• Ben

Episode 22: My Brother's Keeper


The look after a tonsure... (actually a portrait of St Bartholomew, by Carlo Crivelli, 1473, in the Ascoli Piceno Cathedral

Theudebert made no motion as he watched his hair fall to the ground next to his knees. He felt no emotion, even though this should have been the most humiliating moment of his life. He was numb. He was defeated.

He had lost everything. And he had lost it at the hands of his brother and his grandmother.

There had been a time when things had been so much different, when everything was ascendant for him and the world lied in the palm of his hand. He had worn the long hair of Merovingian royalty and was groomed from birth to be a king. His father and mother were loved, and the kingdom was growing in strength and esteem every day. He remembered running around the palaces his family kept, playing swords with his brother and having everyone treat him with adoration and respect. He remembered the visits he would pay to his grandmother, Brunhilda, and how she would dote on him and give him a special blessing every time they parted. Then he became a king, and it all went wrong.

He didn’t become king in the way he had expected. His father was a young man when he had died, only 26 years old. At the young age of 10, Theudebert could never have envisioned a world without his mother and father. But then came that fateful day when Brunhilda had entered his room and gave him the news: his mother and father had both been killed, poisoned by his great-aunt, the Neustrian Queen Fredegunda. They were dead and now he was the King of Austrasia. His younger brother, Theuderic, had been named the King of Burgundy. In one moment, while he slept, he had gone from being the Crown Prince inside of a loving family, surrounded by his young parents and his brother, to being a monarch with no parents and a brother who was being packed off to ascend his throne in a land hundreds of miles away. The only person who remained to “comfort” him was Brunhilda.

Things started poorly. Almost immediately after Theudebert’s transition to power, his uncle, the 12-year-old Chlothar II, and his mother, Fredegunda, looked to take advantage of the upended situation in the kingdom and led their armies into battle. They took Paris, then met the Austrasians in battle at Laffaux. Brunhilda, who had been so critical of Gundoald and Wintrio just a few years earlier when they lost to the Neustrians in Droizy while fighting at the behest of her son, now had the chance to show that her forces – larger, stronger, and better equipped – were the dominant military power in Francia. And… they lost. They had been forced to flee the field, thus ceding all of the land as far as the River Meuse into the hands of the queen of Neustria.

It was following this defeat, when the dukes in charge of the battle returned, that Theudebert began to realize that his grandmother was not acting as his regent in a manner that was intended to teach him how to rule. Rather, she was ruling all by herself, barely even acknowledging the young boy-king sitting in the room with her. She shut him down on the handful of times he attempted to say a word or ask a question as to what was going on, and this left a really bad taste in his mouth. It reminded him of arguments he had overheard between his mother, Faileuba, and his father, Childeric, and how his mother had implored his father to let Brunhilda stop ruling the kingdom, to take charge for himself. Young Theudebert had heard these words but didn’t fully understand why the three adults couldn’t just get along; now, sitting on the throne and feeling how Brunhilda would simply push him to the side, he could understand what his mother was saying and vicariously feel her frustration. More directly, Theudebert’s lover, a young slave-girl named Bilichilde who had been given to him as a present and a distraction by his grandmother, had taken the role his mother had played in questioning Brunhilda. She now asked Theudebert many of the same questions: Why didn’t he take charge? Why didn’t he kick her out and lead himself?

