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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The grandson of Pippin of Landen


was a Frank, born in the Netherlands, a man of energy and intelligence, but of little principle. He had, nevertheless, shrewdness enough to see the necessity of maintaining the unity and peace of the kingdom, and he endeavored, in conjunction with Bishop Arnulf of Metz, to make a good king of Dagobert. They made him, indeed, amiable and well-meaning, but they could not overcome the instability of his character. After Clotar II.'s death, in 628, Dagobert passed the remaining ten years of his life in France, under the control of others, and the actual government of Germany was exercised by Pippin.

[Sidenote: 670.]

The period of transition between the power of the kings, gradually sinking, and the power of the Stewards, steadily rising, lasted about fifty years. The latter power, however, was not allowed to increase without frequent struggles, partly from the jealousy of the nobility and priesthood, partly from the Resistance of the people to the extinction of their remaining rights. But, after the devastation left behind by the fratricidal wars of the Merovingians, all parties felt the necessity of a strong and well-regulated government, and the long experience of the Stewards gave them the advantage.

Grimoald, the son and successor of Pippin in the stewardship of Germany, made an attempt to usurp the royal power, but failed. This event, and the interference of a Steward of France

with the rights of the dynasty, led the Franks, in 670--when the whole kingdom was again united under Childeric II.--to decree that the Stewards should be elected annually by the people, as in the beginning. But when Childeric II., like the most of his predecessors, was murdered, the deposed Steward of France regained his power, forced the people to accept him, and attempted to extend his government over Germany. In spite of a fierce resistance, headed by Pippin of Heristall, the grandson of Pippin of Landen, he partly maintained his authority until the year 681, when he was murdered in turn.

Pippin of Heristall was also the grandson of Arnulf, Bishop of Metz, whose son, Anchises, had married Begga, the daughter of Pippin of Landen. He was thus of Roman blood by his father's, and Frank by his mother's side. As soon as his authority was secured, as Royal Steward of Germany, he invaded France, and a desperate struggle for the stewardship of the whole kingdom ensued. It was ended in 687 by a battle near St. Quentin, in which Pippin was victorious. He used his success with a moderation very rare in those days: he did honor to the Frank king, Theuderich III., who had fallen into his hands, spared the lives and possessions of all who had fought against him, on their promise not to take up arms against his authority, and even continued many of the chief officials of the Franks in their former places.

[Sidenote: 687. PIPPIN OF HERISTALL.]

From this date the Merovingian monarch became a shadow. Pippin paid him all external signs of allegiance, kept up the ceremonies of his Court, supplied him with ample revenues, and governed the kingdom in his name; but the actual power was concentrated in his own hands. France, Switzerland and the greater part of Germany were subjected to his government, although there were still elements of discontent within the realm, and of trouble outside of its borders. The dependent dukedoms of Aquitaine, Burgundy, Alemannia, Bavaria and Thuringia were restless under the yoke; the Saxons and Frisians on the north were hostile and defiant, and the Slavonic races all along the eastern frontier had not yet given up their invasions.

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