• Ben

Episode 25: Luck and Timing / Season 1 Finale

King Chlothar II had struck the jackpot in almost every conceivable way in his life, and it all culminated with him getting to watch the only person in the kingdom who could truly stand in his way being ripped to shreds, literally, before him.

Chlothar II

The prisoner he watched die was a woman named Brunhilda, the former Queen of Austrasia and Burgundy, and the arch-rival of his mother since well before he had even been born. Brunhilda had done everything in her power to destroy his family, take his life, and steal the kingdom that was now his. Watching her pay the ultimate sentence, being torn apart by wild horses, was cathartic to the newly crowned King of the Franks, but it was also a tremendous piece of theater designed by him to solidify his grip on power. You see, everyone in attendance at the execution knew who Brunhilda had been, and now they had seen what she had been reduced to. If King Chlothar could do that to her, well, they certainly wouldn’t want to be the next to cross him. Better yet, Chlothar knew that the savagery of Brunhilda’s sentence would get everyone’s mouth running; before too long, there wouldn’t be a soul left in Francia that didn’t know Chlothar II was the undisputed King of the land.

Things had rarely been so clear-cut for Chlothar, even at the moment of his birth. Chlothar had been the fifth male child born to his mother, but the first four had all died young. It was for this reason that Chlothar had not been baptized and given a proper name at birth: quite simply, his parents wanted to make sure he would even make it past his first few years. While this may have been a prudent, albeit callous, move on his parent’s part, it mattered little for his father. Chilperic was murdered only four months after Chlothar was born, and from that moment on he was the King of Neustria.

Now, placing a four-month old in charge of a country naturally led to questions over his regency, and it was in this respect that Chlothar yet again managed to strike the jackpot, life-wise. He was raised by his mother, Fredegunda – one of the most capable women he would ever know – and it was through her that he was initially accepted as king by his barons and lords and given a kingdom to call his own. This hadn’t been easy for Fredegunda: she had had to take shelter in Notre Dame de Paris to avoid those who would attempt to inflict harm on her and her baby outside of consecrated grounds. Unable to attack her physically, some came forward to accuse her of infidelity, knowing that the easiest way to dethrone the infant king was to cast doubts on his parentage. To this, Fredegunda produced three bishops and three hundred nobles to swear the child was Chilperic's son. Again, she had managed to shield herself and her child.

Despite her abilities, Fredegunda was in need of a patron to get her through these difficult times, and she found that person in the form of Guntram, King of Burgundy. Despite any issues he may have had with his brother, Guntram clung to the letter of the law and the Church and sided with Chlothar and his mother as to the child’s birthright. Childebert II, King of Austrasia, attempted to coerce Guntram into giving up the mother through legates he sent to the Burgundian king. They delivered the message, "Your nephew asks you to order the sorceress Fredegunda, through whom many kings have been killed, to be surrendered to him, so that he can avenge the death of his father, uncle and cousins."

Guntram responded, "She shall not be given into his power, because she has a son who is king. Besides, I do not believe that what you say against her is true." With this, Childebert had been able to get his hands on the baby king; he also had not been able to get his mother, without whom there would have been little chance of Chlothar growing to maturity. Guntram attended the baby’s baptism as his godfather, and from that moment on lived under a solemn vow to do no harm to the Neustrian king.

Much happened in the next 12 years, and Chlothar was given an education in how to lead that he could not have earned in any school. He watched his mother devise stratagems, lead armies and use the power of her contacts and networks to exploit every last drop from every last advantage she could find. Then, as the boy turned 13, Fredegunda unintentionally did one of the best things she could for him: she died.