Things went on like this for several years. It was odd, thought Theudebert sarcastically, how his grandmother didn’t seem to be as upset about the losses incurred by the armies she sent into the field as she had been by the armies that lost at Droizy just a few years earlier. He didn’t bother pointing out her hypocrisy; he had learned that it just wasn’t worth the argument to do so. During these years, while sitting under his grandmother’s thumb and doing nothing to learn how to rule a kingdom – his kingdom – a pestilence and drought hit the land. It got so hot that one of the lakes near Chateaudun saw all of the fish inside of it die, and rumors circulated that the lake had been so hot that the fish washed ashore fully cooked. While this was undoubtedly an exaggeration, the people were starving and dying and it was becoming harder and harder to keep them calm. Luckily for the king’s court, Warnachar, Mayor of the Palace, became ill and died at this time, and he just so happened to have willed his entire estate for distribution to the poor as alms. This was convenient as it cost the throne nothing, calmed the people for a short while… and removed another person from the court who Brunhilda didn’t care for. Duke Wintrio had died a year earlier, and it was becoming well known that a strong correlation existed between being on Brunhilda’s bad side and an early death. Theudebert heard all of this, along with rumors that perhaps it hadn’t been Fredegunda who poisoned his parents.

During one of their next meetings, this one in 599, Brunhilda once again began her attempts to control the room. She began to speak, but this time as she did a thought crystalized inside of Theudebert: Brunhilda needed to go. She was implicated in the murder of several of his closest counselors, had run a disastrous military campaign, and the affairs of state were in the worst condition anyone could remember. A few more years like this and the people would almost certainly be revolting, and in the meantime, well, God forbid that Theudebert upset his grandmother too badly: he could end up just like his parents. To avoid this, he would need to act fast and with conviction. He knew what he had to do.

“Get out,” he said, interrupting his grandmother’s monologue to the court.

She stopped short, shocked that anyone would have the temerity to interrupt her. “What did you say to me?”

“Get out!” the King now yelled. “Shut your mouth and get out of this room. Leave this castle and leave this land. I don’t care where you go, just GET OUT!”

The room froze for an instant, unsure of what to do. The king was the king, but Brunhilda had been in control of the kingdom for so long that it was almost impossible for people to separate the two in their minds. Theudebert broke the silence by calling the guards over to escort his grandmother. He called behind her as she was led away, “You have led our Kingdom into ruin and attempted to usurp our power just as you usurped my father’s. I will not have it. I am the King and I will run my kingdom as I see fit. Now go, before I choose to do worse than simply exile you.”

That had been the last time Theudebert had seen his grandmother before today. He had kicked her out of Austrasia in 599, and in the intervening years she had installed herself with Theuderic in Burgundy. For these past 13 years she had instigated battle after battle between him and his brother, and Theudebert had often daydreamed of having chosen to order her execution right there in front of the court on that long-ago day rather than having had her sent into exile. How things might have been different if he had…

Now, 13 years later, Brunhilda finally had her revenge. She had instigated the battles and rivalries necessary to capture Theudebert. She had led Theuderic to claim the throne of both Austrasia and Burgundy, reuniting what had been their father’s kingdom. And she had convinced Theuderic over time that Theudebert wasn’t even his brother, that he was nothing more than the result of an adulterous tryst between their mother and some random gardener; she managed to besmirch the memory of his mother while at the same time disowning him. He had to admire the witch’s ability to twist the narrative.

Now here he sat, watching the royal clippings of his hair fall to the floor of his prison cell. He had been reduced, disowned and disgraced. He had acted against his grandmother with the impetuousness of a teenager, and she had responded with the calculated and cold-blooded actions of a woman who had spent nearly 40 years manipulating everything and everyone around her. Her victory was complete when she came by his cell that morning, just before the monks arrived with their shears. She walked before him calmly, squared her body to his, and began to speak quietly and calmly.

“Get out,” she said. “Shut your mouth and get out of this room. Leave this castle and leave this land. I don’t care where you go, just get out!”

She repeated to him, verbatim, the words he had said to her so long ago. Each one had remained with her this entire time, a fuel for the fire and rage she had turned against him the moment she left Austrasia. She didn’t care that thousands had died in their civil wars, she didn’t care that she had disowned her own grandson and killed his family, and she didn’t care that she had weakened Francia as a whole. She only cared that she had won and that she had lived to be able to whisper those words back into his ear.

For her, the means to accomplish this were more than justified by the ends. No one crossed Brunhilda and no one kept her from power – not even her own family.


