Austrasia

Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks during the 6th to 8th centuries. It was centred on the Meuse, Middle Rhine and the Moselle rivers, and was the original territory of the Franks, including both the so-called Salians and Rhineland Franks, which Clovis I conquered after first taking control of the bordering part of Roman Gaul, now northern France, which is sometimes described in this period as Neustria.

In AD 567, Austrasia became a separate kingdom within the Frankish kingdom and was ruled by Sigebert I. In the 7th and 8th centuries it was the powerbase from which the Carolingians, originally mayors of the palace of Austrasia, took over the rule of all Franks, all of Gaul, most of Germany, and Northern Italy. After this period of unification, the now larger Frankish empire was once again divided between eastern and western sub-kingdoms, with the new version of the eastern kingdom eventually becoming the foundation of the Kingdom of Germany.

Austrasia

511–751
Austrasia, homeland of the Franks (darkest green), and subsequent conquests (other shades of green).
Austrasia, homeland of the Franks (darkest green), and subsequent conquests (other shades of green).
CapitalReims, Metz
Common languagesOld Frankish, Vulgar Latin (Gallo-Roman), Latin
Religion
Christianity
GovernmentMonarchy
King 
Historical eraEarly Middle Ages
• Established
511
• Disestablished
751
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Roman Gaul
Germania inferior
Carolingian Empire
Today part of Belgium
 Netherlands
 Luxembourg
 Germany
 France

Name

The name Austrasia is not well attested in the Merovingian period. It is a latinisation of an Old Frankish name recorded first by Gregory of Tours in c. AD 580 and then by Aimoin of Fleury in c. AD 1000. As with the name Austria, it contains the word for "east", i.e. meaning "eastern land" to designate the original territory of the Franks in contrast to Neustria, the "western land" in northern Gaul conquered by Clovis I in the wake of the Battle of Soissons of 486.

Geography

Austrasia was centered on the Middle Rhine, including the basins of the Moselle and Main, and the Meuse rivers. It bordered on Frisia and Saxony to the north, Thuringia to the east, Swabia and Burgundy to the south and to Neustria to the southwest. The exact boundary between Merovingian Neustria and Austrasia is unclear with respect to areas such as the medieval County of Flanders, County of Brabant, and County of Hainaut, and areas immediately to the south of these.

Metz served as the Austrasian capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Reims, Trier, and Cologne. Other important cities included Verdun, Worms and Speyer. Fulda monastery was founded in eastern Austrasia in the final decade of the Merovingian period.

In the High Middle Ages, its territory became divided among the duchies of Lotharingia and Franconia in Germany, with some western portions including Reims and Rethel passing to France.

Its exact boundaries were somewhat fluid over the history of the Frankish sub-kingdoms, but Austrasia can be taken to correspond roughly to the territory of present-day Luxembourg, parts of eastern Belgium, north-eastern France (Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne), west-central Germany (the Rhineland, Hesse and Franconia) and the southern Netherlands (Limburg, North Brabant, with a salient north of the Rhine including Utrecht and parts of Gelderland).

History

Metz st pierre nonnains
Ancient basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains from the 4th century in Metz, capital of the kingdom of Austrasia

After the death of the Frankish king Clovis I in 511, his four sons partitioned his kingdom amongst themselves, with Theuderic I receiving the lands that were to become Austrasia. Descended from Theuderic, a line of kings ruled Austrasia until 555, when it was united with the other Frankish kingdoms of Chlothar I, who inherited all the Frankish realms by 558. He redivided the Frankish territory amongst his four sons, but the four kingdoms coalesced into three on the death of Charibert I in 567: Austrasia under Sigebert I, Neustria under Chilperic I, and Burgundy under Guntram. These three kingdoms defined the political division of Francia until the rise of the Carolingians and even thereafter.