You see, Chlothar was getting close to reaching the age of majority, and while his mother undoubtedly had been an asset up until this age, there was every possibility to think she may want to overstay her powerful role in Neustria. Take Brunhilda, for example. She had basically refused to hand power back over to her son when he reached the age of majority, imposing herself into his kingdom and his decision-making well past the time she had any legal right to do so. Childebert hadn’t objected at first; this made him look weak. When he finally did start to assert himself, well, let’s just say that it was just a little too coincidental that both he and his wife died in their mid-20s, leaving their young children in a regency that – surprise, surprise – Brunhilda controlled. Theudebert II had managed to extract her from Austrasia in 599, but the whole scene was drama the young king didn’t need early in his reign. Worse than that, Brunhilda used the slight as a raison d’être to spur Theuderic II, now King of Burgundy, to repeatedly attack his brother over the next few years. The intra-family fighting was glorious from Chlothar’s point-of-view. He gained ground on his rival kings every time their armies clashed and diminished themselves, all while he looked on from afar. So, while Chlothar undoubtedly missed his mother, the woman who saved his kingdom and taught him how to rule, he also enjoyed the fact that she never tried to overstay her welcome or rule around him in some manner.

All of this led to Brunhilda’s execution in 613 and solidified Chlothar’s view as being chosen by God: he had survived his infancy when four of his brothers had not. He had a mother who ruled in his stead, expanded his kingdom, and then handed over control of that kingdom without question; she set the table for him in a way no one else could. Finally, he watched his cousins literally destroy one another, opening the way for him to simply walk into their kingdoms, step over their dead bodies, and take control without having to sacrifice a single soldier of his own. In accomplishing this last step, he went overnight from being the ruler of the smallest portion of the Frankish empire to being something that only his namesake, his grandfather Chlothar I, and his great-grandfather, Clovis I, had been able to call themselves: King of All of the Franks.

This is Thugs and Miracles. Episode Twenty-Five: Luck and Timing.

Alright, welcome back! I’m Benjamin Bernier, and this week our focus is two-fold. First, we’re going to take a look at Chlothar II and the first part of his reign pre-dating 613. He really was – and this is just my opinion here – the luckiest guy I have ever heard of. I mean, he was basically born a king. His dad died four months into his life, so there was never a moment in time that he would be able to remember where he wasn’t in charge. And then he has this wicked, crazy, intelligent stage-mom who does everything she can to get him to the precipice of power. And I mean everything: she keeps the boy alive as an infant by exploiting the Church’s rules of sanctuary; she coordinates top-cover against Childebert and Brunhilda by convincing Guntram, the king of Burgundy, over to her side; she reassembles his nobles and rebuilds the Neustrian army, all the while getting these men to swear fealty to the infant king; she leads battles and expands the kingdom’s boundaries; and when all is said and done, she moves peacefully and quietly out of the way for her boy, allowing him step into his role as king just as he was arriving at the age of majority. Granted, this last part was almost certainly more accidental than preconceived on Fredegunda’s part…

Going back over this list of Fredegunda’s accomplishments, I wanted to circle back around to one fact in particular that I have failed to discuss up until now, and that’s the idea of the queen hiding herself and her son in Notre Dame. As outlined in Les Grandes Chroniques:

“Queen Fredegund, who remained a widow, placed herself and as much of her treasury as she had left in the keeping of the church of Notre-Dame of Paris. Bishop Ragnemod received her, her treasury, and her other possessions... Fredegund sent emissaries to king Guntram, saying that she would willingly put herself and her child, who was his nephew, in his protection.”

For me, the first time I read this I figured, sure, I could see Fredegunda running off to Notre Dame; I mean, who would have had the gall to attack such a site? But then I started thinking: Notre Dame as we know it is only 857 years old, with construction having started on the Cathedral in 1163. Unfortunately for Fredegunda and Les Grandes Chroniques, this leave a hefty gap of nearly 600 years between the death of Chilperic I and the beginnings of the monument we know and love today. So what were the authors of Les Grandes Chroniques talking about?