This is Thugs and Miracles. Episode Twenty-Two: My Brother’s Keeper.



Alright, welcome back! I’m Benjamin Bernier, and this week we’re looking at the relationship of three people in particular: King Theudebert II, King Theuderic II, and their grandmother, Brunhilda. As we can see from the opening story, things went south between Theudebert and Brunhilda pretty quickly, and she ended up spending the majority of the rest of her life in Burgundy with her other grandson, Theuderic. So, how did this all go down?

Well, as we talked about last episode, Childebert II died in 596 under suspicious conditions. Madeleine Krieger gives us a great description of what followed from this situation; however Childebert died, Brunhilda was the one who benefited the most. From Krieger:

“The year 596 was a watershed for Brunhild as she made the transition from Queen Mother back to Queen Regent after Childebert’s untimely death. Childebert’s sons inherited one kingdom each, in the traditional Merovingian fashion of dividing inheritance between sons. However, Theudebert, who inherited Austrasia, was only ten years old and his younger brother Theuderic, who inherited Burgundy, was only nine. Brunhild became regent for both her grandsons, and so held the totality of Childebert’s kingdoms together under her single rule. Unlike her previous regency, there were no attempts from within her own courts to prevent her from taking up the position.”

Basically, Brunhilda was the unquestioned, undisputed leader of the land, at least within Austrasia and Burgundy. Outside of those regions, however, Fredegunda and Chlothar II managed to hold onto the now much-diminished region of Neustria, and it looks like they were more than happy to meet the Austrasians in open battle as Fredegunda and Chlothar looked to expand their holdings post-Childebert. They grabbed up Paris and several other cities, then swung over to Laffaux and fairly handled the Austrasians despite that group’s myriad advantages in manpower and logistics. If we have learned nothing else from the 6th century and the Merovingians, it’s that no time is better to start a fight than the transition period created by the death of a ruler. Whether it’s confusion caused in the direct aftermath of the king as a military commander, à la Sigibert in 575, or the confusion caused as people attempt to develop new cliques during an uncertain and unclear transition of power, à la what happened after the deaths of Chlodomir or Charibert, we know that these periods are gold mines for external powers to encroach new lands. Fredegunda was as power hungry as anyone we’ve explored to this point, so it certainly should come as no surprise to see her immediately mobilize her forces as soon as Childebert’s body hit the floor.

As we know from last week’s episode, this victory at Laffaux was Fredegunda’s last dance. Her loss seems to have weakened the Neustrians in the near-term, as after her death Chlothar’s army failed to push the offensive any further. Now, her death and the army’s slowdown could have been coincidental – I’ll leave the determination of causality between these two events to smarter people than myself – but the key takeaway from all of this is that the Neustrians ceased pushing as far and as hard as they had been. This should have allowed the Austrasians the time and space they needed to shape events in the best interest of their kingdom. I mean, we have a situation where 90 percent of the land and resources belong to a single regent; one of the that regent’s key enemy motivators – and Brunhilda’s personal nemesis – is dead; and the surrounding tribes have been largely subdued and pose no real threat. So now is the time to thrive, right?

Well, this is another spot where the history gets sticky, politically-speaking. You see, Gregory of Tours, who had been relatively Team Brunhilda, died a few years before these events in 594, and no one picked up his mantle as the Queen’s friendly biographer. Without trying to give too much away in our story, let’s just say that if the old cliché is true and history is written by the winners, well, Brunhilda gets a lot of trash talk thrown her way by later historians who likely have a vested interest in Chlothar II. As a result, her depiction in history goes from “kindly queen” to “overbearing/evil grandmother” very abruptly. So we’re left to contemplate some of the stories to come with the lingering notion that either Gregory sugar-coated the queen in his writings and therefore didn’t really introduce us to who she was as a person, or that she is viciously exaggerated in her lust for power by a group of sycophantic history writers who wanted to commit her to the annals of history in a way that would best please their patrons. In cases like this, I’m almost always a middle-of-the-road kind of guy: she probably wasn’t as good as Gregory would have us believe, nor was she as bad as Fredegar and others have painted her.

