Bertha, daughter of Charlemagne

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Noble family Carolingian dynasty
Father Charlemagne
Mother Hildegard
Born 780
Died after 11 March 824

Bertha of France (c. 780 – after 11 March 824), also known as Bertha of the Holy Roman Empire, was daughter of Charlemagne, King of the Franks.


Bertha was raised with her brothers and sisters in the royal household of Charlemagne, who had all of his children educated by tutors.

An offer by Offa of Mercia to arrange a marriage between Bertha and his son, Ecgfrith, led to Charlemagne breaking off diplomatic relations with Britain in 790, and banning British ships from his ports. Like her sisters, Bertha never formally married; it has been speculated that Charlemagne did not want his daughters married for strategic reasons, fearing political rivalry from their potential husbands.[1]

Bertha was in a long relationship with Angilbert, a court official, which produced two children. During 794-5, Angilbert presented a poem as a court entertainment, praising the beauty and charms of Charlemagne's daughters; Bertha is praised in particular for having critical discernment and appreciation for poetry, which Angilbert points out is a cause for him to be concerned about how she might receive his poem.[2]

Bertha's children with Angilbert were sons Hartnid, about whom little is known, and the historian Nithard, Abbott of St. Riquier. Angilbert ended his affair with Bertha and entered a monastery, becoming Abbott of St. Riquier, according to a biography written by their son, Nithard.[3] Angilbert remained an important advisor to Charlemagne, however. The children of Bertha and Angilbert were likely educated in Charlemagne's court. Nithard was a distinguished soldier and politician, and acted as an advisor to Charles the Bald of France.[4]

Following the death of Charlemagne, his successor, Louis the Pious, exiled his sisters to the convents that had been left for their inheritance by their father.


  1. ^ Becher, Matthias. Charlemagne, Yale University Press, 2005 ISBN 9780300107586
  2. ^ Garver, Valerie Louise (2009). Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World. Cornell University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780801447716. 
  3. ^ Starr, Brian Daniel (2009). Ascent of the Saints. Brian Daniel Starr. p. 175. ISBN 9781449995805. 
  4. ^ Chalmers, Alexander (1815). The General biographical dictionary: containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation: Vol. 23 (University of Wisconsin - Madison ed.). J. Nichols. p. 199.