Bertrada of Laon

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Bertrada of Laon
Queen consort of the Franks
Bertrada de Laon detail.JPG
Tomb of Bertrada of Laon at the Saint Denis Basilica
Born between 710 and 727
Laon
Died (783-07-12)12 July 783
Choisy-au-Bac
Buried Saint Denis Basilica
Spouse(s) Pepin the Short
Issue
Father Charibert of Laon

Bertrada of Laon (born between 710 and 727 – 12 July 783), also known as Bertrada the Younger or Bertha Broadfoot (cf. Latin: Regina pede aucae i.e. the queen with the goose-foot), was a Frankish queen. She was the wife of Pepin the Short and the mother of Charlemagne, Carloman and Gisela.

Nickname

Bertrada's nickname "Bertha Broadfoot" dates back to the 13th century, when it was used in Adenes Le Roi's trouvère Li rouman de Berte aus grands piés.[1] The exact reason that Bertrada was given this nickname is unclear. It is possible that Bertrada was born with a clubfoot,[2] although Adenes does not mention this in his poem.[1] The nickname might have been a reference to an ancient legend about a Germanic goddess named Perchta, to real and mythological queens named Bertha, or to several similarly-named Christian queens.[3] Many myths and legends exist in Europe and Asia, in which clubfooted people are described as the link between the world of the living and the spirit world.[4] The tavern sign in Anatole France's novel At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque alludes to this queen.

Biography

Early life and ancestry

Bertrada was born sometime between 710 and 727 in Laon, in today's Aisne, France, to Count Charibert of Laon.[5] Charibert's father might have been related to Hugobertides.[6][7] Charibert's mother was Bertrada of Prüm, who founded Prüm Abbey along with Charibert. Bertrada of Prüm was possibly the daughter of Theuderic III.[5]

Bertrada Broadfoot of Laon, at Versailles

Marriage and children

Bertrada married Pepin the Short, the son of Charles Martel, the Frankish "Mayor of the Palace", in 741. However, Pepin and Bertrada were too closely related for their marriage to be legal at that time; the union was not canonically sanctioned until 749, after the birth of Charlemagne.[8]

According to French historian Léon Levillain, Bertrada was Pepin's first and only wife.[9][10][11] Other sources suggest that Pepin had previously married a "Leutberga" or "Leutbergie", with whom Pepin would have had five children.[12]

Bertrada and Pepin are known to have had seven children: three sons and four daughters. Of these, Charlemagne (c. 742 – 814),[13] Carloman (751–771)[14] and Gisela (757–811) survived to adulthood. Pepin, born in 756, died in his infancy in 762. Bertrada and Pepin also had Berthe, Adelaide, and Rothaide. Gisela became a nun at Chelles Abbey.[15]

Queen of the Franks

A statue of Bertrada of Laon by Eugène Oudiné, one of the twenty Reines de France et Femmes illustres in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris.

In 751, Pepin and Bertrada became King and Queen of the Franks, following Pepin's successful coup against the Frankish Merovingian monarchs.[16] Pepin was crowned in June 754, and Bertrada, Charlemagne, and Carloman were blessed by Pope Stephen II.[17][18]

After Pepin's death in 768, Bertrada lost her title as Queen of the Franks. Charlemagne and Carloman inherited the two halves of Pepin's kingdom. Bertrada stayed at the court and often tried to stop arguments between the two brothers.[14] Some historians credit Bertrada's support for her elder son Charlemagne over her younger son Carloman, and her diplomatic skills, for Charlemagne's early success.[19] Although her influence over Charlemagne may have diminished in time, she lived at his court, and, according to Einhard, their relationship was excellent. Bertrada recommended that Charlemagne set aside his legal wife, Himiltrude, and marry Desiderata, a daughter of the Lombard king Desiderius, but Charlemagne soon divorced Desiderata. Einhard claims this was the only episode that ever strained relations between mother and son.[14]

Later life and death

Bertrada retired from the court after Carloman's death in 771 to live in Choisy-au-Bac, where Charlemagne had set aside a royal house for her. Choisy-au-Bac was favorable because of its history of being the home and burial place of several Merovingian kings.[14]

Bertrada died on 12 July 783 in Choisy-au-Bac.[14] Charlemagne buried her in the Basilica of St Denis near Pepin.[20]

In literature

Bertrada inspired Adenes Le Roi to write the trouvère Li rouman de Berte aus grands piés in 1270. Adenes referred to her as "Bertha Broadfoot", the earliest known usage of that nickname.[1]

Bertrada is also referred to as "Bertha Broadfoot" in François Villon's 15th-century poem Ballade des dames du temps jadis.[21]