Well, it turns out that just the site of Notre Dame has a pretty amazing history that pre-dates the modern structure we see today. Archaeological remains tell us that the Ile de la Cité, the large island sitting inside the Seine, has been a significant point for worship since a time before Paris was even Paris, but rather the Roman city of Lutetia. It’s likely that a monument to the gods was built here when the Romans were in charge, a temple to Jupiter. This temple fell into disrepair and its stone was harvested for other projects. One part in particular, the Pillier des Nautes – Pillar of the Boatmen – was found re-used in the 4th century city wall on the Île de la Cité. At any rate, Childerbert I chose to build a Christian church on this same site, commissioning the building of a church in honor of St. Etienne in 528. This site, as well as others on the Île de la Cité, would have borrowed heavily from the stones already quarried for the construction of the earlier temple. The Church of St. Etienne would not be alone on this spot; again, architectural records indicate that a baptistery, a Bishop's palace and a Chapter house stood here as well. Finally, behind the Bishop's Palace, stood Notre-Dame, which was at that time little more than a small church for travelers, pilgrims and the sick. So, as we look back to Fredegunda and her run to sanctuary within Notre Dame, we should remember that she wasn’t hiding out in the grand and opulent Cathedral that we know today, buy was instead holed up in a much smaller site that was used for servicing the less fortunate. This was particularly ironic, given at how we’re discussing just how lucky Chlothar II was overall. At any rate, the small Notre Dame and its surrounding buildings would eventually fall into disrepair, and the site would become the location of the Notre Dame in 1163. It appears that cults devoted to the Virgin Mary became more and more popular during this time, while those devoted to St. Etienne waned in importance. It was due to this shift in popularity in the mid-12th century that we refer to France’s most famous church as Notre Dame instead of St. Etienne. Just like Chlothar II himself, the name of the church was more a result of timing and luck than any overt act.

Moving back to the 7th century… It was finally, after all of the good fortune internal to Neustria that we have already noted, that Chlothar finds himself about to be handed one final, huge gift by his co-monarchs and cousins in Austrasia and Burgundy: They basically kill themselves in an early medieval version of The Benny Hill Show (and if you don’t get that reference kids, stop right now and do a search in YouTube. It’s old, but it’s still funny and the music is worth it). Their incessant civil wars do nothing but weaken their respective kingdoms, both militarily and financially, allowing the king of Neustria – a kingdom that only a decade ago was little more than an afterthought – to simply ride up and take the throne with barely a sword being swung on his account. Long story short, Chlothar shows us that timing is everything. By the age of 30, Chlothar II had gone from being a fifth male son who shouldn’t have even been thinking about the line of succession, to the notional ruler of an almost non-existent kingdom, to the monarch of a small but growing entity, and then to the ruler of all of Francia, all without much effort or loss.

There was one exception to this last point, and that was the loss of his son Merovech. Chlothar either didn’t have the same skill in battle as his mother, or his enemy kings grew in their martial proficiency, but either way, he never seemed to be a particularly skilled military leader and strategist. This is partially shown by the decision to take his son into battle with him in 603 against Theuderic. Bear in mind, Chlothar would have been 19 years old at this point, so even if he was particularly precocious in making babies, we can still assume this child’s age to be single digits; one source in particular, dating from 1782, places the child’s age at four years old. Now, we can question the intelligence in taking someone quite so young to a battlefield, especially since we get to play Monday morning quarterback. Long story short, Chlothar’s forces were overwhelmed and overrun, and in the melee young Merovech was taken prisoner. That same 1782 source claims the child was subsequently murdered… on Brunhilda’s orders. This is of course only adds to the animosity felt by Chlothar toward the old queen, and goes a way to help us understand why he felt compelled to execute her in such a gruesome and prolonged manner.

