Something's Gotta Give... (S1: E20)

Thugs and Miracles: A History of France

13-05-2020 • 33 mins

This episode, we’re going to move between all three of our main subjects, Fredegunda, Brunhilda and Guntram; by the time we’re done, we’re going to see power shift yet again and, by the end, one of these three will be exiting the scene. As far as Fredegunda: despite her extremely brutal personality, she remains one of those people who inspired the loyalty of those around her. This is purely conjecture on my part, but I can’t help but wonder if these Neustrian fanboys were more likely to be loyal because of her brutal nature, because they knew who she was and what she was capable of. Fredegunda was the archetype of the wicked queen, but at the same time, there seems to have been an honesty in knowing who she was and where she stood. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to assert that this forgives Fredegunda’s many, many violent actions; however, it does go a long way toward explaining her allure.

As far as Guntram: well, Guntram was boring. He was vanilla. I mean, seriously, look at his brothers… Charibert lived short and fast and was ex-communicated for his wild lifestyle before he died. Sigibert was victorious in love and war – all except for that assassin that his guard let through to him. Even Chilperic had a crazy love life and was constantly pushing his luck for an advantage. And then, beyond his brother kings, throw in Brunhilda and Fredegunda, and we can then push outside of the Frankish Kingdom to talk about the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora, and then there’s Gundovald as a usurper and, well, I stand by my assessment. Guntram was boring, and nothing I have found makes him really all that saintly either...

Finally, as far as Brunhilda and Childebert II: Childebert in this episode is 22 and has been sitting relatively idle for quite some time. As a result, he decides to pop off and go back on the offensive, but why? Perhaps he wanted to add a military victory to his resumé. Maybe he was bored. Maybe he was considering the conquest of Francia to be his personal manifest destiny. Maybe Brunhilda was whispering in his ear, telling him to fight. Or, perhaps, he was completely oblivious to military undertakings altogether. As a rich, pampered and sheltered monarch, it’s not inconceivable that an army could have been assembled and placed in the field in his name, but without his knowledge. It’s possible that Brunhilda had the army raised and sent out; she had been ruling in Childebert’s name throughout most of his youth and young adulthood, and she easily could have signed off on military plans in his name. However it happened, war was coming to Francia. The kings and queens demanded it.

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