From 567 to the death of Sigbert II in 613, Neustria and Austrasia fought each other almost constantly, with Burgundy playing the peacemaker between them. These struggles reached their climax in the wars between Brunhilda and Fredegund, queens respectively of Austrasia and Neustria. Finally, in 613, a rebellion by the nobility against Brunhilda saw her betrayed and handed over to her nephew and foe in Neustria, Chlothar II. Chlothar then took control of the other two kingdoms and set up a united Frankish kingdom with its capital in Paris. During this period the first majores domus or mayors of the palace appeared. These officials acted as mediators between king and people in each realm. The first Austrasian mayors came from the Pippinid family, which experienced a slow but steady ascent until it eventually displaced the Merovingians on the throne.

In 623, the Austrasians asked Chlothar II for a king of their own and he appointed his son Dagobert I to rule over them with Pepin of Landen as regent. Dagobert's government in Austrasia was widely admired. In 629, he inherited Neustria and Burgundy. Austrasia was again neglected until, in 633, the people demanded the king's son as their own king again. Dagobert complied and sent his elder son Sigebert III to Austrasia. Historians often categorise Sigebert as the first roi fainéant or do-nothing king of the Merovingian dynasty. His court was dominated by the mayors. In 657, the mayor Grimoald the Elder succeeded in putting his son Childebert the Adopted on the throne, where he remained until 662. Thereafter, Austrasia was predominantly the kingdom of the Arnulfing mayors of the palace and their base of power. With the Battle of Tertry in 687, Pepin of Heristal defeated the Neustrian king Theuderic III and established his mayoralty over all the Frankish kingdoms. This was even regarded by contemporaries as the beginning of his "reign". It also signalled the dominance of Austrasia over Neustria, which would last until the end of the Merovingian era.

Francia at the death of Pepin of Heristal, 714
Map of Francia in 714 (Austrasia shown in green)

In 718, Charles Martel, with Austrasian support in his war against Neustria—each territory struggling to unite Francia under their hegemony—appointed Chlothar IV to rule in Austrasia. This was the last Frankish ruler who did not rule over all the Franks. In 719, Francia was united permanently under Austrasian hegemony.

Under the Carolingians and subsequently, Austrasia is sometimes used as a denominator for the east of their realm, the Carolingian Empire. It has been used as a synonym for East Francia, though this is inaccurate.

Rulers

Merovingian kings

Mayors of the palace

See also

References

  • Charles Oman. The Dark Ages 476–918. London: Rivingtons, 1914.
  • Thomas Hodgkin. Italy and Her Invaders. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895.
Brunhilda of Austrasia

Brunhilda (c. 543–613) was queen regent of Austrasia, part of Francia, by marriage to the Merovingian king Sigebert I of Austrasia.

In her long and complicated career she ruled the eastern Frankish kingdoms of Austrasia and Burgundy for three periods as regent for her son Childebert II from 575 until 583; her grandson Theudebert II from 595 until 599; and great-grandson Sigebert II in 613. The period was marked by tension between the royal house and the powerful nobles vying for power.

Brunhilda was apparently an efficient ruler, but this and her forceful personality brought her into conflict with her nobles, the church, and the other Merovingians. Her bitter feud with Fredegund, mistress of Chilperic I of Neustria, who murdered Brunhilda's sister, Queen Galswintha, c. 568 in order to replace her as queen, lasted until Fredegund's death in 597. Fredegund had Brunhilda's husband murdered and Brunhilda imprisoned for a period. This feud was continued by Fredegund's son, Chlothar II, who in 613 defeated Brunhilda in battle and had her executed by being pulled apart by four horses.

Childebert II

Childebert II (c.570–595) was the Merovingian king of Austrasia (which included Provence at the time) from 575 until his death in 595, as the eldest son of Sigebert I, and the king of Burgundy from 592 to his death, as the adopted son of his uncle Guntram.

