Mayor of the Palace

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Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus ("superior of the house"), used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries.

During the 7th century, the office of Mayor of the Palace developed into the true power behind the throne in Austrasia, the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Franks under the Merovingian dynasty. The Major Domo held and wielded the real and effective power to make decisions affecting the Kingdom, while in the mid to late Merovingian period, kings had been reduced to performing merely ceremonial functions, which made them little more than nominal kings or figureheads. Compare with the figures of peshwa, shogun, and prime minister under a constitutional monarchy, which have similarly been the real powers with a ceremonial king.

The office became hereditary in the family of the Pippinids with powerful mayors of the palace such as Charles Martel, who proclaimed himself Duke of the Franks, and for the last four years of his reign did not even bother with the façade of a King. After Austrasia and Neustria were reunited in one kingdom, Pepin III — Major Domo since 747 — took the crown of the Merovingians in 751 to establish the line of Carolingian kings. His son Charlemagne assumed even greater power when he was crowned emperor in 800, thus becoming one of the most prominent figures in European history.


Mayors of the Palace of Austrasia

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