• Ben

Episode 15: Rise of the Two Queens

Chilperic I and Fredegunda

Governing a kingdom was a much more difficult task than King Charibert had ever thought it would be. His father, the late King Chlothar, had done so much and had been on the scene for so long that it was hard for Charibert to conceive of anyone else filling that role, even if that person was himself. Especially if that person was himself.

Charibert had lived for 44 years when he finally ascended to the throne in 561, taking the partitioned Francian land known as Neustria as his kingdom and making his royal seat in Paris. Being given this choice territory made sense as he was the oldest living son of Chlothar; still, his brothers would always openly covet what he had, deserving or not. And honestly, Charibert often found himself wondering if he even really wanted to be the king. It had sounded like a great idea while his father was alive, and he had spent his entire life thinking about what he would do when the time finally came for him to wear the crown. But 44 years was a long time to think and an even older age to only just be stepping fully into power. His grandfather Clovis had died at 45, and multiple uncles and cousins had also died at his age and younger. His father had lived an exceptionally long life, and Charibert knew there was no promise that he would be exceptional in this regard as well. And for what it was worth, he had spent so long not having to deal with any substantial problems of statecraft that, when presented with having to be an adult, it was tempting just to daydream and remember those days when he could simply go to war and chase around after some farmer’s daughter, impressing her with his grand titles and long hair.

Now, Charibert had to make choices. He had to deal with his brother’s petty squabbling, his priest’s and bishop’s requests for new lands and buildings, their calls to honor promises made by his dead father that he had no role in, the calls from his subjects for clarifications of Salic law, and on and on. He had no respite; he couldn’t simply slide away into his chambers and be left alone, because even there – and perhaps especially there – he had a job to accomplish. He needed to produce sons and heirs who would satisfy his court and take his place when he died, ensuring the succession of his line. This was no small matter: his uncle Theuderic’s line had come to an end when his grandson, Theudebald, couldn’t produce a son before his death, and his other uncles had either failed to produce a son themselves or had died before ensuring the safety of their kin. Either way, all of these men had failed to produce an enduring line, and it was for this reason that Charibert was in the position he was in today. His dad had succeeded where all the rest had failed, and now the line of succession would always run through him. Still, after a lifetime of wars, battles, and hard living, coupled with the newfound stressors of kingship… well, let’s just say that making babies – or at least, feeling obligated to make babies – wasn’t always as easy for him now as it had been when he was a younger man.

This had been the situation when Charibert first noticed Marcovefa and Merofled, sisters who had been brought into the employ of his wife, Ingoberga. He had been married to Ingoberga for a long while now, and they had several children together. One of these, his daughter Bertha, had been sent to Brittia to marry Æthelberht of Kent, an Anglo-Saxon pagan; it was her job to extend the power and influence of the Franks across the Channel, and if possible, to bring Æthelberht under the sway of Christianity. Despite their successes together in producing heirs and marriageable daughters for dynastic alliances, Charibert had grown bored of Ingoberga. She had grown old and no more children were likely to come from her, and she was no longer that pretty to look at. But those sisters, Marcovefa and Merofled… let’s just say that Charibert had no issues imagining the idea of making babies with them.

Ingoberga, no fool, saw what was happening and felt her husband’s coolness toward her. It was with this in mind that she developed a scheme to remind her husband – her King – that she was a proper Queen, and that these two girls were nothing more than lowly maids, daughters of a wool spinning tradesman. She called on the wool spinner to come and see her; when he did, she bestowed upon him a great deal of work, work that he happily accepted. She installed him near her to make the requested cloth and bided her time until Charibert would eventually come near her and see this lowly father of lowly girls. And this was exactly what happened, just as Ingoberga had planned. Except…

Ingoberga’s plan backfired in grand fashion. Rather than seeing the wool spinner and being disgusted by his low status in life – and by extension, the low station of his daughters – Charibert instead saw through the ploy for what it was: Ingoberga’s attempt to poison his mind against the girls who he had come to lust and obsess over. His wife’s jealousy – ironically – sickened him, and he used his position as sovereign to do what only a king could do. He sent Ingoberga into exile, removed her from the royal court, and married one of the sisters, Merofled. For good measure he also took the daughter of a shepherd, named Theodogild, to his bed; together they produced a son, but unfortunately, this boy was carried directly from his mother’s womb to his grave.