Childebert the Adopted

Childebert III the Adopted (Childebertus Adoptivus) was a Frankish king.Childebert was a son of the Mayor of the Palace Grimoald the Elder. He was thus a grandson of Pepin of Landen.He was adopted by King Sigebert III and Queen Chimnechild.When Sigebert III died in 656, Grimoald had Sigebert’s biological son Dagobert II shorn of hair and sent him to an Irish monastery and then proclaimed Childebert king of Austrasia.Grimoald, Childebert and Ansegisel (who had married the daughter of Pepin of Landen) were finally seized and turned over to the king of Neustria, Clovis II, who had them killed. There are two differing accounts of his death, however. Either Clovis and his mayor of the palace, Erchinoald, captured and executed him in 657 or Chlothar III annexed Austrasia in 661, deposing the young usurper and executing them both the next year.

The family reappeared in politics with the rise of Ansegisel’s son, Pepin of Herstal.

Childeric II

Childeric II (c. 653 – 675) was the king of Austrasia from 662 and of Neustria and Burgundy from 673 until his death, making him sole King of the Franks for the final two years of his life.

Childeric was the second eldest son of King Clovis II and grandson of King Dagobert I and Queen Nanthild. His mother was Saint Balthild and his elder brother was Chlothar III, who was briefly sole king from 661, but gave Austrasia to Childeric the next year. He was still a mere child when he was raised on the shields of his warriors and proclaimed king in Austrasia.After the death of Chlothar in 673, Theuderic III, his youngest brother, inherited his kingdoms, but a faction of prominent Burgundian nobles led by Saint Leodegar and Adalrich invited Childeric to become king in Neustria and Burgundy. He soon invaded his brother's kingdom and displaced him, becoming sole king. He made his Austrasian Mayor of the Palace, Wulfoald, mayor also in Neustria and Burgundy, displacing Ebroin of Neustria and upsetting his supporters in Burgundy who did not wish to see functionaries active in a kingdom other than their native one. In March 675, Childeric had granted honores in Alsace to Adalrich with the title of dux. This grant was most probably the result of Adalrich's continued support for Childeric in Burgundy, which had often disputed possession of Alsace with Austrasia.

The final straw for the magnates of Neustria, however, was Childeric's illegal corporal punishment of the nobleman named Bodilo. Bodilo and his friends Amalbert and Ingobert conspired to assassinate the king, who was killed, along with his wife, Bilichild, and his five-year-old son, Dagobert, while hunting in the forest of Livry (present-day Lognes). He was buried in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, near Paris, where the tombs of him, Bilichild, and his young son Dagobert were discovered in 1645; the contents were pilfered.

Childeric married his cousin Bilichild. Besides the aforementioned Dagobert, she bore him the future king Chilperic II.

Chlothar II

Chlothar II (or Chlotar, Clothar, Clotaire, Chlotochar, or Hlothar; 584 – 18 October 629), called the Great or the Young, was King of Neustria and King of the Franks, and the son of Chilperic I and his third wife, Fredegund. He started his reign as an infant under the regency of his mother, who was in an uneasy alliance with Clothar's uncle Guntram, King of Burgundy (d. 592). Clothar assumed full power over Neustria upon the death of his mother, in 597; though rich this was one of the smallest portions of Francia. He continued his mother's feud with Queen Brunhilda of Austrasia with equal viciousness and bloodshed, finally achieving her execution in an especially brutal manner in 613, after winning the battle that enabled Chlothar to unite Francia under his rule. Like his father, he built up his territories by moving in after the deaths of other kings.

His reign was long by contemporary standards, but saw the continuing erosion of royal power to the nobility and the church against a backdrop of feuding among the Merovingians. The Edict of Paris in 614, concerned with several aspects of appointments to offices and the administration of the kingdom, has been interpreted in different ways by modern historians. In 617 he made the Mayor of the Palace a role held for life, an important step in the progress of this office from being first the manager of the royal household to the effective head of government, and eventually the monarch, under Pepin the Short in 751. Chlothar was forced to cede rule over Austrasia to his young son Dagobert I in 623.

