Theuderic III was the king of Neustria on two occasions 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 appointed him without the support of the nobles. He succeeded his brother Clotaire III in Neustria in 673, but Childeric II of Austrasia displaced him soon thereafter until he died in 675 and Theuderic retook his throne; when Dagobert II died in 679, he received Austrasia as well and became king of the whole Frankish realm. He and the Neustrian mayor of the palace, made peace with Pepin of Heristal, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, in 681. However, on Waratton's death in 686, the new mayor, made war with Austrasia and Pepin vanquished the Burgundo-Neustrian army under Berthar and Theuderic at the Battle of Tertry in 687, thus paving the way for Austrasian dominance of the Frankish state, he married a daughter of Ansegisel and Saint Begga of Landen.
They had the following children: Clovis IV, king Childebert III, king He married Amalberge before 674, daughter of Wandregisis and Farahild. He was father of: Clovis III, king of Austrasia Fouracre, Paul. Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography, 640-720. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-4791-6. Fouracre, Paul J.. "Theuderic III". In Nicholson, Oliver; the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press. Frassetto, Michael. Early Medieval World, The: From the Fall of Rome to the Time of Charlemagne:. Volume One, A-M. ABC-CLIO. Verseuil, Jean. Les rois fainéants: De Dagobert à Pépin le Bref. Paris: Critérion. Pp. 179–199. ISBN 978-2-7413-0196-7. Wallace-Hadrill, John Michael. "V. Les rois faineants"; the long-haired kings: and other studies in Frankish history. Methuen. Wood, Ian; the Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751. Routledge. Pp. 221, 227, 362. ISBN 978-1-317-87116-3. Carlrichard Brühl. Die Urkunden der Merowinger. Monumenta Germaniae historica. Diplomata regum Francorum e stirpe Merovingica..
2 vols. Hannover: Hahn. ISBN 978-3-7752-5464-9
Royal Frankish Annals
The Royal Frankish Annals are Latin annals composed in Carolingian Francia, recording year-by-year the state of the monarchy from 741 to 829. Their authorship is unknown, though Wilhelm von Giesebrecht suggested that Arno of Salzburg was the author of an early section of the Annaes Laurissenses majores surviving in the copy at Lorsch Abbey; the Annals are believed to have been composed in successive sections by different authors, compiled. The depth of knowledge regarding court affairs suggests that the annals were written by persons close to the king, their initial reluctance to comment on Frankish defeats betrays an official design for use as Carolingian propaganda. Though the information contained within is influenced by authorial intent in favor of the Franks, the annals remain a crucial source on the political and military history of the reign of Charlemagne. Copies of the annals can be categorized into five classes, based on additions and revisions to the text; the chronicles were continued and incorporated in the West Frankish Annales Bertiniani and in the East Frankish Annales Fuldenses and Annales Xantenses.
The annals give a brief individual description of events for each year, with a focus on the actions of the Carolingian monarchy, beginning with the account of Pepin the Short's ascension through the dethronement of the Merovingian king Childeric III. The annalists pay particular attention to the military campaigns of the Carolingian kings, justifying their actions in terms of a grand narrative of Carolingian peacekeeping and conquest in the name of expanding the Christian faith; the overthrow of the Merovingians is portrayed in such a way as to legitimize the transfer of royal power between dynasties, emphasizing Carolingian adherence to Frankish traditions and the approval of Pope Zacharias in the matter. Of the three kings—Pepin and Louis—Charlemagne's military chronicles are the most detailed, covering his victories against the Saxons and other peoples; the account of Charlemagne's campaign against the Saxons is notable as one of the few extant references to the Irminsul, an important if enigmatic part of the Germanic paganism practiced by the Saxons at the time.
Its destruction is a major point in the annals, written to continue a jingoistic theme of Frankish triumphs against the “un-Frankish” and unchristian barbarian. The unrevised text neglects to mention defeats suffered by Charlemagne, such as the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 and the Battle of Süntel in 782; the Battle of Süntel is portrayed in the annals as a victory, as opposed to a crushing Frankish defeat at the hands of the Saxons. The 792 conspiracy of Pepin the Hunchback against Charlemagne is omitted, along with any reference to potential misconduct on Charlemagne's part; the revised text, incorporates these events while maintaining a positive tone towards the emperor, presented as a peerless leader in battle. Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, is shown engaging in battle by the annalists, but rather directs others to do so, or negotiates for peace; the contrast between Louis and his father and grandfather is clear. While the past kings were unshakeable figures, depicted as the better of their foes in defeat by the revised edition, the annalists’ Louis is a smaller man who invests the power of the military in others, not unlike the annals’ earlier depiction of the Merovingian kings.
