Skip to main content

Queens as Jezebels: The Careers of Brunhild and Balthild in Merovingian History. 1

  • Janet L. Nelson (a1)

Since they got a toe-hold in universities, the achievement of women in the field of medieval history has been high. Some female historiography may have been justly criticised for a certain breathlessness of style, a narrowness of concern, a subjectivity, even romanticism, of approach: faults produced, no doubt by the pressures of most women’s early socialisation. But the work of Rosalind Hill has shown an exemplary freedom from the faults and contributed substantially to the achievement. The combination of good sense and judgement with breadth of vision might perhaps have been expected from that rare person (of either sex) who can combine scholarly excellence with prowess in mountaineering. And so, despite its title, the paper that follows, in which I deal with the careers of two very active and intelligent women who commanded both the respect and the affection of many contemporaries (however unfairly posterity has treated them) will not, I hope, be thought a wholly inapt tribute.

Hide All

I am very grateful to Ian Wood, John Gillingham and Pauline Stafford for friendly criticism, and to Paul Fouracre for keen discussion of Merovingian matters.

Hide All

2 On some problems (if not the faults) of historical work by and about women, see the comments of Stuard, [Susan Mosher] in her introduction to Women [in Medieval Society] (University of Pennsylvania Press 1976) pp 112 . For some lively criticisms of the male-dominated historiography of women, see the remarks of Ria Lemaire in CCM 20 (1977) pp 261-3.

3 For the sake of simplicity I have used anglicised spellings of these and other familiar names.

4 This statement seems to me essentially true both for the Gallo-Roman and barbarian aristocracies in the period covered in this paper. On the former, see Stroheker, [K. F.], [Der senatorische] Adel [im spätantiken Gallien] (Tübingen 1948); on the latter, Sprandel, [R.], [Der] merovingische Adel [und die Gebiete osllich des Rheins], Forschungen zur oberrheinischen Landesgeschichte, 5 (Freiburg-im-Breisgau 1957), and ‘Struktur und Geschichte des merovingischen Adels’, HZ, 193 (1961) pp 33-71; Werner, K. F., ‘Bedeutende Adelsfamilien in Reich Karls des Grossen’, in Karl der Grosse, Lebenswerk und Nachteben, ed Braunfels, W., 5 vols (Düsseldorf 1965-8) 1 pp 83142 , with full bibliography. The jural status of women differed as between Roman and various barbarian laws, but the long-term trend was towards heavy influence on the latter by the former and by canon law. Changes from the second half of the sixth century onwards made for an improvement in the status of women under the Salic law, especially in the matter of inheritance of ancestral land in which females could now share under certain circumstances, and in the women’s control of her own dos or bride-price. On all this see Ganshof, [F. L.], ‘[Le] statut [de la femme dans la monarchie franque]’, Recueils Jean Bodin, 12 (1962) pp 558, esp 1517, 2535 . The specific political and social developments which, as Ganshof observes, (p 57) lie behind these legal changes have yet to be thoroughly examined. But see meanwhile Beyerle, F., ‘Das legislative Werk Chilperics I’, ZRG GAbt 78 (1961) esp pp 308 . For particular aspects of women’s legal position see Drew, K. F., ‘The Germanic Family of the Leges Burgundionum ’, Medievalia et Humanistica 15 (1963) pp 514 and McNamara, [J.-A.] and Wemple, [S. F.], ‘[Marriage and] Divorce [in the Frankish kingdom]’, in Stuard, , Women, pp 95124 . For a broader comparative view see two recent works of Goody, J.: Production and Reproduction (Cambridge 1976), and his introductory chapter to Family and Inheritance: Rural Society in Western Europe, 1200-1800, ed J. Goody, J. Thirsk and E. P. Thompson (Cambridge 1976), both offering characteristically stimulating insights and analysis for historians as well as social scientists. See also his Succession [to High Office] (Cambridge 1966) esp pp 1-56.

5 Riché, [P.], Education [and Culture in the Barbarian West, Sixth through Eighth Centuries,] trans Contreni, J. J. (University of North Carolina Press 1976) p 329 . For details of women’s participation in monasticism, see Prinz, [F.], [Frühes] Mönchtum [im Frankenreich] (Munich/Vienna 1965); the good short survey in the first chapter of [ Chabot, G. A. de Rohan, marquise de] Maillé, [Les Cryptes de] Jouarre (Paris 1971). There remains, however, a basic problem of explanation.

6 MGH SSRM 4, cap 5, p 342. See Riché, , ‘Note d’hagiographie mérovingienne: la Vita S. Rusticulae ’, AB 72 (1954) pp 36977 , showing this to be a seventh-century text.

7 MGH SSRM 5, caps 8 and 12, pp 54, 66. For the site, a villa in the pagus of Langres, see Krusch’s comments ibid pp 43, 56 n 2. Could paternal saltus be classed as eremus?

8 Guerout, J., ‘Les Origines et le premier siècle de l’Abbaye’, Chaussy, Y. L’Abbaye royale Notre-Dame dejouarre, ed Chaussy, Y. (Paris 1961) pp 167.

9 Vita Geretrudis, cap 6, MGH SSRM 2, p 460. For Sippenkloster (‘kin-group monasteries’) as aristocratic cult-centres, see Prinz, Mönchttim, pp 489-503.

10 So, Riché, Education, p 457, with, however, valuable comments on the place of women in monastic culture.

11 See Guerout, ‘Origines’, esp pp 34 seq also Godfrey, J., ‘The Double Monastery in early English history’, AJ 79 (1974) pp 1032.

11a Ganshof, ‘Statut’, p 54, stresses the inability of women, despite their Rechtsfähigkeit in private law, to receive or transmit royal power in their own right: Kingship was an hereditas aviatica. (For one small caveat, see below p 37). Ganshof’s point must modify the notion that the Merovingians treated their realm simply as personal property, in view of the changes made in inheritance law by Chilperic I (561-84), on which see Ganshof, pp 34-5.

12 This is certainly not to deny the importance of ties with and through maternal kin. See Leyser, K., ‘The German aristocracy from the ninth to the early twelfth century’, PP 41 (1968) pp 2553 , and ‘Maternal kin in early medieval Germany: a reply’, PP 49 (1970) pp 126-34, though Leyser deals with periods later than the Merovingian.

13 This seems true of the seventh-century marriages on which details are given in hagiographie sources. I have found only one clear case of an asymmetrical marriage in Gregory of Tours’ L[ibri] H[istoriartim] (the so-called History of the Franks) and here the mother’s status is higher than the father’s: see LH x, 8, ed B. Krusch and W. Levison, MGH SSRM 1 (2 ed Berlin 1937-51) p 489 (the parents of Tetradia - nobilis ex matre, patre inferiore.) For an alleged attempted exception to this conjugal matching by a Frankish aristocrat see below p 46.

14 For details see Ewig, [E.], ‘Studien [zur merowingingischen Dynastie]’, Frühmittelaltcrliche Studien 8 (1974) pp 1559 at 39 seq. LH iv, 25 and 26, pp 156-7, provides confirmation that low-born queens were not usual in the mid-sixth century.

