Fredegund

Fredegund

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Fredegund'
Start a new discussion about 'Fredegund'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Fredegund (Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

: Fredegundis; French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

: Frédégonde) (died 597) was the Queen consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 of Chilperic I
Chilperic I
Chilperic I was the king of Neustria from 561 to his death. He was one of the sons of the Frankish king Clotaire I and Queen Aregund....

, the Merovingian Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 king of Soissons
Soissons
Soissons is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France, located on the Aisne River, about northeast of Paris. It is one of the most ancient towns of France, and is probably the ancient capital of the Suessiones...

.

All her wealth and power came to her through her association with Chilperic. Originally a servant of Chilperic's first wife Audovera
Audovera
Audovera was the first wife or mistress of Chilperic I, king of Neustria.They had four children.*Theudebert, died in the war of 575*Merovech , married the widow Brunhilda and became his father's enemy*Clovis, assassinated by Fredegund in 580...

, Fredegund won Chilperic's affection and persuaded him to put Audovera in a convent and divorce her. But Chilperic then put Fredegund aside and married Galswintha
Galswintha
Galswintha was the daughter of Athanagild, Visigothic king of Hispania , and Goiswintha...

. Galswintha died the same year, probably strangled by Fredegund (c. 568), who succeeded Galswintha as queen. But Galswintha's sister, Brunhilda
Brunhilda of Austrasia
Brunhilda was a Visigothic princess, married to king Sigebert I of Austrasia who ruled the eastern kingdoms of Austrasia and Burgundy in the names of her sons and grandsons...

, in revenge against Chilperic, began a feud which lasted more than 40 years.

Fredegund is said to have ordered the assassination of Sigebert I
Sigebert I
Sigebert I was the king of Austrasia from the death of his father in 561 to his own death. He was the third surviving son out of four of Clotaire I and Ingund...

 in 575 and also to have made attempts on the lives of Sigebert's son Childebert II
Childebert II
.Childebert II was the Merovingian king of Austrasia, which included Provence at the time, from 575 until his death in 595, the eldest and succeeding son of Sigebert I, and the king of Burgundy from 592 to his death, as the adopted and succeeding son of his uncle Guntram.-Childhood:When his father...

, her brother-in-law Guntram
Guntram
Saint Guntram was the king of Burgundy from 561 to 592. He was a son of Chlothar I and Ingunda...

, king of Burgundy
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

, and Brunhilda.

After the mysterious assassination of Chilperic (584), Fredegund seized his riches and took refuge in the cathedral at Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Both she and her surviving son, Clothar II, were protected by Guntram
Guntram
Saint Guntram was the king of Burgundy from 561 to 592. He was a son of Chlothar I and Ingunda...

 until he died in 592.

Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

 depicts her as ruthlessly murderous and sadistically cruel; in his account, Fredegund perhaps has few rivals in monstrousness. Although she did not live to see it, her son's execution of Brunhilda bore the mark of Fredegund's hatred: Clothar II had the old queen, now in her sixties, stretched in agony upon the rack for three entire days, then watched her meet her death chained between four horses that were goaded to the four points of the compass, tearing her body asunder.

Fredegund died c. 8 December 597 in Paris. The tomb of Frédégonde is a mosaic figure of marble and copper, situated in Saint Denis Basilica
Saint Denis Basilica
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis is a large medieval abbey church in the commune of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The abbey church was created a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy...

, having come from the abbey church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Saint-Germain-des-Prés
Saint-Germain-des-Prés is an area of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France, located around the church of the former Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés....

.

Fredegund in folklore


Fredegund has been proposed as one of many sources for the folk tale alternatively known as Cinderella
Cinderella
"Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper" is a folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression/triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune...

, Aschenputtel, Cenerentola or Cendrillon. In Cinderella: A Casebook, folklorist Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes, was a folklorist at the University of California, Berkeley. His work was said to have been central to establishing the study of folklore as an academic discipline. He wrote 12 books, both academic and popular, and edited or co-wrote two dozen more...

 cites the following excerpt from Gregory's History of the Franks:


She was jealous of her own daughter, Rigunth, who continually declared that she should be mistress in her place. Fredegund waited her opportunity and under the pretense of magnanimity took her to the treasure-room and showed her the King's jewels in a large chest. Feigning fatigue, she exclaimed "I am weary; put thou in thy hand, and take out what thou mayest find." The mother thereupon forced down the lid on her neck and would have killed her had not the servants finally rushed to her aid.


When Rigunth was sent off to her Visigoth
Visigoth
The Visigoths were one of two main branches of the Goths, the Ostrogoths being the other. These tribes were among the Germans who spread through the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period...

ic fiancé in Spain, Reccared
Reccared
Reccared I was Visigothic King of Hispania, Septimania and Galicia. His reign marked a climactic shift in history, with the king's renunciation of traditional Arianism in favour of Catholic Christianity in 587.Reccared was the younger son of King Liuvigild by his first wife Theodosia...

, son of Liuvigild
Liuvigild
Liuvigild, Leuvigild, Leovigild, or Leogild was a Visigothic King of Hispania and Septimania from 569 to April 21, 586. From 585 he was also king of Galicia. Known for his Codex Revisus or Code of Leovigild, a unifying law allowing equal rights between the Visigothic and Hispano-Roman population,...

, her entourage was so laden with rich gifts that the Frankish nobles objected, that the royal fisc
Fisc
Under the Merovingians and Carolingians, the fisc applied to the royal demesne which paid taxes, entirely in kind, from which the royal household was meant to be supported, though it rarely was...

 had been depleted. Fredegunda asserted that all the gifts had come out of property amassed by her husband's generosity. On the long journey, Rigunth's retainers repeatedly robbed and abandoned her, and by the time she reach Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

 there was little left. When Chilperic died (584), Desiderius of Aquitaine
Desiderius of Aquitaine
Desiderius was a Gallo-Roman dux in the Kingdom of the Franks during the reigns of Chilperic I and Guntram. He served Chilperic as Duke of Aquitaine and was his greatest general....

went to Toulouse to secure the remaining treasure.

External links