Miracles aid Charlemagne and his men, the grace of God leads him to victory. Such references to striking natural phenomena, strange happenings, miracles become common in the annal entries for the 9th century. In addition to astronomical oddities, such as eclipses, the supernatural begins to enter the account, set against ritualistic yearly notices of the regular passages of Christmas and Easter. Nearly two-dozen villages are reported to have been destroyed by heavenly fire in 823, while at the same time an unnamed girl is said to have begun a three-year fast. Scholz regards this preoccupation as a reflection of a belief in a divine will and control of history. Many of the worse omens parallel growing dissatisfaction with Louis the Pious, which after the end of the annals spilled into civil war between him and his sons. Divine intervention through the relics of saints play an important role as well, with mention of Hilduin's translation of the relics of St. Sebastian to the Abbey of St. Medard, Einhard's transport of the relics of SS.
Marcellinus and Peter into Francia. A more detailed account of Einhard's procurement of the relics exists in his Translation and Miracles of Marcellinus and Peter. Additionally, the annals provide the only attestation to the existence of Charlemagne's personal elephant Abul-Abbas, aside from a mention by Einhard drawn from the annals; the gift of the elephant to Charlemagne, amongst other treasures, by Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid is evidence of the attempts to form an Abbasid-Carolingian alliance at the time, which the annals document loosely. The annals survive in multiple versions distributed across the Frankish empire, though none of these are original copies; each version is marked with distinguishing features, based on these features, Friedrich Kurze formulated five classes for the categorization of these texts. This system still remains in use; the five classes of texts are lettered A through D, with an additional E
The Merovingians were a Salian Frankish dynasty that ruled the Franks for three centuries in a region known as Francia in Latin, beginning in the middle of the 5th century. Their territory corresponded to ancient Gaul and the Roman provinces of Raetia, Germania Superior and the southern part of Germania; the semi legendary Merovech was supposed to have founded the Merovingian dynasty, but it was his famous grandson Clovis I who united all of Gaul under Merovingian rule. After the death of Clovis, there were frequent clashes between different branches of the family, but when threatened by its neighbours the Merovingians presented a strong united front. During the final century of Merovingian rule, the kings were pushed into a ceremonial role; the Merovingian rule ended in March 752 when Pope Zachary formally deposed Childeric III. Zachary's successor, Pope Stephen II, confirmed and anointed Pepin the Short in 754, beginning the Carolingian monarchy; the Merovingian ruling family were sometimes referred to as the "long-haired kings" by contemporaries, as their long hair distinguished them among the Franks, who cut their hair short.
The term "Merovingian" comes from medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingi, an alteration of an unattested Old Dutch form, akin to their dynasty's Old English name Merewīowing, with the final -ing being a typical patronymic suffix. The Merovingian dynasty owes its name to the semi-legendary Merovech, leader of the Salian Franks; the victories of his son Childeric I against the Visigoths and Alemanni established the basis of Merovingian land. Childeric's son Clovis I went on to unite most of Gaul north of the Loire under his control around 486, when he defeated Syagrius, the Roman ruler in those parts, he won the Battle of Tolbiac against the Alemanni in 496, at which time, according to Gregory of Tours, Clovis adopted his wife Clotilda's Orthodox Christian faith. He subsequently went on to decisively defeat the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in the Battle of Vouillé in 507. After Clovis's death, his kingdom was partitioned among his four sons; this tradition of partition continued over the next century.