Fast-forward a couple of years past the death of this young child, this first-born son, and Chlothar has made peace with Theuderic, now the king of Burgundy. The latter king is gearing up for a fight with his brother Theudebert and looking to make allies to help him go to war or, at a minimum, not interfere with him when he goes on the offensive. In an attempt to bury the hatchet with Neustria, Theuderic, who just had a son with a concubine, reaches out to Chlothar and asks him to be godfather to the child. At the baptism the boy is named Merovech, the same name as Chlothar’s lost son, and just as Guntram swore to protect him when he was still a baby hiding in a church with Fredegunda, Chlothar is now sworn to protect this child in the name of God. If you remember from our opening story in the last episode, Chlothar let one of Theuderic’s children go free after the king had died and Chlothar was asserting his power; it was this child, Merovech, who was the stand-in for Chlothar’s own lost son.

Anyway, the point of relaying these notes on our story is to clarify that Chlothar II, while undoubtedly the sole ruler of the Franks, was not necessarily the sole ruler due his abilities, but rather, due to an abundance of good luck and good timing. If one were so inclined, this could easily be taken as God’s favor. And in this newly Christian kingdom, many of course were ready, willing and able to do just that. This made being the king significantly easier: it they were serving at God’s pleasure, who should stand against them? What’s more, if they were king as a matter of God’s wish and favor, it made it less important for them to have to directly lead their people to prove their worth. They could act less like warlords, ploughing through enemy lands and distributing wealth and booty through conquest, and leave many of the burdens of ruling to local administrators. What we’ll see as we get deeper into this story next season, 613 and the reign of Chlothar seems to be a turning point for the Merovingians away from being strong, hands-on leaders – a leader such as Clovis, who was in the heat of battle right alongside of his men – and instead acting more in the role of ceremonial figureheads. These kings would become known as les rois fainéants, the “do-nothing” kings. Chlothar will begin to place more and more power into the hands of his nobles, and they in turn will become the true power in the land. But this is all a story for another day and another season – 6 September and Season 2, to be exact!

Before we leave for the next few weeks, however, let’s take a few moments to look back on where we have been so far and really appreciate just how much the Frankish Empire has grown. Remember, this was a group that, when we began, was established as the rulers of an area little larger than the modern-day nation of Belgium. By the time we’re leaving out, the Frankish Kingdom extended over most of what we consider to be modern-day France. The group was the preeminent hegemonic power in the West, maintaining relations with the Eastern Roman Empire and Constantinople and keeping its ties to the Church in Rome. They were the inheritors of the Roman Empire: Clovis accepted his role as consul when the Emperor in the east sent him a purple tunic and a diadem. Brunhilda was noted for her attempts at maintaining Roman roads, to the point that to this very day there are roads in France and Belgium still known and officially named as the Chaussée Brunehaut – Brunhilda’s Roadway. And most importantly, the group accepted and carried on the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity. This separated the Franks from so many other groups in the beginning and gained them legitimacy; as we progress, we’ll see how Catholicism played a huge part, arguably the largest part, in our story.

With that said, I have to admit that before I started this podcast, I never knew how important Arianism was in the formation story of France and Europe. I mean, this branch of Christianity was big-time, maybe just as big or bigger than Nicene Christianity (aka Catholicism) for a time. The actual difference between the two forms of the religion were fairly minor (to me, at least) and centered around the question of whether or not Jesus was equal to God or was God’s subordinate. Well, what I consider to be minor was considered by folks at this time to be relatively Earth-shattering, and resulted in so much of the chaos that we’ve discussed over the past 25 episodes: war, executions, and unchecked aggression and violence, even in families. And this didn’t end early on in the narrative; a prime example of intra-family violence comes from as recent an episode as Episode 19, when Brunhilda (a Catholic convert) sent her daughter Ingunda, a Catholic, to marry the Visigothic prince Hermenigild, an Arian. Bear in mind, Brunhilda was sending her daughter to her mom, Goiswintha, who was still an Arian and who was the queen of the Visigoths at this time.

