33 episodes

Looking back at 1,500 years of history - from the fall of Rome until the fall of the guillotine - as seen through the eyes of the kings and queens of France...

Every episode of T+M starts with a re-telling of a story pulled from the history books, then we try to figure out what really happened:

1) Did two Queens take charge of Francian kingdoms and use them to attack each other?

2) Was Merovech, the first king of the Merovingians, descended from a minion sent by the god Neptune?

3) Did Clovis really stop in the middle of a battle to make a deal with God to convert to Christianity?

Thugs and Miracles Benjamin Bernier

    • History

Looking back at 1,500 years of history - from the fall of Rome until the fall of the guillotine - as seen through the eyes of the kings and queens of France...

Every episode of T+M starts with a re-telling of a story pulled from the history books, then we try to figure out what really happened:

1) Did two Queens take charge of Francian kingdoms and use them to attack each other?

2) Was Merovech, the first king of the Merovingians, descended from a minion sent by the god Neptune?

3) Did Clovis really stop in the middle of a battle to make a deal with God to convert to Christianity?

    Close Combat

    Close Combat

    Before we get going too far, I want to lead with two pieces of information. First, the podcast I mentioned on the show (and have mentioned on several shows previously) is Written In Blood History by Stephen DiJulius; you can find his show at https://writteninbloodhistory.com/ and you can find Stephen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SDijulius/. The second note I have is that T+M is now available on Amazon Podcasts! Anyone looking to enjoy their podcasts on their Alexa device can now simply as her to play the Thugs and Miracles podcast and - just like the Princess Bride - it will be just as you wish. Check out their site and the show at https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/3ad5382f-5947-40f3-9567-41d7fd891a87/Thugs-and-Miracles. We've got over 30 episodes up, so if you're new to T+M there's plenty to catch up on!

    For this week, we're taking a look at the issues associated with monarchical succession, which sounds kind of dry at first glance, but is actually a gold mine of interesting topics when you dig a little deeper. When should a king admit that his territory is big enough and carve off some of it for the next generation? Is it smart to give a young potential competitor a head start? Is staying in power until death, then handing an entire government off to the next person, really the most effective way to administer a kingdom? And what do you do if you do decide to split the Kingdom, and then your knucklehead son nearly gets himself killed when he picks a fight with a lesser group - and loses? All of these were questions that confronted Merovingian Kings, and in particular, Chlothar II. And they were questions that led to that same King essentially going, Jon Snow-like, into battle against an army by himself - and somehow winning.

    There are times where, if it weren't history, you'd swear the stories were being made up; this week is definitely one of them! Join us as we explore Chlothar II, Dagobert, and the invention of plot armor, in Episode Two, Season Two, of Thugs and Miracles!

    Links to social media and the website:

    Sites: https://www.thugsandmiracles.com/

    https://historypods.com/

    Email: thugsandmiracles@gmail.com

    Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end)

    Facebook and Instagram: @ThugsAndMiracles

    • 32 min
    The Cost of Doing Business

    The Cost of Doing Business

    This week we’re picking up where we left off last season, with the arrival of Chlothar II onto the throne of the unified Franks in 613. As we can tell from the first part of our story, the deal he cut to get the throne probably sounded amazing. After all, in 612, Chlothar II was the ruler of the smallest kingdom in Francia and little threat, economically or militarily, to overthrow either of his larger rivals, much less both of them. Less than two years later, he was the King of All of the Franks! This was a tremendous deal, and one that anyone would have been hard pressed not to take. Still, the amount of credit he would have to extend to make this happen likely became a sore spot for Chlothar as time went on; one has to wonder if he didn’t eventually develop some buyer’s remorse, especially as he signed away more and more of his authority over time.

    Links to social media and the website:

    Sites: https://www.thugsandmiracles.com/

    https://historypods.com/

    Email: thugsandmiracles@gmail.com

    Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end)

    @TimeTravelTalks

    @PodsOfHistory

    Facebook and Instagram: @ThugsAndMiracles

    • 32 min
    Rabbit Hole #5: Saint Eligius - Saddles, Thrones and All the Wrong Words

    Rabbit Hole #5: Saint Eligius - Saddles, Thrones and All the Wrong Words

    Chlothar II needed a new place to sit, a throne befitting his station as the new King of the Franks. He already had a throne that was to his liking in his original palace in Neustria, but now that he had won the crowns of Austrasia and Burgundy, he wanted to commission a piece that would, in no uncertain terms, tell the world that he was the new sovereign of both of these kingdoms as well.

    Unfortunately, Chlothar’s desires, while sensible in a certain light, outstripped his resources. Raising armies was expensive work, and the payoffs he had had to make to ensure the loyalty of large groups of men had depleted his coffers. Another issue he had was figuring out where to put the new throne. If he put the throne in Metz, he would make the Burgundians believe he favored that northern kingdom above theirs. The same problem would arise if he did the reverse and placed a throne in Orléans. In the best of all worlds, he could have a seat in both.

    Enter Eligius...

