• Ben

Season Two, Episode 11: Coup d’État, Part Three

Bathilda was conflicted.

Waiting Merovingian Queen
Jean-Paul Laurens, "L'attente d'une reine mérovingienne" (public domain)

You see, she lived in a world that seemed to have only two sides. On the one, there was the light and goodness that she found in those around her, the men that inhabited her life such as her dearly departed husband and her sons. But on the other… well, on the other there seemed to be no shortage of wicked and evil men who were determined to make her life as hellish as possible. In this duality she was able to love certain men, but also able to largely despise living in a land made by man.


As the Queen Regent, Bathilda had to deal on a regular basis with the bishops of the Church who corrupted the Word of God, who grew rich by using their positions to sell offices and to give special blessing to those who were underserving… but who could pay. She had to deal with seeing families destroyed by crippling taxes, to see children thrust into labor when little more than babes, and to know that people lived and were sold into bondage daily in the land where she herself had found freedom from slavery. There seemed no end to the cruelty that lay all around her.


In her own family, however, she was able insulate herself somewhat from this evil. She loved the men she lived with: her sons, all three of them, and until he had died, her husband, the King, Clovis II. In his life he had treated her well; he had fallen in love with her when she was a lowly slave, but despite this he had listened to her advice and acted upon it, never holding her earlier station against her. Now, it was true that he had often been difficult to live with, largely in part due to the shaking that would come upon him at irregular intervals, but this had not lessened her love for him. In some ways, his maladies had brought them closer; after all, it was she who stayed at his side when he would grow weak and tired, it was she who would fall asleep holding his hand when everyone else had gone away for fear of catching whatever God had sent upon the King to make him seize so violently. It was this closeness that had driven him to act upon her recommendation to enter the Shrine of St. Denis and redistribute the treasures within to the people of the Kingdom who were living without.


With all of that, she had hoped to be able to mold her sons into Kings who could lead their kingdoms. She hoped that the best parts of Clovis’s character and hers would form the foundations of these young boys; she wanted nothing more for them than to grow up, to relieve her of her regency, and then proudly and justly rule over their lands, ultimately leaving behind a legacy of productiveness and good works that would be remarked on by the people of Francia for generations yet to come. If she could just see them through to their age of majority, then she could rest.


Because that’s all she want to do. She was tired, and it felt on some days that all she could think about was that blessed day when she, Queen Bathilda, could move into her abbey at Chelles. The ruined abbey had been built by the wife of the first King Clovis, Queen Clotilde, who had overseen the conversion of her pagan husband and who, with his assistance, brought the light of faith to the people. Bathilda, the wife of the second King Clovis, had overseen the reconstruction of the abbey, and now all she wanted to do was to remove her crown and don the habit of a nun, living out the rest of her days simply, humbly, and in service to the Lord.


Today, however, was not that day. Today, she was still firmly the Queen, still having to make decisions for both her boys and for her people. Increasingly, people were coming to her for her opinion and her blessing. They wanted her advice, and they wanted her to help them live in a better and more dignified way. Without trying, she had become the most important person in the Kingdom for those who felt that they had no voice.


It’s strange, she would often think to herself. I was brought here in chains, but now they seem unable to do anything without me…


In the almost-decade since her Clovis had died, she had ruled Neustria and Burgundy in the name of her son. One of Clovis’s last acts before his death had been to pass judgment on the traitorous Mayor of the Palace for Austrasia, Grimoald, and that man’s son, Childebert. Grimoald had tried to usurp the Austrasian throne by placing his boy on the seat of power after the death of Bathilda’s brother-in-law, King Sigibert III, and for a few years they had successfully managed their coup and their grasp on power. Soon enough, however, things got out of control for the father and son, and the nobles in Austrasia began to long for a leader from the line of the Merovingians, the true royal family of Francia. The end of their coup had opened opportunities for Clovis to attain power and authority over all of the Franks, but he had died before that dream could come true. Bathilda, along with the help of her Mayors of the Palace, had been able to eventually get her second oldest son, Childeric II, set upon that throne in Austrasia. Now she was mother to two Kings; she would rather have been the Queen to one, but God’s plan was not hers to question.


