• Ben

Season Three, Episode Six: The Iron Crown

Updated: Feb 3

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The Iron Crown of Monza
The Iron Crown

“Bring the boys to me at once. We have to go, now!”

Gerberga was in a state of near-panic. The 20-year-old Frankish Queen had just returned from a council of senior leaders in Corbeny, one of her palaces - no, strike that. As she had been told several times during the meeting, nothing was hers. Everything had been Carloman’s, and Carloman was dead. She had just returned from one of Carloman’s former palaces and a meeting of senior Frankish leaders, the outcome of which had been disastrous.

“What in the world has happened?” her mother asked, rising quickly from her chair. She had been waiting for her daughter to return. “Did they name Pépin King? Did you get raised as his regent?”

Gerberga barely had enough breath to respond to these questions, flying about the room grabbing various objects and clothes. “No, mother, they most certainly did not do any of that. That monster came and took everything away!”

“What monster? What are you talking about, Gerberga?”

“I’m talking about Carloman’s tyrant of a brother, Charles! He came down to Corbeny, and he ruined everything.”

“Charles was there?”

“Yes, he was, and I seemed to be the only one shocked to see him when he arrived. He told me he came as soon as he had heard of Carloman’s death, that he wanted to honor his brother. But it was all lies! He was there for only one thing, and that is to strip my son of his rightful place on the throne!”

With that, Gerberga returned to storming around the room. She was grabbing items haphazardly, anything she thought may be of value.

“We will have to run,” she told her mother. “The council decided unanimously to side with Charles, despite my Pépin’s legitimate claim to the throne. When I tried to make my case, they cut me off. All of the fideles - my son’s fideles - said it was best to have Francia reunited under a single monarch rather than two or three. They said they would take care of us, that we would all be sent to monasteries and abbeys.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad...” Gerberga’s mother began to say, trailing off at the look her daughter shot at her from across the room.

“Doesn’t sound so bad? Doesn’t sound so bad? How can you even say such a thing? They will send us to an abbey until the boys are old enough to join a monastery. They will rip them out of my arms, tonsure them and make them live out the rest of their lives under holy orders. They will rob my son of his birthright if he is even allowed to live at all!”

“You cannot honestly believe they would do something to harm them? Charles is their uncle!”

“I don’t know who or what to believe. I only know that I am not ready to spend the rest of my life as a nun. And I will not give my children over to the monster just to have some sort of accident befall them when they are in their monastery. Or to suffer an “illness” like Carloman.”

As she said these last words, young Pépin and his brother were brought to the room by their wet nurse.

Gerberga looked at her mother. “We must go. Now.”

“Where do you intend to take us, Gerberga? Where do you think we will escape to that Charles will not be able to find us? If what you say is true, we are in the very middle of a Kingdom that is now entirely loyal to him.”

Gerberga was stalwart; she had clearly given thought to this question and was prepared with an answer.

“We are headed for Lombardy. The few people who have remained loyal to our family have procured horses and will escape with us. They know the way, and they know the right people to talk to and the ones to avoid. But we must go immediately before the window for our escape closes entirely.”

“I cannot believe this is happening,” the older woman said quietly, her voice a mixture of disbelief and shock. “We have only just attended Carloman’s funeral. Your husband, my son-in-law and our King, has barely been laid to rest, and already we must run...”

The tears streamed down Gerberga’s face as she watched her mother go through the same stages of shock and disbelief that she had gone through herself just hours earlier. She wanted to comfort her, but time was of the essence.

“We don’t have time to think about what is right or what should have been, Mother. Our choices have narrowed to either honoring Carloman or saving our children. Carloman is dead, and they are not. Being thrown into a monastery is no way to honor his memory. We must take this chance now because we will not have another.”

Gerberga went to the wet nurse and took hold of Pépin while the nurse kept hold of his brother. “Come,” she said more softly. “We must go. If we hope to survive Charles, we must get to Desiderius. The Lombards are our only hope.”

The discussion was complete and the decision made; the three women and two children grabbed their few bags and made their way to the back staircase leading to the stables. The trip that lay before them was daunting: 1,000 kilometers of old Roman roads and trails, not to mention some of the most treacherous mountains in the world. And it was to be made in the dead of winter, with the new King - and anyone seeking his favor - searching for them.

They would be lucky to survive the journey.

Gerberga, clutching her baby, the Crown Prince and rightful King, watched her villa - now, Charles’s villa - grow smaller and smaller behind her. She could do nothing to stop this injustice; her only hope now was to run to a new King and pray he had the power to make things right.

Her salvation - and Prince Pépin’s salvation - lay over the mountains.

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Several miles away, in Corbeny, a scout made his way to the King’s presence-chamber. He fell to a knee and addressed the men standing in the room.

“Your Grace, the woman, your brother’s wife, has returned to her villa along with the group of dissidents I was instructed to observe. They have horses, carts, and provisions. As I left to report to you, it appeared they were ready to leave at any moment.”


“Was the old man, Autchar, among the group?”

“Yes, Your Grace, he was.” “Thank you; you are dismissed.”

As the guard left the room, Charles’s chief advisor spoke. “Authchar was your father’s man; he has been over the mountains to treat with the Lombards multiple times. If he is with Gerberga, we know well enough where they are headed.”

Charles grunted in agreement.

“Since we know this, do you want us to head out and intercept them? Prevent Desiderius from sheltering a claimant to your throne?”

Charles chuckled lightly. I will not live in fear to a three-year-old, nor the child’s mother, he thought. But I will use them to my advantage.

“No,” Charles boomed. “Let them go. Let them ride to Desiderius and ensure no one gets in their way. I want them to reach his court, and the moment they arrive, I want someone there to demand their return.”

“But Charles, if we do that, if we send an emissary to Desiderius to make demands of any kind so soon after we returned his daughter to him, he is liable to fly into a rage and declare war against us.”

Charles smirked. “Exactly. Make sure no one interferes with Gerberga’s arrival, and ready our forces for war.”

This is Thugs and Miracles.

 

Season 3, Episode 6: The Iron Crown

 

Alright, welcome back! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier, and this week we’re going to take a look at how, for the third time in less than two decades, the Franks and the Lombards came to blows. However, the Franks would be under new management for the fight this time. Would the change of leader make a difference in the outcome of the war?

Before we get into that, though, I want to spend just a few moments talking about how we’re going to attack the problem that is Charlemagne’s 46-year-long reign. We are six episodes into the season, and we have been following Charles the entire time tangentially. He was part of the coronation that ended Season Two and started Season Three. He was learning from his dad, about as good a mentor as one could hope for, for our first three episodes, and then we studied how he handled being a co-ruler for his first three years. And now, here we are at long last, and we have Charles all by himself, the man who redefined the notion of empire in Western Europe. How to proceed?

Well, here’s how we’re going to do it. We’re going to begin by examining Charles’s Italian campaign, then we’re going to explore how he brought the Saxons in line. After that is Bavaria. Amid all this fighting, we’re going to look at the cultural and religious changes Charles is pushing. How, exactly, is the culture of Francia changing at this time? If you’ve never heard of the term “Carolingian Renaissance,” get ready. We’re going to take a look at the palace complex in Aachen because it’s incredible, and the story behind its construction is pretty mind-blowing. We will be looking at Charles’s personal life during all of this, because anyone who had five wives and 18 kids had a pretty serious personal life. And one of those kids was literally a hunchback who attempted to kill him, so you know that’s irresistible for us. And finally, after we get through all of the wars and the juicy, salacious details of Real World: Aachen, we’ll look at the latter portion of his reign: his declining health, his will, his crowning of Louis the Pious as his co-Emperor and successor, and his legacy.

Honestly, I see this as at least ten episodes, and I usually underestimate these things. And of course, if there’s anything you want to hear more about, or that you want to make sure we don’t miss, or that you think we have missed, be sure to reach out to us. Our contact info is at the end of the episode and the show notes.

Alright, now that we’ve laid out a general map for the rest of the season, let us return to 771. The newly minted King of the Franks has a Queen and a Prince on the run for their lives. Why did Gerberga run for Italy, and why did Charles allow it to happen?

First off, Charles and Carloman were most certainly political rivals and may have even led armies into battle against one another had the latter brother lived long enough. But this political rivalry does not mean that Charles hated Carloman, and it certainly doesn’t mean he would disrespect his younger brother and his family following the young man’s death. Rosamond McKitterick argues that “modern scholars... extended from one recorded incident over how to proceed with relations with the Lombards to ‘bitter rivalry’ and ‘fraternal hostility’ overall... It is going too far to assume that this brief quarrel is an indication of lasting and bitter rivalry between the two Frankish kings.”

Second, Charles was trying to appeal to Carloman’s fideles in the aftermath of the death to get them to overlook traditional Frankish inheritance laws. Murdering Gerberga and her young family would have taken the children out of play as far as being rivals for Carloman’s throne. Still, such a bold action could also have alienated support from the senior leaders Charles needed to convince. Even in the 8th century, child murder was not a great look, and it also harkened back to stories about earlier Frankish kings - most notably, Chlothar I and Childebert I. And besides, Carloman’s nobles were likely not that excited about handing over power to a 3-year-old and his 20-year-old mother as regent. Given a choice between a strong, militarily competent son of Pépin or waiting 15 years to see how Carloman’s kids turned out, the nobles went with Charles. He had no real need to press the matter further.

Finally, we know Gerberga made her way to Italy and the Lombards, and we can assume Charles knew that was where she was heading all along. As the opening story stated, she was in the company of a man named Autchar; the Liber Pontificalis, the Book of the Pontiffs, as recounted by McKitterick, tells us the following about this duo:

“Gerberga’s two boys subsequently figure in the Lombard king’s plans for subverting the political order in Francia... Gerberga was escorted to Italy by Autchar, who had served as an envoy under Pippin III and played a major role in enabling Pope Stephen II to travel to Francia in 753. Autchar is associated with Desiderius by Pope Hadrian’s biographer.”

Charles was no fool, and it is almost certain he knew that the time to face the Lombards was upon him. Remember, Charles had done nothing outside of the borders of Francia up until this point in his Kingship; quelling the uprising in Aquitaine helped to ensure he would not have to deal with internal unrest while prosecuting wars of conquest. The death of Carloman in December 771 and the flight of Gerberga all help to serve as a solid flag post, time-wise, in what is a somewhat muddled timeline we must deal with.

As we noted two episodes back in our Bertrada episode, Charles had upset the Lombards at about this time with the repudiation of Desiderata, the Lombard princess, as his bride-to-be. Louis Halphen claims Desiderata was sent back to the Lombards in April 772, at about the same time that Desiderius had lost his patience with Pope Stephen III. Desiderius stormed through the areas defined by Pépin as having belonged to the Pope in his Donation and had captured multiple towns while also laying siege to Ravenna. And that wasn’t all; Halphen tells us what happened next - but before that, a quick warning that the following passage has some violence some people may not care for. If that’s you, skip forward about 45 seconds:

“As for Desiderius, he did not lose courage at the miscarriage of his first attempt to seize control of the Papacy. In 771 under the pretence of coming to pray at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles and to discuss some ‘restitutions’ with Stephen III, he entered St. Peter’s Church with a detachment of soldiers, seized the primicerius Christopher and his son the secundicerius Sergius and had their eyes put out. Henceforth he held the Pope in his power, all the more easily since the primicerius Christopher, actual ruler of the Lateran, soon died of his wounds.”

Now, it would look like Desiderius was going to get control of the Papacy through his strong-armed actions, and most histories agree that Stephen III was under Desiderius’s control. But Desiderius wasn’t prepared for the Pope to pull a disappearing act to confound him. Well, not a disappearing act, exactly - long story short, Stephen III died in January 772, about one month after Carloman. The new Pope, Hadrian I, wasted little time calling to Charles for help, and, much like Pépin in 754, Charles was preparing to go over the Alps to straighten things out.

However, before we go too much further in this story, let me take a moment to pause and talk about timelines in general. The sources at this time were really not good about times and dates. Some quick examples: Charles, by 771, was somewhere between 23-28 years old. Scholars are still at odds over his exact birthdate, with the years 742-748 all in play. Another example is the death of Stephen III: It was either the last week of January or the first week of February. And yet another example is the timing of Charles’s second marriage: We don’t know for sure when Charles sent Desiderata back to Italy. We don’t even know if she ever made it to Francia. We don’t even know if we should consider her Charles’s second spouse or if she was the first because Himiltrude, the mother of Pepin the Hunchback, was just a concubine. And maybe Desiderata never married Charles, in which case Hildegard could have been his first wife and not his third. We’re trying to get at here that dates and specific facts are incredibly tenuous at this point. And that’s not particularly satisfying, believe me, because a shift in time for one event or another could easily change the calculus for why certain people acted, or didn’t act, in certain ways. But wading through gray areas is, unfortunately, something we simply have to do here. We warn anyone to be wary of sources that claim with absolute certainty that they know when something happened unless they are backed up by empirical evidence or an airtight contemporary source.

With all of that said, let’s review what we’re pretty sure about. Bertrada had tried to work out a political deal with the Lombards in 770-71, and that failed. The Lombards began to get uppity in northern Italy at around that time. Charles repudiated Desiderata, so no love was lost between Charles and Desiderius. The Lombards re-took several cities and even managed to capture Pope Stephen III while at the same time maiming and killing that Pope’s two closest advisors. Carloman died at the end of 771, and Charles took his Kingdom without spilling a drop of blood. Overall, there seems to have been little pushback to this notion. Gerberga took off for Desiderius, and he used Carloman’s children as a ploy to sow discord in both Francia and between Charles and the Pope. Stephen III died in early 771, ushering in the new Pope, Hadrian I. In all of this, Charles married Hildegard, a young Swabian girl. This marriage would have been politically astute, given that Swabia was one of Charles’s new territories. More than that, according to Matthias Becher:

“Charlemagne’s third wife Hildegard was descended on her mother’s side from the old Alemmanic ducal house and was also a cousin of the Bavarian duke Tassilo. As Desiderius’ son-in-law, Tassilo is unlikely to have approved of the dismissal of his sister-in-law by Charlemagne. By establishing another family tie between them, Charlemagne was able at least to induce the powerful Bavarian duke to remain neutral in the coming struggle.” Returning back to the new Pope, Hadrian, he was able to push back against the pressure being placed on the Papacy by Desiderius in a way that Stephen III either could now or would not. He held firm for most of a year, from the beginning of 772-773. Again according to Becher:


“In the intervening period, the Pope had weakened the pro-Lombard party in Rome of power and decided to refuse to consecrate Carloman’s sons as kings. As a result, he was pressed harder and harder by Desiderius, who, for a time, had even occupied parts of Rome’s territory. Hadrian supposedly had threatened ex-communication to keep Desiderius from attacking Rome itself. Desiderius considered himself to be in an unassailable position of power, and he refused several attempts at negotiation by Charlemagne.”

Okay, this brings us to spring 773, a time marker all of the sources we’re aware of agree upon. By 773, Hadrian was sending an official request for military support to Charles, and Charles seemed able to overcome the pro-Lombard lobbyists in his midst who would lead him against going to war with the group. In this way, Desiderius’s intransigence helped seal his fate. Charles pulled his forces together for a campaign, and in the late spring and summer of that year, they concentrated their mass in Geneva. If all of this sounds like a rehash of 754-55, just with different players in the lead roles, well, you would be pardoned for any confusion you may have. And if you remember how things turned out for Pépin in his Lombard campaigns, get ready for what comes next to sound eerily similar - to a degree.

There were only two ways to get an army through the Alps from Geneva. The first of these was over the pass of Mont Cenis; the other was over the Great St. Bernard Pass. The Lombards established fortifications known as clusae in these passes, but an invading force could move swiftly onto Pavia once beyond these. To keep the Lombards guessing as to the exact path of the incursion, Charles chose to use both passes. In future battles, he will be shown to enjoy pincer movements, so the dividing of forces is not surprising here. Still, he likely would have only risked doing this if he had an extremely large force under his command and competent commanders to lead them. Charles had both, as he was leading one column and his uncle was leading the other. If you have any trouble remembering who was leading which force, remember that the name of Charles’s uncle was Bernard, and he was the one leading the army over the St. Bernard Pass. Easy-peasy! In discussing this large scale splitting of the forces and de facto pincer movement, Alessandro Barbero points out in his writing:

“This tactic was only possible for someone who found himself at the head of a large army that was generally superior to that of his enemy. Thus we can assert that Charlemagne was a great general but not in the sense of a brilliant tactician capable of making up for his lack of resources. He was more in the mold of a modern commander, whose talent is above all organizational and logistic.”

What happened next is... anticlimactic. Let me put it to you this way: Barbero spent over 20 pages discussing what led to the Lombard campaign and its ramifications. He spent just over a page discussing the actual battle because apparently, Charles pretty much destroyed the Lombard defense without too much trouble. Barbero alluded to later battle stories and how these histories were meant to glorify Charles. To us here at T+M, they bear a striking resemblance to the Persian King Xerxes I and the force he brought to bear against the Spartans at Thermopylae. Johannes Fried also described the story in his biography of Charlemagne. From Fried:

“Charlemagne set up his campaign headquarters at the monastery of Novalese near Susa... When Charlemagne has exhausted all of the monk’s supplies at his quarters, a “singer” appeared and intoned, “What reward will a person receive who can lead Charlemagne into the kingdom of Italy on paths where no spear will be cast at him, and no shield smashed?” In the interim a collaborator had picked up his fiddle - an Italian prepared to lead the Frankish force on secret paths that would allow them to attack his own King’s army from the rear.”

Tell me that doesn’t sound almost exactly like Ephialtes and his offer to sneak Persians around the Spartans through otherwise unknown trails! Now, the Franks did manage to get an element behind Desiderius’s forces. The size of this element is unknown, as is the way they found trails to get around Desiderius, but they did somehow manage it. At the same time this occurred, Bernard and his forces arrived from the St. Bernard Pass. Now put yourself in Desiderius’s shoes. His army has Charles to the front, he’s getting flanked by a second column, and he has some sort of third element of unknown size and disposition tickling him from behind. Even if full-on armed conflict had not started, the pressure being brought to bear would have been difficult to deal with and even more so given that Desiderius knew he had a strong, walled fortification to fall back to in Pavia. And so that’s what he did. Rather than waiting to see which Frankish column broke his army first, he turned and ran to the defensive structure, giving him a chance to live another day.

Hey, no one was making any comparisons in those stories I was talking about earlier of Desiderius as some sort of would-be Leonidas, nor were they attempting to compare the Lombard’s martial prowess to that of Sparta. In this case, all the sources are focused on portraying the Franks as large and mighty, their commander God-chosen, their success inevitable. And it may have been. A little over 100 years after this battle, a monk named Notker Balbulus (which means “the stutterer”) authored a biography of Charles called Gesta Karoli Magni. In it, Notker imagined how it must have felt to have been Desiderius and his lieutenant Otkerus, looking down from the walls of Pavia. I’ll leave it to you to find the key word Notker was trying to drive home in this passage:

“Then they saw the iron-willed Charles, crested with an iron helmet, iron sleeves on his arms, the iron breast and shoulders protected by an iron breastplate, an iron lance lifted high with the left hand, while the right was always outstretched with the unconquered sword. The outer part of the thighs, which others leave without armor in order to mount their horses more easily, were in his case protected by sheets of iron. As for greaves, the entire army wore them made of iron. On his shield you could see only iron. Even his horse, because of its courage and color, shined like iron. All those who preceded him, flanked him, or followed him imitated this armament according to their means. Iron filled the fields and the plains. The rays of the sun reflected in the serried ranks of iron. The people chilled by fear bowed to the chill iron. The flashing iron lit up the darkness of the cellars and echoed the confused clamor of the citizens, “Oh, the iron! Alas, the iron!”