Unusually for a Merovingian monarch, he practised monogamy, though deaths meant that he had three queens. He was generally an ally of the church and, perhaps inspired by the example of his uncle Guntram, his reign seems to lack the outrageous acts of murder perpetrated by many of his relations, the execution of Brunhilda excepted.

Dagobert I

Dagobert I (Latin: Dagobertus; c. 603 – 19 January 639 AD) was the king of Austrasia (623–634), king of all the Franks (629–634), and king of Neustria and Burgundy (629–639). He was the last king of the Merovingian dynasty to wield any real royal power. Dagobert was the first of the Frankish kings to be buried in the royal tombs at Saint Denis Basilica.

Dagobert II

Dagobert II (Latin: Dagober(c)tus; Old English: Dægberht; died 679) was the Merovingian king of the Franks ruling in Austrasia from 675 or 676 until his death. He is one of the more obscure Merovingians. He has been considered a martyr since at least the ninth century.

None of the narrative histories of the Merovingian period give an account of Dagobert's reign, which must be reconstructed from several different sources. Upon the death of his father in 656, he was deprived of the succession and exiled to Ireland to live as a monk. His return to Austrasia was arranged by Wilfrid, bishop of York. He ascended the throne following the assassination of his cousin in 675. During his brief reign he made war on the neighbouring Frankish kingdom of Neustria, signed a peace treaty with the Lombard Kingdom in Italy and reintroduced gold coinage.

The only near-contemporary assessment of Dagobert's character portrays him as a tyrant. He antagonized the bishops and imposed new taxes. He was assassinated by a conspiracy of the highest nobility. He was succeeded by his cousin, Theuderic III, king of Neustria, against whom he had previously warred.

Dagobert III

Dagobert III (c.699–715) was Merovingian king of the Franks (711–715).

He was a son of Childebert III. He succeeded his father as the head of the three Frankish kingdoms—Neustria and Austrasia, unified since Pippin's victory at Tertry in 687, and the Kingdom of Burgundy—in 711. Real power, however, still remained with the Mayor of the Palace, Pippin of Herstal, who died in 714. Pippin's death occasioned open conflict between his heirs and the Neustrian nobles who elected the mayors of the palace. As for Dagobert himself, the Liber Historiae Francorum reports he died of illness, but otherwise says nothing about his character or actions.While attention was focused on combatting the Frisians in the north, areas of southern Gaul began to secede during Dagobert's brief time: Savaric, the fighting bishop of Auxerre, in 714 and 715 subjugated Orléans, Nevers, Avallon, and Tonnerre on his own account, and Eudo in Toulouse and Antenor in Provence were essentially independent magnates.

Francia

Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks (Latin: Regnum Francorum), or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. It is the predecessor of the modern states of France and Germany. After the Treaty of Verdun in 843, West Francia became the predecessor of France, and East Francia became that of Germany. Francia was among the last surviving Germanic kingdoms from the Migration Period era before its partition in 843.

The core Frankish territories inside the former Western Roman Empire were close to the Rhine and Maas rivers in the north. After a period where small kingdoms inter-acted with the remaining Gallo-Roman institutions to their south, a single kingdom uniting them was founded by Clovis I who was crowned King of the Franks in 496. His dynasty, the Merovingian dynasty, was eventually replaced by the Carolingian dynasty. Under the nearly continuous campaigns of Pepin of Herstal, Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, Charlemagne, and Louis the Pious—father, son, grandson, great-grandson and great-great-grandson—the greatest expansion of the Frankish empire was secured by the early 9th century, by this point dubbed as the Carolingian Empire.