    Eligius was able to take the gold and gems that other craftsmen said would only make one throne - if even that - and instead returned to the King with two amazing new seats. His craftsmanship and his honesty in not stealing any of the source material launched his career at the Merovingian court, and became the origin story for a man who would ultimately become a Saint!

    However, there are depictions of Eligius and the thrones that show him providing the King with... two saddles? Like, horse saddles. Heavy, back-breaking, lovely but functionally useless golden saddles. How did this come to pass? It ends up that the Latin for throne and saddle is remarkably similar; this has led to depictions of the Saint providing the King with both! I obviously err on the side of thrones, but as we'll see today, translations are often in the eye of the beholder. That's how we've also ended up with Lancelot fighting a flaming dwarf, Moses wearing horns, and kings being declared "Unready," even if they weren't!

    For more on Eligius and the perils of translations, listen to the episode! And if you're ready for Season Two of Thugs and Miracles, well, I have good news! We're back on 6 September, so be sure to catch us then. We're jumping right into all sorts of court politics and machinations with the Mayors of the Palace; it's so good, and we hope you'll join us when we return! 6 September!



    Links to social media and the website:

    Site: https://www.thugsandmiracles.com/

    Email: thugsandmiracles@gmail.com

    Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end)

    Facebook and Instagram: @ThugsAndMiracles



    Also check out @medievalistmatt on Instagram, #TimeTravelTalks on Twitter (they also have an account, @timetraveltalks), and the History Pods.com website (also with a Twitter account)!

    • 22 min
    Rabbit Hole #4: Vidocq

    Rabbit Hole #4: Vidocq

    Welcome back! I’m Benjamin Bernier… and we’re supposed to be on break, right? Well, yes, we are, but I’ll be honest: this show is never far from my mind. While we’ve been on hiatus and had a short amount of time to catch our breath and pull ourselves away from the overall narrative, we’ve had the chance to talk over some of the things we’d like to do a bit more of, and episodes such as this are a big part of that. So far we’ve done three Bonus Episodes on T+M – a look at Saint Geneviève, a review of Procopius and how he viewed Brittia and Francia from his perch in Constantinople, and an interview with Marco Cappelli of the Storia d’Italia podcast. In each case, the episode had been about something amazingly interesting, yet just far enough removed from our main narrative that I felt they didn’t quite fit within a regular episode. They were all, for lack of a better phrase, a trip down a rabbit hole, a moment in time when I couldn’t keep my curiosity in check and instead, like Alice, ran after the rabbit “never once considering how in the world [I] was to get out again.”

    Staying with that theme, we're looking at a rabbit hole I came across all the way back in Episode 3! On 5 November 1831, thieves broke into the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and stole more than 2,000 pieces, most of which they considered to be little more than simple golden objects; in reality, they had absconded with the irreplaceable and priceless items taken, in 1653, from the burial site of the second king of the Merovingian Dynasty, King Childéric.

    The man called out of retirement to track down Childéric’s treasure was none other than Eugène-François Vidocq, the Parisian detective who, when he wasn't cracking cases, served as the literary muse of Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Edgar Allen Poe and the elder Alexandre Dumas. Vidoqc served as the inspiration for both Jean Valjean and Javert, and is one of the most intriguing personalities I've learned of yet. More important than any of that, for us anyway, is the fact that this confluence of affairs made it possible for us to discuss the Merovingian King Childéric, dead now for nearly 1,550 years, the French Revolution, Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe, and even one of the most popular Broadway musicals ever produced, all in the same story. It's an intriguing rabbit hole to explore, and I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do!

    Links to social media and the website:

    Site: https://www.thugsandmiracles.com/

    Email: thugsandmiracles@gmail.com

    Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end)

    Facebook and Instagram: @ThugsAndMiracles

    • 18 min
    Luck and Timing / Season 1 Finale

    Luck and Timing / Season 1 Finale

    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.

    Links to social media and the website:

    Site: https://www.thugsandmiracles.com/

    Email: thugsandmiracles@gmail.com

    Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end)

    Facebook and Instagram: @ThugsAndMiracles

    • 37 min
    Death of a Legend

    Death of a Legend

    Just a quick warning before you listen to the next episode: there’s going to be quite a bit of discussion about torture and executions which I can’t get around talking about simply because it is the crux of the episode. So, if that type of thing is not your thing, well, now would be a good time to tune out. I just wanted to give you the warning before we get started. Thank you very much, and we hope you enjoy the episode!

    This week our focus is on the late, great Queen Brunhilda. Her execution and death is such a focal point for all of the histories that I felt the need to go into some amount of detail in the opening story. And while the event itself is an absolutely gory, and horrible, and macabre ending to her life, there’s no doubt at all, in my mind, that the focus on this ending really actually detracts from what was otherwise an amazing and complex life. So, let’s take this episode to consider just who Brunhilda was and how we should remember her – besides as the victim of multiple horses running in opposing directions.

    Links to social media and the website:

    Site: https://www.thugsandmiracles.com/

    Email: thugsandmiracles@gmail.com

    Twitter at @thugsandmiracle (with no “s” on the end)

    Facebook and Instagram: @ThugsAndMiracles

    • 44 min

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