The Sons of Clovis - Part IV (S1: E12)

Thugs and Miracles: A History of France

09-02-2020 • 36 mins

This week’s episode explores the reigns of Theuderic’s lineage, Kings Theudebert and Theudebald of Austrasia. I know this is supposed to be a “sons” of Clovis episode, and Theudebert is a grandson and Theudebald is a great-grandson, but I would point out that the former, Theudebert, was born in 504. Childebert was born in 496, and Chlothar was born in 497, making the nephew of the true sons in this case only a few years younger than his uncles. There was actually a bigger gap in age between Theuderic and his half-brothers! At any rate, the bulk of Theudebert’s action is contemporary to the sons of Clovis, hence his discussion here. The same is true of Theudebald, mainly because he dies by the age of 20. Both of his great-uncles will outlive him.

Anyway, Theudebert was kind of a stud! He was basically the Sonny Corleone of the Merovingian line. By the time he was a teenager he was commanding men in the field as a part of his father’s army, and it was commonplace for Theuderic to dispatch his son to take care of issues for him. Recall back to Episode Nine: Theudebert sallied forth to meet the Danish invasion of France in 516, the first Viking encroachment of France, and destroyed the invaders with such utter certainty that a) they didn’t bother coming back for 300 years after that, and b) he was immortalized in the epic poem Beowulf. I have said this before but it’s for repeating: Theudebert did all of this when he was only 13 years old!

However, the Merovingian kings always had something in their closet that needed to be cleaned up/locked away/yada-yada’d over, and Theudebert was no different, both in his tumultuous love life and his outsized ambition. Our episode will focus on those, and in particular the short shrift that is given to Theudebert’s first wife, Deoteria. Deoteria comes down through history as a daughter-killing stalker type, but if you start peeling away at her history – written entirely by men with agendas – and suddenly she stops looking quite as psychotic - and possibly even sympathetic.

Finally, we’ll finish off the show by briefly discussing Theudebald’s brief reign. He’s basically the poster child for what bad regents can do to an unsuspecting child-king. Long story short, Theudebald doesn’t have a long story.

Alright, hit me with questions at, or go to the website at I’ll be putting up the full text of the episode, my sources, and also some maps that will help illustrate the areas we’re talking about today. And if nothing else, find me on social media at Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!