Pepin of Herstal

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Pepin (also Pippin, Pipin, or Peppin) of Herstal, or Heristal, (635/45 – 16 December 714) was the Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia from 680 to his death and of Neustria and Burgundy from 687 to 695. He was also the first mayor of the palace to "reign" as Duke and Prince of the Franks and he by far overshadowed the Merovingian rois fainéants.

Biography

Pepin, sometimes called Pepin II and Pepin the Middle was the grandson and namesake of Pepin I the Elder by the marriage of Pepin I's daughter Begga and Ansegisel, son of Arnulf of Metz. That marriage united the two houses of the Pippinids and the Arnulfings which created what would be called the Carolingian dynasty. Pepin II was probably born in Herstal (Héristal), modern Belgium (where his centre of power lay), whence his byname (sometimes "of Heristal").

As mayor of Austrasia, Pepin and Martin, the duke of Laon, fought the Neustrian mayor Ebroin, who had designs on all Francia. Ebroin defeated the Austrasians at Lucofao (Bois-du-Fay, near Laon) and came close to uniting all the Franks under his rule; however, he was assassinated in 681, the victim of a combined attack by his numerous enemies. Pepin immediately made peace with his successor, Waratton.

However, Waratton's successor, Berthar, and the Neustrian king Theuderic III, who, since 679, was nominal king of all the Franks, made war on Austrasia. The king and his mayor were decisively defeated at the Battle of Tertry (Textrice) in the Vermandois in 687. Berthar and Theuderic withdrew themselves to Paris, where Pepin followed and eventually forced on them a peace treaty with the condition that Berthar leave his office. Pepin was created mayor in all three Frankish kingdoms (Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy) and began calling himself Duke and Prince of the Franks (dux et princeps Francorum). In the ensuing quarrels, Berthar killed his mother-in-law Ansfled and fled. His wife Anstrude married Pepin's eldest son Drogo, Duke of Champagne, and Pepin's place in Neustria was secured.

Over the next several years, Pepin subdued the Alemanni, Frisians, and Franconians, bringing them within the Frankish sphere of influence. He also began the evangelisation of Germany. In 695, he placed Drogo in the Burgundian mayorship and his other son, Grimoald, in the Neustrian one.

Around 670, Pepin had married Plectrude, who had inherited substantial estates in the Moselle region. She was the mother of Drogo of Champagne and Grimoald, both of whom died before their father. However, Pepin also had a mistress named Alpaida (or Chalpaida) who bore him two more sons: Charles and Childebrand. Just before Pepin's death, Plectrude convinced him to disinherit his bastards in favour of his grandson, Theudoald, the son of Grimoald, who was still young (and amenable to Plectrude's control). Pepin died suddenly at an old age on 16 December 714, at Jupille (in modern Belgium). His legitimate grandchildren claimed themselves to be Pepin's true successors and, with the help of Plectrude, tried to maintain the position of mayor of the palace after Pepin's death. However, Charles had gained favor among the Austrasians, primarily for his military prowess and ability to keep them well supplied with booty from his conquests. Despite the efforts of Plectrude to silence her rival's child by imprisoning him, he became the sole mayor of the palace --and de facto ruler of Francia-- after a civil war which lasted for more than three years after Pepin's death.

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