When several Merovingian kings ruled their own realms, the kingdom—not unlike the late Roman Empire—was conceived of as a single entity ruled collectively by these several kings among whom a turn of events could result in the reunification of the whole kingdom under a single ruler. Leadership among the early Merovingians was based on mythical descent and alleged divine patronage, expressed in terms of continued military success. In 1906, the British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie suggested that the Marvingi recorded by Ptolemy as living near the Rhine were the ancestors of the Merovingian dynasty. Upon Clovis's death in 511, the Merovingian kingdom included all of Gaul except Burgundy and all of Germania magna except Saxony. To the outside, the kingdom when divided under different kings, maintained unity and conquered Burgundy in 534. After the fall of the Ostrogoths, the Franks conquered Provence. After this their borders with Italy and Visigothic Septimania remained stable. Internally, the kingdom was divided among Clovis's sons and among his grandsons and saw war between the different kings, who allied among themselves and against one another.
The death of one king created conflict between the surviving brothers and the deceased's sons, with differing outcomes. Conflicts were intensified by the personal feud around Brunhilda. However, yearly warfare did not constitute general devastation but took on an ritual character, with established'rules' and norms. Clotaire II in 613 reunited the entire Frankish realm under one ruler. Divisions produced the stable units of Austrasia, Neustria and Aquitania; the frequent wars had weakened royal power, while the aristocracy had made great gains and procured enormous concessions from the kings in return for their support. These concessions saw the considerable power of the king parcelled out and retained by leading comites and duces. Little is in fact known about the course of the 7th century due to a scarcity of sources, but Merovingians remained in power until the 8th century. Clotaire's son Dagobert I, who sent troops to Spain and pagan Slavic territories in the east, is seen as the last powerful Merovingian King.
Kings are known as rois fainéants, despite the fact that only the last two kings did nothing. The kings strong-willed men like Dagobert II and Chilperic II, were not the main agents of political conflicts, leaving this role to their mayors of the palace, who substituted their own interest for their king's. Many kings came to the throne at a young age and died in the prime of life, weakening royal power further; the conflict between mayors was ended when the Austrasians under Pepin the Middle triumphed in 687 in the Battle of Tertry. After this, though not a king, was the political ruler of the Frankish kingdom and left this position as a heritage to his sons, it was now the sons of the mayor that divided the realm among each other under the rule of a single king. After Pepin's long rule, his son Charles Martel assumed power, fighting against nobles and his own stepmother, his reputation for ruthlessness further undermined the king's position. Under Charles Martel's leadership, the Franks defeated the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732.
After the victory of 718 of the Bulgarian Khan Ter
Charlemagne or Charles the Great, numbered Charles I, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, Holy Roman Emperor from 800. He united much of central Europe during the Early Middle Ages, he was the first recognised emperor to rule from western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire, he was canonized by Antipope Paschal III. Charlemagne was the eldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, born before their canonical marriage, he became king in 768 following his father's death as co-ruler with his brother Carloman I. Carloman's sudden death in December 771 under unexplained circumstances left Charlemagne as the sole ruler of the Frankish Kingdom, he continued his father's policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianizing them upon penalty of death and leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden.
He reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned "Emperor of the Romans" by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Rome's Old St. Peter's Basilica. Charlemagne has been called the "Father of Europe", as he united most of Western Europe for the first time since the classical era of the Roman Empire and united parts of Europe that had never been under Frankish or Roman rule, his rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of energetic cultural and intellectual activity within the Western Church. All Holy Roman Emperors considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne's empire, as did the French and German monarchies. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church views Charlemagne more controversially, labelling as heterodox his support of the filioque and the Pope's recognition of him as legitimate Roman Emperor rather than Irene of Athens of the Byzantine Empire; these and other machinations led to the eventual split of Rome and Constantinople in the Great Schism of 1054. Charlemagne died in 814, having ruled as emperor for 14 years and as king for 46 years.
He was laid to rest in his imperial capital city of Aachen. He married at least four times and had three legitimate sons, but only his son Louis the Pious survived to succeed him. By the 6th century, the western Germanic tribe of the Franks had been Christianised, due in considerable measure to the Catholic conversion of Clovis I. Francia, ruled by the Merovingians, was the most powerful of the kingdoms that succeeded the Western Roman Empire. Following the Battle of Tertry, the Merovingians declined into powerlessness, for which they have been dubbed the rois fainéants. All government powers were exercised by their chief officer, the mayor of the palace. In 687, Pepin of Herstal, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, ended the strife between various kings and their mayors with his victory at Tertry, he became the sole governor of the entire Frankish kingdom. Pepin was the grandson of two important figures of the Austrasian Kingdom: Saint Arnulf of Metz and Pepin of Landen. Pepin of Herstal was succeeded by his son Charles known as Charles Martel.
