Basina, daughter of Chilperic I

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Basina was the daughter and youngest child of Chilperic I, king of Soissons (later Neustria), and his first wife, Audovera.

In 580, an epidemic of dysentery swept through Gaul and afflicted her father as well as killing all his remaining children, except Basina and her brother Clovis. The jealous third wife of their father, Fredegund, tried to remove the impediment to her children's succession by sending Clovis to Berny, where the epidemic was strong. This failed to kill him and she had him assassinated along with his mother, the repudiated Audovera. For her own safety, Basina, not yet 7 years old, was sent to the Holy Cross convent at Poitiers. Before that, she was raped by Fredegund's soldiers.[1] The Convent of the Holy Cross at Poitiers was founded by St. Radegund, an enslaved Thuringian princess who later became the wife of Clotaire I. The childless Radegund left her husband to pursue a religious life, enjoying ecclesiastic support.

In 589, Basina joined her first cousin, Clotilda, daughter of Charibert I, in rebellion against the abbess of their convent. Clotilda led a secession of nuns to the church of Saint Hilary there and proceeded to garner a following of men, mostly criminals. She ordered them to abduct the abbess. The kidnapped abbess was imprisoned under Basina's watch. Eventually, however, she was freed by one Flavian.

When Clotilda became too arrogant for her cousin's liking, Basina made peace with the freed abbess. Things did not return to normal with this, however. The violence continued and, in Gregory of Tours' words, scarcely a day passed without a murder, or an hour without a quarrel, or a moment without tears.[2] This caused King Childebert II of Austrasia to propose to his uncle Guntram of Burgundy that they send joint embassies of their bishops to deal with the incident in accordance with Canon law. Gregory, bishop of Tours, the chronicler, was ordered to go, along with Ebregisel, bishop of Cologne; Maroveus, bishop of Poitiers; and Gundegisel, bishop of Bordeaux, to the commotion, but Gregory demanded that Macco, count of Poitou, quell it with the arm of the law first. The secular answer being inadequate, the bishops gathered in Poitiers and pronounced a judgement which reinstated the abbess and declared her innocent of any crimes of which the rebels had accused her. The cousins were excommunicated.

In 590, both Clotilda and Basina were pardoned by the king, and Basina—but not her cousin—returned to her monastery and lived, until her death, in obedience.


  1. ^ Les Mérovingiennes, Roger-Xavier Lantéri, Éditions Perrin, Tempus, 2000, ISBN 2-262-02475-8, p.26-37. (French)
  2. ^ [1]
  • Gregory of Tours, Historiae X,15; Historia Francorum Books I-X At Medieval Sourcebook. Gregory's work is the primary source for the events described above. It contains a copy of the decision rendered by himself and the other bishops. Gregory's niece, Justina, was the prioress of the abbey and was herself dealt with very violently by agents of Clotilda.