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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Soon succeeded in buying off Radbod and Raginfried


Pippin,

like the French rulers after him, down to the present day, perceived the advantage of having the Church on his side. Moreover, he was the grandson of a Bishop, which circumstance--although it did not prevent him from taking two wives--enabled him better to understand the power of the ecclesiastical system of Rome. In the early part of the seventh century, several Christian missionaries, principally Irish, had begun their labors among the Alemanni and the Bavarians, but the greater part of these people, with all the Thuringians, Saxons and Frisians, were still worshippers of the old pagan gods. Pippin saw that the latter must be taught submission, and accustomed to authority through the Church, and, with his aid, all the southern part of Germany became Christian in a few years. Force was employed, as well as persuasion; but, at that time, the end was considered to sanction any means.

Pippin's rule (we can not call it _reign_) was characterized by the greatest activity, patience and prudence. From year to year the kingdom of the Franks became better organized and stronger in all its features of government. Brittany, Burgundy and Aquitaine were kept quiet; the northern part of Holland was conquered, and immediately given into charge of a band of Anglo-Saxon monks; and Germany, although restless and dissatisfied, was held more firmly than ever. Pippin of Heristall, while he was simply called a Royal Steward, exercised a wider power than any monarch

of his time.

[Sidenote: 714.]

When he died, in the year 714, the kingdom was for a while convulsed by feuds which threatened to repeat the bloody annals of the Merovingians. His heirs were Theudowald, his grandson by his wife Plektrude, and Karl and Hildebrand, his sons by his wife Alpheid. He chose the former as his successor, and Plektrude, in order to suppress any opposition to this arrangement, imprisoned her step-son Karl. But the Burgundians immediately revolted, elected one of their chiefs, Raginfried, to the office of Royal Steward, and defeated the Franks in a battle in which Theudowald was slain. Karl, having escaped from prison, put himself at the head of affairs, supported by a majority of the German Franks. He was a man of strong personal influence, and inspired his followers with enthusiasm and faith; but his chances seemed very desperate. His step-mother, Plektrude, opposed him: the Burgundians and French Franks, led by Raginfried, were marching against him, and Radbod, Duke of Friesland, invaded the territory which he was bound by his office to defend.

Karl had the choice of three enemies, and he took the one which seemed most dangerous. He attacked Radbod, but was forced to fall back, and this repulse emboldened the Saxons to make a foray into the land of the Hessians, as the old Germanic tribe of the Chatti were now called. Radbod advanced to Cologne, which was held by Plektrude and her followers: at the same time Raginfried approached from the west, and the city was thus besieged by two separate armies, hostile to each other, yet both having the same end in view. Between the two, Karl managed to escape, and retreated to the forest of Ardennes, where he set about reconstructing his shattered army.

Cologne was too strong to be assailed, and Plektrude, who possessed large treasures, soon succeeded in buying off Radbod and Raginfried. The latter, on his return to France, came into collision with Karl, who, though repelled at first, finally drove him in confusion to the walls of Paris. Karl then suddenly wheeled about and marched against Cologne, which fell into his hands: Plektrude, leaving her wealth as his booty, fled to Bavaria. This victory secured to Karl the stewardship over Germany, but a king was wanting, to make the forms of royalty complete. The direct Merovingian line had run out, and Raginfried had been obliged to take a monk, an offshoot of the family, and place him on the throne, under the name of Chilperic II. Karl, after a little search, discovered another Merovingian, whom he installed in the German half of the kingdom, as Clotar III. That done, he attacked the invading Saxons, defeated and drove them beyond the Weser river.


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