After 737, Charles declined to call himself king. Charles was succeeded in 741 by his sons Pepin the Short, the father of Charlemagne. In 743, the brothers placed Childeric III on the throne to curb separatism in the periphery, he was the last Merovingian king. Carloman resigned office in 746. Pepin brought the question of the kingship before Pope Zachary, asking whether it was logical for a king to have no royal power; the pope handed down his decision in 749, decreeing that it was better for Pepin to be called king, as he had the powers of high office as Mayor, so as not to confuse the hierarchy. He, ordered him to become the true king. In 750, Pepin was elected by an assembly of the Franks, anointed by the archbishop, raised to the office of king; the Pope ordered him into a monastery. The Merovingian dynasty was thereby replaced by the Carolingian dynasty, named after Charles Martel. In 753, Pope Stephen II fled from Italy to Francia, appealing to Pepin for assistance for the rights of St. Peter.
He was supported in this appeal by Charles' brother. In return, the pope could provide only legitimacy, he did this by again anointing and confirming Pepin, this time adding his young sons Carolus and Carloman to the royal patrimony. They thereby became heirs to the realm that covered most of western Europe. In 754, Pepin accepted the Pope's invitation to visit Italy on behalf of St. Peter's rights, dealing with the Lombards. Under the Carolingians, the Frankish kingdom spread to encompass an area including most of Western Europe. Orman portrays the Treaty of Verdun between the warring grandsons of Charlemagne as the foundation event of an independent France under its first king Charles the Bald; the middle kingdom had broken up by 890 and absorbed into the Western kingdom and the Eastern kingdom and the rest developing into smaller "buffer" nations that exist between Fr
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, 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, 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 mayors of the palace of Austrasia, took over the rule of all Franks, all of Gaul, most of Germany, 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 becoming the foundation of the Kingdom of Germany; 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 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. Austrasia was centered on the Middle Rhine, including the basins of the Moselle and Main, the Meuse rivers, it bordered on Frisia and Saxony to the north, Thuringia to the east 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, County of Hainaut, areas to the south of these. Metz served as the Austrasian capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Reims and Cologne. Other important cities included Verdun 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 to the territory of present-day Luxembourg, parts of eastern Belgium, north-eastern France, west-central Germany and the southern Netherlands. 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, Burgundy under Guntram.
These three kingdoms defined the political division of Francia until the rise of the Carolingians and thereafter. From 567 to the death of Sigbert II in 613, Neustria and Austrasia fought each other constantly, with Burgundy playing the peacemaker between them; these struggles reached their climax in the wars between Brunhilda and Fredegund, queens of Austrasia and Neustria. 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 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 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 admired. In 629, he inherited Burgundy. Austrasia was again neglected until, in 633, the people demanded the king's son as their own king again. Dagobert sent his elder son Sigebert III to Austrasia. Historians 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 regarded by contemporaries as the beginning of his "reign". It signalled the dominance of Austrasia over Neustria, which would last until the end of the Merovingian era. 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. In 719, Francia was united permanently under Austrasian hegemony. Under the Carolingians and subsequently, Austrasia is sometimes used as a denominat
Chelles Abbey was a Frankish monastery founded c. 658 during the early medieval period. It was intended as a monastery for women; the abbey stood in the Val-de-Marne near Paris until it fell victim to the disestablishment of the Catholic Church in 1792 during the French Revolution and was dismantled. The abbey housed an important scriptorium and held the advantage of powerful royal connections throughout the Carolingian era. Before its religious designation, the site of the abbey, Cala had held a royal Merovingian villa. Queen Clotilde, the wife of Clovis I, had previous built a small chapel there dedicated to Saint George circa 511. King Chilperic I and his wife, Fredegund resided at Cala; the Queen-Saint Balthild, wife of King Clovis II, an Anglo-Saxon aristocrat, taken to Gaul as a slave, founded the abbey in 658 on the ruins of the Clothilde's chapel as a monastery for women. She gave the first of two great endowments to its construction, enabling the abbey and a large new Church of the Holy Cross to be built.