15 LH v, 20, p 228. See Wood, [Ian], ‘Kings, [Kingdoms and Consent]’, Early Medieval Kingship, ed Sawyer, P. H. and Wood, I. N. (University of Leeds 1977) pp 629 at p 14. On the distinction between queen (regina) and concubine (concubina) in Gregory and Fredegar, see Ewig, ‘Studien’, pp 38-9, 42-4. There is only once certain case of a concubine’s son succeeding to the kingship in the later sixth century and through the whole later Merovingian period: Theudebert II. See below p 44. But Sigibert III is another probable case. Pauline Stafford rightly points out to me that the queen-concubine distinction is too simple, betraying an ecclesiastical perspective: matters were often more complicated. But in the light of the very scarce Merovingian evidence it seems impossible to say how much more so in the cases that have concerned me here.

16 Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 39.

17 See below p 39.

18 LH iv, 28, pp 160-1.

19 [The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of] Fred[egar], ed J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (London 1960) cap 37, p 30.

20 LH iii, 27 (Deuteria—though she did have a son, Theudebald); iv, 25 (Marcatrude—childless); iv, 26 (Ingoberg —sonless); v, 39 (Audovera—see below p 38 n 29). Nantechild, ex-wife of Dagobert, retained her queenly status and re-emerged to prominence at her husband’s death because she had an infant son (Clovis II) for whom she became regent, whereas the two queens who superseded her in Dagobert’s favours both seem to have been childless: Fred caps 60, 79, pp 50, 67.

21 LH iii, 7, p 105. It is probably significant that Radegund was childless. On her spirituality see Delaruelle, E., ‘Sainte Radegonde, son type de sainteté et la chrétienté de son temps’, Études Merovingiennes, Actes des Journées de Poitiers, 1952 (Paris 1953) pp 6574.

22 This seems to have been true of the bride-price (dos—to be distinguished from dowry) in barbarian laws: see Ganshof, , ‘Statut’, p 28 with nn 66-8 . It is not clear from LHix, 20, p 437 what proportion of the five civitates given to Galswinth by Chilperic constituted the dos and what was morning-gift. But it is clear that kings gave land as well as moveables to their wives: see LH vi, 45, p 318 (Fredegund). For Balthild’s estates, see below, p 69 n 204.

23 LH vi, 45, p 318. Compare LH iv, 26, p 159 (Theudechild), and vii, 4, p 328 (Fredegund again).

24 Fred cap 44, pp 36-7. The bishop of Sion asks Bertetrude ‘ut thinsauris quantum potebat secretissime ad Sidonis suam civitatem transferrit, eo quod esset locum tutissimum’. Perhaps episcopal treasuries had something of the function of banks. On the Burgundian background to this episode see Ewig, ‘[Die fränkische] Teilreiche [im 7. Jahrhundert (613-714)]’, Trierer Zeitschrift 22 (Trier 1953) pp 85-144 at p 106.

25 Fred cap 45, p 38; cap 67, p 56; cap 75, p 63; cap 84, p 71. The Continuator of Fredegar, ibid cap 9, p 88 shows the importance of treasure for Plectrude, widow of Pippin II, in 714-5. Hincmar, De Ordine Palatii, cap 22, MGH Cap 2, p 525, shows the continuing intimate connexion of the queen with treasure in the ninth century. See below n 234. For the continuance of taxation and tolls throughout this period, see Lot, F. L’Impot foncier et la capitation personnelle sous le Bas-Empire et a l’époque franque (Paris 1928), and Ganshof, , “A propos du tonlieu sous les mérovingiens’, Studi in honore di Amintore Fanfani (Milan 1962) 1, pp 291315.

26 LH iv, 28, p 161; v, 18, p 240 (Fredegund had 200 pounds of silver to offer as a bribe); v, 34, p 220; etc. For a caution about Gregory’s bias, see below p 40. Fredegund is vividly evoked in the novel of Brion, M., Frédégonde et Brunehaut (Paris 1935).

27 Ganshof, ‘Statut’, pp 15 seq, cites evidence not only from the laws but from legal acts (wills; land-grants) showing the rights of wives and widows in conjugal property. Roman law here influenced barbarian laws. Of course divorce was allowed in barbarian as in Roman codes. But McNamara and Wemple, ‘Divorce’, pp 98 seq, seem to overstress both the disadvantaged position of wives as compared with that of husbands, and the importance of the divergence between barbarian and ecclesiastical law on this point. Divorce and inheritance need to be treated together, as do law and practice, in both areas. I am not convinced by those who argue that the cases of Clothar I (LH iv, 3) or Dagobert (Fred cap 60, p 50) show the practice of royal polygamy, though these two kings offer the most conspicuous examples of serial monogamy.

28 For the Lombards, see Fred caps 51,70, pp 42, 59; and the comments of [K. A.] Eckhardt Studia [Merovingica], Bibliotheca Rerum Historicarum 11 (Aalen 1975) p 141. For the Anglo-Saxons, the evidence is conveniently assembled by Chaney, W. A., The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1970) pp 258 , though the inferences there drawn concerning matrilineal royal succession are quite unwarranted. For the Merovingians, see LH iii, 6, iv 9; and perhaps Fred cap 44, p 37; also below p 40. The men concerned in all these cases where information is available already had a claim to the kingship, which suggests that marriage with the late king’s widow strengthened, but did not constitute, such a claim. See also Schneider, [R.], Königswahl [und Königserhebung im Frühmittelalter] (Stuttgart 1972) pp 2468 , where however the notion of Einheirat (‘endogamy’) seems of doubtful relevance.

29 For the position of a widowed queen with only daughters, see LH iv, 20 (Ultrogotha). For the risks of sonlessness during the husband’s lifetime see LH iv, 26 (Ingoberg) and possibly iii, 7 (Radegund). See also below p 47, and for another probable seventh-century example (Gomatrude), see Fred cap 58, p 49. There were the additional risks of very high infant mortality (Fredegund lost four sons in infancy) and of sons growing up to quarrel with their father and being killed on his orders (Audovera lost two of her three sons this way, and the third also predeceased his father).

30 Ewig, ‘Studien’, pp 22-4.

31 For the potential importance of the nurse’s position, see LH ix, 38, pp 458-9, where a royal nurse and her male assistant conspire with powerful aristocrats.

32 Venantius Fortunatus, Carmina vii, 16, MGH AA 4, pp 170-1 (Condan, preceptor of Theudebald and defacto mayor of the Austrasian palace); LH v, 46, p 256 (Gogo—see below p 41); Fred caps 86, 88, pp 72, 75 (Otto; Grimoald). On Otto see [H.] Ebling, Prosopographie [der Amtsträger des Merovingerreiches (613-741)] (Munich 1974) pp 66-7.

33 LH vi, 41, p 314.

34 LH v, i, p 194; vii, 7, p 330. See Wood, ‘Kings’, pp 6-7, 10-11; also below pp 41, 48.

35 The best scholarly study remains Kurth, [G.], ‘[La reine] Brunehaut’, in Études Franques, 2 vols (Paris, Brussels 1919) 1, pp 265356 , with full references to the nineteenth-century literature. (Kurth’s paper first appeared in 1891). See also Ewig, , ‘[Die fränkischen] Teilungen [und Teilreiche (511-613)]’, AAWL, Geistes- und Sozial wissenschaftlichen Klasse, 9 (Wiesbaden 1952) pp 689 seq. For the chronology of Brunhild’s life, I have relied on Ewig, ‘Studien’.

36 MCH SSRM 3, pp 620-7. See below pp 56-7.

37 Fred cap 30, p 20.

38 Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 40.

