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CHARLES MARTEL and Rotrude of Trier
CHARLES MARTEL. (The Hammer-Martel means "the Hammer", The Battle Axe, Tudites). Maior Domus of Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy, Duke of the Franks. Carolingian ruler of the Frankish kingdom of Austrasia (in present northeastern France and southwestern Germany).
Born (in 670-S?)(23 AUG 1686-S10)(about 688-S?)(690-S?) at Herstal, Lièges (Wallonia-S10), Belgium; son of Pepin of Heristal, "The M." and Chalpaida. His father Pepin was mayor of the palace under the last kings of the Merovingian dynasty.
When his father Pepin died in 714, Charles was imprisoned by his step-mother, Plectrude, who had taken over rule of the kingdom. The succession passed to an infant grandson, Theodoald. A faction of Austrasian nobles who supported Theodoald aligned themselves with Plectrude, and joined her forces.
Charles escaped from prison and led a rival faction and prevailed in a series of battles against both invading Neustrian Franks and the forces of Plectrude. He did lead an unsuccessful war against the Frisians, but had more success with the Neustrians. The Neustrians, angered at Plectrude's usurpation, took advantage of the death of Dagobert III in 715 to bring one of Childerc II's sons out from his monastery and proclaim him king under the name of Chilperic II. However, the Neustrians ran into Charles’ troops. He defeated them at Ambleve in 717, and refused to make peace. Then he obliged Plectrude to hand over the treasure of Pepin of Heristal. To consolidate the situation, he placed one on Thierry III's sons, Clothaire IV, on the throne in 718. Clothaire IV was incapable of ruling and all trace of him disappeared. Charles then agreed to replace Chilperic II on the throne but he died shortly afterward in 721.
Always cautious, Charles sought another Merovingian, and they brought out from the monastery of Chelles a supposed son of Thierry III, who became king Thierry IV. He also was a very insignificant king and Charles continued as Mayor of the palace.
To finance his massive military expeditions Charles, though a pious man, had been reduced to taxing the clergy and seizing certain church property. This made the ecclesiastical world rise against him. It was said that his confiscation of church property was unequaled again until the French Revolution. However, he learned quickly. Between 718 and 723, Charles secured his power through a series of victories and by winning the loyalty of several important clerics. This he accomplished in part by donating lands and money for the foundations of abbeys such as Echternach.
Charles repulsed the Saxons three times, but was unable to annex their territory. Full conquest of the Saxons and their incorporation into the Frankish empire would wait for his grandson Charlemagne.
He interceded in Bavaria in 725 and nominated Odilo king there, and had Bavarian law promulgated by Tierry IV. He also led his army against the Alemannia, another eastern duchy
Charles Martel's political objective was to dominate his dangerous neighbors by converting them to Christianity. He was encouraged in this by Pope Gregory II and supported by the famous English missionary Boniface, who became archbishop, and oversaw the bishoprics of Wuerzburg, Erfurt, Eichsstadt, Salzburg, Passau, and Regensburg. Boniface in return received support from Charles. Because of Charles successful struggle against the Muslims, he is considered the savior of Christianity.
For some time after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West, the papacy remained within the Byzantine political sphere. Two developments changed this. The first was the long Iconclastic controversy in the East, in which the popes sided with the iconodules. The other was the inability of the Byzantines to protect the popes. As a result, the popes turned increasingly in the 8th century towards the Franks and made a series of alliances, in particular, with the Carolingian majors of the palace. Here is a letter of 739 in which Pope Gregory III (731 - 741) appeals to the Frankish ruler Charles Martel for help against the Lombards in Italy. (S4).
Pope Gregory to His Most Excellent Son, Karl, Sub-King:
In our great affliction we have thought it necessary to write to you a second time, believing that you are a loving son of St. Peter, the prince of apostles, and of ourselves, and that out of reverence for him you would obey our commands to defend the church of God and his chosen people. We can now no longer endure the persecution of the Lombards, for they have taken from St. Peter all his possessions, even those which were given him by you and your fathers. These Lombards hate and oppress us because we sought protection from you; for the same reason also the church of St. Peter is despoiled and desolated by them. But we have intrusted a more complete account of all our woes to your faithful subject, our present messenger, and he will relate them to you. You, oh son, will receive favor from the same prince of apostles here and in the future life in the presence of God, according as you render speedy aid to his church and to us, that all peoples may recognize the faith and love and singleness of purpose which you display in defending St. Peter and us and his chosen people. For by doing this you will attain lasting fame on earth and eternal life in heaven.(S4).
Charles led the Frankish army against the southern duchies of Aquitaine and Provence. Duke Eudes of Aquitaine, after fighting Charles for many years, saw a new danger approaching across the Pyrenees. In 711 the Arabs had occupied Visigoth Spain. In 719 they attacked Septimania. In 720 they and seized Narbonne. They were defeated by Eudes in 721 but kept on the offensive and took Carcassonne in 725. A Muslim raid penetrated as far as Autun.