Though no charters survive, in "Life of Saint Balthild", there are references to the gifts she made to the abbey. Balthild and the abbesses established an impressive reputation for encouraging learning, which attracted monks to Chelles and resulted in its conversion to a double monastery by the end of the 7th century. Balthild herself retired to Chelles in 664, bringing with her a second endowment, died there in 680, where she was buried, her possessions were treated as relics at Chelles, including a chasuble, a vestment embroidered with a pectoral cross and an image of a beautiful necklace, displayed in the museum at the site. Her hagiography was written soon after her death by a nun at the abbey. Balthild is reported to have established the monastery first under the Rule of Saint Columbanus later adopted the Rule of Saint Benedict, although recent scholars, including Moyse and Dierkens, have warned against assumptions that the Rule was a entrenched system. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the abbey represented a step in the progress of Celtic Christianity into Burgundy in its admittance of monks.
In any case, Balthild exerted control by appointing her own choice of Bertila. After the apparent shift to the Benedictine Rule from that of Columbanus, the abbey was governed by Carolingian princesses who continued this tradition. Chelles was founded during a century in which an unprecedented number of women were entering monasteries. There was a dramatic increase in the number of such institutions providing for these women in France and the Low Countries. According to Paul Fouracre, the rate of monastery building is the best-recorded indicator that Christian culture was flowing through the countryside from urban centers as members of the Frankish elite founded monasteries on their lands influencing their tenants, occupied leading posts within the Catholic Church. Royal assent remained crucial to ecclesiastical appointments, which meant that the Merovingian monarchs themselves were important patrons of the monasteries, their support of the religious communities was a means of sanctifying and legitimating their royal power.
Chelles’ success as an institution of learning and renown was due to its strong royal and aristocratic connections from its inception: from its construction at the behest of Balthild, the appointment of a daughter of the French nobility, Berthild of Chelles, as its first abbess and the powerful influence of Charlemagne’s sister, Abbess of Chelles, who led the monastery from 800-810. Yitzhak Hen supports this, suggesting that the links to royalty encouraged local inhabitants to attend Sunday Mass if only to catch a glimpse of the king, queen or their representatives; the abbey was effective in utilising the rituals of communion and confession to establish itself as a powerful agent of conversion in the countryside to the extent that it has been described by historians as a ‘training ground for missionaries of monasticism’, by extension, Christianity itself. Bertila’s reputation as a pious member of the nobility and the eminence of Gisela, sister of Charlemagne, drew several foreign princesses to join the nuns at Chelles, including Hereswith of Northumbria.
The abbey swiftly became one of the most favored monasteries for English royal princesses in Francia to be sent to for their religious instruction, along with other convents in the Paris basin such as at Les Andelys and Fécamp Abbey. Its international reputation was further secured by Bertila’s gifts of relics and tutors to help establish monasteries of nuns in Britain, accepting several young English women into the monastic community. During her abbacy, Gisela worked to broaden the scope of Chelles and shaped the monastery into a political hub where monarchs and aristocrats came to worship. Janet L. Nelson called it the "centre of the monarchic cult", indicating a unique prominence for the abbey and firm royal connections. Political contacts met information was collected from across the kingdom. Abbess Gisela was the one person to send Alcuin the news at Tours of her brother Charlemagne’s official coronation. Nelson suggests that the abbess, as well as writing to Alcuin in Latin to request a Biblical commentary, was
Charles Martel was a Frankish statesman and military leader who as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, was the de facto ruler of Francia from 718 until his death. The son of the Frankish statesman Pepin of Herstal and a noblewoman named Alpaida, Charles asserted his claims to power as successor to his father as the power behind the throne in Frankish politics. Continuing and building on his father's work, he restored centralized government in Francia and began the series of military campaigns that re-established the Franks as the undisputed masters of all Gaul. According to a near-contemporary source, the Liber Historiae Francorum, Charles was "a warrior, uncommonly...effective in battle". Much attention has been paid to his success in defeating an Arab raid in Aquitaine at the Battle of Tours. Alongside his military endeavours, Charles has been traditionally credited with a seminal role in the development of the Frankish system of feudalism. At the end of his reign, Charles divided Francia between his sons and Pepin.
