This week we’re going to take a look at Chlothar II and the first part of his reign pre-dating 613. He really was – and this is just my opinion here – the luckiest guy I have ever heard of. I mean, he was basically born a king. His dad died four months into his life, so there was never a moment in time that he would be able to remember where he wasn’t in charge. And then he has this wicked, crazy, intelligent mom stage-mom who does everything she can to get him to the precipice of power. And then, when the time comes, he doesn’t even have to fight to rule the whole lot; his knucklehead cousins kill themselves in an early medieval version of The Benny Hill Show (and if you don’t get that reference kids, stop right now and do a search in YouTube. It’s old, but it’s still funny and the music is worth it). By the age of 30, Chlothar II had gone from being a fifth male son who shouldn’t have even been thinking about the line of succession, to the notional ruler of an almost non-existent kingdom, to the monarch of a small but growing entity, and then to the ruler of all of Francia, all without doing much of the heavy lifting.
Beyond Chlothar II, we're going to spend a little time this week looking back on Season 1; this is the final episode of our first year/season, and it's interesting to take a moment and think about the things that struck us the most. For me, it was finding out about just ow big Arianism was as a sect of Christianity, seeing how much influence women held in this incredibly patriarchal society, and learning that the Merovingians transferred their kingdom to all of their sons, not just the oldest. This, of course, led to more than a few civil wars...
When we come back in 48 days (6 September), we’ll be starting where we left off, with the advent of les rois fainéants and the battles that come about when people begin to fill the power vacuum left by leaders who don’t want – or are not up to – their job. Beyond that, next season promises to bring us the rise of invaders who want to take what the Franks have: these include the Muslims coming up from the south and the Vikings coming down from the north. In both cases, the arrival of strong, religiously-alien and conquest-minded attackers will serve to panic the Franks, but also to make them stronger and more cohesive. Finally, if all goes well and we make good time, we’ll see the fall of the Merovingians and the rise of the Carolingians, and we’ll understand what transpired to make this transition a reality. The plan at the moment is to have all of this culminate with us meeting one of the greatest leaders in European and world history, a guy known as Charles the Great, a.k.a. Charles Magnus, a.k.a. Charlemagne.
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