Despite these close familial ties, however, it only took about five minutes of catching up before Goiswintha let her granddaughter know she expected her to convert to Arianism before marriage; when Ingunda declined, Grandma “seized the girl by her hair and threw her to the ground: then she kicked her until she was covered with blood, had her stripped naked and ordered her to be thrown into the baptismal pool." This tacit, probably unsurprisingly, didn’t work. When the dust settled, literally and figuratively, Ingunda and Hermenigild were married, he converted to Catholicism, they led an unsuccessful revolt against the Arians, and Hermenigild was ultimately executed on the orders of his own father when he refused to recant his new faith. So yeah, Arianism versus Catholicism was a pretty big deal.

Circling back to a point I was making just a few minutes ago, I mentioned that Clovis “accepted” Nicene Christianity. The Franks were mostly pagan when we began, and while it’s nice to think that Clovis “saw the light” and had a miraculous, battlefield conversion to Catholicism as noted in the literature (and depicted in the podcast’s cover art!), from my research I feel there’s a case to be made that Clovis exploited the religious schism of Arianism and Catholicism for his own purposes. He likely considered all options and decided that tying himself to the Roman Church, with all of its social ties, physical infrastructure and links to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire was the most lucrative offer. But, it’s just not as sexy to show a man pondering which faith he’s going to pledge fealty to – like he’s choosing which college team to play football for – as it is to show him having a Constantine-like realization of which religion serves The One True God. But then again, I’m sure if ESPN had been around back in the late 5th century, they could have done a nice Decision show, à la LeBron James, with Clovis letting everyone know: “I’m taking my talents to Catholicism…”

Beyond religion, another surprising thing I found and that I never would have imagined prior to this podcast was the myriad ways in which Merovingian women were a part of the history, as well as the wide-ranging impacts of their interventions. I mean, right from the jump, in Episode 2, we started by looking at the founder of the Merovingian Dynasty, Merovech, and the entire basis for any supposed supernatural power residing in these early kings. And if you remember where this supernatural power came from, well, it wasn’t from any of the male Franks, but rather, from an unnamed Frankish queen and her affair with a messenger of the gods. If you remember (and it was Episode 2, so you’re forgiven if you don’t), Merovech was the son of a Salian Frank tribal leader named Chlodio and the aforementioned unnamed Frankish queen. This young queen is said to have taken a bath in the sea one day, during which time she was seduced by a sea-bull known as the Quinotaur that was sent by Neptune himself. The Quinotaur was able to mingle his essence with the baby already in the young woman’s womb, thus providing him with the powers of the gods…

So, alright… where to start unpacking this? First off, I know a bull is a virile animal and a potent symbol of masculinity, but it just seems a bit un-royal to breed with livestock. I’m probably showing a lack of imagination, or a tremendously biased modern mind, but I never read the story of the Quinotaur and thought to myself, “Well, that clearly indicates that those are the people I want in charge.” Maybe the simple presence of divinity was enough to make pagan believers see beyond the bestial nature of this origin story. But beyond this, the story outright denotes the idea that this first Merovingian mother was unfaithful to her husband, thereby calling into question the legitimacy of her child. And if the first Merovingian was illegitimate, doesn’t that make the whole line illegitimate?

Anyway, moving on from that thought, the next woman who presents some significant issues to us is Saint Clotilde. The stalwart wife of Clovis I, she is best remembered for having steered her husband to Catholicism. This sounds simple on the surface, but don’t forget, Clotilde had one son die after being baptized, and another who barely lived after the sacrament. Both baptisms were performed out of religious devotion and, supposedly, against Clovis’s will. Given how paternalistic the Merovingians were, and also given how important having a boy was to the kingdom, well, I can’t even imagine the pressure Clotilde must have felt as she stood her ground. If it weren’t for her and her decision to stand by her beliefs, France, Europe, and the world as a whole would look much different today. As just a quick dive into alternative history, imagine that the Franks went with Arianism: they would never have had the support of the Catholic Church, and likely would have lost most of the support they ever received from Constantinople. Without this, perhaps the Goths would have been able to spread into Gaul and take over the smaller, weaker Franks. Perhaps the Franks would have given support to the Goths to repel Justinian and the Byzantines as they encroached into Italy and Spain. The same can be said for aiding the Visigoths later on, when Islam crossed the Mediterranean. Would that religion have met a more concerted, stronger resistance? Would the Caliphate in Spain ever have come to fruition? Past Islam, how would the Catholic Church have fared? Would the Holy Roman Empire ever have come into existence? And these are just some basic questions that come up when thinking about the historical what-if of Clovis choosing Arianism over Catholicism; long story short, the world as we know it might be very different if it hadn’t been for Clotilde.