While all of this upheaval took place in the bedchamber of the king, his priests and bishops took advantage of the distraction to reorder their hierarchy as they saw fit. This hierarchy had been closely watched in the days of Chlothar, but now these bishops began to strike out on their own. Led by a bishop named Leontius, they came together in the town of Saintes and took it upon themselves to depose one of their own, a bishop named Émeri, who had been given his position by a decree from Chlothar and without the consent of the local Church authorities. They replaced him immediately with a priest named Heraclius, and then sent Heraclius to Paris to go tell the King the good news of their unilateral decision. As can be expected, this affront to regal authority didn’t go over very well, and King Charibert had Heraclius dragged from his sight, placed on a wagon covered with thorns and thrust off into exile. As he was taken away, Charibert called after him and said, “Do you think that there is no one left of the sons of King Chlothar to uphold his father's acts, since these men have cast out without our consent the bishop whom he chose?” He followed this humiliation by sending his men to replace Émeri as bishop, to fine Leontius one thousand gold pieces, and to also fine the other bishops involved up to the limit of their power of payment.

While these events unfolded, the great and holy bishop Germanus watched and waited for his time to step forward and rectify the situation. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to wait long. Charibert, flush from his victories both in taking new wives and putting his bishops back in line, decided to push his authority one step further and married Marcovefa, sister of Merofled. This incestuous act was exactly the type of slip-up Germanus needed to have happen so he could step in and rectify the wrongs inflicted upon his fellow bishops, and he stepped up in the strongest way available to the Church: Germanus excommunicated both Charibert and Marcovefa, severing their ties to God in the eyes of the Holy Church. This was an astonishing act, the first time the Roman Catholic Church exerted its power to such a high level and directly questioned the power of a monarch against the power of the Church.

Charibert was dumbfounded; no one would have dared to question the power of his father to do as he pleased, and now here he was having to justify himself to the Church! His response would set the tone for Church-monarch relations for years to come; would he strike out forcefully and overcome the judgment by force of will or force of arms? Or would he accept the judgment handed down against him and beg forgiveness of the Church?

Charibert never answered these questions, at least not himself. He refused to leave his new wife, Marcovefa, and for his transgressions it appeared that God himself stepped in to solidify the decision of Germanus. Marcovefa, young, beautiful and seemingly healthy, died shortly after Germanus made his announcement of excommunication and Charibert refused to acknowledge it. Just a short time after that, Charibert himself would fall ill and die. The total length of his reign would amount to only six years, and his greatest accomplishment for history was to be the first Merovingian king excommunicated from the Church. His weak response to Germanus and his subsequent death, seemingly at the hands of a vengeful God, would stand as a powerful reminder to future kings that although they are the highest power on Earth, they still ultimately answered to a God above them. Rome alone had access to this higher power, and kings on Earth would do well to acknowledge the Church’s authority – lest they end up like Charibert.

This is Thugs and Miracles. Episode Fifteen: Rise of the Two Queens

Alright, welcome back! As always, I’m Benjamin Bernier. The intent behind telling today’s opening story was two-fold: first, to show the expanding power of the Church and its relation to the Frankish state, and two, to remove Charibert from the narrative relatively quickly. His two main additions to history were a) to be excommunicated, and b) to be the father of Bertha, the Frankish princess sent to Kent, in Brittia, who would ultimately succeed in bringing her pagan husband into the fold of the Church and open the door for Saint Augustine (not that Saint Augustine) to convert the English. The church Bertha used in England for prayer and services was named in honor of Saint Martin of Tours, that same blessed Martin who has played such an oversized role in these first formative centuries of Frankish and Merovingian existence; it still exists and can be visited to this day. According to the UNESCO World Heritage website: “St Martin’s Church, the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and Christ Church Cathedral together reflect milestones in the history of Christianity in Britain. They reflect in tangible form the reintroduction of Christianity to southern Britain by St Augustine, commencing at St Martin’s Church where Queen Bertha already worshipped, and leading to the conversion of King Ethelbert.…St Martin’s Church has been in continuous use as a place of worship since the 6th century.” They are, of course, talking about the sites available to see – in less contagious times than now – in the town of Canterbury in southern England, home of the Anglican Church, which of course has its own spectacular history. This is just another example of the constant interplay that has occurred throughout the centuries of English and French interaction, another chance to see how these seeming rivals have shaped one another, either knowingly or unconsciously.