So yes, Charles was able to push all the way to Pavia and “come flooding round the city walls like the surging waves of the ocean.” And then he and his forces camped out for the next nine months. And this is where Charles and his father, Pépin, really part ways in their approach to the Lombards. Pépin had been happy to let Lombard kings live in exchange for some promises, some hostages, and perhaps a friendly cash settlement. Charles had seen his dad do that twice, and both times had failed to end the Lombard problem. So Charles accepted no offers of peace, no talks of settlement. He sat outside of Pavia and waited. And it must not have been horrible for the Franks because Charles managed to get his wife to visit him there, and she gave birth to their second child outside the walls. This must have been an especially bitter piece of news for Desiderius, as the jilted father of Charles’s would-be second wife. Hell, Charles even managed to leave the siege for a while to go visit the Pope in Rome for Easter, and to go to Verona, where Adelchis, son of Desiderius, was trying to work up an army. Charles drove him off, and Adelchis ran to Constantinople to grovel for the Emperor’s support. When he fled, Adelchis left behind Gerberga and her boys in Verona. They were captured and eventually brought before Charles, so... so much for running to the Lombards for protection! For what it’s worth, no one chose to record the ultimate fate of Gerberga and her sons, which is kind of a major oversight in our eyes considering she was a Frankish Queen and her son was the Crown Prince with a rightful claim to his father’s throne. You would have thought they merited at least a little bit of ink, right? Well, apparently not. We’re left to speculate that Charles probably treated the once-Royal Family in much the same way he treated other political prisoners, by forcing them into holy orders. Something worse may have befallen them, but that doesn’t seem to have been Charles’s style. We’ll likely never know for sure.

Also, before we go too much further, the flight of Adelchis is a perfect example of just how convoluted the political situation of Europe had become by this time. If you’ll recall, it was the Lombards who originally pushed the Eastern Romans out of Italy back in the early 750s. They took Ravenna from Constantinople and murdered the Exarch, and now, less than a quarter-century later, they were begging the Emperor for support. I’m telling you, you have to be nimble to keep up with all of this! Anyway, Adelchis did return with a Byzantine army in an attempt to retake Lombardy. He just didn’t do it until 788, over a decade removed from the current siege. By the time Adelchis landed on Italy, his dad and his crown were long gone, and not too much later, Adelchis would be gone as well.

But returning to the siege: While the Frankish King made babies and ran off the Crown Prince, the Lombard king sat in his walls and watched his resources dwindle. He watched his people starve. He waited each day for a sign, and each night he would look over his castle walls and see nothing but Frankish iron. And seriously, try and think to yourself how it would feel to be stuck in a spot, low on food and ammo, and with no support coming your way. Movies have been made about people living in existential dread for a few hours or days; the Lombards lived like that for nine months! In the end, Desiderius simply gave in without conditions.

But like we said earlier, Charles was a different kind of leader. Whereas earlier Frankish kings may have split Desiderius’s skull with an ax or burned him and his family, Charles let the man live. He obliged him to become a monk and shut him up in a distant monastery, but he let the Lombard king live. That is telling of the strength Charles believed himself to possess, that he didn’t even consider Desiderius a significant threat to try and return from monastic life and take back his crown. And that was because Charles took the crown for himself. That’s right; he didn’t replace Desiderius with another Lombard. He replaced Desiderius with himself. He also displaced Desiderius’s dukes and replaced them with Frankish counts. Unlike his father, Charles didn’t just temporarily alleviate the threat from the south; he destroyed the threat and took everything they owned for his own Kingdom, including the Iron Crown. Henceforth, Charles would be known as the King of the Franks... and the Lombards.

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CONCLUSION: Okay, so we’re going to stop at this point. Again, my apologies for going back and forth on some timelines. I feel like we took what I’m going to call “the baking approach” to history in these early years, just dumping a bunch of ingredients into a bowl, mixing it all together, and seeing what rises at the end. And the end result really is the important thing here: Official documents dated 5 June 774 hold Charles as the Rex Francorum et Longobardorum. The political infighting, the disagreements about when or if Desiderata came to Francia, the soap opera that was the Papacy of Stephen III from 768-772; these are all elements of what led to the finished product of Charles as the victor. While it’s fun to sit here and read the historians debate about who said what and whose feelings were hurt and when, let’s not forget that the speed of communications at this time was simply not fast enough to allow the Franks to keep up with the twisted tales in Italy, at least not on a day-to-day, blow-by-blow level.

Meanwhile, Charles’s plan seems to have been pretty constant. He pacified Aquitaine, thereby removing an irritant in his own Kingdom. He then moved his forces to focus on his brother and a possible civil war, as well as campaigns in Saxony and Lombardy. He married Hildegard, a politically savvy marriage that mitigated Bavarian involvement in anything going on at this point. And he maintained his ties to the Papacy throughout all of this, ultimately using the Lombard threat of Rome, Desiderius’s attempts to force the Pope to crown his nephew as Carloman’s heir, and Hadrian I’s pleas for help as a justification for taking Lombardy.

All in all, Charles was doing a pretty impressive job of cutting through the clutter and putting a solid, ambitious plan into motion. When we come back next time, we’ll see how and why Charles made a run at Saxony; he actually did this in the year hiatus provided by Hadrian I’s ascension to the Papacy! And while he accomplished much in the first campaign, Charles was about to get surprised that, unlike the Lombards, it was going to take way more than one good fighting season to annex them into his new, expansionistic Francia.


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OUTRO: Alright, that is all for this episode. Thank you again for listening; if you enjoyed it and want to read the transcript or any of the transcripts for the now 50-plus episodes we’ve put out, we invite you to head on over to ThugsAndMiracles.com. There you’ll find those, our French Monarchy Tree, a sign-up area for our newsletter or Patreon - or both! - and lots of other good stuff. Head to the site and check it all out!

Speaking of Patreon, we want to thank our newest Patrons this week, Laurent Callot and Margreatha Hein. Your pledges mean the world to us, and your generosity is already being channeled into new books and resources, so thank you. Also, get ready to start hearing the name of Peter Foxhoven, our first Patron at the Napoleonic level! For ascending to that tier, Emperor Peter will get a shoutout in each episode of T+M going forward and will be one of just three people who will hold the title of Emperor at any given time. Peter... long may you reign! Seriously, each and every one of you is awesome, and we hope you enjoy the Patreon Exclusive episodes, the early access, and the ad-free feed that you now have access to. If you’d like to join Laurent, Maggie, and Peter as a Merovingian, a Carolingian, a Capetian, or a Napoleon, head on over to Patreon.com/ThugsAndMiracles and choose the level of support that works best for you. And if you already are a Patron, well, you know that you are, and always will be, quite simply, amazing!

If you want to get in touch with us, you can write to us at thugsandmiracles@gmail.com or find us on most major social media platforms. We recently put the podcast feed up on Facebook, so if you want to check out our posts and get into a little historical back-and- forth all while listening to the show, head on over to the Facebook app on your mobile device, and you can do precisely that. And if you are listening on Facebook, or simply just have an account, be sure to like us and recommend T+M to others who may enjoy a good listen!

Beyond all that, know that we always appreciate what you do to help us grow, either by listening to the show or leaving reviews. Because of you, T+M had its best month ever in January. It’s heartwarming beyond measure to see so many people interested in this time and place, and we hope to turn on the interest of many more yet. If we succeed, we always know that it’s thanks to you, so... thank you!

Alright, again, my name is Benjamin Bernier. Prepare for battle because we will be following along with Charles in the next episode as he heads into Saxony. We’ll be discussing his campaigns there in detail when we come back in ten days with the next episode of Thugs and Miracles.