With all of that said, it does seem that Brunhilda was much better at getting into positions of power than actually wielding power once she got there. Her handling of Laffaux was lackluster, and the plague that struck the land not long after that, as described by Fredegar, indicates a power structure that was out-of-touch with the people and unresponsive to their basic needs. Moreover, it appears that intra-court dynamics were taking up more and more of her time, and a strong cabal of leaders in Austrasia were coming together to try and push her out of power. Brunhilda got the upper hand on Wintrio in the year 599 – he was the general who went on campaign for Childebert and failed to notice that the trees in the forest near the camp were, you know, people holding sticks and branches – and she had him and his poor eyesight executed. While she had this success in blocking a political opponent, she missed the mark in other places. The History of France by Jules Michelet tells us the following tale:

“The aged Brunehault conceived the plan of reigning herself, by plunging her grandson, Theodebert, into a vortex of dissipation; and her plan succeeded only too well. The weak prince was soon governed by a young female slave, who managed to have Brunehault banished.”

Now, it’s not hard for me to believe that Brunhilda would have tried to distract her grandson with some female companionship, in this case a young woman named Bilichilde, and it’s also not hard for me to accept that the girl could have spurred Theudebert to take a little more of a leading role in his own kingdom, but it is hard for me to believe that Brunhilda would be banished from Austrasia based on the wiles of a single slave girl. Yes, Brunhilda could have overlooked her competition, and that could have certainly been a factor, but it seems more likely that the girl would have had more success in getting Theudebert to give his grandma the boot if she had some coaching helping her out. Charles Oman tells us that “in 599 a final rising took [Brunhilda] by surprise, and she was forced to fly alone and unaccompanied from Metz to save her life.” His description of a “final rising” gives the mental imagery that the Queen Regent’s exile was a coordinated event, backed by many in the kingdom and not simply pushed for by a single, power-hungry slave girl.

Finally, I personally found it interesting, as I went through the research, to notice how little agency was given to young Theudebert by almost all of the histories written about him, yet at the same time many of these same writers reveled in noting how much animosity Brunhilda held against her grandson in the coming years. She is noted as having spurred on wars between the brothers, having claimed that Theudebert was the result of an adulterous affair between his mother and a landscaper, and having urged his tonsuring once the king was captured nearly 13 years later. That level of retribution again suggests that Theudebert was culpable in kicking his grandmother out of Austrasia in a way that was more active than simply having been manipulated as a pawn of a strong clique at court or as the easily puppeted plaything of a slave girl. It’s entirely possible that Brunhilda was a wicked old lady who easily held a grudge against her own blood relative, but for my money, I find it easier to believe that Theudebert took a very active role in moving Brunhilda along, taking back the throne for himself that she thought she would be perfectly happy to sit in as regent for many years to come. Kids did seem to grow up quicker back then, and it’s worth remembering that, only a generation or two earlier, Theudebert I was said to have led an army against the first Danish invasion of France when he was only 16. But then again, Theudebert II was only 13 years old when all of the court intrigue we’re talking about now took place, so it’s hard to imagine the amount of intestinal fortitude he would have had to muster and maintain against Brunhilda to see her all the way through to being thrown out of Metz. I can accept the teenaged king having had the initial gumption to stand up to his grandmother, but he would have needed the some heavy support behind him to deal with the blowback of such a decision.

Anyway, this leads us to 600 (yay, we finally made it through the 6th century!) and a very brief period of rapprochement between Theuderic and Theudebert. Charles Oman tells us:

“When Theudebert II and Theuderic II grew up and reached early manhood, they united for a moment to attack their cousin Chlothar, and to recover from him the lands between the Meuse, the Seine, and the Loire, with Paris, Rouen, and Tours. But soon after they fell to strife, and it would seem that the old Brunhilda was greatly to blame for its outbreak. She was burning to revenge herself on the Austrasian nobles for the banishment she had endured at their hands, and stirred up the Burgundians to war.”

