• Ben

Season Three, Episode One: The New King of the Mountain

Updated: Jan 4

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The Alps loomed large for the Franks.


Lying at the edge of their territory, the mountain range provided a terrific natural border that helped to repel enemies from both the south and the west. These jagged peaks and deep valleys had marked a new territory for the Romans, the transition from Italia to Gaul. They had held the Ostrogoths at bay once the Romans were no longer the kings of Italy, and they had stopped Justinian and the Byzantines when they had gone about trying to reclaim the full glory of their former empire.


Yes, the Alps had protected Francia, and now was no exception. The Lombards, the latest group to try and claim the southern peninsula for themselves, were largely prevented from straying further afield thanks to the high, snow-covered range. The Lombards could still wander, of course, but by and large they were contained in their area and the havoc they caused didn’t affect the Franks.


Except, it kind of did...

King Pippin's Army Trying to Reach Venice (Andrea Vicentino, public domain)

You see, the Franks had long ago sworn fealty to the Roman Catholic faith. When they could have stayed with their paganism or aligned with the Arian heresy, they instead chose to align themselves with the Bishop of Rome and the ecclesiastical structure over which he reigned. For more than 250 years, the Franks and the Catholics had gone together like a hand in a glove. Clovis, that great Merovingian king, had been proclaimed a Roman patrician for the stance he had taken with the Church, and much more recently, King Pépin, the first non-Merovingian ruler of the Franks, had confirmed his power thanks to the religious sanction provided by one of the Pope’s strongest lieutenants, Archbishop Boniface. Just to make things even more official, the Pope himself had crossed the mountains in 754 to join Pépin in Paris at St. Denis, and to proclaim to all the world that the Franks and the Roman Catholic Church were all elements of the same ecclesiastical body. The Pope was the head, but the Franks and their rulers were the body.


With this being the case, issues in Italy that former Frankish rulers may have been able to avoid were now much more urgent. Pépin had received the Pope’s blessing and approval, but it wasn’t given to him for free. He was now expected to exercise the responsibility that came with the reward of an unsullied crown.


And Pépin was going to do exactly that. In 751 - the same year, coincidentally, that Pope Zacharias gave Boniface the go-ahead to legitimize the Carolingians as the true Kings of the Franks - the Lombards had overstepped themselves and incurred into Papal areas, taking Ravenna. The Franks, answering Zacharias’s call, collected their army and stormed across the mountains in 754 to run the Lombards back into their strongholds. Things went swimmingly for the Franks in this campaign: They were successful in pushing the Lombards into their fortifications and holding the group under siege until the Lombard king, Aistulf, promised to knock off his shenanigans and leave the Pope alone. It had all been too easy; not that much blood had been spilt, and Pépin had made his point. Everyone was put in their place and that was that.


But of course, that wasn’t that. The low levels of attrition left the Lombards pretty much as strong as they had been before the Franks, under the leadership of their new Carolingian kings, had firmly slapped their wrists. And the Pope still had a lot of good territory and nice, shiny stuff, and... well, the Lombards almost couldn’t be blamed for thinking that if they had received the worst Pépin had to offer, they might just need to re-nig on some of the promises they had given and hope for the best. And just to add a cherry to the top of the proverbial sundae, Pope Zacharias was dead and his replacement, Stephen II, hadn’t really done all that much to defend himself from the Lombards. He had been so weak in his negotiations with the Lombard king that he was forced to take flight. Stephen II became the first Pope to cross the Alps in 754, but it wasn’t for any sort of high-minded ideal; he was on the run for his life and aiming to spur the Franks into action, to complete the promise they had made to his predecessor. He accomplished that, but he hadn’t been able to keep a bodyguard of Franks in place to hold their gains after the war. Now the conditions were back to what they had been in 753, just the Lombards and the Pope hanging out on a peninsula that was feeling smaller and smaller by the day. And it was getting smaller, at least in terms of territory to control. There was one last ripe spot for the Lombards to turn their attention to, one spot they had not yet added to their possessions: Rome.