39 LH iv, 27, p 160: ‘… puella elegans opere, venusta aspectu, honesta moribus acque decora, prudens Consilio et blanda colloquio… cum raagnis thesauris…’ For Gregory’s own personal relations with Brunhild, see below p 42 n 59, and p 53. He is hardly, therefore, a dispassionate witness.

40 LH vi, 46, p 319.

41 LH iv, 28, p 161.

42 LH ix, 20, p 439: ‘…odium, quod inter illas olim statutum est, adhuc pullulat, non arescit.’

43 This is rightly stressed by Wallace-Hadrill, [J. M.], [The] Long-Haired Kings (London 1962) pp 1345, 205.

44 Fortunatus, Venantius, Carmina x, 7, pp 23941 . See Prinz, Mönchtum, pp 32-3.

45 LH vi, 4, p 268.

46 LHv, 1, p 194.

47 LH v, 18, p 221: Brunhild had left five bundles with the bishop of Rouen for safekeeping, of which two were alleged to be stuffed with ‘species et diversis ornamentis… quae praeciebantur amplius quam tria milia solidorum; sed et saccolum cum nummismati auri pondere, tenentem duo milia’.

48 LH v, 2, p 195.

49 Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, p 280.

50 Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 33.

51 LHF cap 33 p 299. See Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, pp 281-2.

52 Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, p 28.

53 For the letter written for Childebert to the Lombard king Grasulf by Gogo, see MCH Epp 3, no 48, p 152. Riché, Education, p 222, suggests that Brunhild ‘brought Gogo into the royal chancellery’. For Gogo as nutricias, see LH v, 46, p 256. According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, iii, cap 59, MGH SSRM 2, p 109, Gogo was one of the envoys sent to Spain to fetch Brunhild.

54 LH v, 40, p 247. The date is 580.

55 LH vi, 4, p 268: ‘…”Recede a nobis, o mulier. Sufficiat tibi sub viro tenuisse regnum; nunc autem filius tuus regnat, regnumque eius non tua, sed nostra tuitione salvatur… “Haec et alia cum diutissime inter se promussent, obtenuit reginae industria, ne pugnarem.’

56 Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 22.

57 LH viii, 22, p 389: ‘…regina mater curam vellit propriam habere de filio’. As Ewig points out this did not, of course, involve a formal legal position, but rather a personal relationship.

58 Gregory the Great, Ep vi, 5, in MGH Epp 1, p 383: ‘Excellentiae vestrae praedicandam ac Deo placitam bonitatem et gubernacula regni testantur et educatio filii manifestat’. The date is 595.

59 LH ix, 20, pp 434-9, for the text. For the date, see Eckhardt, [W. A.], ‘[Die] Decretio Childeberti [und ihre Uberlieferung]’, ZRG GAbt 84 (1967) pp 171 at 66 seq. In the subsequent diplomatic exchanges between Guntramn and Childebert and Brunhild, Gregory of Tours himself served as the latter’s envoy. This closeness to the Austrasian court is noteworthy.

60 Fred iii, 93 in MGH SSRM 2, p 118: ‘…ab homine nomen Falcone’.

61 LH ix, 9, p 421.

62 LH ix, 9-12, pp 421-7. Brunhild’s relations with Lupus, Ursio and Berthefried, illustrating the varieties of just deserts, should be compared with the earlier episode recounted in LH vi, 4, pp 267-8. Brunhild’s concern for someone under her protection is shown in the story of Sichar, LH ix, 19, pp 433-4.

63 See Hillgarth, J. N., ‘Coins and chronicles: propaganda in sixth-century Spain and the Byzantine background’, Historia 15 (Wiesbaden 1966) pp 483508 ; and Thompson, E. A., The Goths in Spain (Oxford 1969) pp 6473.

64 The evidence is contained in the Epistolae Austrasicae, nos 25-48, MGH Epp 3, PP 138-53.

65 MGH SSRM 2, pp 358-95, II cap 16 at p 388: in acquiring a piece of the true cross, Radegund tells King Sigibert she will act ‘pro totius patriae salute et eius regn: stabilitale’. ‘Sicut beata Helena… quod fecit ilia in orientali patria, hoc fecit beata Radegundis in Gallia’, comments Baudonivia. Radegund commends her foundation, ibid p 389, ‘praecellentissimis dominis regibus et serenissimae dominae Bronichildi’.

66 MCH Epp 3, nos 18, 19, 20, pp 131-3, esp no 20, p 133, where Theudebert I lists ‘quae gentes nostrae sint, Deo adiutore, dicione subiectae’, and asks Justinian ‘ut…in communi utilitate iungamur’.

66a MGH Epp 3, no 29, p 140: ‘… dum inter utramque gentem pacis causa conectitur, coniuncta gratia principimi subiectarum generent beneficia regionum’, and no 44, p 150, another appeal to the empress to return Brunhild’s little grandson Athanagild ‘et inter utramque gentem per hoc, proptitiante Christo, caritas multiplicetur et pacis terminus extendatur’. These letters date from 584 and 585.

67 Fred cap 16, p 11, Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum iv cap 11, MGH SSRL p 120: ‘Brunichildis tunc regina cum nepotibus adhoc puerulis… regebat Gallias’.

68 Eckhardt, ‘Decretio Childeberti’, pp 70-1.

69 Fred cap 34, p 22: I accept the interpretation of Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 40, n 145.

70 Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 42.

71 L[iber] H[istoriae] F[rancorum], cap 37 MGH SSRM 2, p 306.

72 Fred cap 19, p 12. The attempt of Kuith, ‘Brunehaut’, p 310, to gloss over this is unconvincing.

73 Fred cap 35, pp 22-3. On the probable date of this marriage (601-2), see Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 26.

74 Fred cap 37, p 30: ‘Belechildis a Teudeberto interfecitur’.

75 LHF cap 37, p 306. Both Theudebert and Theuderic were sons of Childebert according to LH viii, 37 and ix, 4. But there seems no reason to doubt that Brunhild goaded Theuderic to attack Theudebert by alleging that the latter was a gardener’s son and thus no kin at all to Theuderic: Fred cap 27, p 18. If Theuderic believed this, his subsequent treatment of Theudebert and his sons is even less surprising: Fred cap 38, p 32, and IMF cap 38 pp 307-9.

76 Fred cap 19, p 13.

77 V[ita] C[olumbani] I, cap 18, MGH SSRM 4, p 86. This chapter and much of the next two are borrowed almost verbatim by Fred, cap 36, pp 23-9.

78 Fred cap 40, p 32: ‘Brunechildis … Sigybertum in regnum patris instituere nitens…

79 So, Ewig, ‘Teilungen’, pp 705-8, 71 5. For a similar view, see Lòwe, H., ‘Austrien im Zeitalter Brunichilds. Kampf zwischen Königtum und Adel’, Grundmann, H., Handbuch der deutschen Ceschichle (9 ed, rev Stuttgart, B. Gebhardt 1970) pp 1247 . This view seems standard in German historiography. The alleged evidence (the chaussées Brunehaut) for Brunhild as a ‘Roman’ road-builder or maintainer was demolished by Kurth, Histoire poétique des Mérovingiens (Paris 1893) pp 424 seq.

