Childebert II.

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Childebert II (* 570 ; † March 596 ) was a king of the Frankish Empire from the Merovingian family .


Childebert was the only son of King Sigibert I , who ruled in Austrasia , and Queen Brunichild . He was only five years old when his father was murdered in late 575 on a campaign against King Chilperic I , Childebert's uncle. At that time, Childebert was in Paris with his mother and two sisters Ingund and Chlodoswinth, which Sigibert's troops had only recently occupied. After Sigibert's death, the Austrasian offensive collapsed, Chilperic took Paris and Brunichild was captured. Childebert was brought to safety in Austrasia by a faithful to his father named Gundowald (Gundoald). Gundowald called a popular assembly, which was also an army assembly and made Childebert king. The day of his official beginning of rule was December 25, 575. 577 Brunichild was able to escape from captivity and took on a significant role at the court of her son.

As Childebert uncle Guntram I. (Guntchramn), who had the kingdom of Orleans (Burgundy) dominated, no heir more - his four sons had died - he adopted in 577 Childebert at a meeting on the border of empires in Pompierre to to prevent his kingdom from falling to Chilperich after his death. The two kings allied against Chilperich and ultimately, under threat of war, asked him to surrender all areas that he had wrongly appropriated. Brunichild, who was of Gothic origin, consolidated Austrasia's alliance with the Visigoth Empire by arranging the marriage of Childebert's sister Ingund to the son of the Visigoth king Leovigild , Hermenegild , in 579 .

581 there was a coup in Austrasia, through which Brunichild lost her position of power. The background was an ongoing power struggle between Brunichild, who advocated a strong kingship, and Austrasian greats, who wanted to use the king's immaturity to strengthen their influence at the expense of kingship. The new rulers, under whom the bishop Aegidius (Egidius) of Reims apparently played the main role, turned against Guntram and allied themselves with Brunichild's enemy Chilperich. Chilperich had no male offspring at this point; his older sons were already dead, the younger ones not yet born. Therefore he agreed with an embassy under the leadership of Aegidius that in the event of his death without an heir, Childebert should be his successor; the new allies decided to jointly take action against Guntram, defeat him and then divide his empire among themselves. The bishop acted on his own initiative without the consent of the young king Childebert, who did not want the break with Guntram. Chilperich and his Austrasian allies were preparing a major attack on the Guntram empire. However, this enterprise failed in 583 due to a new coup in Austrasia. There was only a group of great people behind the Austrasian alliance with Chilperic; the army rose against it, for the Austrasian warriors saw in it a betrayal of the interests of their king Childebert. They proceeded by force of arms against the group of Aegidius, which in their opinion had been bribed by Chilperich. Supporters of Brunichild came to power again in Austrasia. This process is constitutionally significant as the assertion of the old Franconian right of resistance ; simple warriors enforced their will against the political and military leadership, although the latter had the king in their power and stayed in his tent; the greats accused of treason had to flee.

The following year (584) Chilperich was murdered. He was succeeded by his son, who was just a few months old, Chlothar II. In January 585, when Childebert reached the age of majority of 15, Guntram and Childebert met again and renewed their inheritance agreement. 587, however, there was a conspiracy of numerous Austrasian greats who wanted to murder Childebert, in order to then formally appoint his sons, who were small children, as successors and thus take over power themselves. After the discovery of this conspiracy, Childebert carried out extensive changes in personnel policy; many conspirators or suspects were deposed and punished or fled the Reich. Under the impression of the threat that this attempted rebellion posed to the Merovingian rule, Guntram, Childebert and Brunichild concluded the Treaty of Andelot on November 28, 587 , which finally regulated the borders and relations between the empires of Austrasia and Orléans (Burgundy). The two kings made each other heirs in the event that either of them died without leaving sons. On the basis of this agreement, Childebert was actually able to take over the succession after Guntram's death on March 28, 592 (official start of rule on March 29, 592).

Childebert was allied with the Eastern Roman Emperor Tiberios I and his successor Maurikios against the Lombards . The Eastern Romans paid for the alliance. In fulfillment of the obligations that arose from this, Childebert undertook repeated campaigns against the Lombards in Italy, including one in the early summer of 584. The military impact, however, was minor. In 591 Childebert made a peace with the Lombards, which they bought with the obligation to pay annual tributes.

In 589 there was a new conspiracy of courtiers who, like the conspirators of 587, wanted to seize power; their goal was either to subject Childebert to their influence or to murder him and then rule on behalf of his underage sons. This plan also failed; but it showed how precarious the situation of the young king was, who could only gain respect in his surroundings with great difficulty.

Childebert died unexpectedly at the age of 26 in March 596.

Family and succession

Childebert may have been married twice. Nothing is known about his alleged first marriage. Around 585/586 he married a woman of unknown origin named Faileuba, who apparently had a special bond with her mother-in-law Brunichild. It is unclear whether his eldest son Theudebert II, born in 585, came from his marriage to Faileuba or from a previous wife (or concubine ). From the marriage with Faileuba came the younger son Theuderich II, born in 587, and a daughter named Theudila, who was probably born around 588/590 and who fell into the hands of Chilperich's son Chlothar II in 613 together with her grandmother Brunichild ; her further fate is unknown. At Childebert's death, his two sons were still minors; Theudebert received the Austrasian, Theuderich the Burgundian part of the empire, with Brunichild initially effectively reigning for both.



  1. Schneider p. 94f.
  2. On Childebert's survey and its constitutional significance, see Grahn-Hoek pp. 198–201.
  3. On the dating of Margarete Weidemann: On the chronology of the Merovingians in the 6th century , in: Francia 10 (1982), pp. 483–485.
  4. For an interpretation of this process from a constitutional historical point of view, see Grahn-Hoek pp. 211–215; see. Schneider pp. 117-121.
  5. ^ Gregory of Tours, Historiae 5.17.
  6. Grahn-Hoek pp. 215-218.
  7. Grahn-Hoek pp. 218-221.
  8. Grahn-Hoek pp. 250-253, Schneider pp. 121-124.
  9. Grahn-Hoek pp. 253-257, Schneider pp. 109f.
  10. Grahn-Hoek pp. 260–263, Schneider (incorrectly dated) pp. 124–126; for correct dating see Weidemann pp. 473–485.
  11. Schneider pp. 129–131 (incorrectly dated); for correct dating see Weidemann pp. 485–487.
  12. ^ Gregory of Tours, Historiae 9.38.
  13. On the dating of Weidemann, p. 491.
  14. Eugen Ewig: The naming of the oldest Franconian kings and the Merovingian royal family , in: Francia 18/1 (1991) p. 58.
  15. Brigitte Kasten : Königssöhne und Königsherrschaft , Hanover 1997, pp. 17–20; Ewig (1991) p. 63.
  16. Ewig (1991) p. 64.
predecessor Office successor
Sigibert I (Austrasia)
Guntram I (Burgundy)
King of the Franks
Burgundy from 592
Austrasia from 575
Theudebert II (Austrasia)
Theuderic II (Burgundy)