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Mayor of the Palace

Mayor of the Palace

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Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title
Title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

 and office
Office
An office is generally a room or other area in which people work, but may also denote a position within an organization with specific duties attached to it ; the latter is in fact an earlier usage, office as place originally referring to the location of one's duty. When used as an adjective, the...

, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus ("superior of the house"), used most notably in the 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...

 kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries.

During the 7th century, the office of Mayor of the Palace developed into the true power behind the throne
Power behind the throne
The phrase power behind the throne refers to a person or group that informally exercises the real power of an office. In politics, it most commonly refers to a spouse, aide, or advisor of a political leader who serves as de facto leader, setting policy through influence or manipulation.The...

 in Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

, the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Franks
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...

 under the Merovingian dynasty. The Major Domo held and wielded the real and effective power to make decisions affecting the Kingdom, while in the mid to late Merovingian period, kings had been reduced to performing merely ceremonial functions, which made them little more than nominal kings or figureheads. Compare with the figures of peshwa
Peshwa
A Peshwa is the titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. Emporer Shivaji created the Peshwa designation in order to more effectively delegate administrative duties during the growth of the Maratha Empire. Prior to 1749, Peshwas held office for 8-9 years and controlled the Maratha army...

, shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

, and prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 under a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, which have similarly been the real powers with a ceremonial king.

The office became hereditary in the family of the Pippinids with powerful mayors of the palace such as Charles Martel
Charles Martel
Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

, who proclaimed himself Duke of the Franks
Duke of the Franks
The title dux et princeps Francorum, or duke and prince of the Franks, was the title adopted by Pepin of Heristal after his epoch-making victory at the Battle of Tertry in 687...

, and for the last four years of his reign did not even bother with the façade of a King. After Austrasia and Neustria
Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

 were reunited in one kingdom, Pepin III — Major Domo since 747
747
Year 747 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 747 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Asia :* Abu Muslim unites the Abbasid Empire against...

 — took the crown of the Merovingians in 751
751
Year 751 was a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 751 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* Pepin the Short is elected as king of the...

 to establish the line of Carolingian kings. His son Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 assumed even greater power when he was crowned emperor in 800
800
Year 800 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. It was around this time that the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years, so from this time on, the years began being known as 800 and onwards.- Europe :* December 25 - Pope Leo III...

, thus becoming one of the most prominent figures in European history.

Mayors of the Palace of Austrasia

  • Parthemius
    Parthemius
    Parthemius was the mayor of the palace of Austrasia during the reign of Theudebert I. He was very unpopular with the people for the tributes he exacted...

     (until 548)
  • Gogo
    Gogo (mayor of the palace)
    Gogo was the mayor of the palace of Austrasia and nutricius for the young Childebert II from 576 until his death....

     (c. 567–581), during the minority of 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...

  • Wandalenus (from 581), during the minority of 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...

  • Gundulf
    Gundulf
    Gundulf is a Germanic given name, from gund "battle" and wulf "wolf".People called Gundulf:*a Frankish Mayor of the Palace * Bishop Gundulf As a surname:* Gandolfi...

     (from 600), under Theudebert II
    Theudebert II
    Theudebert II , King of Austrasia , was the son and heir of Childebert II. He received the kingdom of Austrasia plus the cities of Poitiers, Tours, Vellay, Bordeaux, and Châteaudun, as well as the Champagne, the Auvergne, and Transjurane Alemannia, on the death of his father in 595, but was...

  • Landric
    Landric
    Landric was the mayor of the palace of Neustria. According to the Vita Aldegundis, he and his probable brother Gundoland were uncles of Saint Aldegunda. The chief sources for his reign are the Chronicle of Fredegar and the Liber Historiae Francorum.Landric was a supporter of Fredegund in her...

     (until 612), probably also in Neustria
  • Warnachar (612–617), also in Burgundy
  • Hugh
    Hugh of Austrasia
    Hugh, Chucus, or Chugus was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 617 to 623. He was the predecessor to Pepin of Landen and father of Hugobert....

