Thursday 3 May 2018

The Merovingian Campaign, 550 – 559 AD

550 AD
The Breton conclude a treaty with the Saxon community of Bayeux to stave off any further aggression by Neustria. Taking advantage of the period of peace with Reims, the Frisians also expand their community surrounding Boulogne. 

551 AD
Bavaria is still in a state of flux as no acceptable leader is chosen by the various tribes. This comes as welcome news for Theudebert as he moves forward plans to annex Burgundy as its inclusion would ensure the safety of its southern border and join that isolated part of Lower Austrasia bordering Aquitaine. Many of the Burgundian elite resistant to the idea are more than satisfied to resolve the issue on the battlefield and so plans are made for the following year.

552 AD
In late spring of the new year, Theudebert led his army into Burgundian territory and both armies deployed for battle near Lyon close to the river Dubis. The battle was a decisive victory for Theudebert and before terms could be finalised news arrived of a Visigothic invasion of Lower Austrasia, included in their force are disaffected Neustrian nobles. Gathering additional forces, Theudebert marches his army from Vienne toward Toulouse.  
The battle near Albi as it was later to be known was desperate, but Theudebert prevailed and won a victory against the Visigoths. The Visigoths retired to Aquitaine leaving Theudebert to ample time to recover his lost territory. Returning to Vienne (Burgundy) he sets into motion the necessary changes to bring Burgundy on par with the Austrasian kingdom and these included reforms for the military {1}.

After strengthening the garrisons in Lower Austrasia, Theudebert stopped in Orleans and Paris to have their civic and military leaders make preparations for a spring campaign. Theudebert then departs to Soissons to see his uncle, Chlothar as he was in ill health.

553 AD
The Austrasian army gathers near Orleans to begin their campaign against the Visigoths. Marching south, Theudebert encounters the Visigothic host encamped near Poitiers. The battle that followed turned disastrous for the Franks losing nearly half the army and their king, Theudebert. This brought an abrupt end to the campaign in Aquitaine.

The question of succession was left to the inner council, Frankish nobles and church leaders and most agreed that the son of Theudebert, Theudebald would logically ascend the throne; however, there was one better qualified, the sole surviving son of Clovis, Chlothar of Soissons {2}. 

In the summer of 553, the four fiefdoms became united under the rule of Chlothar I. The kingdom of Frankia would experience a number of external conflicts during his reign, conflicts with the Bretons, the continued feuding between Bavaria and Thuringia but these were minor compared to events happening in Aquitaine. Recalcitrant nobles in Hispania invited the Byzantine to aide them with their struggle against the Visigoths. With increased activity by Eastern Rome and a civil war spreading throughout Hispania, the Visigoths reduced their presence north of the Pyrennees. This presented Frankia with a golden opportunity; unfortunately, Chlothar would die in 561 leaving the kingdom to his four sons {3}. And so the game begins again.      

{1}. DBA players will note the end and start dates of Burgundi (II/70) to Burgundy (III/5a) are changed to coincide with campaign events. 
{2}. According to Gregory of Tours, Theudebert I has employed the office of ‘maior palatii’ or mayor of the palace to administer the kingdom while he was on campaign.  
{3}. Chlothar actually died of pneumonia nine years later, but this seems an ideal moment to mention he was not loved by the church. He taxed the churches and exiled one bishop for his inflexibility with canon law and no doubt there were many among the clergy praying for his soul to be spirited away to heaven. 

No comments:

Post a Comment