And so it was in 756, just two years after their first invasion of Lombard Italy, that the Franks were now receiving word from Stephen II - again - that their services were needed again and just as urgently as ever. Pépin had to get his forces, which included his sons, ready to go back over the Alps. Having to make this second trip, the Frankish King knew one thing for sure: the Lombards were going to pay a much higher price this second time around for their transgressions. They had proven themselves unworthy and two-faced. The Lombards clearly did not believe that the Franks had the force or the will to destroy them on their home turf. But they had forgotten one huge factor, or they had at least minimized its impact on the current situation: The Franks were the Protectors of the Faith, God’s chosen people to safeguard the Church and its leaders. The Pope had called them once, and they had shown mercy. Now the Pope had been forced to call them again, and for that, this time there would be none.


Pépin, riding with his sons Carloman and Charles, was on a campaign that would topple a Kingdom and change the balance of power in Europe. Before they were done, their contribution to the Church would be not just to save Rome, but also to make a Donation in the name of the King that would have impacts on the Church - and the world - for the rest of history.


This is Thugs and Miracles.

 

Season 3, Episode 1: The New King of the Mountain

 

Alright, welcome back and welcome to Season Three! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier, and this week we’re going to get right into it... after just a bit of recap to get everyone playing from the same sheet of music. By way of scene-setting for those who may not remember or for those just joining us, we ended last season at the coronation of Pépin le Bref as King Pépin I of the Carolingians. He had just overthrown the last Merovingian king, King Childeric III, in 751 with the sanction of the Pope, and had managed to have his entire family anointed alongside of him. Long story short, Pépin became king and made sure that anyone else becoming king in his wake would be from his genetic line.


Now, as to the popes... For the purposes of today’s story, there’s two Popes involved, Zacharias and Stephen II, but for the sake of flow, I’ll refer to them mainly as a single entity (“the Pope,” “the Pontiff,” or “the Papacy”) unless there’s a specific reason to disambiguate and single one or the other out. If you really want to get into the individual Popes and dive deep, there’s always the Pontifacts podcast to keep you straight!


In our current situation, the Pope in 751 gave Pépin the seal of approval partly because of the good work the Franks and Archbishop Boniface had been doing in support of Catholicism, but mostly because of his need for a helping hand against the Lombards. That group had been stomping around in places like Ravenna, taking from the Pope in defiance of their promises to, we’ll you know, not stomp around, and the Pope had precious little he could do against them by himself. The Byzantines had proven useless in providing support from the East, although that was almost certainly by design. The Papacy as an institution had become too full of itself in recent years, certainly for the Emperors in Constantinople, and they were happy to sit back and watch the major power players in the West squabbling and eating themselves. With nothing but strongly worded letters coming in from the Eastern Romans, the Pope had no real choice but to appeal to the Franks.


Now, this appeal was nowhere near as easy or cut and dry as it first appears. Prior to 751, the Franks and the Lombards actually got on pretty well together. They had fought together against Muslim invaders back in the days of Charles “The Hammer” Martel, and developed enough of a bond in their struggle that the Hammer had, according to historian Rosamond McKitterick, sent his son Pépin for some time as an “honoured adopted son at [Lombard King] Liutprand’s court.” The Papacy had to come in with a pretty tremendous offer to get the support of the Frankish Mayor of the Palace, now that son Pépin - the “the honored adopted son” of the Lombards - to make him turn his back on his host family and war buddies. It was going to have to be something huge... kind of like turning the Church’s back on the current ruling family of the Franks whom the Church had backed since the reign of Clovis I in the early 6th century. Let’s be real: the Pope probably didn’t want to have to depose the Merovingian king, and probably knew it was bad form to destroy a 250-year-old alliance without any real cause. But that’s what happens when someone has their back to a wall and no real way of fighting back: they’ll offer up whatever they must in order to survive.