During the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties the Frankish realm was one large kingdom polity subdivided into several smaller kingdoms, often effectively independent. The geography and number of subkingdoms varied over time, but a basic split between eastern and western domains persisted. The eastern kingdom was initially called Austrasia, centred on the Rhine and Meuse, and expanding eastwards into central Europe. It evolved into a German kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire. The western kingdom Neustria was founded in Northern Roman Gaul, and as the original kingdom of the Merovingians it came over time to be referred to as Francia, now France, although in other contexts western Europe generally could still be described as "Frankish". In Germany there are prominent other places named after the Franks such as the region of Franconia, the city of Frankfurt, and Frankenstein Castle.

Mayor of the Palace

Under the Merovingian dynasty, the mayor of the palace (Latin: maior palatii) or majordomo (maior domus) was the manager of the household of the Frankish king. The office existed from the sixth century, and during the seventh it evolved into the "power behind the throne" in the northeastern kingdom of Austrasia. In 751, the mayor of the palace, Pepin the Short, orchestrated the deposition of the king, Childeric III, and was crowned in his place.

The mayor of the palace held and wielded the real and effective power to make decisions affecting the kingdom, while the kings had been reduced to performing merely ceremonial functions, which made them little more than figureheads (rois fainéants, "do-nothing kings"). The office may be compared to that of the peshwa, shōgun or prime minister, all of which have similarly been the real powers behind some ceremonial monarchs.

In Austrasia, the mayoral office became hereditary in the family of the Pippinids. In 687, after victory over the western kingdom of Neustria, the Austrasian mayor, Pippin of Herstal, took the title Duke of the Franks to signify his augmented rule. His son and successor, Charles Martel, ceased bothering with the façade of a king, and the last four years of his reign (743–47) were an interregnum, after which the Pippinids assumed the title and power of a king themselves. See also Royal Administration of Merovingian and Carolingian Dynasties.

Merovingian dynasty

The Merovingian dynasty was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gaulish Romans under their rule. They conquered most of Gaul, defeating the Visigoths (507) and the Burgundians (534), and also extended their rule into Raetia (537). In Germania, the Alemanni, Bavarii and Saxons accepted their lordship. The Merovingian realm was the largest and most powerful of the states of western Europe following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The term "Merovingian" comes from medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingi ("sons of Merovech"), an alteration of an unattested Frankish form, akin to their dynasty's Old English name Merewīowing, with the final -ing being a typical Germanic patronymic suffix. The name derives from the possibly legendary King Merovech. Unlike the Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies, the Merovingians never claimed descent from a god, nor is there evidence that they were regarded as sacred.

The Merovingians' long hair distinguished them among the Franks, who commonly cut their hair short. Contemporaries sometimes referred to them as the "long-haired kings" (Latin reges criniti). A Merovingian whose hair was cut could not rule and a rival could be removed from the succession by being tonsured and sent to a monastery. The Merovingians also used a distinct name stock. One of their names, Clovis, evolved into Louis and remained common among French royalty down to the 19th century.

The first known Merovingian king was Childeric I (died 481). His son Clovis I (died 511) converted to Christianity, united the Franks and conquered most of Gaul. The Merovingians treated their kingdom as single yet divisible. Clovis's four sons divided the kingdom between them and it remained divided—with the exception of four short periods (558–61, 613–23, 629–34, 673–75)—down to 679. After that it was only divided again once (717–18). The main divisions of the kingdom were Austrasia, Neustria, Burgundy and Aquitaine.

During the final century of Merovingian rule, the kings were increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. Actual power was increasingly in the hands of the mayor of the palace, the highest-ranking official under the king. In 656, the mayor Grimoald I tried to place his son Childebert on the throne in Austrasia. Grimoald was arrested and executed, but his son ruled until 662, when the Merovingian dynasty was restored. When King Theuderic III died in 737, the mayor Charles Martel continued to rule the kingdoms without a king until his death in 741. The dynasty was restored again in 743, but in 751 Charles's son, Pepin the Short, deposed the last king, Childeric III, and had himself crowned, inaugurating the Carolingian dynasty.