50 Wood, ‘Kings’, p 13.

51 So, Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, p 306 and 350-1: ‘elle prétendit soumettre à l’autorité d’une femme des gens qui ne reconnaissaient pas même celle d’un homme’. Kurth’s contrast between the would-be despot Brunhild, an inevitable failure, and the monarchie temperée of the Carolingians seems to have had a strong influence on francophone historiography: see Pirenne, H., Mohammed and Charlemagne, trans Miall, B. (London 1939) pp 265 seq, and Lot, F., in Lot, F., Pfister, C. and Ganshof, F. L., Les Destinées de l’Empire en Occident de 395 a 888 (2 ed Paris 1940-1) pp 2656; 2978; 31415.

88 The only usable biography remains Couturier, [M. J.], Sainte Balthilde, [reine des Francs] (Paris 1909) which, despite its devout and rather rambling style, should not be dismissed as by Dupraz, [L.], [Le], Royaume [des Francs et l’ascension politique des maires du palais au déclin du Vile siècle (656-68o)] (Friböurg en Suisse 1948) p 223 n 3 . For useful preliminary remarks on Balthild, see Levison, [W.], England [and the Continent in the Eighth Century] (Oxford 1946) pp 910 with a full bibliography of the source materials at p 9, n 4.

83 MGH SSRM 2, pp 475-508, version ‘A’, with the ninth-century reworking, ‘B’, in parallel columns. For the dates of both versions, see Krusch’s introduction, ibid pp 478-9. The ‘A’ Vita was evidently written by a nun at Chelles, and commissioned by some monks—perhaps those of Corbie?

84 MGH SSRM 2, cap 2, p 483.

85 Ibid. These are standard topoi in references to low-born holy people: the references are to 1 Kings 2, 8 and Ps 112, 7, as is observed by Graus, [F.], [Volk, Herrscher und] Heiliger [im Reich der Merowinger. Studien zur Hagiographie der Merowingerzeit] (Prague 1965) pp 41112 . For another example, Gerbert writing of himself, see Lettres de Gerbert, 983-887, ed J. Havet (Paris 1889) no 217, p 229.

86 See Prinz, , ‘Heiligenkult [und Adelsherrschaft im Spiegel mcrowingischer Hagiographie]’, HZ 204 (1967) pp 52944 . Low birth was perceived as hard to reconcile with holiness. Version ‘B’ of the Vita makes Balthild into a noble lady: cloro sanguine; and she was later depicted as belonging to an Anglo-Saxon royal family! See Couturier, Sainte Balthilde, p 2, n 2.

87 MGH SSRM 2, cap 2, p 483; cap 3, p 485: ‘prudens et astuta virgo’.

88 Ibid cap 3, p 484. Ian Wood suggests to me, however, that Erchinoald, a kinsman of Dagobert on his mother’s side, may have been deliberately imitating royal practice.

89 Graus, Heiliger, pp 410 seq. The authoress of this Vita clearly had before her Venantius’ Vita Radegundis.

90 LHF cap 43, p 315. On the date, see Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 26.

91 Vita Eligii, ii, 32, MGH SSRM 4, p 717. Riche, Education, p 231 with n 354, seems slightly to misinterpret this passage: I cannot see that Eligius’s present for the baby can possibly have been ‘a teething-ring’ which would have been equally suitable for a boy or a girl.

92 For the birth-order of the three boys, I follow that implied by the near-contemporary Passio Leudegarii I, cap 5, MGH SSRM 5, p 287, in preference to that given by LHF cap 44, p 317. See Levillain, [L.], ‘[Encore sur la] Succession [d’Austrasie au Vile siècle]’, BEC 105 (1945, 6) pp 2930 at p 305, n 1. The filiola who lived with Balthild at Chelles and died just before she did must, as the ‘B’ Vita and Krusch agree, have been a god-daughter. (After all, Clovis II had died in 657!) Although Clovis II is said to have had other women (LHF cap 44, p 316) he is not known to have had any children except by Balthild.

93 MGH SSRM 2, pp 485-7. ‘Auri vel argenti largissima munera’ are disbursed. On the role of Genesius, see Ewig, , ‘[Das Privileg des Bischofs Berthefrid von Amiens für Corbie von 664 und die] Klosterpolitik [der Königin Balthild]’, Francia 1 (1973) pp 63114 at pp 107-8 with n 86: ‘… eine Art Grand Aumônier’.

94 Fred cap 84, p 71. Compare the aggressive and tightfisted Erchinoald depicted in the Vita Eligii, i, caps 20, 27, MGH SSRM 4, pp 711, 714.

95 Ibid cap 80, p 68.

96 Ibid cap 84, p 71.

96a Clovis II died between 11 September and 16 November 657: see Levison, ‘Das Nekrologium von dom Racine’, in NA 35 (1910) p 45. For the date of Erchinoald’s death, see Dupraz, , Royaume, p 245 with n 1.

97 Vita cap 5, MGH SSRM 2, p 487; LHF cap 44, p 317.

98 LHF cap 45, p 317; Fred (Continuator) cap 2, p 80, Vita Bakhildis, cap 5, p 487. See Fischer, [J.], [Der Hausmeier] Ebroin (Bonn 1954) pp 82 sea, whose case for Ebroin’s low birth seems, however, unproven and his explanation of Ebroin’s rise therefore unconvincing. (His picture of the regent and ‘her’ mayor as two Willensmenschen risen from nothing through their own energies yet fated to clash because of the very strength of their wills, has a splendidly Wagnerian quality, at once romantic, epic and sexist: ‘Früher oder spacer musste es zwischen ihnen zur entscheidenden Auseinandersetzung kommen, und der weniger Starke musste dem Stärkeren weichen’ !)

99 Dupraz, Royaume, pp 239 seq, 351 seq.

100 Fischer, Ebroin, p 87. See also Ewig, ‘Teilreiche’, pp 121 seq.

101 On the evidence for Grimoald’s coup, Levillain, ‘Succession’, remains fundamental, and for a cogent restatement of his views in the light of subsequent research, see Ewig, , ‘Noch einmal zum “Staatsstreich” Grimoalds’, Speculum Historiale, Festschrift J. Spörl (Munich 1965) pp 4547 . But in what follows I have accepted some revisions suggested by Thomas, H., ‘Die Namenliste des Diptychon Barberini und der Sturz des Hausmeiers Grimoald’, DA 25 (1969) pp 1763 , and further modified by Eckhardt, Studia, pp 152 seq, who also argues that Grimoald was descended in the maternal line from the Austrasian king Theudebald. But even if Levillain and Ewig are right, and Grimoald was killed in 657 rather than 662 (see following note) my view of Balthild’s actions in the latter year would be unaffected.

102 LHF cap 43, p 316: ‘Decedente vero tempore, defuncto Sighiberto rege, Grimoaldus filium eius parvolum nomine Dagobertum totundit Didonemque Pectavensem urbis episcopum in Scocia peregrinandum eum direxit, filium suum in regno constituons. Franci itaque hoc valde indignantes Grimoaldo insidias preparant, eumque exementes ad condempnandum rege Francorum Chlodoveo deferunt. In Parisius civitate in carcere mancipatus, vinculorum cruciatu constrictus, ut erat morte dignus, quod in domino suo exercuit, ipsius mors valido cruciatu finivit’. Levillain argues that the LHF account must be accepted entirely: thus, Grimoald’s death must precede Clovis (II)’s, in autumn 657. Those who argue that Grimoald’s death must be dated to 662, on the grounds that his son Childebert III could not otherwise have been sustained as king in Austrasia until that date, must emend the LHF’s ‘Chlodoveo’ to ‘Chlodochario’ or ‘Chlothario’, that is, Clothar III. This emendation is not merely ‘arbitrary’ as Levillain alleges: for evidence of just this confusion of names in seventh-and eighth-century diplomala, see Dupraz, Royaume, pp 382-4.

