Carloman, Mayor of the Palace

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Carloman (between 706 and 716[1] – 17 August[2] 754) was the eldest son of Charles Martel, major domo or mayor of the palace and duke of the Franks, and his wife Chrotrud. On Charles' death (741), Carloman and his brother Pippin the Short succeeded to their father's legal positions, Carloman in Austrasia, and Pippin in Neustria. He was a member of the family later called the Carolingians and it can be argued that he was instrumental in consolidating their power at the expense of the ruling Merovingian kings of the Franks. He withdrew from public life in 747 to take up the monastic habit.


Assumption of power

After the death of his father, power was not initially divided to include Grifo, another of Charles' sons, by his second wife Swanachild. This was per Charles' wishes, though Grifo demanded a portion of the realm from his brothers, who refused him. By 742, Carloman and Pippin had ousted their half-brother, Grifo and forced him into a monastery, and each turned his attention towards his own area of influence as major domo, Pippin in the West (in what was called Neustria, roughly what is now France) and Carloman in the East (in what was called Austrasia, roughly what is now Germany), which was the Carolingian base of power.

With Grifo contained, the two mayors, who had not yet proved themselves in battle in defence of the realm as their father had, on the initiative of Carloman, installed the Merovingian Childeric III as king (743), even though Martel had left the throne vacant since the death of Theuderic IV in 737.

Unlike most medieval instances of fraternal power sharing, Carloman and Pippin for seven years seemed at least willing to work together; certainly, they undertook many military actions together. Carloman joined Pippin against Hunald of Aquitaine's rising in 742 and again in 745. Pippin assisted Carloman against the Saxons 742-743, when Duke Theoderic was forced to come to terms, and against Odilo of Bavaria in 742 and again in 744, when peace was established between the brothers and their brother-in-law, for Odilo had married their sister Hiltrude.

Strengthening of the dynasty

In his own realm, Carloman strengthened his authority in part via his support of the Anglo-Saxon missionary Winfrid (later Saint Boniface), the so-called "Apostle of the Germans," whom he charged with restructuring the church in Austrasia. This was in part the continuation of a policy begun under his grandfather, Pippin of Herstal, and continued to under his father, Charles Martel, who erected four dioceses in Bavaria (Salzburg, Regensburg, Freising, and Passau) and gave them Boniface as archbishop and metropolitan over all Germany east of the Rhine, with his seat at Mainz. Boniface had been under Charles Martel's protection from 723 on; indeed the saint himself explained to his old friend, Daniel of Winchester, that without it he could neither administer his church, defend his clergy, nor prevent idolatry. Carloman was instrumental in convening the Concilium Germanicum in 742, the first major synod of the Catholic Church to be held in the eastern regions of the Frankish kingdom. Chaired jointly by him and Boniface, the synod ruled that priests were not allowed to bear arms or to host females in their houses and that it was one of their primary tasks to eradicate pagan beliefs. While his father had frequently confiscated church property to reward his followers and to pay for the standing army that had brought him victory at Tours, (a policy supported by Boniface as necessary to defend Christianity) by 742 the Carolingians were wealthy enough to pay their military retainers and still support the Church. For Carloman, a deeply religious man, it was a duty of love, for Pippin a practical duty. Both saw the necessity of strengthening the ties between their house and the Church. Therefore, Carloman sought to increase the assets of the Church. He donated, for instance, the land for one of Boniface's most important foundations, the monastery of Fulda.

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