Pepin of Landen

Pepin I (also Peppin, Pipin, or Pippin) of Landen (c. 580 – 27 February 640), also called the Elder or the Old, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia under the Merovingian king Dagobert I from 623 to 629. He was also the mayor for Sigebert III from 639 until his death.

Through the marriage of his daughter Begga to Ansegisel, a son of Arnulf of Metz, the clans of the Pippinids and the Arnulfings were united, giving rise to a family which would eventually rule the Franks as the Carolingians.

Sigebert I

Sigebert I (c. 535 – c. 575) was a frankish king of Austrasia from the death of his father in 561 to his own death. He was the third surviving son out of four of Clotaire I and Ingund. His reign found him mostly occupied with a successful civil war against his half-brother, Chilperic.

When Clotaire I died in 561, his kingdom was divided, in accordance with Frankish custom, among his four sons: Sigebert became king of the northeastern portion, known as Austrasia, with its capital at Rheims, to which he added further territory on the death of his brother, Charibert, in 567 or 568; Charibert himself had received the kingdom centred on Paris; Guntram received the Kingdom of Burgundy with its capital at Orléans; and the youngest son, the aforementiond Chilperic, received Soissons, which became Neustria when he received his share of Charibert's kingdom. Incursions by the Avars, a fierce nomadic tribe related to the Huns, caused Sigebert to move his capital from Rheims to Metz. He repelled their attacks twice, in 562 and c. 568.

About 567, he married Brunhilda, daughter of the Visigothic king Athanagild. According to Gregory of Tours:

Now when king Sigebert 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.

Upon seeing this, his brother Chilperic sent to Athanagild for his other daughter's hand. This daughter, Galswintha, was given him and he abandoned his other wives. However, he soon tired of her and had her murdered in order to marry his mistress Fredegund. Probably spurred by his wife Brunhilda's anger at her sister's murder, Sigebert sought revenge. The two brothers had already been at war, but their hostility now elevated into a long and bitter war that was continued by the descendants of both.

In 573, Sigebert took possession of Poitiers and Touraine, and conquered most of his kingdom. Chilperic then hid in Tournai. But at Sigebert's moment of triumph, when he had just been declared king by Chilperic's subjects at Vitry-en-Artois, he was struck down by two assassins working for Fredegund.

He was succeeded by his son Childebert under the regency of Brunhilda. Brunhilda and Childebert quickly put themselves under the protection of Guntram, who eventually adopted Childebert as his own son and heir. With Brunhilda he had two daughters: Ingund and Chlodosind.

Sigebert II

See Sigeberht II of Essex for the Saxon ruler by that name.Sigebert II (601–613) or Sigisbert II, was the illegitimate son of Theuderic II, from whom he inherited the kingdoms of Burgundy and Austrasia in 613. However, he fell under the influence of his great-grandmother, Brunhilda. Warnachar, mayor of the palace of Austrasia had Sigebert brought before a national assembly, where he was proclaimed king by the nobles over both his father's kingdoms. However, when the kingdom was invaded by Clotaire II of Neustria, Warnachar and Rado, mayor of the palace of Burgundy, betrayed Sigebert and Brunhilda and joined with Clotaire, recognising Clotaire as rightful regent and guardian of Sigebert and ordering the army not to oppose the Neustrians. Brunhilda and Sigebert met Clotaire's army on the Aisne, but the Patrician Aletheus, Duke Rocco, and Duke Sigvald deserted her host and Brunhilda and Sigebert were forced to flee, before being taken by Clotaire's men at Lake Neuchâtel. Brunhilda, little Sigebert and Sigebert's younger brother Corbo were executed by Clotaire's orders, and Austrasia and Neustria were reunited under Clotaire's rule, who now ruled the entire kingdom of the Franks.

Sigebert III

Sigebert III (c. 630–656) was the Merovingian king of Austrasia from 633 to his death around 656. He was described as the first Merovingian roi fainéant —do-nothing king—, in effect the mayor of the palace ruling the kingdom throughout his reign. However he lived a pious Christian life and was later sanctified, being remembered as Saint Sigebert of Austrasia in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church.