So, what does Oman mean when he says Brunhilda “was greatly to blame” for the strife between the brothers and that she “stirred up the Burgundians to war”? Well, it appears that Brunhilda was both vengeful and lustful – and again, as I say that, let’s remember that the ancient historians go-to attack against any and all women who exercise power in a way they don’t agree with is to besmirch their sexuality, chastity, and/or purity; or in short, slut-shaming. Despite being a 61-year-old woman in 604 – a reasonably advanced age at this point, especially amongst monarchs – Brunhilda seems to have taken a lover by the name of Protadius. Perhaps Protadius was a lover, and good for the both of them if that was the case, as their love life really shouldn’t be all that much of our concern, but it’s equally as likely that he was simply well-regarded by the Queen, a favorite if you would. As such, she did what she could to get him promoted to the ultimate position of power in Burgundy short of the King: Mayor of the Palace. According to Craft:

“Brunhild sent Bertoald, the current mayor, to inspect the territory which was gained during the previous war with Chlothar II [in 600]. Brunhild was hoping to entice an attack from Chlothar II, and sent Bertoald with only a few troops. When Chlothar II learned of this, he sent his son and mayor of the palace to attack Bertoald. Theuderic II heard about Chlothar II’s men being in his territory and set out with an army to stop them. In the ensuing battle, Bertoald advanced too quickly and was killed [and according to Fredegar] “and there, Merovech, the son of Chlothar, was captured, Landeric was turned into flight, and the army of Chlothar was cut to pieces in this sword battle. Victorious Theuderic entered Paris. Theudebert II entered into a peace with Chlothar at the villa of Compiègne, and each of their armies returned to their own lands unscathed.”

So, Brunhilda used Bertoald as bait, Chlothar II bit, and the ensuing melee saw everything go exactly as Brunhilda would have liked. Her grandson’s mayor gets killed, opening up a job opportunity for her good buddy/favorite/lover, Protadius. Chlothar’s son is captured and his army is “cut to pieces,” leaving Paris open for Theuderic to take. Everything sounds just about perfect, too good even if you’re looking at this from the Queen’s perspective. And that’s when the meddling kid Theudebert comes walking onto the scene uninvited. He signs peace treaties with everybody and completely stymies her chance to have Theuderic press his advantage. Theuderic had the resources, the momentum, and the hostages in the form of the Crown Prince, yet he chose to stop short because of some diplomatic talk by the boy-king who had sent her packing. Who knows how far Theuderic could have gone, and we can see why Brunhilda would have had even more reason to want Theudebert out of power.

Fast-forward one year, to 605. Fredegar tells us:

“Brunhild was constantly advising her grandson Theuderic so that he move his army against Theudebert, saying that Theudebert was not the son of Childebert but instead the son of a gardener. Protadius, having assisted with this plan, finally the army was marched by the order of Theuderic.”

Alright, Brunhilda is finally going to get her fight! Theuderic’s army is ready to go, her boy Protadius is calling the shots, and they are getting ready to tear things up… except, they don’t. The troops under Protadius seem to surprise everyone when, rather than brainlessly walking into battle like a group of automatons, they decide that the fight they’re about to get into isn’t worth it. Fredegar again:

“Theuderic was being urged by his loyal men in order that he enter into peace with Theudebert. Protadius alone was exhorting that battle be committed... then the whole army of Theuderic, with an opportunity having been discovered, attacked Protadius, saying that it was better for one man to die than the whole army be sent into danger.”

