Brunhilda – Rise, Fall, and Rise Again (S1: E16)

Thugs and Miracles: A History of France

01-04-2020 • 35 mins

Brunhilda had everything.

As a Visigothic princess she had been raised to appreciate the finer things in life, to enjoy learning, and to know how to use her position and authority to influence those around her. As a Frankish queen, she was put in a place where she was beheld as a wonder by all around her, even her husband and his staff, as she dazzled them with her grace and intellect. She was courteous, kind and modest at all times in public – but behind closed doors Brunhilda was as busy as anyone in Francia, setting up lines of patronage and loyalty that would help to ensure she and her children would always have a place at court. She was happy with her position, to the point where she was even able to start getting used to the colder and gloomier weather of the north. “Everything is perfect,” she would say to herself. In her mind, it was impossible to think that anything could go wrong.

Then, as so often happens when such thoughts cross a person’s mind, everything did go wrong.

First, her sister was killed. This would have been a huge personal event in any day and age, but Brunhilda's sister was also the Queen of the neighboring Francian kingdom of Soissons. She had been strangled in a plot by the King and his concubine, a woman named Fredegunda. This led Brunhilda to push her husband to war to avenge her sister; it was all going well right until the end, and then it all went wrong. Fredegunda managed to get two assassins into Sigibert's camp and he was stabbed with poisoned knives. The attack changed everything. Instead of being the victor in the civil war to end all civil wars, Brunhilda was left sitting in a prison in Rouen, the guest of the royal couple who had murdered her sister, assassinated her husband, and who had just retaken their territory with little or no trouble.

Luckily, she had smuggled her son to safety before she was captured. He was back in Austrasia, and now all Brunhilda needed was a way to get back to him. Luckily for her, she wasn’t the only person having family problems, and she certainly wasn’t alone in her hatred of Fredegunda...


A quick note: The next two episodes are being moved up on the timeline to a 10-day release period timeframe instead of the normal 14. This might not sound like much, but what it means for you s that you’ll have three total episodes of Thugs and Miracles to listen to during the time it normally takes to make just two - and this just happens to coincide with the length of the UK coronavirus lockdown. It may not be much, but it’s at least something that we here can do to make your life there a little less boring while we all wait to see what comes next. I hope you enjoy; stay safe, and we'll see you again in 10 days!