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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

For herself and her favorite grandson


Death

placed Brunhilde's rival out of the reach of her revenge, but she herself might have secured the whole kingdom of the Franks for her two grandsons, had she not quarrelled with one and stirred up war between them. The first consequence of this new strife was that Alsatia and Eastern Switzerland were separated from Neustria, or France, and attached to Austria, or Germany. Brunhilde, finding that her cause was desperate, procured the assistance of Clotar II. for herself and her favorite grandson, Theuderich. The fortune of war now turned, and before long the other grandson, Theudebert, was taken prisoner. By his brother's order he was formally deposed from his kingly authority, and then executed: the brains of his infant son were dashed out against a stone.

[Sidenote: 613. MURDER OF BRUNHILDE.]

It was not long before this crime was avenged. A quarrel in regard to the division of the spoils arose between Theuderich and Clotar II. The former died in the beginning of the war which followed, leaving four young sons to the care of their great-grandmother, the queen Brunhilde. Clotar II. immediately marched against her, but, knowing her ability and energy, he obtained a promise from the nobles of Burgundy and Germany who were unfriendly to Brunhilde, that they would come over to his side at the critical moment. The aged queen had called her people to arms, and, like her rival, Fredegunde, put herself at their head; but

when the armies met, on the river Aisne in Champagne, the traitors in her own camp joined Clotar II. and the struggle was ended without a battle. Brunhilde, then eighty years old, was taken prisoner, cruelly tortured for three days, and then tied by her gray hair to the tail of a wild horse and dragged to death. The four sons of Theuderich were put to death at the same time, and thus, in the year 613, Clotar II. became king of all the Franks. A priest named Fredegar, who wrote his biography, says of him: "He was a most patient man, learned and pious, and kind and sympathizing towards every one!"

Clotar II. possessed, at least, energy enough to preserve a sway which was based on a long succession of the worst crimes that disgrace humanity. In 622, six years before his death, he made his oldest son, Dagobert, a boy of sixteen, king of the German half of his realm, but was obliged, immediately afterwards, to assist him against the Saxons. He entered their territory, seized the people, massacred all who proved to be taller than his own two-handed sword, and then returned to France without having subdued the spirit or received the allegiance of the bold race. Nothing of importance occurred during the remainder of his reign; he died in 628, leaving his kingdom to his two sons, Dagobert and Charibert. The former easily possessed himself of the lion's share, giving his younger brother only a small strip of territory along the river Loire. Charibert, however, drove the last remnant of the Visigoths into Spain, and added the country between the Garonne and the Pyrenees to his little kingdom. The name of Aquitaine was given to this region, and Charibert's descendants became its Dukes, subject to the kings of the Franks.


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