Friday, March 17, 2023

The Other Children of Charlemagne

Charlemagne made sure all of his children had decent careers, even those who were illegitimate.

By his concubine Gersuinda, he had a daughter Adaltrude (c.775 - ?). She was made abbess of Faremoutiers, an important Benedictine nunnery in the Seine-et-Marne area of France. Another daughter, Theodrada (b.784), from his third wife Fastrada, became abbess of Argenteuil, in the northwest suburbs of Paris. Fastrada was also the mother of Hiltrude (c.787?), of whom history records nothing.

His next concubine was Regina, who bore him two sons, Drogo (801 - 855) and Hugh (802 - 844). The two were tonsured and forced away from court when Louis the Pious succeeded their father. Drogo became a cleric and Louis eventually named him Bishop of Metz. Hugh was made the abbot of Saint-Quentin, and later also of Lobbes and Saint-Bertin. After the death of Louis, his three heirs fought over the kingdom. Hugh supported Charles the Bald against Louis and Lothair. Hugh was with the army when it was ambushed in June 844; he was killed by a lance.

Drogo rose to the position of Archbishop of Metz. A few months after the death of Hugh, in October 844 at Thionville, Drogo presided over an attempt to unite the three brothers, which came to nothing. Drogo had been active in supporting their father, and was respected by all, even though he changed his support more than once between his nephews. On 8 December 855, he fell into the River Oignon in Bourgogne while fishing, and drowned. He is interred at St. Arnulf in Metz.

Charlemagne's last children were by the concubine Ethelind: Richbod (805 - 844), and Theodoric (b.807). We know nothing of Theodoric, and of Richbod not a lot, except that he became Abbot of Saint-Riquier, in the Somme area of northern France. Richbod was not a common name, but it was shared in history with a monk at Charlemagne's court who died a year before Charlemagne's son of that name was born. Was the son named in memory of the monk? What was the monk like, that he would have made such an impression on Charlemagne?

I'll tell you tomorrow.

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