Chilperic II

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For the Burgundian king ruling 443–480, see Chilperic II of Burgundy.
Imaginative modern carving from a medallion depicting Chilperic II

Chilperic II (c. 672 – 13 February 721), born Daniel, the youngest son of Childeric II and his cousin Bilichild, was king of Neustria from 715 and sole king of the Franks from 718 until his death.

As an infant, he was spirited to a monastery to protect his life from the internecine feuding of his family. There, he was raised as Daniel until the death of Dagobert III in 715, when he was taken from the monastery — at the age of forty-three — and raised on the shield of the Neustrian warriors as king, as was the custom. He took the royal name of Chilperic, though due to his monastic upbringing, he was a very different man from Chilperic I.

First, it appears he was supposed to be but a tool in the hands of Ragenfrid, the mayor of the palace of Neustria, acclaimed in 714 in opposition to Theudoald, Pepin of Heristal's designated heir. Chilperic, however, was his own man: both a fighter and a leader, always at the forefront in battle at the head of his troops. In 716, he and Ragenfrid together led an army into Austrasia, then being warred over by Plectrude, on behalf of her grandson Theudoald, and Charles Martel, the bastard son of Pepin of Heristal. The Neustrians allied with another invading force under Radbod, King of the Frisians and met Charles in battle near Cologne, then held by Plectrude. Chilperic was victorious and Charles fled to the mountains of the Eifel. The king and his mayor then turned to besiege their other rival in the city. Plectrude acknowledged Chilperic as king, gave over the Austrasian treasury, and abandoned her son's claim to the mayoralty.

At this juncture, events took a turn against Chilperic. As he and Ragenfrid were leading their triumphant soldiers back to Neustria, Charles fell on them near Malmedy and in the Battle of Amblève, Charles routed them and they fled. Thereafter, Charles Martel remained virtually undefeated and Chilperic's strong will was subdued in a series of campaigns waged in Neustrian territory.

In 717, Charles returned to Neustria with an army and confirmed his supremacy with a victory at Vincy, near Cambrai. He chased the fleeing king and mayor to Paris before turning back to deal with Plectrude and Cologne. On succeeding there, he proclaimed Chlothar IV king of Austrasia in opposition to Chilperic. In 718, Chilperic, in response, allied with Odo the Great, the duke of Aquitaine who had made himself independent during the contests in 715, but he was again defeated by Charles, at Soissons. The king fled with his ducal ally to the land south of the Loire and Ragenfrid fled to Angers. Soon Chlothar IV died. Odo then gave up on Chilperic and, in exchange for recognising his kingship over all the Franks, the king surrendered his kingdom to the mayoralty of Charles over all the kingdoms (718).

In 719, he was officially raised on the shield as king of all the Franks, but he survived but a year and his successors were mere rois fainéants. He died in Attigny and was buried in Noyon.

Sources[edit]

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

External links[edit]

Chilperic II
Born: 672 Died: 720
Preceded by
Dagobert III
King of the Franks
715–717
Vacant
Title next held by
Theuderic IV
King of Austrasia
715–717
Succeeded by
Chlothar IV
King of Neustria & Burgundy
715–720
Succeeded by
Theuderic IV