Childebertus adoptivus

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Childebert the Adopted ( Latin ), German Childebert the Adopted († probably 662) was franc king in Austrasia from 656 to probably 662. He was not the sex of the Merovingian , but was probably a son of the mayor of the palace Grimoald of the family of Pippinids , the later Carolingians .

He ruled as Childebert III. , but should not be confused with Childebert III on the official lists .


Because of the poor sources, the exact sequence of events around Childebert's reign is controversial. Today, however, most historians assume the following sequence of events: The house man (= maior domus) Grimoald convinced the childless Sigibert III. (* 633; ​​† February 1, 656) to adopt his own son as his successor (analogous to the adoption of Childebert II , by Guntram I, where Childebert II acquired Burgundy). This then took on the Merovingian name Childebert. After that, however, Sigibert was probably born his own son (later Dagobert II ) in 651 . The power of Grimoald was enough to make his son the new ruler. Dagobert was brought to a monastery in Ireland by Bishop Dido of Poitiers at the instigation of Grimoald . It is noteworthy - and not yet explained in research - that Grimoald did not let his son's competitor kill, as often happened in Merovingian times. In Neustria Grimoald was tried and in the same year (656/657) he was executed for his coup. Childebert's reign, which lasted at least six years, suggests, however, that the elevation as ruler of Australia through adoption was, at least there, considered to be legal and appropriate by contemporaries, especially as this prevented its incorporation by Neustria.

It is also possible that Dagobert held a first term of office up to the year 661 and only afterwards Childebert occupied the throne for only one year. This version of the events around Childebertus adoptivus is now generally regarded as unlikely.

After the end of Childebert's reign, Dagobert II was not installed as king, but the minor Neustrian Childerich II , who was betrothed to Sigibert and Chimnechild's daughter Bilichild; Chimnechild ruled for him as guardian. Dagobert II ruled after Childerich II or Chimnechild .

Uncertain sources

These and all other interpretations of the events, however, have to deal with the poor source situation: The sources include the Liber historia Francorum (written 726/727 and revised in the Carolingian sense), the Barberini Diptych , a Weißenberger document dated February 24, 661, royal catalogs in three variants (approx. middle of the 8th century to the beginning of the 9th century), St. Gallen King Catalog (Lex Salica; from Carolingian times) and some vitae, among others the Vita Geretrudis available. Most authors consider the Liber historiae Francorum to be the main source, although some authors have shown errors in the presentation.

The following aspects in particular are still unclear: On the one hand, Childebert's origin has not yet been precisely clarified. Mostly it is assumed that Grimoald's son of Sigibert III. was adopted; The decisive factor here is the exact translation of the following sentence, which is usually made in the above sense: "Childebertus adoptivus filius Grimoald regnavit annos VII" (King's catalog; it should be noted that the "d" from Grimoald is a crossed d , a so-called Latin f-Abbreviature. The Middle Latin argue about the case of this letter, hence the different interpretations). So z. B. Eckhardt: "Childebert (adopted son of his predecessor, biological son of Grimoald) ..." However, Becher is of the opinion that it should be "Childebert, the adopted son of Grimoald, reigned seven years." In addition, the name "Childebert" points to a Merovingian descent (Becher and Eckhardt). This assumption would be contradicted by the royal catalog, which puts the kings who ruled before Childebert into a relationship with Chlothar I. Analogously, one would then have to expect that this would also be granted a kinship designation. However, this is not the case. There is also uncertainty about Childebert's exact reign. Presumably, however, Childebert ruled from 656 to 661/2. The presumption that Childebert ruled from 651 to the summer of 657 is refuted by the Weißenberg document. Also Grimoalds time of death is not yet clear. According to the Liber historiae Francorum , Grimoald was killed by the Neustrians in 657. Against the dating, however, speaks that his daughter Wulfetrude as abbess (658/659 - November 13, 669) was urged to resign from office “out of hatred for the father” by “kings, queens and bishops” (Vita Geretrudis). It is unlikely that she was exposed to this pressure after her father's death.


  • Liber hist. Fr. 43 (MGH SRM II)
  • King Catalogs (MGH SRM VII)


  • Matthias Becher : The so-called coup d'état Grimoald. Attempt to re-evaluate. In: Jörg Jarnut , Ulrich Nonn , Michael Richter (eds.): Karl Martell in his time. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1994, pp. 119–147 ( digitized version )
  • Eugen Ewig : Late Antiquity and Frankish Gaul. Collected Writings (1952–1973). Munich 1976.
  • Eugen Ewig: The Merovingians and the Franconian Empire. 6th, updated edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart a. a. 2012, ISBN 978-3-17-022160-4 .
  • Eugen Ewig: The Franconian King Catalogs and the Rise of the Carolingians. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 51 (1995), pp. 1–28.
  • Patrick J. Geary : The Merovingians. Europe before Charlemagne. Translated from the English by Ursula Scholz. Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-40480-4 .
  • Stefanie Hamann: On the chronology of the Grimoald coup. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 59 (2003), pp. 49–96. ( Digitized version )
  • Reinhold Kaiser : The Roman Heritage and the Merovingian Empire (= Encyclopedia of German History . Vol. 26). Oldenbourg, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-486-55783-1 .
  • Brigitte Kasten : Royal sons and royal rule. Studies on participation in the empire in the Merovingian and Carolingian times (= MGH. Schriften. Vol. 44). Hahn, Hannover 1997, ISBN 3-7752-5444-7 (also: Bremen, University, habilitation paper, 1996).
  • Reinhard Schneider : Election and elevation of the king in the early Middle Ages. Investigations into the succession of power among the Longobards and Merovingians. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1972 (at the same time: Berlin, Free University, habilitation thesis, 1970/71)
  • Heinz Thomas: The list of names of the diptych Barberini and the fall of the caretaker Grimoald. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 25 (1969) pp. 17–63. ( Digitized version )


  1. cf. z. B. the violent death of Dagobert's nephew Childerich II.
  2. so the term in older research, cf. z. B. Reinhold Kaiser: The Roman Heritage and the Merovingian Empire . Munich 1993.
  3. so Thomas; Eckhardt disagrees; on it the names of the deceased and living rulers are noted; it was used for intercession in masses
  4. for example Eugen Ewig: The Merovingians and the Franconian Empire. 2nd revised and expanded edition. Stuttgart u. a. 1993.
  5. ^ Karl August Eckhardt: Studia Merovingica. Aalen 1975, p. 153 f.
  6. Forever, 1995
  7. so z. B. Heinz Thomas: The list of names of the diptych Barberini and the fall of the caretaker Grimoald. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 25 (1969) pp. 17–63. ( Digitized version )
  8. Gerberding 1987, after Ewig 1995
  9. cf. Heinz Thomas: The list of names of the diptych Barberini and the fall of the caretaker Grimoald. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages 25 (1969) pp. 17–63. ( Digitized version )
predecessor Office successor
Sigibert III. King of the Franks / Part of Austrasia
Childeric II.