103 Vita Balthildis cap 5, p 487: ‘…Austrasii pacifico ordine, ordinante domna Balthilde, per consilium quidem seniorum receperunt Childericum, filium eius, in regem Austri’. Only by mistranslating ‘ordinante’ could Dupraz, Royaume, p 355, infer that Balthild ‘gave orders’ and ‘imposed’ her own solution. See further, Schneider, Königswahl, pp 163-4.

104 Himnechild continued to subscribe Childeric II’s diplomata until he came of age: see Ewig, ‘Studien’, p 23. For the assassination of Childeric and Bilichild in 675, see LHF cap 45. P 318.

105 For the role of Wulfoald, see Ewig, ‘Teilreiche’, p 123.

106 Above n 102.

107 This is a basic assumption in Dupraz’s book. See also Ewig, ‘Teilreiche’, pp no seq.

108 Fred cap 44, p 37; cap 55, p 46. For later Burgundian resistance to Ebroin because he denied them direct access to the palatium, see Passio Leudegarii I, cap 4, MGH SSRM 5, p 287.

109 Fred cap 54, p 46: the Burgundians decide to do without a mayor of the palace after the death of Warnacher (626), preferring cum rege transagere. Passio Leudegarii I, cap 7, p 289, shows the Burgundians’ concern to preserve their lex vel consuetudo. The Burgundian mayoralty seems not to have been revived after the death of Flaochad, a Frankish appointee of Nantechild, in 642. See also Ewig, ‘Teilreiche’, pp 106-7, 120.

110 Vita, cap 5, pp 487-8: ‘Burgundiones vero et Franci facti sunt uniti’.

111 Ezechiel 37; 17-18, 20-2, 26 (Authorised Verion). The vulgate reading of verse 17 is: ‘Et adjunge illaunam ad alterum tibi in lignum unum; et erunt in unionem in manu tua’.

112 Ewig, , ‘Zum christlichen Konigsgedanken im Frühmittelalter’, Das Königtum, ed Mayer, T. Vorträge una Forschungen 3 (Konstanz 1956) pp 773 at 51 seq.

113 Vila Balthildis cap io, p 495: ‘Erat enim eius sancta devotio, ut in monasterio [Chelles]… conversare deberet. Nam et Franci pro eius amore hoc maxime dilatabant nec fieri permittebant… Et exinde… permiserunt earn subito pergere ad ipsum monasterium. Et fortasse dubium non est, quod ipsi principes tunc illud non bono animo permississent…’

114 Vita Eligii ii, 32, p 717: ‘…iure regio exempta’. The last of Clothar Ill’s diplomala subscribed by Balthild is dated 6 September 664: MGH DD 1, no 40, p 38.

115 Judgements on this point have been very subjective. See Fischer, Ebroin, pp 98-104.

116 Vita cap 10, p 495: ‘…nec fieri permittebant, nisi commotio ilia fuisset per miserum Sigobrandum episcopum, cuius superbia inter Francos meruit mortis ruinam. Et exinde orta intentione, dum ipsum contra eius voluntatem interfecerunt, metuentes ne hoc ipsa domna contra eos graviter ferret ac vindicare ipsam causam veilet, permiserunt earn subito…’ etc (above n 113.) A few lines further on, p 496, the Vita gives a further revealing glimpse of Balthild’s position: ‘Habuit enim tunc non modicam querelam contra eos, quos ipsa dulciter enutriverat, pro qua re falso ipsi earn habuissent suspectam, vel etiam pro bonis mala ei repensarent. Sed et hoc conferens cum sacerdotibus citius, eis clementer cuneta induisit…’ For the Sigobrand episode, see below p 70.

117 For a fine account, full of fresh insights, see now Brown, [P.], ‘Relics [and Social Status in the Age of Gregory of Tours]’, The Stenton Lecture for 1976 (University of Reading 1977), with references to previous work. Also indispensable is Graus, Heiliger, Brown’s paper must be supplemented for the seventh century by Prinz, ‘Heiligenkult’, and Mönchtum; and Ewig, ‘Milo [et eiusmodi similes]’, Bonifatius-Gedenkgabe (Fulda 1954) pp 412-40, at 430 seq.

118 Brown, ‘Relics’, p 14.

119 Claude, D., ‘[Die] Bestellung der Bischöfe [im merowingischen Reiche]’, ZRC KAb t 49 (1963) pp 177 . For some general aspects of episcopal collaboration, see Wood, ‘Kings’. It is tempting to correlate the absence of queenly regencies in England in the seventh century (the year-long reign of Seaxburh, widow of Cenwalh of Wessex, apparently in her own right, in 672-3 is quite exceptional) or later, with the relative weakness of episcopal power there as well as with the ubiquity of warfare: there was no substitute therefore for an adult warrior king. An obvious further correlation would be with the persistance of dynastic discontinuity in the English kingdoms into the ninth century. See below p 75.

120 So, Brown, P., Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine (London 1972) p 131 , quoted and renounced, with admirable open-mindedness, by Brown himself: ‘Relics’, p 17. See also his reservations, ‘Relics’, pp 19-20, about Prinz, , ‘[Die bischofliche] Stadtherrschaft [im Frankenreich]’, HZ 217 (1974) pp 135 , which, however, remains an important article.

121 Venantius Fortunatus, Carmina v, 3, lines 11-15, p 106: ‘Huic Sigibercthus ovans favat et Brunechildis honori’.

122 LH vi, 38, p 309. For the previous context at Rodez see LH v, 46.

123 LH ix, 20, see above n 22.

124 LH vi, 38, p 309.

125 The evidence lies in three letters, two of them apparently addressed to the bishop of Rodez, by Bulgar, count of Septimania during the reign of the Visigothic king Gunthimar (610-2): MGH Epp 3, Epp Wisigothicae nos n, 12 and 13, pp 677-81. The letters to the bishop of Rodez are violently hostile to Brunhild and Theuderic, accusing them of making an alliance with the pagan Avars, and making it clear that Gunthimar was sending money to Theudebert. The Auvergne region was, of course, an Austrasian enclave. Bulgar’s third letter, evidently addressed to a Burgundian bishop (here Brunhild and Theuderic are gloriosissimi reges), reveals that Brunhild was negotiating with Gunthimar for two towns in Septimania which had been granted to her personally by her cousin king Reccared but taken back by the Visigoths, presumably after Reccared’s death in 601 or his son’s in 603. Brunhild was meanwhile holding two Visigothic envoys captive as a bargaining counter. For anti-Brunhild propaganda in this festering Visigothic-Frankish conflict, see below p 56. The treatment of Bulgar’s letters by Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, pp 313-4, is rather confused.

126 Fred cap 24, p 15; cap 19, p 13 with Wallace-Hadrill’s n 1. The case of Desiderius of Auxerre, and the inaccuracy of Fredegar’s ‘legendary’ account, are discussed by Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, pp 308-10.

