Yitzhak Hen - Roman Barbarians - Before And After

February 22 2018

How to keep a kingdom together? Don’t. This chapter is an interesting inside into the late Frankish Court and a father-son team that went with the times.

Before And After: The Frankish Court of Chlothar II. and Dagobert I.

An old queen is disposed by torturous means after being accused of causing the death of ten Frankish kings. The accuser is Chlothar II. and he is on the throne now.

The landscape of 7th century Francia is one of three sub-kingdoms or Teilreiche, which Chlothar allows to continue. In 622, he appoints his son Dagobert I. to king of Austrasia.

In 629, Dagobert succeeds his father to the throne and appoints his brother, Charibert II. to king of newly created Aquitaine and his son Sigebert III. to king of Austrasia.

This is the short version of events Hen gives us and he follows up with explaining that the Carolingians saw Dagobert I. as the last “effective” ruler and his successors as “do-nothings”.

Of course, their opinions are to be taken with a grain of salt but it appears that beginning with Chlothar and furthered by Dagobert, the late Merovingian court had cemented its importance and created a working landscape of power-sharing between its sub-kingdoms.

Question 7 = But how did those two do it?

By 613, Chlothar had started by establishing a permanent seat of his court in Paris. This was a new fashion and enabled cultural patronage and change.

Also, very un-barbarian, Chlothar had both of his sons educated together with other aristocratic boys by the major domus, the castellan Arnulf of Metz. This new educational forum produced many high-ranking aristocrats, plenty of which became courtiers and ecclesiastical heads.

To control the growing political power of monasteries, the Merovingian kings gave those institutions a lot of immunities and Dagobert I. attempted a new emphasis on liturgy.

He was only somewhat successful at this, his attempts at continual prayers (for king and kingdom) were failed ideals but nevertheless, liturgy flourished in its milder form.

Soon, kingship became connected with biblical ideals and a new propaganda machine was born (and milked mercilessly by the later Carolingians).

There wasn’t much space left for secularity and most works of art now had religious themes.