Childeric III

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Childeric III (c.717 - c.754) was the last King of the Franks in the Merovingian dynasty from 743 to his deposition by Pope Zachary in March 752. Once deposed, the Pope crowned Pepin the Short, father of Charlemagne, the King of the Franks in Soissons.[1]

The throne had been vacant for seven years when the mayors of the palace, Carloman and Pepin the Short, decided in 743 to recognize Childeric as king. Neither his parentage nor his relation to the Merovingian family are known for sure. His parentage is not clear. He may equally well have been either the son of Chilperic II or Theuderic IV.[2]

He took no part in public business, which was directed, as previously, by the mayors of the palace. When, in 747, Carloman retired into a monastery, Pepin resolved to take the royal crown for himself. Pepin sent letters to Pope Zachary, asking whether the title of king belonged to the one who had exercised the power or the one with the royal lineage. The pope responded that the real power should have the royal title as well. In early March 752 Childeric was dethroned by Pope Zachary and tonsured.[3] His long hair was the symbol of his dynasty and thus the royal rights or magical powers; by cutting it, they divested him of all royal prerogatives. Once dethroned, he and his son Theuderic were placed in the monastery of Saint-Bertin or he in Saint-Omer and Theuderic in Saint-Wandrille.

There are conflicts in information of when he exactly died with some references citing as early as 753 and other references saying it was as late as 758. Under the Carolingians, he received bad press, being called a rex falsus, false king, despite the fact that it was Pepin through Popes Zachary and Stephen II who raised him to his throne.

Artists' impressions

Unknown artist, 1876

Le dernier des Mérovingiens by Évariste Vital Luminais



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