127 Ep v, 58, MGH Epp 1, p 369. Compare Ep ix, 213, MGH Epp 2, p 198.

128 Claude, , ‘Bestellung der Bischབfe’, p 59 n 290.

129 Vita Eligii II, 1, p 694: ‘Maxime de temporibus Brunehildis infelicissimae reginae… violabat hoc contagium catholicam fidem’. A similarly harsh view of Brunhild (‘le mauvais génie de la maison de Sigebert…’!) is taken by Vacandard, E., ‘Les elections episcopales’, in Études de Critique et d’Histoire (Paris 1905) pp 159 seq.

130 For a nice example from the 66os, of wealth as a qualification for episcopal office, see the contemporary Passio Praejecti, cap 12, SSRM 5, p 232: when Praejectus solicits the bishopric of Clermont, the plebs ask him ‘si se sciebat tantam pecuniam auri argentique metalli habere, unde hoc opus queat subire’.

131 Epp viii, 4; ix, 213; xi, 46, MGH Epp 2, pp 5-8; 198-200; 318-9.

131 Epp xiii, 11-13, MGH Epp 2, pp 376-81, where also the editor, L. M. Hartmann, convincingly defends the authenticity of these privileges, and suggests that Gregory based his wording on that of Brunhild in her original request. For Brunhild’s tomb, see Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, pp 347, 352-6.

133 Ewig, , ‘Résidence [et capitale pendant le haut Moyen Age]’, RH 230 (1963) pp 2572 , at p 48.

134 See Gregory the Great, Epp ix, 214, 218 and 222 MGH Epp 2, pp 200, 205-10, 213-14 (contacts with Syagrius of Autun) and Epp ix, 208 and 230, pp 195-227 (contacts with Spain via Autun). Riché, Education, pp 179 seq, 268-70, with maps on pp 170 and 269; Prinz, Mönchtum, pp 60-1, 136, 140 with maps 5, 6 and 9; and Stroheker, Adel pp 121-2, 163-4 (for the Syagrii and Desiderii).

135 So, Delaruelle, , ‘L’Église romaine et ses relations avec l’ Église franque jusqu’en 800’, in SS Spoleto 7, i (1960) pp 14384 , at p 160.

136 So, Prinz, Mönchtum, p 542.

137 Fred caps 24, 28, 29, pp 16, 19, mentions Protadius, Claudius and Ricomer as ‘Romans by birth’; but he also mentions the promotions of the Franks Quolen (cap 18, p 12), and Bertoald (cap 24, p 15), while the constable Eborin and the chamberlain Berthar (caps 30,38, pp 20, 31-2) were also presumably Franks. Duke Rocco, probably a Burg-undian, served as Brunhild and Theuderic’s envoy to Spain in 607 and only turned against her in 613. (caps 30, 42, pp 20, 34). Among bishops, the Austrasian Frank Leudegasius of Mainz was an ally of Theuderic in 612 (cap 38, p 31) while Lupus of Sens, deposed after 614 for his previous loyalty to Brunhild, came from a Frankish family in Orleans: Vita Lupi, MGH SSRM 4, caps 1, 11, p 179, 182.

138 Fred cap 32, p 21.

139 Both Vitae are edited by Krusch in MGH SSRM 3, pp 630-45.

140 cap 30, p 20: Ermenburga was the daughter of Witteric, murderer of his predecessor and himself murdered by Gunthimar in 610.

141 Fontaine, J., Isidore de Seville et la culture classique dans l’Espagne wisigothique (Paris 1959) p 841 nn 1 and 2.

142 MGH Epp 3, pp 677-81, at 677: ‘iurgiorum auctrix’.

143 MGH SSRM 3, pp 635, 640-1.

144 Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, p 322.

145 Jonas, , VC cap 6, MGH SSRM 4, p 72 with Krusch’s n 3. See Walker, [G. S. M.], [Sancti Columbani Opera], Scriptores Latini Hiberniae, 2 (Dublin 1957) introd, pp xxi, xxi seq.

146 VC cap 5, p 71. Compare Columbanus’s ep 2, Walker, pp 12-23.

147 VC, I, caps 10, 14 and 15, pp 76, 79 and 81. For another possible case (Agilus) see Prinz, Mönchtum, pp 126, 217, 356-7.

148 VC, I, cap 18, p 86; Fred cap 36, p 23.

149 VC, I cap 19 p 87. Fred cap p14 gives the date of Sigebert’s birth.

150 VC, I, cap 18, p 86: ‘…mentem Brunechildis… secundae ut erat Zezebelis, antiquus anguis adiit eamque contra virum Dei stimulatam superbiae aculeo excitat quia cerneret viro Dei Theudericum oboedire’. It is worth noting that Sisebut, despite his violent antipathy to Brunhild, does not label her a ‘Jezebel’. But his Vita is stylistically very different from Jonas’s work.

151 Kurth, ‘Brunehaut’, p 329, argues this on the basis of the second Vita Desiderii, MGH SSRM 3, cap 9 p 641.

152 Columbanus, epp 1-3, Walker, pp 12-25, with Walker’s comments, pp xxv-vi.

153 Prinz, , Mönchtum, p 148 and n 137 , stresses this ‘opposition’. Reservations similar to mine, though based on other evidence, are voiced by Ian Wood, ‘A prelude to Columbanus: the monastic achievement in the Burgundian territories’ (in the press). I am very grateful to him for letting me see this paper in advance of publication.

154 3 Kings 16: 31; 19: 1-2; 5-16, 23; 4 Kings 9: 30-37. For Jonas’ use of typology in the Vita Columbani, see J. Leclcrcq, ‘L’univers religieux de St Columban’, Aspects du Monachismi hier et Aujourd’hui (Paris 1974) pp 193-212 at 201 seq.

155 LHF cap 40, p 310, influenced by 4 Kings 9: 30-33.

156 MGH SSRM 3, cap 9, p 641.

157 Graus, Heiliger, pp 373-4.

158 Vita Menelei, MGH SSRM 5, caps 3-11, pp 150-4.

159 LThK 2, col 50 (Ewig) sv ‘Balthildis’. Her feast-day is 30 January. If we may trust Ewig, ‘Klosterpolitik’, p 62, she is still capable of making a nocturnal visit to reprove a detractor !

160 This is most evident in her remission of the capitation-tax and her prohibition of the slave-trade in Christian captives: ‘datasque praeceptiones per singulas regiones, ut nullus in regno Francorum captivum hominem christianum penitus transmitteret’, Vita caps 6 and 9, pp 488, 494.

161 Vita cap 4, pp 485-6.

162 Ibid pp 486-7.

163 Vita Eligii, ii, 32, p 727. See also Vacandard, [Vie de] Saint Ouen, [evêque de Rouen] (Paris 1902) pp 249-55.

164 The main evidence lies in the letter-collection of Desiderius of Cahors (died 650) MGHEpp 3, pp 191-214. Audoenus survived until 684. For the friendship-circle, see Levison’s introduction to the Vita Audoini, MGH SSRM 5, pp 536-7; Sprandel, Adel, pp 16-7, 33; Riché, Education, pp 236 seq. Wallace-Hadrill, Long-Haired Kings, pp 222-3.

165 Desiderii, Ep ii, 17, p 212; Ep i, II, p 199.

166 Council of Chalon-sur-Saône (647-53) cap 16. Concilia Galliae 511-693, ed C. de Clercq, CCSL 148A (Turnhout 1963) p 306.