Theudebert II

Theudebert II (French: Thibert ou Théodebert) (c.585-612), King of Austrasia (595–612 AD), was the son and heir of Childebert II. He received the kingdom of Austrasia plus the cities (civitates) of Poitiers, Tours, Le Puy-en-Velay, Bordeaux, and Châteaudun, as well as the Champagne, the Auvergne, and Transjurane Alemannia.

He succeeded his grandmother Brunhilda.

In 599, Theudebert and his brother Theuderic II were at war. Theuderic defeated him at Sens, but then allied against their cousin Chlothar II and defeated him at Dormelles (near Montereau), thereby laying their hands on a great portion of Neustria (600–604). At this point, however, the two brothers took up arms against each other; Theuderic defeated him at Étampes and he refused to aid his brother when Theuderic's kingdom was invaded by Clotaire in 605. In 610, he extorted Alsace from his brother and Theuderic took up arms against him, yet again.

Theudebert was defeated handily by Theuderic at Toul and at Zülpich in 612. Bishop Ludegast of Mainz is said to have beseeched his brother in a fable to spare his life. He was locked up in a monastery at the order of his grandmother, and assassinated with his son Merovech.

He was married to Bilichildis. His daughter Emma is sometimes thought to have married Eadbald of Kent.

Theuderic I

Theuderic I (c. 487 – 533/4) was the Merovingian king of Metz, Rheims, or Austrasia—as it is variously called—from 511 to 533 or 534.

He was the son of Clovis I and one of his earlier wives or concubines (possibly a Franco-Rhenish Princess, Evochildis of Cologne). He inherited Metz in 511 at his father's death. In accordance with Salian tradition, the kingdom was divided between Clovis's four surviving sons: Childebert I in Paris, Chlodomer in Orléans, and Clothar I in Soissons. Early in his reign, he sent his son Theudebert to kill the Scandinavian King Chlochilaich (Hygelac of Beowulf fame) who had invaded his realm.

Theuderic got involved in the war between the Thuringian King Hermanfrid and his brother Baderic. Theuderic was promised half of Thuringia for his help; Baderic was defeated, but the land promised was not given up. In 531, Theuderic invaded Thuringia with the support of Clothar. Hermanfrid was killed in the invasion and his kingdom was annexed.The four sons of Clovis then all fought the Burgundian kings Sigismund and Godomar; Godomar fled and Sigismund was taken prisoner by Chlodomer. Theuderic married Sigismund's daughter Suavegotha. Godomar rallied the Burgundian army and won back his kingdom. Chlodomer, aided by Theuderic, defeated Godomar, but died in the fighting at Vézeronce.

Theuderic then, with his brother Clotaire and his son, attacked Thuringia to revenge himself on Hermanfrid. With the assistance of the Saxons under Duke Hadugato, Thuringia was conquered, and Clotaire received Radegund, daughter of King Berthar (Hermanfrid's late brother). After making a treaty with his brother Childebert, Theuderic died in 534. Upon his death the throne of Metz, passed (without hindrance, unexpectedly) to his son Theudebert. Theuderic also left a daughter Theodechild (by his wife Suavegotha, daughter of the defeated Sigismund of Burgundy). Theodechild founded the Abbey of St-Pierre le Vif at Sens.

Theuderic II

Theuderic II (also Theuderich, Theoderic, or Theodoric; in French, Thierry) (587–613), king of Burgundy (595–613) and Austrasia (612–613), was the second son of Childebert II. At his father's death in 595, he received Guntram's kingdom of Burgundy, with its capital at Orléans, while his elder brother, Theudebert II, received their father's kingdom of Austrasia, with its capital at Metz. He also received the lordship of the cities (civitates) of Toulouse, Agen, Nantes, Angers, Saintes, Angoulême, Périgueux, Blois, Chartres, and Le Mans. During his minority, and later, he reigned under the guidance of his grandmother Brunhilda, evicted from Austrasia by his brother Theudebert II.

