Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Childeric I

Childeric I was presumably a child of Merovech, and the first king of the dynasty called Merovingians. He lived from about 437 until 481 CE. Records are sketchy, but if we are to believe Gregory of Tours, Childeric in his youth was a "wild child" who was exiled to Thuringia (now central Germany) for eight years on account of debauchery and his tendency to seduce the daughters of his subjects.

While in exile, the Gallo-Roman Ægidius, who was briefly ruler of the short-lived kingdom of Soissons, started calling himself "King of the Franks." Meanwhile, in Thuringia, the Queen Basina left her husband to marry Childeric, claiming "I want to have the most powerful man in the world, even if I have to cross the ocean for him."

Later, in 463, Childeric and Ægidius fought together to repel Theodoric II and the Visigoths from Orléans. He is also reported to have fought with "Odovacrius" (Odoacer of Italy?) against the Alemanni (but not the people we usually call Alemanni).

With Basina he had all least four children. One of them, Clovis I, because king after Childeric. His other children were Audofleda, who married Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths; Lanthechild, who was an Arian Christian but converted when Clovis did; Albofleda, who died soon after converting with Clovis to Christianity.

In 1653, Childeric's tomb was discovered. A ring was found with the inscription CHILDIRICI REGIS (Latin: "Childeric King"), the first hard evidence that he was considered a king. The tomb included gems, gold coins, and 300 golden bees (they could have been some other insect, like cicadas, but in general they are called bees). Napoleon liked Childeric's bees as a symbol of the French empire in 1804.

Unfortunately, in November 1831, Childeric's treasures were stolen from the Bibliothèque National de France along with several kilograms of other gold treasures and melted down. Childeric's treasure is gone, except for two bees.

...which is as good a transition as any to talk about medieval beekeeping next time.

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