The latter became the first king of the Carolingian dynasty. Charles' grandson, extended the Frankish realms, became the first Emperor in the West since the fall of Rome. Charles, nicknamed "Martel", or "the Hammer", in chronicles, was the son of Pepin of Herstal and his second wife Alpaida, he had a brother named Childebrand, who became the Frankish dux of Burgundy. In older historiography, it was common to describe Charles as "illegitimate", but the dividing line between wives and concubines was not clear-cut in eighth-century Francia, it is that the accusation of "illegitimacy" derives from the desire of Pepin's first wife Plectrude to see her progeny as heirs to Pepin's power. After the reign of Dagobert I the Merovingians ceded power to the Pippinid Mayors of the Palace, who ruled the Frankish realm of Austrasia in all but name, they controlled the royal treasury, dispensed patronage, granted land and privileges in the name of the figurehead king. Charles' father, Pepin of Herstal, was able to unite the Frankish realm by conquering Neustria and Burgundy.
He was the first to call himself Duke and Prince of the Franks, a title taken up by Charles. In December 714, Pepin of Herstal died. Prior to his death, he had, at his wife Plectrude's urging, designated Theudoald, his grandson by their late son Grimoald, his heir in the entire realm; this was opposed by the nobles because Theudoald was a child of only eight years of age. To prevent Charles using this unrest to his own advantage, Plectrude had him imprisoned in Cologne, the city, intended to be her capital; this prevented an uprising on his behalf in Austrasia, but not in Neustria. Pepin's death occasioned open conflict between his heirs and the Neustrian nobles who sought political independence from Austrasian control. In 715, Dagobert III named Ragenfrid mayor of their palace declaring political independence. On 26 September 715, Ragenfrid's Neustrians met the young Theudoald's forces at the Battle of Compiegne. Theudoald fled back to Cologne. Before the end of the year, Charles Martel had escaped from prison and been acclaimed mayor by the nobles of Austrasia.
That same year, Dagobert III died and the Neustrians proclaimed Chilperic II, the cloistered son of Childeric II, as king. In 716, Chilperic and Ragenfrid together led an army into Austrasia intent on seizing the Pippinid wealth at Cologne; the Neustrians allied with another invading force under Radbod, King of the Frisians and met Charles in battle near Cologne, still held by Plectrude. Charles had little time to gather men, or prepare, the result was the only defeat of his career; the Frisians held off Charles, while the king and his mayor besieged Plectrude at Cologne, where she bought them off with a substantial portion of Pepin's treasure. They withdrew. Charles retreated to the hills of the Eifel to gather men, train them. Having made the proper preparations, in April 716, he fell upon the triumphant army near Malmedy as it was returning to its own province. In the ensuing Battle of Amblève, Martel attacked. According to one source, he split his forces into several groups. Another suggests that while this was his intention, he decided, given the enemy's unpreparedness, this was not necessary.
In any event, the suddenness of the assault lead them to believe they were facing a much larger host. Many of the enemy fled and Martel's troops gathered the spoils of the camp. Martel's reputation increased as a result, he attracted more followers; this battle is considered by historians as the turning point in Charles's struggle. Richard Gerberding points out that up to this time, much of Martel's support was from his mother's kindred in the lands around Liege. After Amblève, he seems to have won the backing of the influential Willibrord, founder of the Abbey of Echternach; the abbey had been built on land donated by Plectrude's mother, Irmina of Oeren, but most of Willibrord's missionary work had been carried out in Frisia. In joining Chilperic and Ragenfrid, Radbod of Frisia sacked Utrecht, burning churches and killing many missionaries. Willibrord and his monks were forced to flee to Echternach. Gerberding suggests that Willibrord had decided that the chances of preserving his life's work were better with a successful field commander like Martel than with Plectrude in Cologne.
Willibrord subsequently baptized Martel's son Pepin. Gerberding suggests a date of Easter 716. Martel received support from Bishop Pepo of Verdun. Charles took time to prepare. By the following spring, Charles had attracted e