Moving back to the Continent: so yeah, Charibert, one of Chlothar’s four boys and the oldest of the lot, the guy who arguably had the pick of the litter insofar as which part of the partitioned Kingdom to make his own, went out in just six years. And, as we’ve seen time and time again in this history, his body wouldn’t even have been cold before his brothers would have been fighting over who was going to take over this choice piece of real estate. As a reminder, these three brothers are Guntram, who received Burgundy and a part of the Kingdom of Orléans, where he established his capital; Sigibert, who received the Kingdom of Metz along with the key city of Reims; and Chilperic, who received the relatively small northern Kingdom of Soissons. This is about as detailed as I’m going to get on the geographic areas held by all parties since the ongoing feuds between the brothers have the lines constantly being re-drawn. Additionally, deals will be worked out in upcoming treaties and conquests that, while they may have made sense at the time, end up making the map look like so many islands, in a political sense. Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to properly explain this in words alone, so be sure to check out the website at thugandmiracles.com for maps that show the different borders over the years. With all of that as prelude, suffice it to say that there are now three main areas in Francia that are going to remain fairly consistent to our story for a long while to come: Austrasia, the eastern lands under the control of Sigibert; Burgundy, the southern lands under the control of Guntram; and Neustria, the western lands of Chilperic.

Let’s start by taking a closer look this last king first: Chilperic. According to the historian Edward James in his book The Franks:

“The tiny size of Chilperic's kingdom may have been an inverse product of the size of his ambition. As soon as he had heard of Chlothar's death Chilperic seized his father's treasure at Berny, used it to try and win the support of leading Franks, and entered Paris, which had been since the time of Clovis a symbol of rule over a united Francia. He seems to have been trying to take over Chlothar's kingdom wholesale. But perhaps he merely feared that his half-brothers, all three sons of Ingunda (Chilperic's aunt) would exclude him from any inheritance. His brothers drove him from Paris, and in the subsequent partition forced him to accept the smallest of the four kingdoms.”

So, a question for you: was Chilperic an ambitious overachiever who overplayed his hand, a scared little half-brother worried about getting left out of the succession, or a blatant realist living in one of the most realpolitik times in all of history? Personally, I would venture to guess that he was a little bit of all three. Later writings will go on to show us that Chilperic was unafraid to take advantage of situations wherein his brothers were at war in different locations and left their flanks exposed for him to take advantage of, so certainly we can agree that brotherly love and family ties were not a key part of Chilperic’s ethos. And who knows, maybe he truly believed that by arriving into Paris first he would be able to stake a claim to the entirety of Chlothar’s kingdom. This strategy kind of reminds me of the old Volkswagen commercial where a prospective customer looking at a car licks the door handle in front of another customer as a way of marking that car as his. At the time of that commercial in the mid-90s, licking a door handle was just kind of a funny/weird thing to do; in our current situation with coronavirus, there’s a good chance that licking a door handle would actually serve to win you that car and/or get you arrested.

Seriously, however, when we look beyond the notion that simply being first to the city would earn one of Chlothar’s son the title of King of the Franks, Chilperic did have good reason to be concerned about his bargaining position. As the only brother not born to Chlothar’s wife Ingunda, he was definitely the closest thing to an outside candidate for a piece of the kingdom as there could have been in the group of brothers. (Side note: Actually, there was one person, a man named Gundovald, who will pop his head into our history in an episode or two who was the ultimateoutsider, but we’ll hold off on him for now). Getting to the city first would allow Chilperic precious time to consolidate his position as a legitimate son of the King and gain military backers and financial patrons. If we change our “vantage point,” so to speak, from that of a historic observer who knows that Chilperic is ultimately included in the succession, to that of a young man who’s unsure of how his half-brothers are going to react in a situation where they would most certainly rather get a third of a kingdom each rather than a fourth, then we can see why Chilperic would want to do everything he could to strengthen his claim. Suddenly, the appearance of outright ambition, while not entirely dissolved, begins to melt a little toward the notion of simply surviving.

