King of Neustria on the death of his father Chlothar I 561, he quickly conceived expansionist projects against his brothers Charibert, Guntram and Sigebert. A strong and unscrupulous personality, he was nevertheless dominated by Fredegund, the notorious concubine he married after the strangling of his wife Galaswinth, daughter of the Visigothic king Athanagild. The misdeed provoked the armed intervention of Sigebert, brother-in-law of the murdered woman, which ended with Sigebert’s murder. According to the black picture painted by Gregory of Tours Hist. Franc. VI, 46, Chilperic renewed the atrocities of Nero and Herod. Particularly irritating were his ambitions in speculative theology, which led him to compose a short treatise on the Trinity, displeasing to the Frankish episcopate even in its appearance of orthodoxy. He even dared to forbid, by edict, the naming in prayers of the three divine persons; he made baptism compulsory for Jews. He thought himself diminished, both in power and in property, by churchmen, which explains his aversion to them, and which nonetheless given a certain cultural education which even Venantius Fortunatus recognized in him Carm. IX, 1, and his own conviction of being a poet did not prevent him writing some sacred hymns on St. Mdard, Advent, contempt of the world etc., after the manner of Sedulius but in verses betraying a grave ignorance of classical meter. Though a nonconformist by nature, through this literary activity he aligned himself with some contemporary monarchs and aristocrats who attached equal importance to ecclesiastical and to secular culture. He also attempted phonetic innovations, which he imposed on schools, intending to reconcile the written and spoken languages, which increasingly diverged and led to the appearance of new neo-Latin idioms. He was murdered after a hunting party by a killer hired by Fredegund or by her rival Brunhild, Sigebert’s widow.
CHILPERIC king 530–584 Photo Gallery
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