Monday, August 27, 2007

Exile in France

Childeric III, known as "Childeric the Lazy," King of the Franks (743-deposed 751), the last of the Merovingian kings of France, died on this day in 755 in a monastery near St. Omer, France.

In modern times France has been generous to deposed rulers of other countries, giving shelter to such characters as the Shah of Iran and Bebe Doc Duvalier, among others, after their ignominious defeats, in varying degrees of faroukian splendor. Such generosity has not generally been given to France's own, however, as the French Revolution amply proves.

Even before that, Childeric III learned this lesson first-hand. Childeric III became king of the Franks in 743, during the end of a period marked by the relative weakness of the kings' authority as compared to the power wielded by mayor of the palace in Paris. While the exact political reasons are obscured by history (although Childeric's sobriquet may provide at least a germ of an answer), mayor Pepin the Short asked Pope Zacharias for permission to sack Childeric III and take over the Frankish throne. Permission was granted, and Pepin confined Childeric to a monastery in the south, where one assumes he did not stroll around jauntily in caviar-stained silk shirts.

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