If this is true, I find this to be truly extraordinary and a sure sign that Brunhilda was losing her grip on power already. Soldiers don’t often mutiny, and certainly not for small reasons. Historically, the price for such an act is death, which makes sense, given the breach in good order and discipline that such an action would cause. So, for Theuderic’s men to not only refuse to fight but then to also murder their commander, the favorite of the Queen Mother, well… it’s a bad omen for her. At any rate, Craft tells us, “The army did not wish to be involved in a war between the two brothers, and their actions were successful because, after Protadius’ death, Theudebert II and Theuderic II made peace and both armies went home unscathed.”

Alright, the military route didn’t work for Brunhilda, and worse than that, she lost her Protadius in the process. This had to have stung, and so she moved on to a new tactic to vent her rage, one that I like to call Real Housewives of Austrasia-diplomacy. As you can likely tell from the name, this next scene is salacious, scandalous, and really won’t do much to improve our opinion of Brunhilda, but then again, that’s the point, right? These post-Gregory historians didn’t want to preserve Brunhilda’s good name, and that’s how we end up with a scene wherein Bilichilde, newly promoted from concubine slave to Theudebert II’s wife, got into a pen-pal face-off with Brunhilda in 608. Bilichilde wrote contemptuous letters, and Craft tells us, “Brunhilda responded by mocking Bilichilde for having once been her slave.” A meeting was set to bring the two women together so they could hash out their differences, but it was called off because the Austrasians were worried that Brunhilda would try to kill their queen somehow. They never did meet, but the level of rancor between the two sides was put on full display. A few years later, in 609-610, Fredegar tells us that, “Bilichilde was killed by Theudebert, who took a young girl named Theodechild for his wife.” Fredegar doesn’t tell us how Bilichilde died or why Theudebert killed her, but it’s not a good look for Theudebert, especially the implied overtone that the 24-year-old king already had a new queen in waiting. At least in this sense Fredegar manages to be equal opportunity to a degree, using the king’s sordid love life as a way to slut-shame him.

Our final story today comes to us from the Grandes Chroniques de France, the 13th century manuscript commissioned by King Louis IX to commit the history of France to paper. For what it’s worth, this is a lengthy quotation, but as with so many others that we’ve gone over to this point, it’s such a sensational story and so telling of the feelings of the writers themselves that it feels almost a disservice to try to not quote most of the passage. With that said, I have lightly edited the story for the sake of flow; if you want to see the entire, uncut passage, please feel free to follow the links I’ve posted on Thugs and Miracles.com. With that, we begin the story of the death of Theudebert:

King Theuderic very much wanted to avenge himself against his brother, who had taken his land from him. He consulted his people on how he might harm his brother; following their advice, he sent this message to King Clothar: "I want to take vengeance against my brother for the wrongs and injuries he has committed against me, if I can be sure that you will not help him. Therefore I ask you to remain at peace, and to promise that you will give him no help against me, and if I win, and am able to take from him his life and his kingdom, I faithfully promise you that I shall give you the duchy of Dentelin, which he took from you by force." King Lothar willingly agreed to this, in accordance with the stated conditions. Then King Theuderic assembled, in the city of Langres, an army of the best and finest knights in his kingdom, and he moved his men against his brother. He passed by the newly begun city of Verdun, and from there he went directly to the city of Toul. From the other direction King Theudebert arrived, with a large army and with all the forces of the kingdom of Austrasia. They came together in battle; the fighting was intense, and many were killed on both sides, but King Theudebert was finally defeated. When he saw that he was defeated, he fled, past the city of Metz and through the Vosges, finding a refuge in the city of Cologne… [there he] prepared as large a force as he could gather, calling upon the Saxons and other German nations to help him. Then he came to fight his brother at the castle…of Tulbic. The battle was bitter and long; King Theudebert held out as long as he could, sustaining great losses, as his enemies slaughtered his men like sheep. But when he saw that fortune was entirely against him, and that his losses were mounting, and he could no longer wage effective resistance, he fled, giving the place to fortune and to his enemies. His men fled after him, for men brought together from different nations were quickly defeated, especially without a leader. Most of them were killed in flight; those who were left fled with the king to Cologne. At the beginning of the battle the fighting was so bitter and intense on both sides, and they attacked each other with such hardiness, that the dead remained on their horses as though they were still alive, nor were they able to fall, because they were packed in so closely with the living; they were pushed here and there by the movement of those battling. But when Theudebert's men began to lose, and to retreat, the dead fell to the ground in such numbers that the roads, the woods, and the fields were so packed with dead men, that all one could see was corpses. When King Theuderic knew that his brother had escaped, he decided to pursue him, thinking that he could end the war and the fighting by killing such a great prince. He and his men set out in pursuit. He entered the country of the Ripuarians, burning and laying waste to everything in his path. The inhabitants of the country came before him to beg that he spare the country, and not destroy it for the life of one man, for the country was entirely his to command, as though he had conquered it by right of battle. The king replied to them and said: "I do not wish to kill you, but my brother Theudebert, and if you wish to have my grace, and you want me to spare the country, you must bring me his head, or give him to me as a prisoner." They came to Cologne, entered the palace, and spoke to king Theudebert like this: "Your brother King Theuderic says that if you give him the part of your father's treasure that you seized, he will return to his own country, and leave this country to you; therefore we ask you to give up to him what he should have, and that you not allow our country to be destroyed because of this problem." The king agreed, certain that they were speaking the truth, and he led them to where the great wealth was. While he was thinking that he would be able to give his brother an amount that would not bother him too much, one of those near him drew his sword and cut off his head, then threw him out below the walls of the city. King Theuderic, who was well aware of what was going on, now entered the city and took the wealth that had been stored up in the treasury over such a long period of time. Then he made all the leading men of the city come before him in the church of Saint Gerion to receive homage from them, compelling them to both to pay homage to him and to swear fealty… When he had arranged everything as he wished, he left, loaded with great spoils, bringing with him his nephews, the sons of his brother, and their sister, who was very beautiful. He came to Metz, where he found Brunhild, his grandmother, who had come out to meet him. She took the children, King Theudebert's nephews, and killed them immediately. She struck Meroveus, the youngest of all, who was still in his alb, so powerfully with a stone, that she made his head fly.”



CONCLUSION: Alright, on that incredibly grim note, we’re going to end for the week. We have two different yet similar versions on the death of Theudebert. Whether he was tonsured, sent to a monastery, and then executed a week later or had his head cut off outright by his own people, the result is the same. Theuderic II now has control of the entirety of Austrasia and Burgundy, less the Duchy of Dentelin that he offered Chlothar for the latter king’s lack of involvement in the battle between the brothers. Beyond the death of Theudebert, we have also now seen the complete and total break of Brunhilda away from anything holy, pure or good. She is at this point resting in the hands of historians happy to paint her as having fallen to the Dark Side, capable of murdering children with such vehemence and force that she would be able to dash the head off of an infant – her own great-grandchild at that. I don’t think there’s a more concrete way of describing someone as evil than that.

So, we head into next week: Theuderic’s in charge, Brunhilda is at his side, and Chlothar remains marginalized in the small but “not-dead-yet” kingdom of Neustria. In the next episode, we’ll find out just how far Brunhilda can push her will, and we’ll see how people react when they finally have a chance to lash out against a lifetime of power and governance, lust and revenge.



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. 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 put up five stars on your podcast player of choice, and also be sure to pass us along as a suggestion to a friend or on social media to all of your history buddies. We appreciate you and the support you have given us in helping us to grow so far!


Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and I look forward to seeing you in just ten more days as we take a look at the Theuderic’s empire, Brunhilda’s senior year, and discuss just what exactly should be the left and right limits for extracting vengeance on an enemy. I’m willing to bet that Chlothar II has a much different idea on this topic than most of us. We’ll find out exactly how different in our next episode of Thugs and Miracles.

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