Pepin of Herstal

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Pepin of Herstal
Duke and Prince of the Franks
Mayor of the Palace
St Hubert of Liège offers his services to Pepin of Heristal.jpg
Pepin of Heristal (right) being offered the services of Saint Hubert (left)
Duke and Prince of the Franks
Reign 687 – 714
Coronation 687
Predecessor Position established
Successor Charles Martel
Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia
Reign 680 – 714
Coronation 680
Predecessor Wulfoald
Successor Theudoald
Mayor of the Palace of Neustria
Reign 687 – 695
Coronation 687
Predecessor Berthar
Successor Grimoald
Mayor of the Palace of Burgundy
Reign 687 – 695
Coronation 687
Predecessor Position reestablished
Successor Drogo
Spouse Plectrude
Issue Grimoald
Drogo
Charles
Childebrand
Others
House Pippinids
Father Ansegisel
Mother Begga
Born 635
Died 714
Carolingian dynasty
Pippinids
Arnulfings
Carolingians
After the Treaty of Verdun (843)

Pepin (c. 635 – 16 December 714), commonly known as Pepin of Herstal, was a Frankish statesman and military leader who de facto ruled Francia as the Mayor of the Palace from 680 until his death. He took the title, Duke and Prince of the Franks, upon his conquest of all the Frankish realms.

The son of the powerful Frankish statesman, Ansegisel, Pepin worked to establish his family, the Pippinids, as the strongest in Francia. He was able to realise his dreams by becoming Mayor of the Palace in Austrasia in 680. Pepin subsequently embarked on several wars to expand his power. He united all the Frankish realms by the conquest of Neustria and Burgundy in 687. In foreign conflicts, Pepin increased the power of the Franks by his subjugation of the Alemanni, the Frisians, and the Franconians. He also began the process of evangelisation of Germany.

Pepin's statesmanship was notable for the further diminution of Merovingian royal authority, and for the acceptance of the undisputed right to rule for his family. Therefore, Pepin was able to name as heir, his grandson, Theudoald. But, this was not accepted by his powerful out-of-wedlock son, Charles Martel, leading to a civil war after his death in which the latter emerged victorious.

Background[edit]

Pepin, sometimes called Pepin II and Pepin the Middle was the grandson and namesake of Pepin I the Elder by the marriage of Pepin I's daughter Begga and Ansegisel, son of Arnulf of Metz.He was also the Grandfather of Pepin the short and Great-grandfather of Charlemagne. That marriage united the two houses of the Pippinids and the Arnulfings which created what would be called the Carolingian dynasty. Pepin II was probably born in Herstal (Héristal), modern Belgium (where his centre of power lay), whence his byname (sometimes "of Heristal").

Rise to power[edit]

King Clovis III and Pepin of Herstal (right side)

As mayor of Austrasia, Pepin and Martin, the duke of Laon, fought the Neustrian mayor Ebroin, who had designs on all Francia. Ebroin defeated the Austrasians at Lucofao (Bois-du-Fay, near Laon) and came close to uniting all the Franks under his rule; however, he was assassinated in 681, the victim of a combined attack by his numerous enemies. Pepin immediately made peace with his successor, Waratton.

However, Waratton's successor, Berthar, and the Neustrian king Theuderic III, who, since 679, was nominal king of all the Franks, made war on Austrasia. The king and his mayor were decisively defeated at the Battle of Tertry (Textrice) in the Vermandois in 687. Berthar and Theuderic withdrew themselves to Paris, where Pepin followed and eventually forced on them a peace treaty with the condition that Berthar leave his office. Pepin was created mayor in all three Frankish kingdoms (Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy) and began calling himself Duke and Prince of the Franks (dux et princeps Francorum). In the ensuing quarrels, Berthar killed his mother-in-law Ansfled and fled. His wife Anstrude married Pepin's eldest son Drogo, Duke of Champagne, and Pepin's place in Neustria was secured.

Duke and Prince of the Franks[edit]

Base silver coin of Nemfidius, patriarch of Provence, 700-710, minted at Marseille during the reign of Pepin of Herstal.

Over the next several years, Pepin subdued the Alemanni, Frisians, and Franconians, bringing them within the Frankish sphere of influence. He also began the evangelisation of Germany. In 695, he placed Drogo in the Burgundian mayorship and his other son, Grimoald, in the Neustrian one.

Around 670, Pepin had married Plectrude, who had inherited substantial estates in the Moselle region. She was the mother of Drogo of Champagne and Grimoald II, both of whom died before their father. However, Pepin also had a mistress named Alpaida (or Chalpaida) who bore him two more sons: Charles and Childebrand.

Death and succession[edit]

Just before Pepin's death, Plectrude convinced him to disinherit his bastards in favour of his grandson, Theudoald, the son of Grimoald, who was still young (and amenable to Plectrude's control). Pepin died suddenly at an old age on 16 December 714, at Jupille (in modern Belgium). His legitimate grandchildren claimed themselves to be Pepin's true successors and, with the help of Plectrude, tried to maintain the position of mayor of the palace after Pepin's death. However, Charles had gained favour among the Austrasians, primarily for his military prowess and ability to keep them well supplied with booty from his conquests. Despite the efforts of Plectrude to silence her rival's child by imprisoning him, he became the sole mayor of the palace—and de facto ruler of Francia—after a civil war which lasted for more than three years after Pepin's death.

Sources[edit]

Pepin of Herstal
Born: 635 Died: 714
Preceded by
Wulfoald
Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia
680–714
Succeeded by
Theudoald
Preceded by
Berthar
Mayor of the Palace of Neustria
688–695
Succeeded by
Grimoald the Younger
Mayor of the Palace of Burgundy
688–695
Succeeded by
Drogo
Preceded by
New title
Duke of the Franks
687–714
Succeeded by
Charles Martel