Now, what is particularly interesting in all of this is not just the usual treachery and realpolitik of exploiting a weakened figure. No, what’s interesting is the fact that, even after getting the Pope to agree to let the Carolingians take over as the Kings of the Franks, Pépin still took another three years before he finally showed up in Italy. I don’t know about you, but if I asked someone for help and then they no-show for 1,000 days - well, I’m going to assume that they either forgot or that they never cared in the first place. In the Pope’s case, however, he had no real option to just walk away, so he headed over the mountains in 754 to see Pépin in person and remind him of his obligations. All of this brings us to one of those points in history at which we must decide on what we want to believe: did Pépin finally decide to go to Italy in 754 because the Pope showed up on his doorstep, or did he do it because he had finally quieted down all of the dissenting voices in his own land to a manageable level? Or are both of these answers somewhat true?


Here’s the thing: Pépin had every reason to focus on his home turf before running off to war with yet another group, one that lived in an area that was notoriously hard to access and replenish. Coups are hard, and the penalty for failure is decidedly painful and violent. Remember, Pépin is not even the first member of his family to try this trick: Grimoald had made a run at getting his own son, Childebert, crowned King a few generations earlier, and well, there’s a reason why the line of succession eventually made its way back to a proper Merovingian. On the monarchy tree, Childebert the Adopted and Grimoald’s branch got snapped off when people decided they just weren’t ready for that level of change. Now, Pépin has made it further than Grimoald at this point; he had himself crowned rather than his son - which almost certainly made things easier to control - and he had received religious sanction for the move, which would have made things more palatable for people to accept. But with any transition, there are those who are going to try and take advantage of the attendant confusion. For Pépin these included the aristocratic families who had in times past been loyal to his family, and in particular, to his father, Charles Martel. From McKitterick:


“By the eighth century, aristocratic families, and the bishops among them, dominated the church in the Frankish kingdoms… The massive spoliation and secularization of church property in the first part of the eighth century, for which Charles Martel was blamed by Hincmar in the second half of the ninth century, was in fact carried out by a great many Frankish noble families… The aristocratic bishops constituted the principal threat to Pippin’s position, his authority and the future of his house. They were classic examples of the over-mighty subject. Pippin mistrusted the power of these bishops and of the families who backed them, and set out systematically to destroy it. He did this by means of a monastic policy which went hand in hand with his series of campaigns.”


Long story short, Pépin went monastery by monastery, took their lands back into the royal fisc - thus depriving the bishops from using that land as a method of payment or enticement to would-be subjects - and told those same bishops to focus on spiritual matters rather than temporal ones. With the power of these bishops/potential rivals stripped, it was easy to convince their followers that royal power was preferable to local episcopal control. He then gave lands to monasteries aligned with his interests, or to dioceses that were so large or so politically important - such as St. Denis - that he wanted to keep them loyal. These redistributive tactics had started well before Pépin was King, while he was serving as the Mayor of the Palace, but the overall intent of focusing power into the hands of the monarch made sense to his position both before and after 751. With monastic policy as the linchpin of his political, economic and social/religious levers of power, Pépin next got down to business with the military.


According to McKitterick, in about 748 or 749, Pippin installed his brother Grifo as the count of Maine, an area near Angers in the Loire River valley. The problem with this move was that Maine already had a count, a man by the name of Charivius. His oldest son - or perhaps his younger brother, the sources conflict on this point - Gauciolenus was named bishop of Le Mans at the death of the old bishop, and from that time on Gauciolenus allegedly “lived a secular life for half a century and the diocese went to rack and ruin.“ All the while, of course, the family headed by Charivius administered those monasteries and made off with their profits, and they were none too pleased when Pépin addressed their situation by arbitrarily naming his brother as the new count. McKitterick tells us:


“What the position was between Grifo, Gauciolenus and Charivius is not known, but in all events Grifo went to Aquitaine in 753. Did the count and bishop drive him out? It is at this stage that Pippin arrived in the region. Gauciolenus and Charivius shut the gates of Le Mans against Pippin and the king retaliated by devastating the region round Le Mans, taking care however, to preserve the monasteries from harm. St. Calais and its community of monks was taken under Pippin's protection and lordship and granted immunity; Abbot Sigebald commended himself and his community to the king.“


At nearly the same time that Pépin was taking land and monasteries in Le Mans and pacifying his troublesome subjects, he was also leading a campaign against the Saxons in the east. This move “was occasioned by a revolt of the Saxons against Carolingian authority in 753.” The end result, however, was that, according to the Annales Mettenses, “the Saxons were obliged to permit Christian missionaries to enter the country… the Saxons also agreed to pay an annual tribute of 300 horses.” The Annales also note that Pépin led a successful campaign in Brittany; this source very likely could have confused Le Mans, which is well to the west of Saxon holdings, with Brittany, especially as Pépin was prosecuting his campaign against Gauciolenus and Charivius at roughly the same time.


Now with all of this being said, we have to revisit the timeline I mentioned earlier, the three years from 751 until 754. Again, this sounds like a tremendous period of time, but let’s not forget that the pace of transportation and communications was much, much slower than in our modern context. Pépin received the Pope’s positive response regarding the Pontiff’s acceptance for the overthrow of Childeric in late 751, and most sources place Archbishop Boniface crowning Pépin as King in November of that year. Ravenna, the possession of Rome - and nominally the Byzantines - had fallen to the Lombards in the summer of 751, so the timing of the call for help and the acceptance of the crown by Pépin would seem to align. However, Ravenna was not Rome, and the Lombards and the Franks had not suffered a full rupture at that point. Add to this that, as I just mentioned, Ravenna was technically under the protection of the Byzantines. All of this, combined with the need to secure the homefront before moving on to any foreign adventures, all led to a non-response from Pépin in 751-52. The Lombards did place Rome under siege in 752, but the siege dissipated before the Franks were needed or could have moved to have broken it. There were also diplomatic issues for the Pope to contend with, like how to balance the traditional powerhouse of this time, the Eastern Roman Empire, with the fact that the Papacy would likely get strangled to death if it waited on any form of strong, tangible response from Constantinople. Louis Halphen describes this situation well:


“Byzantium, at last, had reacted. The loss of Ravenna, with which Constantinople had up to then remained in continuous contact, was bitterly rejected, and a high official of the imperial palace… was dispatched to protest against the Lombard usurpations. In vain! Aistulf the Lombard king, certain of his power, scorned diplomatic protests. And his only reply was to redouble his threats to Rome and its inhabitants.


“Emperor Constantine V, son and successor of Leo III, the Iconoclast, was obviously unable to enforce his rights in the West. Pope Stephen II knew this so well that while, for the sake of form, he sent an embassy to the emperor to ask him for help, he at the same time despatched a letter in the greatest secrecy to Pepin, by means of a simple pilgrim, in which he informed him of his distress. Stephen furthermore expressed the desire to come and confer with Pepin personally and requested him to send some trusted men to Rome to fetch him. A doubly prudent measure: the roads, being infested by Lombards, were not safe; and on the other hand, before starting on his way, the Pope doubtless wished to obtain from Pepin an act that unmistakably committed his future ally.”


Halphen continues on a little later:


“Nevertheless, moved by a last scruple and to put his conscience at ease, Stephen stopped on his way at Pavia to see King Aistulf and acquit himself of the task with which the emperor had charged him. Then, having here - as could easily be foreseen - met with a categorical refusal, and taking no notice of the Lombard king's attempts at intimidation, he started in November, well-escorted, on the way to France.”


As we can see, it wasn’t like the Pope was in a dead sprint to Francia, or at least not initially. He sent out envoys to the Lombards and the Byzantines, and the Byzantines sent envoys to the Lombards, and then the Pope waited for the Frankish welcome wagon to arrive at his door like some sort of medieval Uber before he finally got a move on. And even then he stopped yet again to talk to the Lombard king, just to make sure that no one could accuse him of not covering all of his bases. When you look at all of these machinations and the amount of time each message had to have taken to have been transmitted, answered, and returned… well, it’s actually pretty surprising that things happened as fast as they did! It also shows that the three-year delay wasn’t only due to the Frankish armies dragging their feet.


And speaking of the Frankish armies, it’s not like they were sitting in Nice, sipping espressos and watching the clear blue sea while waiting on word from the Pope to hop on over the mountains. No, the Frankish armies were ranging across Francia in 752-753, fighting with external tribes such as the Saxons, confiscating monasteries and putting down internal unrest, possibly as far away as Brittany - which, if they made it all the way to the Atlantic, means that the Franks were about as far away from Italy as humanly possible without leaving their territory. Word would have had to have reached Pépin while he was on campaign in 753 that the Pope wanted a ride up to Paris, and then another message would have had to make its way to let him know the Pope was on his way - the very act of which, by the way, clearly showed the Pontiff’s desperation at the time. It was at this point that Pépin finally met the holy man and his entourage and spent the next few months planning. For what it’s worth, Pépin actually had to do much more than just plan. We’ll let historian E. M. Almedingen explain:


“The Frankish mind regarded an Italian campaign with disfavour. Charles Martel had refrained from picking a quarrel with Lombardy, and who were they to say that Charles Martel had been wrong? So much needed to be done at home, and they had Arabs and Saxons to fight. If Byzantium did not choose to protect her own possessions in Italy, should it be the business of the Franks to attempt a hazardous journey and shed their blood in a thankless task? It was rumoured that Queen Bertrada, for all the sincerity of her devotion to St Peter's chair, regarded such a campaign with misgiving, and the people knew that Pippin listened to his wife's advice. But he had pledged his word, and little by little, encouraged by his best councillors, he succeeded in changing the sullen reluctance into an eager anticipation of great glory to come to the arms of Frankland. To fight the Arabs was certainly a fitting task for a champion of Christendom. To protect St Peter's patrimony became a height of honour.”


There’s one other thing that happened, other than Pépin’s ability to go about and sway opinions with high-minded arguments and ideals, and honestly, it’s kind of bizarre: Carloman came home. Not Carloman, Pépin’s son and the younger brother of Charles, but Carloman, Pépin’s older brother and the former co-ruler of the Frankish realms. He had abdicated his position in favor of monastic life several years earlier and had been living in Monte Cassino in Italy, a non-entity in Frankish affairs or anything else we have spoken about up until this point. We spent last season’s Episode 23 discussing his abdication and the possible reasons for it; at the time, we were perplexed and couldn’t find any historical sources that made us feel warm and fuzzy about why Carloman the Elder had chosen to split. Well, we’re not feeling any warmer or fuzzier now. Carloman’s return, and I’m going to use an academic historian’s term here, was freaking weird. I could try to explain it, but Almedingen does the scene more justice:


“And just at that time there occurred yet another twist in the curious Carolingian mentality. King Pippin's brother, Carloman the Elder, had been a monk at Monte Cassino since 747. In the early summer of 754 he appeared in Frankland - not to support the Pope’s cause but to plead with his brother not to start fighting the Lombards. For a moment, all was confusion at Pippin's court. Carloman argued that the King of the Lombards was no enemy of the Pope, that Byzantium was no friend of Italy, and, generally, that war against Lombardy would mean a dishonour for Christendom. Carloman's arguments were too fantastic to be taken seriously, but he was the King's brother and even his histrionics could not pass unnoticed. Pippin did not let him return to Monte Cassino. Carloman was taken to a monastery near the Breton border where he died soon after. His vehement championship of Aistulf remains one of the lesser enigmas of history.”


So, yeah, that happened. We’re not really sure if the entire Carloman scene really had an impact on events one way or another, but one thing is for certain: Carloman didn’t stop the Franks from riding to the south. Before that ride, however, came the Papal anointment in St. Denis in 754, along with the naming of Pépin, Charles and Carloman the Younger as Roman patricians - a title which sounds fancy but means basically nothing; it was kind of the Papal equivalent of a modern-day mayor presenting someone with a “key to the city.” From there, the Franks were finally on their way to put the Lombards in their place. For what it’s worth, it doesn’t seem like the mission turned out to be all that hard. Again from Louis Halphen:


“First of all, of course, Pepin had to drive the Lombard king from the territories which he had agreed to give to the pope. He tried, in the beginning, to achieve this by peaceful means: during the summer and autumn of 754 negotiations were pursued in the hope, which was constantly disappointed, that Aistulf might be induced to accept a compromise. The effort was in vain; force alone could decide the contest. In the spring of 755 a Frankish army left the region of Soissons and headed for Lyon and the Maurienne where Pepin, accompanied by Stephen Il, joined the main body of his troops. After delivering a final and futile ultimatum to Aistulf, Pepin and his men crossed the Alps over the pass of Mont Cenis. Having overwhelmed the advance guard of the enemy, the Franks pressed on to Pavia, capital of the Lombard kingdom, where Aistulf allowed himself to be besieged. His defense seems to have been rather feeble: it looks as though he quickly resigned himself to surrender, at least in form, in order to get rid of the invader. Pepin in his turn seems to have declared himself satisfied rather too easily. Lacking perspicacity perhaps and also lacking enthusiasm for an undertaking which if prolonged might endanger his position in his own kingdom, and finally, unable to rely on the military aid of his followers—who in any case did not care about papal affairs—beyond the few weeks that were prescribed by the law, he contented himself with Aistulf's sworn promise that he would evacuate the exarchate of Ravenna and several other recently conquered territories, or at least did not demand more than an illusory guarantee of forty hostages. After this, his conscience set at ease, Pepin gave the pope an escort back to Rome and himself returned to the Frankish kingdom, where he arrived at the beginning of the summer of 755 or somewhat later.”


Okay, so that seems pretty good, right? Pépin won and did everything he needed to do to fulfill his promise to the Pope, so nothing more need be written. Except, you know that’s not the case; the sentence, “He contented himself with Aistulf's sworn promise,” should have been a huge tip-off. Aistulf in fact did nothing to honor his obligations, and in fact may have taken the Frankish withdrawal as a sign of weakness. To Aistulf’s mind, if the Franks had been unwilling to end the war in a proper way, then what were the chances they would re-enter the war if the Lombards decided to say, make a run at Rome in late-755? Aistulf was clearly expecting the Franks to be as limp in their defense of Rome as the Byzantines; was this the case? Once more, we turn to Halphen:


“Even when some allowance is made for exaggeration, it was obvious that for the defenceless Pope the situation was very serious, and that if Pepin really wished to save Rome from Lombard capture he could not delay his return to Italy. He resolved upon it in fact in the first months of 756, and his new expedition at first went off almost in the same way as the preceding one: crossing by Mont Cenis, destruction of the roadblock put up by the enemy troops at the Susa Pass, siege of Aistulf in Pavia, this time with the aid of Bavarian contingents led from the north by Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, and, finally, the surrender of the Lombard king.”


Easy-peasy, and this time the peace would be lasting. But how could Pépin be sure that this time he had done enough to put the Lombards down - and to keep them there? Well, Aistulf’s death just a little while later didn’t hurt Pépin’s cause, especially with Aistulf having left no ready heir. We’ve seen in this history how situations like this tend to go down, and the Lombards would prove to be no exception as they spent the next several years locked in an internal dispute about who was going to be the new top dog. But beyond this timely death, Pépin had another weapon in store to help keep the new status quo as-is: His pen. That’s right, Pépin would take this moment to draw up a new doctrine - a new Donation - and provide the powers-that-be with a new understanding of the map of empire. The people impacted by this re-drawing were going to be more than just the Lombards and the Franks; some might make the argument that we’re still feeling the impact of what’s to come all the way up until now. We’ll get into what Pépin wrote... in the next episode!