In this mindset, the knowledge that she was but a mere servant of God, Bathilda had set out - quite unwillingly - to lay the groundwork for her son’s eventual transition to power by assuming the reins of that power. When she first set off on this path, she had no idea she could or would accomplish as much as she had. The time and effort to restore Chelles would have been admirable for anyone in and of itself, but that was but one tiny part of what she had been able to achieve in her son’s name. She had founded many other churches and monasteries throughout the Kingdom, earning her the respect and gratitude of the Catholic Church. She was the protector of the abbeys of Jumièges, of Fontenelle and of Troyes, among myriad others. Beyond the physical structures of the Church, Bathilda had worked to reform many of the issues she found within the hierarchy and the doctrine. She encouraged learning and used her influence and example to enforce obedience to monastic vows, because if anyone could understand the draw of a life freed from the burdens of responsibility, it was her. Yet she understood her duty, the vows and oaths she had taken that had led her to her position in life, and she beseeched others to obey those vows that they had taken themselves. Beyond all of this, she worked diligently to suppress the sale of Church offices by those in service to God who carried greed and lust for earthly riches in their hearts. She couldn’t end all simony in her realm, but no one did more than her to try and end the practice.


In the secular realm, her time as Queen had been peaceful; in the past 150 years, this had been the exception, not the rule, and the Kingdoms of Austrasia and Neustria were at war with each other almost as much as they were with any outside invaders. But God had been kind to the people of Francia, and this slave woman turned Queen had brought to them and their King three sons. The oldest, Chlothar III, now ruled in Paris, while the second oldest, Childeric II, had been sent to the throne of Austrasia in 660 when the boy was of an age of roughly five years and no longer had need of the daily attention of his mother. The third child, Theuderic, had been born near to the time of his father’s death, and was still very young. Together, they ensured that all parts of France were tied to her and her benevolence. Bathilda was Queen Dowager, Queen Mother and Queen Regent. Using the power available to her unique position, she advocated for causes near to her heart: she ended unbearable taxes that led people to sell their children into bondage, or worse yet, to end the lives of infants that parents couldn’t sustain. These same taxes restrained many from marrying, and the good Queen discharged her people from these burdens, earning their love and devotion. Past all of this, she worked to put an end to slavery, that same damnable institution that she herself had suffered in. When she could, she purchased the freedom of captives, and often would emancipate boys and girls to be trained up for a life of prayer in the monasteries and abbeys of which she was patron.


With all of these successes, however - and there were many - Bathilda still could not stop everyone who wanted to go astray. Oftentimes, her successes - while widely lauded by commoners, Church officials, and the aristocracy alike - would bring her into conflict with those who had benefited from the deceitful tactics she had worked against. At first these disagreements had been small: they would often be a bishop looking to explain to her, simple woman that she was, why taking additional monies for blessings and offices was important - nay, invaluable! - for the church and its flock. They would be arguments between two nobles over lands under their control. Or they may be a complainant from amongst the people, seeking justice for their case as they had heard King Dagobert used to do. In these cases, Bathilda couldn’t help but notice that the “peasant” before her often spoke with an eloquence and intelligence which seemed out of sorts with a mere commoner. It was almost as if these people had been hand picked and coached on what to say to her… Over time, despite her good deeds, the list of bishops and priests walking away from her without their 30 pieces of silver, the list of aggrieved nobles with no higher authority upon which to submit their claim for land, and the myriad peasants whose suits she had dismissed had grown into a large and ready group of conspirators who would happily see her leave her throne. They needed a leader who had as much to gain by pushing her out as they had. And they found this person, as was so often the case, in the Royal Court, advising the Queen and her child King. They found, to help them in their dirty deeds, none other than the Mayor of the Palace, Ebroin, a man who had been elected to the role after the death of King Clovis’s great-uncle Erchinoald.


Ebroin, however, was wily. He had watched the Austrasian Mayor of the Palace make a play for the throne and fail miserably. He had listened to that man’s pleas for death after days of torture and was one of the few in the world who knew the fate of the impostor king of Austrasia, Childebert the Adopted. Having this knowledge, he made it his life’s work to be more successful than them. He knew that he couldn’t take a direct shot at the Queen and his King; there was no way the people would accept him as ruler after such an act. No, he had to build support gradually while also working to erode Bathilda’s. And so it was that claimants kept applying to the Queen for intervention on their behalf, only to be turned away disappointed and disaffected. So it was that murders of political and ecclesiastical figures would happen from time to time throughout Neustria and Burgundy, murders that the people telling of them couldn’t help but remark of how they served to the benefit of the Queen… One of these murders, the murder of Bishop Annemund of Lyon, was particularly galling. The man had been unable to make it to a gathering in Orléans and the word was circulated that he missed it because he was a traitor. No one in power actually believed this, but the word leaked out that Annemund was persona non grata with the monarch, and he was killed in the city of Châlons. No one was ever able to make a direct claim that it was the Queen who ordered the murder… but no one refuted the claim either.