Moving back to what did happen and away from what-ifs, Clotilde brought three boys into the world who lived to adulthood, and she was present to make sure Clovis’s kingdom was divided fairly after the great king’s death. All of this sounds great, very above board and fair, and it would have been fine if Clotilde had left well enough alone – which of course she wouldn’t. Clotilde harbored a deep grudge against the kings of her former homeland, Burgundy, for the crimes committed against her family years prior (ironically, Clotilde was about to exercise some mommy issues on her boys in an attempt to exorcise her own). Gregory of Tours claims Clotilde incited her sons to war, and when they heeded her call, her oldest son, Chlodomir, became the first to follow his father in death. He left behind two kids, and Clotilde took them in and cared for them. Unfortunately, these boys were causing issues for Chlothar I vis-à-vis his ability to take control of his late brother’s lands so, in a slightly heavy-handed approach, he sent a message to his mother asking her to send the boys to him. She complied, thinking he was going to tutor his nephews; however, once they were under his control, Chlothar sent his mother a pair of shears and a sword. The message was clear: would she rather see her grandsons given a tonsure so as to live out life as priests, or simply murdered? Her response - “It is better for me to see them dead rather than shorn, if they are not raised to the kingship” – was taken literally, and the boys were killed. Who knows, perhaps if Clotilde hadn’t taken as active a role in her son’s lives then maybe her eldest may have lived longer; her grandchildren may not have been killed by their uncles; and years of civil wars may have been avoided. But then again, the Merovingian boys were always looking for some excuse to fight, so quite honestly, Clotilde’s actions may have expedited the process, but some version of this story was almost certainly going to happen regardless of what she did. Still, it’s interesting to see how a woman was able to interject herself into the story, and for better or worse, be a part of history. It’s also interesting to see how some decisions, whether made by a man or a woman, failed to have the desired effect. Nowhere do we see this concept better than with our final set of ladies: Brunhilda and Fredegunda.

Let’s look at the side-by-side comparison of what happened with these two, and in particular, when a Frankish mother, Brunhilda, stayed on the scene for too long, versus what happened when Fredegunda exited the scene before her son was too old. In this case, as we talked about earlier, Fredegunda died when her son, Chlothar II, was about 13; this meant he would have no issues possessing power in his own right, and without a former regent trying to cling to power. Brunhilda, on the other hand, lived to 70. She basically refused to hand power back over to her son when he reached the age of majority, and when he finally did start to assert himself, well, he ended up dead. Coincidence or murder, this left Brunhilda running the show. Of course, Brunhilda eventually overstayed her welcome with both of these new kings, and they both ended up dead. Finally, she was scrambling to gain the regency of yet about generation of kings when Chlothar finally waltzed into power in 613 in a palace coup.

So, yeah, I knew women played a role in early Merovingian history, but somehow, someway, I just thought that role would be… different. In the case of Clotilde and Brunhilda, it becomes evident that women could assert themselves in this time and place, but had to be careful to avoid overstepping their boundaries or staying around too long. Fredegunda seems to confirm this: she died before she had the chance to wrestle with her son for power, and as such, there’s less violence in her immediate family than in the families of Clotilde and Brunhilda. For these headstrong women, I have to imagine this would have been a difficult, slippery, and discouraging game to play. And given the what-if I laid out when talking about Clotilde, the brutal execution of Brunhilda, and the ultimate success that Fredegunda’s son enjoyed, the results of their decisions could be absolutely enormous.