Notes

References

  • Les gisants de la basilique de Saint-Denis [The Recumbent Statues of the Saint Denis Basilica] (Map). 1 : 10 m (in French). Saint-Denis, France. 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  • Mémoires couronnés et autres mémoires publiés par l'Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique [Crown Memoirs and Other Memoirs Published by the Royal Academy for the Sciences and the Arts of Belgium] (in French). 11. Belgium: Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium. 1861. OCLC 1770765.
  • "Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes" [Library of the School of Charters] (in French). 104. Paris, France: Librairie Droz. 1943. ISSN 0373-6237. OCLC 1532871.
  • Bernard, Guillaume (2004). Introduction à l'histoire du droit et des institutions [Introduction to the History of Law and Institutions]. Panorama du droit. Premier cycle. (in French). Levallois-Perret: Studyrama. ISBN 2844724426. OCLC 419527703.
  • Ducret, Alix (2007). Les femmes et le pouvoir dans l'histoire de France [Women and Power in French History]. Perspectives (in French). Levallois-Perret: Studyrama. ISBN 2759001113. OCLC 421956409.
  • Ginzburg, Carl; Aymard, Monique (1989). Mythes, emblèmes, traces ; morphologie et histoire [Myths, Symbols, Tracks; Morphology and History] (in French). Paris, France: Flammarion. ISBN 2082111849. OCLC 19925431.
  • Grimm, Jacob (1835). "Deutsche Mythologie" [German Mythology]. New Northvegr Center (in German). Transcribed by Aaron Myer. Northvegr. ch. 13.
  • Keats-Rohan, Katharine Stephanie Benedicta; Settipani, Christian (2000). Onomastique et Parenté dans l'Occident médiéval [Onomastic and Kinship in the Medieval West]. Prosopographica et Genealogica (in French). Oxford, UK: Linacre College. ISBN 1900934019. OCLC 492431344.
  • Kurze, Friedrich (1895). Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi 6: Annales regni Francorum inde ab a. 741 usque ad a. 829, qui dicuntur Annales Laurissenses maiores et Einhardi [Published separately for the use of the schools of the German writers on 6: Annals of the kingdom of the Franks, from 741 to 829 and the authority had departed; major Laurissenses years and Einhard] (in Latin). Hannover: Hannoverian Library.
  • Levillain, Léon (1944). "La charte de Clotilde (10 mars 673)" [Clotilda's Charter (10 March 673)]. Études mérovingiennes (in French). Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes. 105 (105): 5–63. doi:10.3406/bec.1944.449321. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  • Lewis, David Levering (2008). God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 to 1215. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 9780393064728. OCLC 172521784.
  • Pelletier, Michel (2014). Quelques femmes remarquables dans l'histoire du département de l'Aisne [Some Remarkable Women in the History of the Department of Aisne] (PDF) (in French). pp. 52–64.
  • Pinoteau, Hervé; de Vaulchier, Jean (2004). La symbolique royale française, Ve – XVIIIe siècles [Symbolic French Royals, 5th – 18th Centuries] (in French). La Roche-Rigault, France: PSR. ISBN 2908571366. OCLC 55051298.
  • Scheler, Auguste; Le Roi, Adenet (1874). Li roumans de Berte aus grans piés par Adenés li Rois; poëme publié, d'après le manuscrit de la bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, avec notes et variantes [The Romance of Bertrada Broadfoot by Adenes le Roi; Poem Published at the End of the Arsenal Library Manuscript, with Notes and Variations] (in French). Brussels, Belgium: Académie royale de Belgique. OCLC 465546842.
  • Settipani, Christian (1989). Les Ancêtres de Charlemagne [Charlemagne's Ancestors] (in French). Paris, France. ISBN 2-906483-28-1. OCLC 28323789.
  • Settipani, Christian; van Kerrebrouck, Patrick (1993). "Première partie : Mérovingiens, Carolingiens et Robertiens" [First part: Merovingians, Carolingians, and Robertians]. La préhistoire des Capétiens (481–987) [The Prehistory of the Capetians (481–987)]. Nouvelle histoire généalogique de l'auguste maison de France (in French). 1. ISBN 2-9501509-3-4. OCLC 29856008.
  • Tessier, Georges (1952). "Léon Levillain". Chronique: Nécrologie. Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes (in French). 110: 306–313.
  • Villon, François (c. 1460). Ballade des dames du temps jadis (in French). France.

External links

Preceded by
Clotilda
Queen of the Franks
751–768
Succeeded by
Desiderata and Gerberga
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