It was because of this latter part, the lack of people taking up her defense despite all of her efforts to improve their lots, that Bathilda grew ever more jaded, tired of this world, and ready for the blessings of retirement. She spoke of this dream more and more by the day, but the people around her, led by Ebroin, would tell her, “No, the people love you too greatly for you to go away.” Somehow she never quite believed what Ebroin had to say. And then finally, it came to pass that word reached her one afternoon that another murder had taken place, this time one of her counselors rather than a bishop. This counselor, a man named Sigoberrand, had been one of her favorites; his death hit too close to home for the Queen. She began to weep at the news, her breath coming quickly and just below hyperventilation.


“I must go, I must go,” she kept repeating as she cried and rocked back and forth, looking out of a second-floor window looking down at the courtyard. There she saw Ebroin; her gaze must have had a weight, because he seemed to feel it and turn around to look up at her. He smiled, an icy smirk that nearly stilled the Queen’s heart, and in this moment that she realized that he had finally won. She knew that if she remained as Queen many more would die, and she would never, ever be able to place the blame for a one of them on her Mayor of the Palace. He was cruel and calculated in a way she couldn’t be; she couldn’t win against such an opponent.


“It’s time,” she said to the room around her and to no one in particular as she rose out of her seat in the window. “It’s time to leave, to go to Chelles.”


“Pack a small bag for me,” the Queen ordered to one of her ladies. “I will be leaving within the hour. Tell no one of this.”


Bathilda’s lady nodded her head in understanding at the Queen’s wish and set about her task. Once downstairs, she was able to get all of the supplies the Queen needed without any effort; it was almost as if someone had ordered people to stay out of her way as she moved about. When she returned, she saw that the Queen had transformed out of her robes and into a simple linen tunic that draped limply over her body. She wore a cap on her head, covering most of her hair, and had a brown shawl over her shoulders to provide a small amount of warmth against the coolness of the early fall evening. Queen Bathilda, in her simple clothes, made her way to the stables. Once there, she saw a carriage already prepared for her.


That’s odd, she thought. I didn’t order a…


It was then that Bathilda saw Ebroin, standing in the shadows of the courtyard at an angle where he could see the whole of the stables. And she knew then what had happened. Ebroin had been among those who said she couldn’t leave, she was too loved, but all the while he had been placing more and more pressure on her and making the choice to flee to an abbey inevitable. She had wanted to go to serve the Lord, but now she wanted to go and she had no desire to ever return. Her sons were old enough that they no longer needed their mother, and her continued presence would ensure more people would experience pain and death. She left for the abbey because it was the life she wanted, but also because it would save the lives of the people she cared for.


Power for the sake of power wasn’t enough for her to fight for. If Ebroin wanted it, he could have it.


This is Thugs and Miracles.

Season Two, Épisode 11: Coup d’État, Part Three

Alright, welcome back! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier, and this week we’re finishing the trilogy that began back in Episode Nine when Grimoald rode out into a field following the death of King Sigisbert III, collected up two boys - his son, Childebert, and the Crown Prince, Dagobert II - then sent the latter into exile while placing the former onto the throne of Austrasia. This coup almost worked; however, unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, where “almost” is good enough, well… as we’ve seen, it wasn’t good enough to keep Grimoald from likely being tortured and executed, and it wasn’t good enough to keep Childebert III (a.k.a. Childebert the Adopted) on the throne. This King, probably no older than 15 when he was captured, left the crown and left history at this point; whether he was executed, sent into exile, or just left to his own devices remains unknown. He was simply never heard from again.