     (or Chucus) (617–623), successor of previous
  • Pepin the Elder
    Pippin of Landen
    Pepin of Landen , also called the Elder or the Old, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia under the Merovingian king Dagobert I from 623 to 629...

     (623–629), under Dagobert I
    Dagobert I
    Dagobert I was the king of Austrasia , king of all the Franks , and king of Neustria and Burgundy . He was the last Merovingian dynast to wield any real royal power...

  • Adalgisel
    Adalgisel
    Adalgisel or Adalgis was a Frankish duke and the mayor of the palace of Austrasia. He assumed that office in December 633 or January 634 at the same time that Sigebert III assumed the kingship. Along with Cunibert, Bishop of Cologne, he acted as regent for the young king...

     (633–639)
  • Pepin the Elder (639–640), again
  • Otto
    Otto (mayor of the palace)
    Otto was the mayor of the palace of Austrasia briefly in the mid-seventh century.Otto was the son of a domesticus named Uro who served in the court of Dagobert I. Otto was raised with Dagobert's son Sigebert III and subsequently acted as Sigebert III's baiolos...

     (640–642 or 643)
  • Grimoald I 642 or 643–656), died 662
  • Wulfoald
    Wulfoald
    Wulfoald was the mayor of the palace of Austrasia from 656 or 661, depending on when Grimoald I was removed from that office , to his death and mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy from 673 to 675.He was the regent of Austrasia during the minority of Childeric II until 670...

     (656–680), also in Neustria (673–675)
  • Pepin the Middle (680–714), took the title Duke and Prince of the Franks (dux et princeps Francorum) after his conquest of Neustria in 687
  • Theudoald
    Theudoald
    Theudoald was the mayor of the palace, briefly unopposed in 714 until Ragenfrid was acclaimed in Neustria and Charles Martel in Austrasia by the nobles, after the death of his grandfather, Pepin of Heristal. He was the illegitimate son of Grimoald II and Theudesinda of Frisia and thus a grandson...

     (714–715), also in Neustria. Illegitimate son of Grimoald II, designated heir of his grandfather Pepin, opposed by the nobility, who acclaimed Charles Martel
  • Charles Martel
    Charles Martel
    Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

     (715–741), illegitimate son of Pepin the Middle
    Pippin of Herstal
    Pepin of Herstal, or Heristal, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 680 to his death and of Neustria and Burgundy from 687 to 695...

    , also in Neustria (718–741)
  • Carloman (741–747), died 754 or 755
  • Drogo
    Drogo, Mayor of the Palace
    Drogo was the eldest son of Carloman, mayor of the palace of Austrasia. He was born before Carloman came to power in 741. In 747 Carloman went on a pilgrimage to Rome, leaving his sons under the guardianship of his uncle Pepin the Short and the king, Childeric III...

     (747–751), son of Carloman

Mayors of the Palace of Neustria

  • Landric
    Landric
    Landric was the mayor of the palace of Neustria. According to the Vita Aldegundis, he and his probable brother Gundoland were uncles of Saint Aldegunda. The chief sources for his reign are the Chronicle of Fredegar and the Liber Historiae Francorum.Landric was a supporter of Fredegund in her...

    , under Clotaire II
    Clotaire II
    Chlothar II , called the Great or the Young , King of Neustria, and, from 613 to 629, King of all the Franks, was not yet born when his father, King Chilperic I died in 584...

    , probably also in Austrasia
  • Gundoland
    Gundoland
    Gundoland or Gundeland was the mayor of the palace of Neustria from 613 to his death. According to the Liber Historiae Francorum, he was nobilis, egregius, and industrius: noble, outstanding, and diligent....

     (613 or 616–639)
  • Aega
    Aega (mayor of the palace)
    Aega was the mayor of the palace and regent, alongside the queen mother Nanthild, of Neustria and Burgundy from 639, on the death of Dagobert I, to his death in 641, during the reign of the minor Clovis II. He was a hardened opponent of the local Burgundian nobility...

     (639–641), also in Burgundy
  • Erchinoald
    Erchinoald
    Erchinoald succeeded Aega as the mayor of the palace of Neustria in 641 and succeeded Flaochad in Burgundy in 642 and remained such until his death in 658. According to Fredegar, he was a relative of Dagobert I's mother...