In 731 Chief of the Moors, Abn-el-Rahman crossed the Pyrenees and marched on Bordeaux and pillaged it. Eudes came to Charles Martel for help. Charles gathered troops and marched south. He failed to prevent the pillaging of the abbey of St. Hilaire at Poitiers, but he halted the Muslim force north of there in 732 in a bloody battle in which Abn-el-Rahman was killed. The Muslims scattered and fled back over the Pyrenees. Charles is best remembered for winning this battle, called the Battle of Tours, or more correctly the Battle of Poitiers. It has been characterized as the salvation of Europe from the Arab menace, the salvation of Christianity, and one of the great turning points of world history. It is said that it was this battle that gave Charles his name, Martel ( "The Hammer"), because of the merciless way in which he smote the enemy.(S7).
Although it took another two generations for the Franks to drive all the Arab garrisons out of what is now France and across the Pyrenees. Charles Martel's halt of the invasion of French soil turned the tide of Islamic advance, and the unification of the Frankish kingdom under Charles Martel, his son Pepin the Short, and his grandson Charlemagne prevented the Ummayad kingdom from expanding over the Pyrenees.
Charles finally subdued Frisia in 734. At the death of Eudes in 735 he tried to annex Aquitaine. He suppressed a revolt in Burgundy in 736 and occupied Marseilles. In 736 the Muslims again tried to occupy Septimania and infiltrated the valley of the Rhone. They were stopped by Charles at Leucate near Narbonne.
Charles led the Frankish army against the southern duchies of Avignon, Nîmes, and Montfrin in 736.
In 737 Thierry IV died. Charles did not replace him, but neither did he seize his crown or try to impose his sons on the throne in Bavaria.
Charles Martel died on 22 October 741 at Quierzy in what is today the Aisne département in the Picardy region of France. He was buried at Saint Denis Basilica in Paris, France. He was succeeded by his sons, Carloman, Pepin the Short, and Grifo.
He married (wives and concubines):
Chrotrud (Rotrude, Chotrude, Chrotude, Chrotrudis).
(Concubine). Swanahilde (Swanchilda, Suanhilde).
(Concubine). NN, probably Ruodheid.
Rotrude of Trier. (Chotrud)(Chotrude)(Chrotude)(Chrotrudis). Duchess of Austrasia.
Born in 690 in Austrasia; daughter of St. Leudwinus (Lievin, Liutwin), Bishop and Count of Trier and Willigarde of Bavaria (or daughter of Chrodobertus II). She died in 724.
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and Chrotrud:
- CARLOMAN. Prince of the Franks. Born in 713 in Austrasia. Mayor of the Palace (Maior Domus) in Austrasia from 740-747. He received from his father Austrasia, Alemannia and Thuringia. In 747, weary of power and tormented by scruples of conscience, he became a monk at Monte-Cassino monastery. He died 4 DEC 755.
- PEPIN. (Pippin). "The Short." He was born in 714 in Jupille, Austrasia. He received from his father Neustria, Burgundy and Provence. He died in 768.
- HILTRUDE. (Chiltrude). Born in 716 in Austrasia. She fled to Bavaria and married Odilo (Utilo, Odilon), who her father had invested as Duke of Bavaria. She died in 754.
SWANAHILDE. (Swanachild, Swanchilda, Suanhilde).
A niece of Odilo, duke of Bavaria. She was first his hostage before they were married.
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and Swanahilde:
- GRIFO. His father gave him scattered territories in Neustria, Burgundy and Austrasia, but without any political authority. He was causing problems so his half-brothers had him interned at Neufchateau in Luxemburg. He was killed in 753.
(Concubine). probably Ruodheid.
Born in 736 in Austrasia. Died in 814.
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and Ruodheid:
- Bernard. Count of Saint-Quentin. Born 738 Austrasia. Married (1) Fraenkin. Had child Adalhard. Married (2) Saechsin. Had children Bernhard, Wala, Gundrada, and Teodrada. Died in 787.
- Hieronymus. Abbott of Saint-Denys. Born in 736 in Austrasia. Died in 814.
- Remigius. Bishop of Rouen. Died in 771.
of Saracen extraction, born 712 Austrasia
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and Galinana:
born 706 Austrasia
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and Pilitrud:
born 710 Austrasia, out of which marriage Hardeloga, bastard, born 732 Austrasia
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and Chunehild:
WIFE (7) [possible same as WIFE (3)?]:
CHILDREN of Charles Martel and ?:
- Laudrade, princess of the Franks, born 728 Austrasia, married Sigirami, count in the Haspengau, born 726.
- St. Remi Giles, bishop of Rouen, born 730 Austrasia, died 19-1-771
- [S1]. Carolingian Chronicles. Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard's Histories. Translated by Bernhard Walter Scholz and Barbara Rogers. 1970. Ann Arbor:Univ. of Michigan Press.
- [S2]. Karl Der Grosse. Dr. Heinrich Luebke. Aachen. 1965.
- [S3]. The Lives of the Kings & Queens of France. Translated by Anne Dobell. 1979. Alfed A. Knopf:New York.
- [S4]. http://www.mythopedia.info/ancestry-charlemagne.htm
- [S5]. Medieval Sourcebook: Letter of Pope Gregory II - Appeal to Charles Martel, 739. from Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), p. 102.
- [S6]. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html. Paul Halsall Mar 1996. email@example.com.
- [S7]. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. http://www.pa.uky.edu/~shapere/dkbingham/d0004/g0000021.html.
- [S8]. Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists. Line 190, b 689, d 741/4.
- [S9]. New Advent Catholic Enclyclopedia (http://www.knight.org/advent/).
- [S10]. Wikepedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Martel.
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