Now, with Childebert and Grimoald gone, Clovis II was in a position wherein he was the only monarch left standing in Francia. He was so excited about this that - he died. Alright, so perhaps it wasn’t the excitement of victory that killed him, but he did die about a month after all of the goings-on with Austrasia. Still, this means that he was technically one of the Merovingian Kings who would get to claim the mantle of King of all of the Franks. There were no other monarchs in Burgundy, Aquitaine, or Austrasia to claim co-rule, so by default, Clovis II was a ruler of all. In addition to this, there are those who would claim that Clovis took this mantle at the moment his brother Sigibert died, Childebert having no legitimate claim to the throne. We discussed why I fall on the side of Childebert III as a King last time, what with him having coins minted in his name and all giving the impression that he sat the throne for quite a bit longer than just a week, but I can see where other people might feel otherwise. To be honest, I don’t have a dog in the hunt here to get too passionate about either side of the debate, but if you fall into the other camp then you can make the claim that Clovis II was the King of All the Franks from 656 with the death of his brother. Either way, the title serves as little more than a personal adornment for Clovis as he didn’t really do much with it, whether he held it for a month or for a year.


We also mentioned last week that the timeframe of the capture of Grimoald and Childebert is open to debate, and this has consequences insofar as who was actually in charge of Neustria when they would have been brought back to Paris for judgment. Most of the sources I have found place the death of Clovis II somewhere between 655 and 658, and the Vita Sanctae Bathildis, the hagiography written to support Bathilda’s case for canonization, has his death in 657. I’m willing to go with this latter date, if for no other reason than the temporal proximity of the Vita to the actual life and times of Bathilda. This means that Grimoald and Childebert would not have gone in front of Clovis if they were caught later than this date. Last episode I said that this may have left them to go in front of Erchinoald, Clovis’s great-uncle and Mayor of the Palace. Well, on this one I’ll say mea culpa because that also probably didn’t happen, given that, according to de Mézeray:


“The Government of the Mayre Erchinoald ended with his Life, which happened in a few Months after the death of Clovis, the II, or as others say, a short time before… The French bestowed that Office upon Ebroin, a man active, valiant, and who being greatly in friendship with the most Holy Men of those times, and Founder of some Churches, was held a good Man.”


So given all of this, it’s very possible that Grimoald and Childebert the Adopted would have gone before the Royal Court in Neustria to face a child King under the regency of his mother, Bathilda, and the new Mayor of the Palace, Ebroin. Any which way we look, however, the end results as we discussed in the last episode remain unchanged, with Austrasia now posting LinkedIn vacancies for a new king and a new Mayor.


And this, my friends, is were we can truly say that the coup against Merovingian rule has run its course for the moment, because this is the point at which we’re going to see two new Kings take the stage: Chlothar III and Childeric II (and as a side note, I really wish the Merovingians had used more than five or six names. Then again, we haven’t even started into the Louis, and there’s going to be 16 of those by the end of the Revolution, so careful what you wish for, amiright?).


Anyway, the succession of these new kings is described in the Vita Bathildis as such:

“In accordance with God's will, King Clovis II migrated from his body (c. 657), leaving behind his three sons and Balthild. Clothar III succeeded his father as King of the Franks, maintaining peace in the realm with the aid of the excellent princes Chrodebert, Bishop of Paris, Lord Quen, Ebroin, mayor of the palace, other elders and many other people. To promote peace, the elders advised Lady Balthild to name Childeric the king of Austrasia, which the people accepted. This move united the Burgundians with the Franks. We believe that these three realms remained at peace with each other due to Lady Balthild's great faith and God's will.”


Now, there’s a third son, Theuderic, who is basically an infant at this point and doesn’t get into the fray… yet. As I’ve said about others, put a pin in his name, because, like the Terminator, he’ll be back.


Okay, for what it’s worth, today’s opening story largely stays true to that history, or the hagiography at least, of what we know about Bathilda. She appears to have been a truly good Queen and ruler, especially given that she would have had no political training whatsoever. There are unverified rumors that she may have been a Saxon princess at one time early in life, thus providing her with an understanding of court functions and general political thought, but… c’mon man. Even if she had this upbringing, we’re talking about a girl that would have been violently dragged from her home and her family, taken across the Channel, placed in slavery and sold to an ethnic group known for its dislike of the Saxons. To put this in a modern context, if the daughter of a Western politician was, in our day and age, captured, bound and transported to North Korea, we wouldn’t exactly have high hopes for her ultimately marrying into the Kim family and rising to a position of respect and authority. Hell, there’s a wonderful book called A Kim Jong-Il Production by Paul Fischer that describes when this type of situation actually did happen with a South Korean film director and his actress wife, and it took everything they had just to play the game and survive the situation! They were adults and trained actors! So with all of this being said, let me bring this back to my main point: it probably wouldn’t have mattered for much, one way or another, if Bathilda had ever been part of an aristocratic or royal family or not.


