was locked in a siege in Tournai. Rather than meekly giving into convention and letting the both of them die, Fredegunda took the initiative to assassinate Sigibert and turn the tide of battle. Instead of dying in 575 in obscurity, Fredegunda would live 22 more years, would give birth to the Neustrian heir and king, would raise him to the threshold of manhood, and would even lead his armies to victory. The Duke of Wellington is noted as saying of Napoleon that his presence at a battle was worth 40,000 fighting men. Well, how much could we say Fredegunda’s presence was worth to her people, considering that if not for her the Neustrians would have ceased to exist on multiple occasions?

One final note on Fredegunda: You can visit her to this day, or her tomb, at any rate. She was originally interred in the abbey church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but she was moved to the Basilica of Saint Denis. Her tomb is a mosaic figure of marble and copper; with pictures are on the website and social media. The fact that her tomb still exists, when the bodies and resting spots of countless others have long ago disappeared, should tell us all a little bit about how influential this woman was. Was she chaste, humble, meek and “good,” in the way that most people would expect a woman and queen, especially one of this era, to be? Absolutely not. But was she a dynamic, strong and able person who used everything at her disposal to rise high above her station? Absolutely. And with that, I leave it to you to make your own determination about Fredegunda, to pass your own judgement. No matter what you decide, we can all know for sure that someone like her would never apologize for anything she did in her life for even a moment.

CONCLUSION: Alright, we’re going to end there for the week. When we come back, we’ll find out just how well the Neustrians are going to do for themselves in the A.F. period: After Fredegunda. Brunhilda is still in power, her sons now control Austrasia and Burgundy, and despite their repeated losses in various battles, they still maintain a large size and resource advantage over the Neustrians. Will Chlothar II be able to hold on now that his Mom is no longer there to run the show for him? Will Theudebert and Theuderic be unlike other Merovingian brothers and actually decide to play nice while controlling side-by-side kingdoms? And will any of these kings eventually end up uniting the three kingdoms under one crown again, giving us another King of All the Franks? Answers to these questions and more, are just 10 days away.

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 other great history podcasts are all available online at thugsandmiracles.com. Be sure to sign up for the free e-mail list so I can keep you up-to-date with all things T+M and announcements on new shows; thanks to Stephen Findlay for being among the most recent to sign up! If you want to hear your name here too, simply sign up for the 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 and Instagram at @ThugsAndMiracles. As always, we love reviews and ask that if you’re enjoying the show, please take a moment and pop up five stars on your podcast player of choice. We really do appreciate it!


Finally, I need to say thanks to my wife Jayme for providing the voice of Theodora and the quote toward the end of today’s narrative. It’s the first time you’ve heard a voice other than mine on this show up to this point, and if you liked it, it would go a really long way to give some positive feedback to her on the social media sites I mentioned above. So, if you get the chance, show her some love!


Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and I look forward to seeing you in just ten more days, as we move on into a world without Childebert and without Fredegunda, but one where Brunhilda is still alive and still pulling strings, and we finally break into the 7th century, as we get into our next episode of Thugs and Miracles.

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