My Family Ancestry
Notes for Pepin III
Pepin (or Pippin) (died 24 September 768), called the Short (Pépin le Bref) or the Younger (Pippin der Jüngere), rarely the Great (Pippin der Grosse), was the first King of the Franks (752–68) of the Carolingian dynasty. In 741 he and his brother Carloman succeeded their father, Charles Martel, as mayors of the palace and de facto rulers of the kingdom during an interregnum (737–43). After the retirement of Carloman (747), Pepin obtained the permission of Pope Zachary to depose the last of the Merovingian kings, Childeric III, and assume the throne (752). As he was named for his grandfather, Pepin of Heristal, in turn named for his grandfather, Pepin of Landen, both mayors of the palace, Pepin the Short has sometimes been numbered Pepin III.
Assumption of power
Pepin's father Charles Martel died in 741. He divided the rule of the Frankish kingdom between Pepin and his elder brother, Carloman, his surviving sons by his first wife: Carloman became Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, Pepin became Mayor of the Palace of Neustria. Grifo, Charles's son by his second wife, Swanahild (also known as Swanhilde), demanded a share in the inheritance, but he was imprisoned in a monastery by his two half-brothers.
In the Frankish realm the unity of the kingdom was essentially connected with the person of the king. So Carloman, to secure this unity, raised the Merovingian Childeric to the throne (743). Then in 747 Carloman either resolved to or was pressured into entering a monastery. This left Francia in the hands of Pepin as sole mayor of the palace and dux et princeps Francorum.
At the time of Carloman's retirement, Grifo escaped his imprisonment and fled to Duke Odilo of Bavaria, who was married to Hiltrude, Pepin's sister. Pepin put down the renewed revolt led by his half-brother and succeeded in completely restoring the boundaries of the kingdom.
Under the reorganization of Francia by Charles Martel, the dux et princeps Francorum was the commander of the armies of the kingdom, in addition to his administrative duties as mayor of the palace, and specifically commander of the standing guard which Charles Martel had begun maintaining year-round since Toulouse in 721.
First Carolingian king
Anointed a first time in 752 in Soissons by the archbishop of Mainz, Pepin added to his power after Pope Stephen II traveled all the way to Paris to anoint him a second time in a lavish ceremony at the Basilica of St Denis in 754, bestowing upon him the additional title of patricius Romanorum (Patrician of the Romans) and is the first recorded crowning of a civil ruler by a Pope. As life expectancies were short in those days, and Pepin wanted family continuity, the Pope also anointed Pepin's sons, Charles (eventually known as Charlemagne) and Carloman.
Pepin was subject to the decisions of Childeric III who had only the title of King but no power. Since Pepin had control over the magnates and actually had the power of the king, he now addressed to Pope Zachary a suggestive question:
In regard to the kings of the Franks who no longer possess the royal power: is this state of things proper?
Hard pressed by the Lombards, Pope Zachary welcomed this move by the Franks to end an intolerable condition and lay the constitutional foundations for the exercise of the royal power. The Pope replied that such a state of things is not proper: the de facto power is more important than the de jure power.
After this decision the throne was declared vacant. Childeric III was deposed and confined to a monastery. He was the last of the Merovingians.
According to ancient custom, Pepin was then elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish nobles, with a large portion of his army on hand (in case the nobility inclined not to honor the Papal bull). Meanwhile, Grifo continued his rebellion, but was eventually killed in the battle of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in 753.
Expansion of the Frankish realm
Pepin's first major act as king was to go to war against the Lombard king Aistulf, who had expanded into the ducatus Romanus. Victorious, he forced the Lombard king to return property seized from the Church. He confirmed the Papacy in possession of Ravenna and the Pentapolis, the so-called Donation of Pepin, whereby the Papal States were established and the temporal reign of the Papacy began. At about 752, he turned his attention to Septimania first investing Narbonne, but didn't manage to capture it from Iberian Muslim invaders up to 7 years later in 759, when they were driven out to Hispania.
However, Aquitaine still remained under Waifer's Basque-Aquitanian rule out of Frankish reach. Waifer appears to have confiscated Church lands, maybe distributing them among his troops. In 760, denouncing this actions, Pepin ravaged with fire and sword most of Aquitaine and in retaliation counts loyal to Waifer ravaged Burgundy. Pepin in turn attacked the Aquitanian-held (urban, non-Frankish 'Romans') Clermont and Bourbon, defended by Waifer's Basque troops, who were overcome, captured and deported into northern France.
In 763, Pepin advanced further into the heart of Waifer’s domains and captured major strongholds (Poitiers, Limoges, Angouleme, etc.), after which Waifer counterattacked and war got bitter. Pepin opted to spread terror, burning villas, destroying vineyards and depopulating monasteries. By 765, the brutal tactics seemed to pay off for the Franks, who destroyed resistance in central Aquitaine (Waifer's capital city Toulouse fell in 767) and devastated the whole region. As a result, Aquitanian nobles and Basques from beyond the Garonne too saw no option but to accept a pro-Frankish peace treaty (Fronsac, c. 768). Waifer escaped but was assassinated by his own frustrated followers.
Pepin died during a campaign, in 768. He was interred in the church of Saint Denis. His wife Bertrada was also interred there in 783. Charlemagne rebuilt the Basilica in honor of his parents and placed markers at the entrance.
The Frankish realm was divided according to the Salic law between his two sons: Charlemagne and Carloman I.
Historical opinion often seems to regard him as the lesser son and lesser father of two greater men, though a great man in his own right. He continued to build up the heavy cavalry which his father had begun. He maintained the standing army that his father had found necessary to protect the realm and form the core of its full army in wartime. He not only contained the Iberian Muslims as his father had, but drove them out of the country. He continued his father's expansion of the Frankish church (missionary work in Germany and Scandinavia) and the institutional infrastructure (feudalism) that would prove the backbone of medieval Europe.
His rule, while not as great as either his father's or son's, was historically important and of great benefit to the Franks as a people. Pepin's assumption of the crown, and the title of Patrician of Rome, were harbingers of his son's imperial coronation which is usually seen as the founding of the Holy Roman Empire. He made the Carolingians de jure what his father had made them de facto — the ruling dynasty of the Franks and the foremost power of Europe. While not known as a great general, he was undefeated during his lifetime.
In 741, Pepin married Bertrada of Laon. Her father, Charibert, was the son of Pepin II's brother, Martin of Laon. They are known to have had eight children, at least three of whom survived to adulthood:
Charles (2 April 742 – 28 January 814), (Charlemagne)
Carloman (751 – 4 December 771)
Pepin, died in infancy.
Chrothais, died young, buried in Metz.
Adelais, died young, buried in Metz.
Two unnamed daughters
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