     (641–658)
  • Ebroin
    Ebroin
    Ebroin was the Frankish mayor of the palace of Neustria on two occasions; firstly from 658 to his deposition in 673 and secondly from 675 to his death in 680 or 681...

     (658–673), deposed
  • Wulfoald
    Wulfoald
    Wulfoald was the mayor of the palace of Austrasia from 656 or 661, depending on when Grimoald I was removed from that office , to his death and mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy from 673 to 675.He was the regent of Austrasia during the minority of Childeric II until 670...

     (673–675), also in Austrasia (662–680)
  • Leudesius
    Leudesius
    Leudesius was the son of Erchinoald, Mayor of the Palace of Neustria, and his wife Leutsinde.Leudesius inherited his father's properties on his death in 658...

     (675), chosen after previous, then deposed
  • Ebroin (675–680), again
  • Waratton
    Waratton
    Waratton, Waratto, or Warato was the mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy on two occasions, owing to the deposition he experienced at the hands of his own faithless son. His first term lasted from 680 or 681 to 682, when his son Gistemar deposed him and took over the office...

     (680 or 681–682), deposed by his son Gistemar
  • Gistemar
    Gistemar
    Gistemar, Ghislemar, or Gilmer was briefly the mayor of the palace in Neustria and Burgundy after deposing his father Waratton in 682. He reversed the peace with Austrasia of his father and warred with Pepin of Heristal, overcoming him in Namur. He reigned thereafter briefly and Waratton soon...

     (682), son of previous, usurper, died 683 or 684
  • Waratton
    Waratton
    Waratton, Waratto, or Warato was the mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy on two occasions, owing to the deposition he experienced at the hands of his own faithless son. His first term lasted from 680 or 681 to 682, when his son Gistemar deposed him and took over the office...

     (682–684 or 686), again
  • Berthar
    Berthar
    Berthar was the mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy from 686 to 687. He was the successor of Waratton, whose daughter Anstrude he had married....

     (686–688 or 689), son-in-law of previous, lost Battle of Tertry
    Battle of Tertry
    The Battle of Tertry was an important engagement in Merovingian Gaul between the forces of Austrasia on one side and those of Neustria and Burgundy on the other. It took place in 687 at Tertry, Somme....

     to Pepin the Middle in 687, murdered in 688 or 689
  • Pepin the Middle
    Pippin of Herstal
    Pepin of Herstal, or Heristal, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 680 to his death and of Neustria and Burgundy from 687 to 695...

     (688–695), represented in court by his follower Nordebert
    Nordebert
    Norbert was the duke of Burgundy and count of Paris in the last quarter of the seventh century. He was a faithful follower of Pepin of Heristal, who put him in charge of Neustria and Burgundy after the Battle of Tertry in 687. Pepin's sons were given the mayoralties of these realms in 695...

  • Grimoald II (695–714), son of Pepin the Middle
    Pippin of Herstal
    Pepin of Herstal, or Heristal, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 680 to his death and of Neustria and Burgundy from 687 to 695...

  • Theudoald
    Theudoald
    Theudoald was the mayor of the palace, briefly unopposed in 714 until Ragenfrid was acclaimed in Neustria and Charles Martel in Austrasia by the nobles, after the death of his grandfather, Pepin of Heristal. He was the illegitimate son of Grimoald II and Theudesinda of Frisia and thus a grandson...

     (714–715), also in Austrasia. Illegitimate son of Grimoald II, driven out of Neustria by the nobility, surrendered claim in 716.
  • Ragenfrid
    Ragenfrid
    Ragenfrid was the mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy from 715, when he filled the vacuum in Neustria caused by the death of Pepin of Heristal, until 718, when Charles Martel finally established himself over the whole Frankish kingdom.His original centre of power was the Véxin...

     (715–718), took power in Neustria in 714 or 715, but defeated by Charles Martel in 717 and definitively in 718 and fled, died 731
  • Charles Martel
    Charles Martel
    Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

     (718–741), illegitimate son of Pepin the Middle
    Pippin of Herstal
    Pepin of Herstal, or Heristal, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 680 to his death and of Neustria and Burgundy from 687 to 695...