In the end, Chilperic did survive, but again, his Kingdom in the north of the country in Soissons takes on a slightly different light when we view it from the point of view of Chilperic as an outsider. Looking at the map, you notice two things about his territory: one, it’s by far the smallest; and two, it’s completely surrounded by his brothers. These facts contribute to many of the issues that will soon lead the brothers to fight. Again, from James:

“A king could only prosper with the support and assistance of warriors, and these had to be rewarded, with land or with gold and other luxuries. Both types of wealth could most easily be won through warfare; frequent warfare may also have been necessary in order to satisfy those who had been brought up to regard it as their main pursuit. Chilperic's brothers were able to raid the territories of foreign powers, across the frontiers of Septimania, the Alps or the Rhine· Chilperic alone was forced, if he started a war, to attack his brothers.”

Long story short, Chilperic may have been left with little or no choice when it came to his Kingdom and his brothers but to try and break out from the position in which he had been placed. And his brothers should have expected this, to an extent. Chilperic, as a sovereign looking to secure his rights and territory, would have to maintain a military force of some kind. Paying for that military force required conquest and wealth, both of which would have required a campaign. So, while it’s a nice idea for Charibert, Sigibert and Guntram to think that they could have their kid half-brother surrounded and contained, and that would make him quiet, docile and pliable, they couldn’t have been entirely surprised when Chilperic didn’t simply conform to their desired end-state.

So here we are, a few years into the new normal of a yet-again divided Merovingian kingdom, and the same general pattern that we’ve seen develop up to this point with the long-haired kings is starting to reestablish itself: kind of a wash, rinse, repeat cycle of early medieval kingship, wherein those steps are replaced with expand, marry and procreate. We said in the last episode that the Merovingian Dynasty had, at this point, extended territorially about as far as it was going to go; whether or not our current kings new this, external expansion opportunities were going to become less and less common, leading to an increase in infighting and an impetus to focus on the other two steps – marriage and procreation – as well as quickly pouncing on the misfortunes and missteps of one another to gain an advantage. But let’s take a look at marriages first.

In general, Merovingian kings either married or took concubines, and both of these were seen as legitimate at the time. Remember that Clovis’s first-born son, Theuderic, had been the product of a concubine relationship and was never considered less legitimate than those boys born to Queen Clotilde. This attitude makes sense for this time, when infant mortality rates, death in childbirth and general health made it acceptable for kings to take measures that would ensure they could pass on their kingdom within their family. This was fine for the sons of concubine relationships, but for the women it wasn’t a particularly great deal. They weren’t queens, and no contract was made with them to ensure their future standing; for lack of a better word, they were viewed as disposable. Again, think of Theuderic: he was a king’s first-born son, he took over a portion of the kingdom in 511, and yet, there’s no confirmation of who his mother was. Gregory simply tells us that Clovis, when he married Clotilde, had “already by a concubine a son named Theuderic.”

As we saw at the start of today’s episode, Charibert was quick to marry and often took women who were below his station. There’s not a lot written about Ingoberga, his first wife, but from the fact that her grand scheme to get rid of the two maids her husband was lusting after was to show off their low-born, wool-spinning father, we can make the assumption that she would have thought herself of a higher place in society than the girls. However, this did little for her insofar as maintaining her marriage with Charibert was concerned, and he eventually had a total of four wives. Two of these were the daughters of the wool-spinner, and the other, Theodogild, did not offer a royal pedigree. Long story short, Charibert did very little to solidify his legitimacy through his use of marriage, and in fact, he did exactly the opposite as he was excommunicated by Bishop Germanus after he had a scuffle with the Church authorities and then decided to marry sisters.

Past Charibert, Guntram also failed to use marriage to his advantage. According to Gregory:

“The good king Guntram first took a concubine Veneranda, a slave belonging to one of his people, by whom he had a son Gundobad. Later he married Marcatrude, daughter of Magnar, and sent his son Gundobad to Orleans. But after she had a son Marcatrude was jealous and proceeded to bring about Gundobad's death. She sent poison, they say, and poisoned his drink. And upon his death, by God's judgment she lost the son she had and incurred the hate of the king, was dismissed by him, and died not long after. After her he took Austerchild, also named Bobilla. He had by her two sons, of whom the older was called Chlothar and the younger Chlodomir.”

