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- Charibert I -

Charibert (c.517 — November or December 567), king of the Franks, was the second eldest son of Clotaire I and Ingonde. (Their eldest son was Gunthar, who died sometime before his father's death.)

On Clotaire's death in 561, his estates were divided among his sons in a new configuration, Charibert receiving the kingdom between the Somme and the Loire, with Paris as his capital, together with Rouen and Tours, with the Aquitaine and Novempopulana to its south, with the cities of Poitiers, Limoges, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, Cahors and Albi.

Though the election of bishops in Merovingian territories was subject to manipulation and veto by the king, once consecrated, the bishops were in control within the cities, though perhaps not all as firmly as at Tours, where bishop Gregory, invoking the wrath of Saint Martin, was able to extract a coronation promise on oath from Charibert:

"that he would not burden the people with new laws and customs, but he would retain only those under which they had previously lived in the time of his father; and he promised that he would not impose upon them any new ordinance which would result in loss to them." — Gregory of Tours (see link).

Thus hampered in raising funds (largely as gifts in kind anyway) and under such obligations not to create innovative policy or law, the Merovingian kings' sphere of operations was severely limited.

Besides his wife, Ingoberga, with whom he had a daughter, Berthe, or Aldeberge, (539-640), he had unions with Merofleda, a wool-carder's daughter and her sister (precipitating his ban of excommunication, the first ever levelled at a Merovingian king), and Theodogilda, the daughter of a neatherd (cowherd). Charibert was scarcely more than "king at Paris" when he married his daughter Berthe to Aethelbert, the pagan king of Kent, who probably came to his throne in A.D. 560. She took with her,Bishop Liudhard, as her private confessor. According to Bede, Aethelbert's supremacy in 597 stretched over all the petty English kingdoms as far as the Humber; whether this is an exaggeration or not, it was at any rate sufficient to guarantee the safety of Augustine when in 597 the mission of Augustine landed in Thanet. The Christian mission was received at first with some hesitation by the king, who gave Augustine a dwelling-place in Canterbury, and the Christian conversion, first of Kent, then of other Anglo-Saxons proceeded from there, thanks to Charibert's daughter.

Though Charibert was eloquent and learned in the law, he was one of the most dissolute of the Merovingian kings, his early death in 567, under a ban of excommunication, being brought on by his excesses. He was buried at the abbey of Saint-Vincent (later Saint-Germain-des-Pres, then outside Paris. At his death his brothers Guntram, Sigebert I, and Chilperic I shared his realm, 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 as recently as 557 had outlawed such tradition 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.

External link

See also:

de:Charibert I. fr:Caribert Ier sv:Charibert I


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