 

CONCLUSION: Alright, girls and boys, that brings us to the end our first episode of this third season, and we’re already leaving things on a cliffhanger! Seriously though, just look at the attitude difference in our Kings now that Pépin has successfully managed to make the switch: for nearly a century now, the Merovingians allowed their Mayors to run the show while they wiled away the hours doing really God-knows-what at their various villas. Rather than getting driven about by a team of oxen, King Pépin is out there moving and shaking. He’s establishing a firm economic foundation, he’s knocking down enemies, he’s fighting wars - and winning - and he’s established such a firm alliance between himself and the Pope that not only is he a patrician of Rome, but so are his two boys, thus ensuring a smooth transition of power for the Franks in the years to come. And on top of all of this, which quite honestly, is frankly a lot, Pépin is about to insert himself into history as the first king since Dagobert I to do something that would have a truly lasting impact. But like I said earlier, we’ll get to that in the next episode... just remember, however, that just because Pépin was the biggest player in this game, that doesn’t mean he was the only person playing. And sometimes, if you can’t compete head on with a gorilla, the next best thing is to get that gorilla to make a move for you. I’ll explain what I mean... in 10 days!

 

OUTRO: Alright, before we go, we want to remind you that as always the notes on this episode, an updated monarchy tree with the complete Merovingian tree and the new Carolingian tree, our Instagram feed, and a bunch of other cool stuff is all available online at thugsandmiracles.com; check out the site and make sure you sign up for the newsletter! You can write to us at thugsandmiracles@gmail.com, or send us a line through Patreon; oh, that’s right, we never even got to that part yet.


Yes, you heard me right, we here at T+M have finally taken the plunge and signed up for a Patreon account. We appreciate everyone who listens to the show and everyone who leaves reviews, and now we’re asking, if your heart is big enough, to show the world how much you like us with a donation to help us cover some of the production costs. Over the past two years, we’ve done this show with almost nothing in the way of ads or other income, and well, it hasn’t been the greatest business model, to say the least! What we’re doing now is asking you to pick a level you’re comfortable with, and with those levels you’ll get access to some great extras.


For $1 you can become a Merovingian, a founding supporter of the show; for that you’ll get your name read out in our next episode! For $3 you can step up to being a Carolingian; at that tier you get your name read out, you get access to our Patreon Exclusive episodes, and the chance to vote on topics for upcoming Exclusives. We have five of our Bonus Episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 already migrated over to Patreon, and we plan on dropping a new Exclusive episode once a month going forward. For January, we’ll be looking at what might have been if Charles Martel had lost at the Battle of Tours; if that interests you and you want to have a say in the show, this level is for you! After the Carolingians we have the Capetian level, offering you all of the other great benefits already mentioned. But wait, there’s more! (And yes, for the love of God, I just said that…) For $5/month as a Capetian, you’ll get access to the ad-free feed of the show. If you don’t want your listening experience sullied by intrusive adverts, then please head on over to Patreon and take advantage of becoming a Capetian. Finally, for anyone out there who dreams just a little bigger, we have the final level: Napoleonic! For $20/month, you get everything the show has to offer, plus you’ll get your name mentioned in every single episode while your reign lasts. And there’s a limit to how many Emperors we can have: just as there were only three Emperors Napoleon, this tier will also be limited to three. You just don’t get much more exclusive than that, and we’re sure that we’ll have extra extras in store for you as time goes on.


Like we said, however, we appreciate all of your support, no matter how you provide it, whether it’s through Patreon, by leaving a review on your podcatcher of choice, by sending us messages through the socials, or simply by listening to each episode. We appreciate all of you!


Alright, again, my name is Benjamin Bernier. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the best fans in podcasting; we’re looking forward to another great season, and can’t wait to talk to you again in just 10 days with Episode Two, Season Three of Thugs and Miracles.

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