Saturday, March 11, 2023

Charlemagne's Wives & Concubines, Part 4

Charlemagne outlived his third wife, Fastrada, who died in August 794. Before the year was out, the 50-year-old monarch had acquired a fourth spouse. She was Luitgard, the daughter of Count Luitfrid II (740 - 802) of Sundgau (on the eastern edge of France). She was kind and virtuous and his children from previous wives and concubines all liked her. Alcuin said of her:

"The queen loves to converse with learned men; after his devotional exercises, it is his dearest pastime. She is full of complaisance for the king, pious, blameless and worthy of all the love of such a husband."

On a trip through Neustria, Luitgard died on 4 June 800 while visiting the monastery of Saint Martin of Tours, months before Charlemagne's trip to Rome when he was declared Holy Roman Emperor. Her tomb is supposedly at the monastery, but its exact location is unknown.

Charlemagne did not remarry, but he did have more children by concubines. In 801 he had a son by Regina, Drogo, who became the bishop of Metz in 823 and abbot of Luxeuil Abbey. Regina also bore him Hugh in 802, who became chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire.

His final known concubine was Ethelind, who added two more sons to his tally of a dozen and a half children. Richbod lived from 805 to 844, and became abbot of Saint-Riquier. One of Charlemagne's grandchildren by his daughter Bertha had been abbot there previously. There was also Theodoric, born 807.

Some of Charlemagne's children did not survive into adulthood. Those who did survive did well for themselves—well, perhaps not for themselves: they were given their careers or had arranged marriages. We will take a brief look at the lives and careers of his children next.

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