A Conversation for From Merovingians to Carolingians - Dynastic Change in Frankia

Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 1

Wolfman, Zaphodista :X (soon to be Zarquon again, or maybe not)

Wow! Very professional and extremely well done! My miniscule mind had a little trouble keeping up, but great article! Do you think that by dividing their land amongst their sons, they set the feudal system in motion? Land division was the downfall of many a medieval king. It's hard to believe that they could be so dense as to not realize the detrimental effects it would have on their kingdoms. For a nation to stay together it must be centralized. I know that tradition played a large role in the judgement of medieval rulers, but you'd think power-hungry people would have different priorities. And that quote from Pope Gregory, did he not know about their cutthrought politics, or was he tactfully ignoring them when he said the king had "no moral defects"? Forgive me if these questions sound stupid, but you have to understand that I only know a little about history; I've only been studying it casually and only since my early teenage years. (I'm 18 now.) I'm grateful for this enviroment, since I can read superb works like this and then have my questions answered. Thanks for a great article, Bran.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 2

Bran the Explorer

Thanks for your kind words Zarquon, and no .. they are not stupid questions at all.

The origins of the feudal system are something of a matter of debate but I don't think that the Merovingians set it in motion with their land division. The feudal system had more to do with granting land as a "benefice" (gift) to a vassal and receiving an oath of fealty (feudus - feudal) in return - which was more of a Carolingian innovation. The Merovingians were more treating their land as a cross between personal possession and war-booty to be given for good service (like gold or whatever). They really did not appear to have any sense of greater nationhood - their's was a warrior kingship in origin, and they had a hard time shaking this off. They also considered it natural to kill off rivals (as did the ancient Macedonians incidently) ... Clovis himself apparently said in old age that he had no-one close to him because he had killed all his relatives! This is the main reason that the inheritences of land did not get smaller and smaller!

I reckon that Gregory in his quote was referring specifically to the final removal of Childeric III in 751 - something that really only occurred in the end with papal blessing. Childeric really was not useful to the papacy. By that time, all the cut-throat politicing was by the Carolingians and other magnate families. It is also noteworthy that the Carolingians did not stop the practice of dividing the kingdom between sons - Charlemagne only ended up sole ruler as his brother Carloman died early in the piece. Louis the Pious only followed Charlemagne as sole ruler cos all his brothers had also died before him (Charles, Pippin and Lothar, I think). The new dynasty was not that much better - Charlemagne was the who stood out amongst the lot of them. I might do another piece soon on the end of the Carolingians.

Hope this answers your questions.
Cheers, Bran.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 3

Mustapha

Also the alternative to division of land was to have one's offspring go to war against you. A king couldn't really prevent their kids warring with each other when dead, but could at least stop an insurrection during his reign.

Actually when you think about it, their situation is really no different to modern day politicians. When they're not in power, they're doing all they can to get in, and when they do they spend most of time trying to stay there.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 4

Wolfman, Zaphodista :X (soon to be Zarquon again, or maybe not)

They could always just have one son. If they needed their sex (no protection back then) they could always kill their other babies or sell them as slaves. This sounds terrible but those were barbaric times, and the Merovingians weren't exactly famous for their morals.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 5

Bran the Explorer

Actually, technically they would have had to have been very carefult about disposing of royal children, as this would have been regicide. There was no actual coronation to make a king ... one was a king when born ... which is why there are often periods when one region would have joint kings, i.e. father and son, as a sort of apprenticeship. I also suspect that it was wise to want to have more than one son as infant mortality (as well as general mortality) was high. That way they could ensure that the bloodline carried on. I am reluctant to judge them as immoral based on modern societal standards ... but on the other hand, to quote: "they may not have been mad, but they were probably bad, and certainly dangerous to know".

Cheers
Bran.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 6

Mustapha

Also killing one's kids is a sure way to get the Queen (or mistress) offside, and she was just as capable of causing trouble as any prince.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 7

Bran the Explorer

You bet! Totally different period, but just ask Edward II! Hot poker up the most private of places by wifie and Roger Mortimer (if I rmember correctly).


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 8

Mustapha

And for political nous, you won't find many more abler than Q Margaret of Denmark, Norway & Sweden.


Merovingians to Carolingians

Post 9

Wolfman, Zaphodista :X (soon to be Zarquon again, or maybe not)

Well, I didn't mean they'd do it in public. And the missus would have to be in on it. But the child mortality thing is a good point. Didn't think of it.


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