In 596, Clotaire II, king of Neustria, and Fredegund, Clotaire's mother, took Paris, which was supposed to be held in common. Fredegund, then her son's regent, sent a force to Laffaux and the armies of Theudebert and Theuderic were defeated.

In 599, Brunhilda was forced out of Austrasia by Theudebert and she was found wandering near Arcis in Champagne by a peasant, who brought her to Theuderic. The peasant was supposedly rewarded with the bishopric of Auxerre. Theuderic welcomed her and readily fell under her influence, which was inclined to vengeful war with Theudebert at the time. Soon, Theuderic and his brother were at war. He defeated Theudebert at Sens, but their cousin Clotaire's restless warmaking prompted them to ally against him. They resumed the fight against Neustria and, in 600, defeated Clotaire at Dormelles (near Montereau) on the Orvanne. The land between the Seine and the Oise was divided between Theuderic and Theudebert, with Theuderic receiving the territory between the Seine and the Loire including the Breton frontier. They also campaigned together in Gascony, where they subjugated the local population and instated Genialis as duke.

At this point, however, the two brothers took up arms against each other resulting in Theuderic's defeat of Theudebert at Étampes. Theuderic's kingdom was invaded by Clotaire and his mayor of the palace, Berthoald in 604, and was also confronted by Clotaire's son Merovech and his mayor Landric. Theuderic met them at Étampes on the Louet, but Theudebert refused him aid. Theuderic won the day, but Berthoald was killed. The next mayor, Protadius, a partisan of Brunhilda, encouraged war with Austrasia, but the nobles assassinated him and battle was never met, a pact being enforced by Theuderic's men. In 610, he lost Alsace, the Saintois, the Thurgau, and Champagne to his brother and his men east of the Jura were soundly defeated by the Alemanni. However, he routed Theudebert at Toul (c.611) and later at Tolbiac in 612. He captured the fleeing Theudebert in the latter battle and gave him over—after taking his royal paraphernalia—to his grandmother Brunhilda, who had him put up in a monastery. Bishop Ludegast is said to have beseeched him in a fable to spare Theudeberts life. Brunhilda probably had Theudebert murdered (along with his son Merovech) to allow Theuderic to succeed to both thrones unhindered. Theuderic died of dysentery in his Austrasian capital of Metz in late 613 while preparing a campaign against his longtime enemy, Clotaire, who had, based on a treaty with Theuderic during the last fraternal war, retaken the duchy of Dentelin.

Theuderic III

Theuderic III (or Theuderich, Theoderic, or Theodoric; in French, Thierry) (c.651–691) was the king of Neustria (including Burgundy) on two occasions (673 and 675–691) and king of Austrasia from 679 to his death in 691. Thus, he was the king of all the Franks from 679. The son of Clovis II and Balthild, he has been described as a puppet – a roi fainéant – of Ebroin, the Mayor of the Palace, who may have even appointed him without the support of the nobles.

He succeeded his brother Chlothar III in Neustria in 673, but Childeric II of Austrasia displaced him soon thereafter until he died in 675 and Theuderic retook his throne. He fought a war against Dagobert II. His forces under Ebroin were victorious at the Battle of Lucofao. When Dagobert died in 679, Theuderic became king of Austrasia as well, unifying the Frankish realms.

He and the Neustrian mayor of the palace, Waratton, made peace with Pepin of Heristal, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, in 681. However, on Waratton's death in 686, the new mayor, Berthar, made war with Austrasia and Pepin vanquished the Burgundo-Neustrian army under Berthar and Theuderic (a Neustrian) at the Battle of Tertry in 687, thus paving the way for Austrasian dominance of the Frankish state.

Battles of the Frankish civil war of 715–718
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