Battles of a troubled soul, part 3

When Carloman decided to lay down his worldly cares and take up the contemplative life, he wasn’t able to simply pick up and walk to Rome. He was a duke of the Franks, one of the two Mayors of the Palace that ruled the realm, as well as a father. He, even more than most of us today, had many affairs to put in order first. We should remember that he probably felt that he was leaving in a pretty strong position.

There is a brief, shadowy indication that Carloman, as the older of the two brothers, wielded more power than Pepin. Paul Fouracre quotes a charter from 744 (the year after Childeric III was raised to the throne), in which “Childeric addressed Carloman as the one ‘who placed us upon the throne of the kingdom.’ “1.Fouracre, The Long Shadow of the Merovingians, p.14, in Charlemagne: Empire and Society, ed. Joanna Story. In addition he had demography on his side. Carloman had a son, Drogo, who was probably of age in 747. Pepin was married, but had no children. Their half-brother Grifo was still alive, and we can say, based on later events, that he commanded some significant amount of political support in the kingdom, despite being under a virtual house arrest in Austrasia.

Read moreBattles of a troubled soul, part 3

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Fouracre, The Long Shadow of the Merovingians, p.14, in Charlemagne: Empire and Society, ed. Joanna Story.

Uncertain birth of a king

Charlemagne’s death, funeral, tomb and will are described in great detail by Einhard. A couple of posts ago I talked about the bones in Charlemagne’s tomb, and how almost thirty years of study had finally come to the conclusion that the bones belonged, in fact, to the great man himself. The death of an emperor was an event of great import. Obviously the birth of the first son of a king, the grandson of a king-maker, was documented in as much detail, right?

Wrong. Even the date of Charlemagne’s birth was an unanswerable question in his own lifetime. “I believe it would be improper [for me] to write about Charles’s birth and infancy, or even his childhood, since nothing [about those periods of his life] was ever written down and there is no one still alive who claims to have knowledge of these things.”1.Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, ch.4, in Dutton, Charlemagne’s Courier, p.4.

Read moreUncertain birth of a king

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, ch.4, in Dutton, Charlemagne’s Courier, p.4.

The blood court; Judge Carloman, presiding

In the year 746 Carloman, duke of the eastern Franks and son of Charles Martel, ordered the leaders of the tribe of the Alamanni to gather at a place called Canstatt. They were probably worried at what to expect of the summons, for Carloman and his brother Pepin had defeated them in 742 and 744, and both times the Alamanni had given oaths of fidelity and hostages. But yet again they had broken their oaths, sacrificed their hostages, and rebelled against the Frankish mayor of the palace. What did the Frankish duke want of them now?

Carloman was not a vicious man. Indeed, he was more pious than his brother, and was probably already thinking of a life beyond that of a duke. But that day he had hard choices to make. No longer could the Alamanni rebel against and defy the Frankish order.

Carloman gave a signal, and the slaughter began. “Most of those who had rebelled were put to the sword.”1.Fredegar, Continuations, c29. Thousands would die before the Blood Court of Canstatt was over.

Read moreThe blood court; Judge Carloman, presiding

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Fredegar, Continuations, c29.