Charibert I

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Charibert I
Tiers de sou de Caribert Ier frappé à Aire.png
A damaged tremissis of Charibert I, minted at Aire
King of Paris
Reign 561–567
Predecessor Clotaire I
Successor Partitioned
Spouse Ingoburga
Issue Bertha of Kent
Dynasty Merovingian
Father Clotaire I
Mother Ingund

Charibert I (French: Caribert; Latin: Charibertus; c. 517 – December 567) was the Merovingian King of Paris, the second-eldest son of Chlothar I and Ingund. His elder brother was Gunthar, who died sometime before their father's death.

Military campaigns and enthronement[edit]

In 556, Chlothar sent his sons Charibert and Gunthram (his youngest brother) against their stepmother, "Chunna," and younger stepbrother, "Chramn," who were in revolt,[1] during ongoing negotiations, Chramn was hiding out on Black Mountain in the Limousin. When the negotiations failed, the two armies prepared for battle. However, a thunderstorm prevented any engagement between the two armies, and Chramn (who was hiding out on Black Mountain) sent forged letters to his brothers (Charibert and Gunthram) on which he falsely reporting the death of their father (Chlothar). Charibert and Guntram immediately returned to Burgundy to secure their positions.

After the actual death of Chlothar in 561, the Frankish kingdom was divided between his sons in a new configuration, each son ruled a distinct realm, which was not necessarily geographically coherent but could contain two unconnected regions, from a chief city after which their kingdoms were called. Charibert received Neustria (the region between the Somme and the Loire), Aquitaine, and Novempopulana with Paris as his capital. His chief cities were Rouen, Tours, Poitiers, Limoges, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Cahors, and Albi. Guntram received Burgundy, then Sigebert received Austrasia (including Rheims) with his capital at Metz, and the youngest brother Chilperic received a compact kingdom with Soissons as its capital.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Charibert married Ingoberga, of unknown parentage, they had four children:

  • Blithide of Cologne (538-603), possibly married to Ansbertus, Gallo-Roman senator
  • Chrodobertus (b. 595)
  • Bertha, Queen Consort of Kent
  • Charibert de Haspengau (555–636), possibly an ancestor of the later Capetian dynasty of French kings.

Charibert also had several concubines. By Merofleda, a wool-carder's daughter, and her sister Marcovefa, he had daughters: Berteflede (a nun in Tours) and Clothilde (a nun in St. Croix, Poitiers). By Theodogilda (or Theudechild), a cowherd's daughter; Charibert had a son who died in infancy.

Charibert married his daughter Bertha to Æthelberht, the pagan King of Kent, she took with her Bishop Liudhard as her private confessor. Her influence in the Kentish court was instrumental in the success of St. Augustine of Canterbury's mission in 597.

Death and legacy[edit]

Though Charibert was eloquent and learned in the law, he was one of the most dissolute of the early Merovingians.[citation needed] His brutal behavior resulted in excommunication,[3] the first ever of a Merovingian king[2], and his early death in 567 was brought on by his excesses.[clarification needed] He was buried in Blavia castellum, a military fort in the Tractatus Armoricani, at his death his brothers divided his realm between them, agreeing at first to hold Paris in common. His surviving queen (out of four), Theudechild, proposed a marriage with Guntram, though a council held at Paris in 557 had outlawed such matches as incestuous. Guntram decided to house her more safely, though unwillingly, in a nunnery at Arles.

The main source for Charibert's life is Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks (Book IV, 3,16,22,26 and IX, 26), and from the English perspective Bede's Ecclesiastic History of the English People.


  1. ^ B., Fryde, E. (1996). Handbook of British chronology. New York. ISBN 9780521563505. OCLC 34753348. 
  2. ^ a b 1939-, Bachrach, Bernard S., (1972). Merovingian military organization, 481-751. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816606218. 
  3. ^ Bunson, Matthew; et al. (1998). Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. p. 362. [unreliable source?]


Charibert I
Preceded by
Clotaire I
King of Paris
Succeeded by