As far as her rule is concerned, she really did have her hands in on building all sorts of churches, abbeys and monasteries. She was friends with influential churchmen, to include the much revered Saint Eligius who was the craftsman and goldsmith for several Kings. And most of all, she really does appear to have been an early abolitionist, outlawing the practice of slavery, of capturing human beings for transport out of country for labor, and of selling children for work. She is said to have passed legislation that ended unfair taxation that was so burdensome as to lead some families to leave newborns and young children outside to die from exposure, and she led by example by using her own money to buy freedom for slaves who she then would send off to her abbeys and monasteries. She was, in a way, an early version of Victor Hugo’s Bishop of Digne, the man who famously purchases Jean Valjean’s soul for God.


Now, there is one fairly dark spot we have to acknowledge here, and it honestly most likely has nothing to do with Bathilda herself, but various histories that write about things such as the slave trade and profiteering seem to have a bad habit of tying these types of crimes back to the Jews. De Mézeray, for example, writing in the 17th century, is quoted as saying, “The good Queen… forbid those Jews that used to buy such poor innocent Children, and send them into Forreign Countreys, to deal any longer in so inhumane a Trade.” Now, the Queen's Vita, written much closer to her age than de Mézeray, never once brings up the Jews. More than likely, as we’ve seen so often before, the writing of historians has more to do with their times and biases than the people they’re exploring, and de Mézeray doesn’t seem to be different in this sense. Throw into it that in our previous talk about Dagobert, the Jews may have been pushed out of Francia altogether for a period of a century, this definitely doesn’t make any sense. But, anti-Semitism was nothing new by de Mézeray’s time, and the idea of Jews as "the other" has been at play for a long, long time. More than likely, the people selling children into slavery in the 7th century were just jerks and Jewishness had nothing at all to do with it, but it would seem that this was an easy trope to use later on for a largely Christian audience with a built-in aversion. To really neatly sum up this point, we’re going to do something we have never done here before at T+M, and that is to include an audio clip from another podcast to drive everything home. If you remember back about 20 minutes or so ago to the beginning of this episode, we played a promo for The Paranoid Strain; well, here they are from one of their earlier episodes, describing the general state of anti-Semitism at about this time in history:


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Okay, so I think we’ve driven that point home pretty well, but just remember to get ready to apply it over and over again as we move down the historical path. Yes, in this case it was the Jews being maligned, but we’re just a few years away from the Umayyad Caliphate entering the Iberian Peninsula and making incursions into Francia, and you can imagine the difficulties that ethnicity, religion and race are going to play in distinguishing historical fact from historian bias. But we’ll deal with that in a few episodes, and I will always do my best to be clear as to when something is historical fact as opposed to biased conjecture.


So returning to Bathilda for a wrap-up, it looks like when all was said and done that she was ultimately pressured from power by people who took advantage of her desire to lead a cloistered life. Murders and assassinations were taking place, such as the purported murder of ten bishops, to include Annemund of Lyon (who was more than likely the bishop referred to as “Dalphinus” in the Vita Sancti Wilfrithi) and Bathilda’s counselor Sigoberrand. Her sons were getting older and likely would start to push to rule for themselves; both her husband and Eligius were dead, as well as Erchinoald - we don’t know if they had any warm feelings toward one another, but he would have served as a link to earlier times, if nothing else. So with less personal support from those around her, increased pressure to make her life more difficult, and a general desire to cloister up, it looks like Bathilda did exactly that. She had given her all to a group of people who had brought her into their country in chains, and by the time she entered the abbey the history certainly reads that she was comfortable in doing so in knowing that she had given what she had to give. As she was a particularly pious woman, we can safely assume that she would have trusted to God to sort things out as her Creator deemed fit.