167 He seems to have belonged to Audoenus’ circle, if the ‘bishop Chrodobert’ to whom Audoenus sent a copy of his Vita Eligii can be identified with the then bishop of Paris: see Krusch’s comments in MGH SSRM 4, pp 650-1 and Vacandard, Saint Ouen, pp 236-7. But Vacandard’s apparent identification of the bishop with a Rodebert, mayor of the palace in 655, is mistaken for the latter was still addressed as mayor in 663: see Ebling, Prosopographie, pp 112-13. The mayor and the bishop could well be relatives however.

168 Vita cap 5, p 487: ‘…suscepit ilico… Chlotharius quondam Francorum regnum, tunc etenim precellentibus principibus Chrodobertho episcopo Parisiaco et domno Audoeno seu et Ebroino maiore domus…’

169 Vita cap 6, p 488: ‘…exortantibus bonis sacerdotibus…’

170 Lewis, A. R., ‘The Dukes in the Regnum Francorum, A. D. 550-751’, Speculum 51 (1976) pp 381410 at 398-9; Sprandel, ‘Struktur und Geschichte’, pp 43-7, 60-1.

171 Vila Eremberti, MGH SSRM 5, p 654. This Vita was composed c800, but its accuracy on this point is accepted by Ewig, ‘Teilreiche’, p 127.

172 Passio Leudegarii I, cap 2, p 284.

173 Ibid I, caps 2, 3, pp 284-6. See also Riché, Education, pp 363-4.

174 Acta Sancti Aunemundi, AASS Sept vii (Brussels 1760) pp 744-6. See A. Coville, Recherches [sur l’histoire de Lyon du Vme au IXme siècle] (Paris 1928) pp 366 seq.

175 Acta p 744: ‘… nullusque de aliqua re ad suum profcctum quidquam vaiebat impetrare, nisi sua suggestione (that is, Aunemundus’s) Clotario tertio principi deportaret… Ideo dum sublimitatis suae gloriam ac brachium vindicarei extentum, nec non et a fratribus celsior videretur in coetu, cunctis incidit in odium. Qui tractare cura seditiose coeperunt sub clandestina accusatione dicentes, quasi regnum ejusdem Clotarii…evertere moliretur occulte…’ Dupraz, Royaume, p 343 n 1, and Fischer, Ebroin, p 92, both state, citing the Acta, that the bishop’s accusers were maiores natii ducesque. But what the Acta in fact say is that these magnates appeared at die assembly at Mareuil, as one would expect. The Acta imply, rather, the identity of accusers and fratres—presumably the ‘brethren’ of the church of Lyons. A few lines later, the Acta tell how Aunemundus asked forgiveness from the fratres at Lyons for any injuries he had done them, including unfair seizure of their goods. For further evidence of Aunemundus’ local power, see below n 181.

176 Acta p 745. The duces had promised the abbot of Luxeuil that Aunemundus would be safe.

177 Co ville. Recherches, pp 372 seq.

178 So, Dupraz, Royaume, pp 342-4, 352-4; Fischer, Ebroin, pp 90-8.

179 MGH SSRM 5, caps 23, 24, pp 239-40.

180 Genesius died in 679. For his career, see Coville, Recherches, pp 416-21.

181 Eddius, , Vita Wilfridi, ed Levison, , MGH SSRM 6, cap 6, p 199 ; ed [B.] Colgrave, p 14. Bede H[istoria] E[cclesiastica gentis Anglorum], ed [C] Plummer (Oxford 1896) v, 19, p 325. Plummer, vol 2, pp 316-20, established the chronology of Wilfrid’s life. During “Wilfrid’s first visit to Lyons on his way to Rome in 653, the bishop of that city offered him his niece in marriage together with ‘a good part of Gaul’ (bona pars Galliarum); Vita cap 4, ed Levison, p 197.

182 Vita Wilfridi cap 6, p 199 (Levison). One of the two manuscripts of Eddius gives the reading ‘Brunhild’ instead of ‘Balthild’, as do some manuscripts of Bede, HE: see Levison’s comment here p 199 n 3, and Colgrave’s, p 154. Colgravc’s suggestion that this may be a reminiscence of the Brunhild of the Volsung saga is surely incorrect.

183 Vita Wilfridi, cap 24, p 218 (Levison), p 48 (Colgrave). I am grateful to Joan Nicholson for reminding me of Eddius’s other Jezebel.

184 The name ‘Dalfinus’ is not, as often alleged, evidence of Eddius’s inaccuracy. Coville, Recherches, pp 381-5, shows that Aunemundus’s brother is not named at all in any early Lyons source, that Aunemundus, typically in this period, had two names, and that his second name (Dalfinus) was simply ‘borrowed’ for his brother by late medieval reworkers of the story.

185 Vita Wilfridi cap 6, pp 199-200 with n 2 (Levison); p 14 (Colgrave, who gives a possible source of the St John anecdote in the note on p 155.)

186 For pertinent views on Eddius’s method, see Poole, R. L., ‘St Wilfrid and the see of Ripon’, EHR 34 (1919) pp 122 , and Mayr-Harting, H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London 1972) pp 139 seq.

187 Levison, Vita Wilfridi, pp 163-4; Ewig, ‘Teilreiche’, p 95.

188 Vita, ed Colgrave, pp 14-5; Plummer at p 317 of Bede, HE, vol 2.

189 Coville, Recherches, p 389; also Fischer, Ebroin, pp 95-6. But there is a further difficulty in accepting that Wilfrid, if he had really experienced Balthild’s malevolence at first hand, could have been consecrated bishop in 664 at the Neustrian royal villa of Compiègne, by courtesy of Clothar III and presumably also Balthild: Bede, HE iii, 28, p 194, with Plummer’s notes, vol 2, pp 198, 317.

190 Woolf, R., ‘The ideal of men dying with their lord in the Germania and in The Battle of Maldon’, Anglo-Saxon England 5 (1976) pp 6381 ; Graus, Heiliger, pp 63-4, 101.

190a vita caps 25, 27, 33, pp 219-20, 228 (Levison); 50, 52, 68 (Colgrave). Poole, ‘St Wilfrid’, pp 4 seq, notes some inaccuracies in Eddius’ information on Frankishaffairs.

191 Levison, England, p 10. Balthild might have been expected to have had a glowing reputation in England, given the close links of Chelles and Jouarre with various English houses: see A. Lohaus, Die Merowinger und England, Münchner Beiträge zur Mediavistik und Renaissance-Forschung (Munich) 1974 pp 53 seq, and Sims-Williams, P., ‘Continental influence at Bath monastery in the seventh century’, Anglo-Saxon England 4 (1975) pp 110.

192 Ewig, ‘Milo’, pp 430-3. (His terms are Amtsgebiet, Herrschaftsgebiet and Territorialpolitik.)

193 On what follows, Ewig, ‘Klosterpolitik’, is fundamental, as also is his ‘Beobachtungen zu den Klosterprivilegien des 7. und frühen 8. Jhdts’, Adel und Kirche. Festschrift G. Tellenbach (Freiburg 1968) pp 52-65.

194 Landericus’ privilege: [J. M.] Pardessus, [Diplomata, Chartae… et instrumenta aetatis Merovingicae], 2 vols (Paris 1843, 9) 2, no 320, pp 95-7. Clovis II’s confirmation: MGH DD 1, no 19, pp 19-21; facsimile in P. Laucr and C. Samarin, Les Diplomes originaux des Merovingiens (Paris 1908) no 6.