We learn several things from this passage. First, the Merovingians apparently had a very small list of names from which to choose, hence the use of Gundobad, Chlothar and Chlodomir yet again. Second, we see the relatively low rank of concubines versus married queens; Veneranda was a slave, whereas Marcatrude was given a proper lineage. Third, we can see the importance for these women, whether as queens or concubines, to maintain the pleasure of their Merovingian husbands. Marcatrude’s death shortly after being sent away from her husband is likely the result of having no support system on which to fall back upon after losing the love of the King. No one would want to be seen as showing favor to someone who had just angered the sovereign, and it’s unlikely Marcatrude would have had the skills necessary to fend for herself; as such, her separation from her husband could be seen as a death sentence of sorts. With this being said, we again see a king failing to use a strong tool of diplomacy – royal marriage and dynastic alliance – to his advantage.

Now this, finally, is where we get to start looking at some new people on the scene who are going to shake our history right to its roots; enter Fredegunda and Brunhilda, the soon-to-be wives of Chilperic and Sigibert, respectively. Let’s take a take a look at their rise to the Queenship in turn. Starting with Fredegunda; according to the historian O.M. Dalton (his full name was Ormonde Maddock, which is possibly the greatest historian name I have come across yet. But I digress…):

“Fredegunda, a wholly barbaric nature, had her home where Gallo-Roman civilization had left more visible traces, and the Salian Franks were traditionally loyal to the descendants of Clovis. She was a palace servant who attracted the king's favour and determined to supplant her mistress, Queen Audovera, succeeding by a disloyal trick.”

You heard that right, friends: Fredegunda managed, purportedly, to get rid of a rival by playing a trick / pointing out a technicality, depending on how you look at the situation. The whole situation went like this: Chilperic was married to a woman named Audovera, and together they had had five children. The fifth, a girl named Childesinda, was born while Chilperic was out on campaign. Audovera, having already gone through the process with four other kids, wasted no time in setting up a baptism for the child; kids in this time had a habit of dying young and she didn’t want the baby to miss out on heaven simply because she waited for Dad to get home. No problem, right? Well, Fredegunda was smarter than most, and was apparently way smarter than Audovera. Given the chance to set up the venue, the menu and the seating in the room where the baptism was happening, Fredegunda made sure to situate Audovera in such a way that the priest performing the ceremony would be forced to hand the baby girl directly back to her mother rather than to the godparents. This, my friends, was the technicality: Childesinda was handed to the wrong person during a ceremony. Fredegunda immediately ran to Chilperic to let him know of this transgression and, again according to Dalton, “Chilperic, delighted to find a pretext for dismissing Audovera, posed as one shocked at a serious irregularity, and dismissed his consort in order to set Fredegunda in her place.”

Now, in my attempt to be historically accurate and factual I do my best to avoid passing judgment, but come on… If this story is anywhere near to the truth, then it seems pretty apparent to me that Chilperic was already committed to Fredegunda and was looking for any reason at all to put Audovera aside. The situation actually reminds me a little bit of the story between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, wherein Henry became infatuated with a smart, young and pretty girl in Anne Boleyn, and proceeded to go looking for a reason, any reason, to put Katherine aside. I’m sure there are countless other examples of this in history, but I happen to live in the English Midlands and Katherine lived her last few years, died and was buried all within about 10-15 miles of where I’m recording this; also, she has my daughter’s name, so I’m sort of #TeamKatherine. Anyway, Dalton tended to back up this line of thinking when he wrote:

“The infatuation of Chilperic was only to be expected; he was brought up to the habit of gratifying all his desires, and Fredegunda was one who used men as the instruments not only of her passions, but of her ambitions; they were so many pawns for the furtherance of her schemes.”

Now, if there is ever one time where I will pass judgment on events, it is with the historian’s telling of those events. Dalton falls into the trap that so many other historians have fallen into of blaming women for events and issues that they were largely not responsible for. Now, this is not to say that Fredegunda didn’t use trickery and technicalities to get what she wanted, but I would argue that the responsibility for how this event played out lies with Chilperic. Letting him off the hook simply because “he was brought up to the habit of gratifying all his desires” is just a weak excuse, and it allows for the King to come off looking like an unsuspecting pawn of a dubious and manipulative woman. Fredegunda may have been all of those things and more, but it doesn’t mean that at the end of the day that Chilperic gets to jettison responsibility for ditching the wife who mothered five children for him simply because she had aged and Fredegunda was looking good.

All of this took place right around 567, the same year that Charibert was to die and also the year in which our other great female protagonist, Brunhilda, arrives on the scene. Her background and her arrival couldn’t have been much more different than almost every other Queen mentioned up to this point, and especially including Fredegunda. According to Gregory, it went something like this:

“Now when King Sigibert saw that his brothers were taking wives unworthy of them, and to their disgrace were actually marrying slave women, he sent an embassy into Spain and with many gifts asked for Brunhilda, daughter of King Athanagild. She was a maiden beautiful in her person, lovely to look at, virtuous and well­ behaved, with good sense and a pleasant address. Her father did not refuse, but sent her to the king I have named with great treasures. And the king collected his chief men, made ready a feast, and took her as his wife amid great joy and mirth. And though she was a follower of the Arian law she was converted by the preaching of the bishops and the admonition of the king himself, and she confessed the blessed Trinity in unity, and believed and was baptized. And she still remains Catholic in Christ's name.”

Gregory does a wonderful job here of pointing out how all three of the other sons of Chlothar have gone about blindly – one may say barbarically – satisfying their desires rather than considering the importance that a royal marriage could have in diplomacy in this age of dynastic alliances. If nothing else, Brunhilda added legitimacy to Sigibert’s kingdom by adding an air of class and sophistication. The Visigoths at this time were culturally well-advanced when compared to the Franks; the Belgian university professor Godefroid Kurth is quoted as noting the difference in their cultural levels as such:

"Without a notion of state or civilization, without letters, without art, without national ideals, the Franks were far below the Goths who, in the aftermath of the universal crisis, founded kingdoms where they invited to a fraternal collaboration the past and the future, the old age of the Roman world and the youth of the barbarian world.”

In other words, the Goths had looked to combine the best of all worlds in this earliest portion of the Middle Ages in the wake of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and as such they were more refined and sophisticated. This didn’t mean much on the battlefield, and the brutality and martial skill of the Franks allowed them to push the Visigoths out of Gaul and over the Pyrenees; still, this didn’t keep the Franks from realizing that the Goths were ahead of them in a cultural regard. The ties to the Franks also worked well for the Visigoths as well: Athanagild, Brunhilda’s father, was emmeshed in civil wars and conflicts with the Byzantine Empire. Forming deep, lasting ties to the powerful Franks would, theoretically, help him to overcome his enemies when culture wasn’t enough.

CONCLUSION: Alright, we’re going to stop here for this week, mainly because the story to come has a ton of twists and turns and I’m generally ridiculously excited to get into it, so if I don’t stop myself now, well… Anyway, we’ve done a good job at setting the scene for what’s to come and introducing the key players. From here on in, and for the series of episodes covering nearly the next 50 years, I’ll be looking at the world from the point-of-view of these two Queens: the wily, intelligent, street-smart Fredegunda, and the classy, noble, high-born Brunhilda. Both will sneer and scoff at the other – and much, much worse – and their rivalry will have ripple effects that alter the reigns of multiple Kings – and their lives.

OUTRO: Alright, as always, the music used for the show comes from Josh Woodward and includes his songs “Bully” and “Lafayette.” For a free download of these songs or hundreds of other great tracks, check out his site at joshwoodward.com. Notes on this episode, a list of sources, a monarchy/family tree, and much more is available online at thugsandmiracles.com; check it out and be sure to sign up for the e-mail list. Speaking of email, you can write to me at thugsandmiracles@gmail.com, you can hit me on Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end), or you can leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram at @ThugsAndMiracles.

As always, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to rate and review the podcast; it means more to me than you could possibly know. If you want to help out just a little more, please pass on Thugs and Miracles to anybody you know who enjoys history podcasts, or just simply needs something to binge over the next coming weeks and months. With that being said: stay healthy, stay happy, and keep your head up during this very unique and difficult time we’re going through now. If you’re looking for some podcasts to listen to while you’re doing that, let me recommend the following: All the Shit I’ve Learned Abroad, Deep Into History, The French History Podcast, Happy Hour History, History of the British Isles, Our Fake History, Pax Brittanica, The Presidencies Podcast, The Year That Was, Written in Blood History, and The History of Byzantium. All of these podcasts – if you weren’t quick enough to write them down as I just now spontaneously shouted them out – are available for you to check out by going to the Recommendations tab at ThugsAndMiracles.com.

Okay, once again, my name is Benjamin Bernier, and I look forward to seeing you in two weeks as we enter into the lives and times of these two great Queens in our next episode of Thugs and Miracles.