BON VOYAGE: Okay, so after all is said and done with our history for this week, it’s time once again to look back at who won’t be joining us in future episodes and to give them an appropriate bon voyage. This week, as we mentioned in the opening story, that person is Clovis II, husband of Bathilda. Long time listener Trevor reached out to me last week about this King, asking, “What happened to Clovis II? The story in “From a Slave to a Queen” was fascinating but in the next episode you went backwards, leaving me hanging...ugh.” Well Trevor, we’re glad to note your emotional investment in the show, but we would also note that we never went backwards… more sideways. Since Clovis II and Sigibert III were ruling at the same time and had little direct interaction, it was hard to bring their storylines together until the Austrasian coup ran its course and Grimoald and Childebert were brought back to Neustria for judgment. And unfortunately, by the time that happened, Clovis’s life had just about run its 24-year course.


So, what to say about Clovis II? Well, he was basically King for all of his life, beginning when he was only 5 or 6 years old after his father, Dagobert I, died in 639. This means he spent a total of nine years as King once he hit his age of majority at 15, a not insignificant length of reign. Even at that, it’s likely that any actual exercise of power during his time on the hot seat would have been done by Erchinoald, the Mayor of the Palace whose tenure completely overlaps Clovis’s. This leaves only three really notable things about his life as we eulogize him: his redistribution of wealth from the Shrine of St. Denis, his possible medical conditions, and his relationship with Bathilda. As far as St. Denis goes, as Trevor said, we already dug into that in detail in “From A Slave to A Queen”; if there’s anything really left to say about this incident, for me its the fact that so many later biographers would refer to the King as either “stupid” or “insane,” and I can’t help but assume these critiques were largely drawn back to this single act. And really, in a much different reading of the same incident, I feel it’s fair to consider that Clovis may have simply been a kind-hearted monarch who wanted to ease the suffering of the people living under his rule. But of course, kind hearts rarely make it into the history books…


This of course leads to point two, his poorly chronicled medical conditions, wherein we can assume that the young King probably had some sort of debilitating neurological condition that caused him to have frequent seizures. One can only imagine the fear this would have caused in those around him in the 7th century, and certainly we can assume that he would not have been treated well by any contemporary physician. For what it’s worth, I was unable to find much in the way of a description of how Clovis died, other than a quote from the 1885 Dictionary of National Biography that tells us: “[Bathilda’s] power in the kingdom was probably increased by the sudden madness which befell her husband in the last two years of his reign, a misfortune which has variously been attributed to sacrilege, to over-devotion and to intemperance.”


Now, we could play amateur doctor or psychologist right now but I doubt that would be really instructive, so I’m going to press on to the third and final point of significance in Clovis II’s life, and that’s his marriage to Bathilda. This marriage seems to reiterate that Clovis had a big heart, given that he was willing to marry a slave. Now, I know what some of you may be thinking, that he could have done this out of pure attraction, because he was drawn to her great beauty. This is possible, but one has to imagine that as King he would have had no shortage of young women being offered to him for consideration, so while I’m sure that she was lovely, I can’t help but believe that there was something more substantive about Bathilda that drew Clovis II to her. No matter how they came together, they did manage to do the one thing that was absolutely expected of them, and they did it times three. The births of their sons, Chlothar III, Childeric II and Theuderic III ensured the continuity of the line of succession not just in the Kingdom of Neustria and Burgundy, but in Austrasia as well.


With all of this said, where does King Clovis II of the Merovingians rate? Well, he gets one point for his nine years of post-majority reign, and other than that he didn’t really do anything of note to gain points in most other categories. I’m deducting two points from economics: one for the fact that his pilfering of St. Denis was done in response to a pretty pronounced famine, and one for the fact that this act, while potentially done with the best of intentions, was not really properly communicated as such and ended up getting him some pretty bad press over time. Finally, we’re going to give Clovis II 8 points for Strength of Spouse, because as you can no doubt tell by the fanboy-ing up to this point, we here at T+M are definitely #TeamBathilda. The only reason she doesn’t rate the full 10 is because, while she was impressive both as a Queen and a regent, she was really only on the scene from about 649 to about 664, a total of 15 years. She just wasn’t on the scene as long as some of the other Queens we have have discussed or have yet to explore.