Alright, there’s one last thing I want to discuss when it comes to the research: I was really surprised by the Merovingian tradition of splitting the kingdom amongst sons. Rather than observing primogeniture, the practice of passing the entirety of a kingdom to the eldest son, the Merovingians instead tried to divvy things up piecemeal. This inevitably led brothers to envy the holdings of one another, as we witnessed with all of the civil wars that were common in this period. It also, theoretically, meant that the kingdom could be reduced to fractals: if every brother had multiple sons, and all of these sons inherited equal parts, it would only be a few generations before the Frankish Kingdom would go from one large mass to tens or hundreds of smaller territories. But then again, this didn’t happen; equilibrium seems to have been struck naturally through greed. The civil wars meant that kingdoms were constantly shifting borders, expanding, contracting, and merging. This system seems to have inspired an Alexander-like system of power; if you remember your Macedonian history – or if you’ve listened to recent episodes of Deep Into History – you’ll remember that, upon his deathbed, Alexander was asked to whom he bequeathed his empire. His answer was simple yet cryptic: “To the strongest.” This lack of clarity, along with every guy out there wanting to believe that he was the strongest, led to the fracturing of Alexander’s empire. The Merovingians were no different in this respect; each brother wanted to believe he was best-suited to rule all, and this led to a family dynamic that was dysfunctional at best, and more often than not, just murderous. It seems that the institution of primogeniture may have mitigated some of these baser instincts, but then again, the pull of power leads people to do strange and unimaginable things. Just like I said earlier with Clotilde and her unsuccessful attempts to control power, it seems that at this time the Merovingian boys were going to fight, no matter what. Whether one brother was king and the others plotted against him, or all the brothers were king and they plotted against one another, some version of this story was going to play itself out, and it was going to be bloody, no matter what.

CONCLUSION: Okay, we’ll leave off there for this season. We’ve covered 162 years of history, or roughly ten percent of our total time period. That means at least ten seasons of T+M, right?! Of course, we’ve done this while suffering from a lack of primary sources, so I fully expect things to slow down as we get into more literate centuries and we get the opinions of more people and historians; who knows, maybe we’ll never get to the end! Don’t worry though, it won’t be for a lack of trying!

Anyway, when we come back in 48 days, we’ll be starting where we left off, with the advent of les rois fainéants and the battles that come about when people begin to fill the power vacuum left by leaders who don’t want – or are not up to – their job. Beyond that, next season promises to bring us the rise of invaders who want to take what the Franks have: these include the Muslims coming up from the south and the Vikings coming down from the north. In both cases, the arrival of strong, religiously-alien and conquest-minded attackers will serve to panic the Franks, but also to make them stronger and more cohesive. Finally, if all goes well and we make good time, we’ll see the fall of the Merovingians and the rise of the Carolingians, and we’ll understand what transpired to make this transition a reality. The plan at the moment is to have all of this culminate with us meeting one of the greatest leaders in European and world history, a guy known as Charles the Great, a.k.a. Charles Magnus, a.k.a. Charlemagne.

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, an updated monarchy/family tree, and also a list of other great history podcasts are all available online at thugsandmiracles.com. Included in this list of recommendations is Deep Into History, the podcast I mentioned earlier when talking about Alexander. My friend Arjun is the voice behind this podcast, and he does a really awesome and unique job of bringing stories to life. It’s well worth your time, and highly recommended by yours truly.

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 well, basically any word of mouth, so if you think T+M is worth it, please leave five stars for us, write a review, send a Tweet, like an Instagram post, or simply recommend us to a friend. We appreciate all of that and all of your support!


Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and I look forward to seeing you in just a few short weeks, as we continue the adventure in Season Two of Thugs and Miracles.

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