    , also in Austrasia (715–741)
  • Pepin the Younger (741 or 742–751), became king of the Franks in 751 (died 768)

Mayors of the Palace of Burgundy

  • Warnachar I (596–599)
  • Berthoald
    Berthoald
    Berthoald was the mayor of the palace of Burgundy from some time before 603 until his death in the next year...

     (before 603–604)
  • Protadius
    Protadius
    Protadius was the mayor of the palace of Burgundy from 604, when he displaced his rival Berthoald, until his death two years later. He was originally the noble lover of Brunhilda, the grandmother of and regent for King Theuderic II...

     (604–606)
  • Claudius
  • Rado
    Rado (mayor of the palace)
    Rado was the mayor of the palace of Burgundy from 613 to 617.He, along with Warnachar, Pepin of Landen, and Saint Arnulf, abandoned the cause of the queen Brunhilda and the young king Sigebert II and joined with Clotaire II, promising not to rise in defence of the queen-regent and recognising...

     (613–617)
  • Warnachar II
    Warnachar II
    Warnachar was the mayor of the palace of Burgundy and briefly Austrasia . He began his career as the regent during Theuderic II's minority . In 612, when Theuderic became king of Austrasia, he became mayor of the palace...

     (617–626), also in Austrasia
  • Godinus
    Godinus
    Godinus succeeded his father Warnachar as mayor of the palace of Burgundy in 626 and held that post until 627. He married his stepmother Bertha and the king, Clotaire II, hunted him down for this. He fled to the court of Dagobert I, the king's son, in Austrasia, but Clotaire found him in...

     (626–627)
  • Brodulf (627–628)
  • Aega
    Aega (mayor of the palace)
    Aega was the mayor of the palace and regent, alongside the queen mother Nanthild, of Neustria and Burgundy from 639, on the death of Dagobert I, to his death in 641, during the reign of the minor Clovis II. He was a hardened opponent of the local Burgundian nobility...

     (639–641), also in Neustria
  • Flaochad
    Flaochad
    Flaochad was the mayor of the palace of Burgundy from 639 to 642. He was appointed by Nanthild, the queen mother, who gave him her niece, Ragnobert, in marriage...

     (642)
  • Radobertus (642–662)


Hereafter the office was united with that of Neustria, though Burgundy
Kingdom of Burgundy
Burgundy is a historic region in Western Europe that has existed as a political entity in a number of forms with very different boundaries. Two of these entities - the first around the 6th century, the second around the 11th century - have been called the Kingdom of Burgundy; a third was very...

 remained a separate realm under the King of Neustria and Burgundy. The administration of Burgundy was briefly separate under:
  • Drogo
    Drogo of Champagne
    Drogo , son of Pepin the Middle and Plectrude, was the duke of Champagne by appointment of his father in 690 and duke of Burgundy from the death of Nordebert in 697...

     (695–708), son of Pepin the Middle
    Pippin of Herstal
    Pepin of Herstal, or Heristal, was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 680 to his death and of Neustria and Burgundy from 687 to 695...

    , also duke of Champagne
    Champagne (province)
    The Champagne wine region is a historic province within the Champagne administrative province in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name...

     (from 690) and duke of Burgundy from Nordebert
    Nordebert
    Norbert was the duke of Burgundy and count of Paris in the last quarter of the seventh century. He was a faithful follower of Pepin of Heristal, who put him in charge of Neustria and Burgundy after the Battle of Tertry in 687. Pepin's sons were given the mayoralties of these realms in 695...

    's death in 697

Sources

  • Fredegar. The Chronicle of Fredegar, trans. J. M. Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...

    , The Early Middle Ages, 500–1000, ed. Robert Bentrano. New York, 1964.
  • 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...

    . Historia Francorum, trans. Earnest Brehaut, 1916. Available at Medieval Sourcebook.
  • Oman, Charles
    Charles Oman
    Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman was a British military historian of the early 20th century. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering...

    . The Dark Ages, 476–918. London: Rivingtons, 1914.