Anyway, when we tally everything up for Clovis II we get a grand total for his W.A.R. of 0.7. And this seems to be in line with where we’d expect him to rate; he didn’t do anything truly great during his reign, but he also didn’t fumble the ball either. He was King, he married well, things seemed to be generally okay during his time in power, and he and his wife made new kings to perpetuate the Merovingian Dynasty. He was… okay.


With all of that said and on a slightly different note, we’ve actually had time to reconsider the ranking of Sigibert III, who we discussed last episode, in comparison to his brother, and we’ve actually decided to subtract two points from him for societal changes. We had given him two points in this category for the fact that the mess with Grimoald and Childebert III had been a significant brick in the wall that would eventually lead to the Carolingians taking over from the Merovingians, and in hindsight it just seems wrong to award him points for something that acted against the betterment of his own dynasty. Clovis II didn’t get usurped or suffer from a coup following his reign, but Sigibert III did, and for that he should lose some ground. With that said, his new ranking is 0.6, which places him behind his brother. And this seems right to us, considering that Clovis II carried on the Dynasty, whereas Sigibert III nearly lost it.


CONCLUSION: Alright, that’s the show for this week. As we’ve seen, Grimoald’s coup ended in failure, but that doesn’t mean the challenges to the throne are going to end at anytime in the near future for our intrepid monarchs. And the coup would succeed in setting Francia down a path of exceedingly young Kings; the next batch of Chlothar III, Childeric II and Theuderic III all get to take over at ridiculously young ages, and the regents and Mayors will be the ones actually leading the country while these children, you know, grow up. It’s an unfair situation to be born into, but it doesn’t lessen the intrigue - or make the stakes of the game any less. In a way, we can’t help but kind of consider a counter-factual, that being: What if Childebert the Adopted had kept his throne? Would Francia, and Austrasia in particular, been better served by having a King who had at least matured to the age of majority? Childebert never had a real chance to reign; would things have been better or worse for the Carolingian Dynasty if it had started now? And how would these child-Kings, sitting the throne of Neustria and Burgundy, the sons of Clovis II and Bathilda, have fared if they had actually been given a chance to grow up? We’ll never know the answer to any of these questions, but given how things would end up going, maybe the transition between the Merovingians and the Carolingians would have been easier for everyone if it had started, and stayed in place, this much sooner. But then again, maybe the pain and the lessons learned along the way were necessary for the country to grow as a whole. As that great medieval philosopher Garth Brooks once said, “If I'd only known how the king would fall / Hey, who's to say, you know I might have changed it all.”

And on that note, as the only medieval history podcast out there that can somehow tie together Victor Hugo, Garth Brooks, and Kim Jong-Il inside of the same show, I’d like to offer this one last thing before the end credits: this time of year is busy with a lot of holidays and observances, and we want to say joyeuses Pâques to everyone observing Easter. We’d also like to say Chag Pesach Meseach (Hog Pess-ah Sam-a-ah) to all of our listeners observing Passover, Nowruz Mubarak to listeners who observed New Year celebrations last week, and Ramadan Kareem to all of our listeners of the Muslim faith. It’s our sincere wish that everyone listening finds hope, happiness and contentment, and can celebrate their faith safely with family and friends. Prends soins de toi et santé!


OUTRO: Before we go, I’d like to say thanks again to Fearful Jesuit and Dana Unicorn at The Paranoid Strain for opening today’s show and providing us with a clip to help explain the never-ending, ridiculous and fact-free conspiracy mongering that has been taking place against the Jewish people for centuries. The rest of their stuff is usually quite a bit more upbeat, so be sure to catch their refreshingly intelligent anti-conspiracy pod, the newest episode of which just dropped recently and which focuses on secret societies.


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, an updated monarchy tree, our Instagram feed, and a list of other great history podcasts are all available online at thugsandmiracles.com; please visit and sign up for the mailing list so we can keep you up to date with announcements on new shows and our monthly newsletter. Speaking of email, you can write to us at thugsandmiracles@gmail.com, you can hit us on Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end), or you can leave a comment on Facebook and Instagram at @ThugsAndMiracles. We look forward to reading what you have to say and getting your opinions on the show, the Merovingians, and anything else that’s on your mind. We appreciate everything you have to say, and as always, we appreciate you!


Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier. We look forward to seeing you in two weeks as we continue our exploration of all of the things that happened during the reigns of the “do-nothing kings,” in our next episode of Thugs and Miracles.