Welcome to the April edition of the T+M newsletter (Volume #3)
Eight Kings, the coup d'état goes full circle, and the Mayors finally discard the fig leaf of who is running the show - April was busy!
LOOKING BACK: It has been a tough month for our kings and queens; the fact is, les rois fainéants, the do-nothing kings, were never going to have an easy story to tell. But that doesn’t make it any less fascinating!
Consider the history we’ve covered. Dagobert II was sent off to a monastery in what is today Ireland; for an eight-year-old with no communication tools or transportation methods at his disposal, this was effectively sending him out of the world. At that same time, you have another kid who was barely much older than Dagobert being sat in the former’s throne as the first usurper in the history of the French monarchy. I was barely able to manage learning how to drive a stick shift when I was 15, and here's Childebert III being put into the driver’s seat of a kingdom!
After these two, it’s simply amazing the rapidity with which monarchs would fall: between 656 and 681, a period of 25 years, a total of eight kings would wear the Crown - and Dagobert II would technically wear it twice. Childebert III and his dad, Grimoald, were put out of power by Clovis II, Clovis II gave way to illness, then each of his children - Chlothar III, Childéric II and Theuderic III - took turns being greater and greater disappointments. Honestly, the fact that none of these three seemed to learn a single thing from their mother, the amazing slave-turned-Queen Bathilda, was probably the most disheartening part of the history.
Finally, we saw how the position of king was used and abused for the selfish ends of the Mayors: Clovis III was nothing but a prop for Ebroin, and Dagobert II finally got to come back from the Great North, but only as a prop for Wulfoald and Pepin. And both of these kings would get discarded when they outlived their usefulness! By the time we wrapped up on today’s episode - Season 2, Episode 13: Return of the King - the Kings were not “do-nothings,” because doing nothing makes it sound as if they actively chose to be lazy. No, by this point the office of King had been thoroughly gutted; they were nothing except for an object to be held by those seeking power. They no more held power than the crown they wore or the throne upon which they sat. They had been objectified, and as a placeholder they were an object to be kept or discarded as it pleased the real powerbrokers: the Mayors.
LOOKING FORWARD: Next few months will be wrapped in black and bells will be tolling for the inevitable departure of the Merovingians. Pepin de Herstal (a.k.a. Pepin le Gros, or Pepin the Fat) will effectively make the move to rule independently, at least for a little while. Ebroin, the Mayor of Neustria and someone in the running for greatest WWE villain of all time, will stand in Pepin’s way. Both will be fighting to rule the unified Kingdom nominally under the control of Theuderic III; he’ll grant authority to whichever one of these men has his sword pointed at his heart. In short order we’ll be meeting a new character, someone whose name still rings through history. This is Charles Martel, Charles the Hammer, and his time on the scene will include one of the most consequential battles ever fought in Europe: the Battle of Poitiers.
SHOW NOTES: Looking at the show and away from the history, we released our interview with David A. Bradbury of 20 Minute History in mid-March! The interview ran in two parts, one for each of our shows, so be sure to catch the first half on the T+M feed, and then head over to 20 Minute History for the rest. Other than that, we continue to plug along over here in the U.K. (we’re finally out of total lockdown! I had my first haircut in five months! We can drink beer in public!) While we were locked down we got to work on a few side projects, and we’re hoping to share those with you in the next few newsletters; this will always be the first place we break big announcements! Also, we’re going to try to up the speed with which we get episodes published. Last year we were able to get on a 10-day publication schedule for the last half of Season 1, and we’re hoping to do the same again this year. We don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver, but don’t be surprised if you start to see new content hitting your feed more often!
Alright, that’s about all for now. Let us know your thoughts and comments, and be sure to leave a review on your pod catcher of choice if you haven’t already! Also, be sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages; we put up new photos and pictures all the time as we try to illuminate the history, so if you want to add a visual component to your favorite audio program, be sure to check us out on the socials. And if you don’t have social media, don’t worry! The T+M Instagram feed streams through the website, so you can always head there as well.
Okay, until next month, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and we look forward to catching up with you next month as we continue to explore Thugs and Miracles.