195 Pardessus, p 96: ‘…quia supradicti domni Clodovei regis petitio quasi nobis iussio est, cui dirficillimum est resisti’.

196 For the significance of privilege and immunity, see Levillain, , ‘Études [sur l’abbaye de Saint-Denis a l’ époque mérovingienne]’, BEC 87 (1926) pp 2173 . Clothar Ill’s concession of immunity during Balthild’s regency is not extant.

197 Explicitly stated in the privilege of the bishop of Amiens for Corbie, ed Krusch in NA 31 (1906) pp 367-72 at p 369: ‘…quern unanimiter congregatio ipsius monasterii… dignum elegerint, data auctoritate a praefato principe vel eius successoribus…’

198 Fred cap 79, p 68.

199 See Prinz, Mönchtum, pp 105-6,167-9, and Ian Wood’s forthcoming paper, ‘A prelude to Columbanus’.

200 Ewig, ‘Klosterpolitik’, pp 112-13.

201 NA 31 (1906) p 367. Vita Balthildis cap 7, pp 490-1.

202 Vita Balthildis cap 7, pp 489-90, cap 18, pp 505-6, Vita Bertilae, MGH SSRM 6, cap 4, p 104. Chelles’ function of prayer for king, queen and proceres is stressed by the dying Balthild herself: Vita, cap 12, p 498, urging the abbess to maintain this ‘consuetudes, ut ipsa domus Dei bonam famam, quam coeperat, non amitteret, sed amplius semper in affectu caritatis cum omnibus amicis… permaneret in dilectione…’

203 Vita cap 9, pp 493-4.

204 ’Klosterpolitik’, p III. with n 43. Balthild’s generosity to a group of Norman monasteries in the diocese of Rouen, to Luxeuil and ‘the other monasteries of Burgundy’, to Jouarre and Faremoutiers, and to the monasteries of Paris itself is stressed in Vita cap 8, pp 493-4, listing forests, viltae and pecuniam innumerabilem.

205 LHF cap 44, p 316.

206 So, Ewig, ‘Klosterpolitik’, p 112.

207 MGH DD no 49. P 45.

208 Their significance is indicated by Ewig, ‘Résidence’, pp 48-52.

209 Ewig, ‘Klosterpolitik’, p 109, rightly stresses that bishops might perceive Balthild’s demands as ‘an unheard-of imposition’.

210 MCH DD 1, no 19, p 20.

211 NA 31 (1906) p 369. The broader economic context which these references hint at cannot be discussed here. But for some archaeological and artistic evidence that might suggest continuing Neustrian prosperity, see Maillé, Jouant, pp 112-14, p 206 seq. and for other evidence, Vercauteren, F., ‘La vie urbaine entre Meuse et Loire du Vie au IXe siècle’, in SS Spoleto 6, ii (1959) pp 45384 at 478-9.

212 Vita Balthildis cap 9, pp 493-4, (quoted above) suggests that the inducements to the fratres were well-planned: ‘…ut hoc libenter adquiescerent, privilegium eis firmare iussit [!], vel etiam emunitates concessit, ut melius eis delectaret pro rege … exorare’.

213 Above p 52, and n 116.

214 Above ibid, and p 51 n 113. The role of the sacerdotes at this point is interesting: they intervene, not to save Balthild but to re-establish peace between her and the seniores and thus to nip in the bud her non modica querela (feud?) against them. The implication is that she might have pursued the quarrel even in ‘retirement’.

215 For the date, see Krusch’s introduction to the Vila, p 476. In describing Balthild’s convent years, her hagiographer lavishly deploys the motifs of female ascetisism: the influence of Venantius’ Vita Radegundis is clear, and we are assured no less than thrice that Balthild was an exemplum humilitatis (caps II, 12, 16, pp 496, 498, 502).

216 Their existence must be inferred from the reference in the Vita cap 1, p 482 to detractores. In caps 18-9, pp 505-7, the hagiographer tries to establish Balthild’s saintly credentials by setting her in a line of holy queens: Chrodechild, Ultrogotha and Radegund.

217 ‘Klosterpolitik’, p 113.

218 See Brühl, C. -R., Fodrum, Gistum, Servitium Regis (Cologne 1968) pp 50 seq.

219 ‘Klosterpolitik’, p 113.

220 See Prinz, Mönchtum, p 174 and works cited there, n 114.

221 Ewig, ‘Résidence’ p 52; Levillain, , ‘Études’, BEC 87 (1926) pp 2173 and 91 (1930) pp 165.

222 Bischoff, B., ‘Die Kölner Nonnenhandschriften und das Skriptorium von Chelles’, MStn, 2 vols (1966) I, pp 16 seq at 26-7.

223 Translatio Balthildis, MGH SS 15, pp 284-5.

224 ‘Klosterpolitilc’, p 113.

225 Ibid, where Ewig himself recognises the problem.

226 Long-Haired Kings, p 135. Men, including kings, used assassins sometimes: Gregory and Fredegar give several examples.

227 See Sir Steven Runciman’s paper in the present volume.

228 Schlesinger, W., Beitraäge zur deutschen Verfassungsgeschichte des Mittelahers (Göttingen 1963) 1, pp 9 seq, partly translated in Cheyette, F. L., Lordship and Community in Medieval Europe (New York 1968) pp 64 seq.

229 Long-Haired Kings, pp 237-8.

230 Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum iv, i, MGH SSRL, p 116.

231 Vita cap 6, p 488: the capitation-tax had apparently been causing parents to prefer infanticide to rearing offspring, so Balthild by removing the impia consuetudo also removed the inducement to an impious crime. Her financial loss would of course be compensated by a copiosa merces of a heavenly kind.

232 Passio Praejecti cap 24, MGH SSRM 5, p 239-40.

233 LH v, 18, pp 219-20.

234 This equation, and its relevance to the queen’s position, was made explicitly by Hincmar in reference to ninth-century palatium organisation, in his De Ordine Palatii cap 22, MGH Capit 2, p 525: ‘De honestate vero palatii seu specialiter ornamento regali necnon et de donis annuis militum … ad reginam praecipue et sub ipsa ad camerarium pcrtinebat’. Thus the king could be freed ‘ab ornili sollicitudine domestica vel palatina’ to turn his mind to the status regni! Here again, Carolingian arrangements show continuity with Merovingian.

235 The contrast with seventh-century England was noted by Wallace-Hadrill, , Early Germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent (Oxford 1971) p 92.

236 For the spectacular bloodbath following the accession of the Visigothic king Chindaswinth in 641, see Fred cap 82, pp 69-70. On the differing consequences of indeterminate and hereditary father-son succession, see Goody, Succession, pp 29 seq; compare also the remarks of Pauline Stafford, below pp 79-100. I am grateful to John Gillingham for discussion of this point.

237 LH vi, 4, p 268.

238 LHF cap 43, p 315: ‘…pulchram omnique ingenio strenuam’. Compare Vita Bertilae cap 4, MGH SSRM 6, p 104: ‘[Baltechildis]… viriliter gubernabat palatium’.

239 See the evidence assembled by Kurth, Études Franques, I, pp 161-7, for women homines in Merovingian texts.

1 I am very grateful to Ian Wood, John Gillingham and Pauline Stafford for friendly criticism, and to Paul Fouracre for keen discussion of Merovingian matters.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Studies in Church History Subsidia
  • ISSN: 0143-0459
  • EISSN: -
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-church-history-subsidia
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed