Historical setting: 584 C.E. The Road to Tours
“There are only three kings now.” Bertigan informs me.
As we are taking the wagon to the livestock market outside of Tours, Count Bertigan, now married to my granddaughter, is filling me in on the not-secret-enough lives of the Kings and Queens of the Merovingian Dynasty. Brother August’s little issues with sibling rivalry are dwarfed by this chess game of brothers in battle. This youthful aggressor Bertigan surely sees himself as the landowner, the Rook in the game. He sees with his imagination that if everything stays unmoved the rook will be in line to switch places with the King in the surprise move that ends the game. But he dare not lose site of the all-powerful queens on the board. He yammers on.
“With only the three kings that fourth kingdom, the Soissons with Paris was divided among them. If the others had just stayed out of it, King Chilperic could have had it all and we would have a united kingdom of the Franks once again.
“It happens Queen Brunhilda had a sister, so our king married the princess, Galswintha. Marrying a princess meant she would bring a dowry with her and King Chilperic would rule a greater land. [Footnote] That’s how these things work out. But it was a sad thing that the dowery didn’t go to the husband, our great King Chilperic. After the strangulation of this queen as she slept in her bed one night, her dowry passed to her sister, Brunhilda. And what’s worse, Brunhilda blamed Ferdegund, our king’s most beloved mistress for the assassination. But how could a mere woman kill another with her bare hands or even with a twisted bed-sheet? And how would such an assassin get into the royal bedchamber in the first place? It was a devious rumor. But with that kind of accusation afoot how can these three royal brothers ever be at peace with one another?”
My assessment, “It all sounds brutal and driven by greed.”
“So now King Chilperic tenses for battle to get his just due away from the greed of Guntrum and of course, Sigebert’s wicked Brunhilda. Sigebert went to his death some years ago, and Brunhilda has taken on the regency of their child-king. Guntrum is guardian of them all.”
“So I guess as a count you have to take the side of Chilperic even in his wars with his own family.”
“The side of my king, who has given me land and made me a count? Yes, of course. But let it be known wars within family are destined to be futile.”
[Footnote] Geary, J.G. “Before France & Germany…”