Sunday, July 13, 2014

Author's Notes

One of the kinsmen Clovis is famously said to have disingenuously bemoaned no longer having, toward the end of his life—thanks to his supposed bloodthirst against his own relations.  I’ve given Chararic the seat of Tongeren, an ancient Belgic city it seems reasonable to consider a ruined one during the period of Clovis’ reign.  It was destitute, but not without potential; and, as with many of the gains I have written through Clovis’ career, he enjoyed battle, but also the prospect of territories the assets and advantages of which he felt could be more greatly exploited for power, wealth, and profit.

496-558; inherited Paris.  Second son of Clovis and Clotilde, later in life he led the liberating army for his sister against the Visigoths and her husband, the Arian Amalaric.  More religious than his brothers, Childebert was also more successfully expansionist, and involved himself in more foreign wars than Chlodomer, Theuderic, or Clotaire.  Founded the monastery of Saint Vincent to house relics of the saint he had won in battle at Zargoza.

437-481; King of the Salian Franks; foederatus, belgica secunda.  The heir, though not certainly known to be the son, of Merovus/Merovech, who was said to be son of a sea god, and who gave his name to the Merovingian line founded by Clovis.  Childeric ruled 457-481, possibly with a great deal more power and wealth than are indicated in many siources and certainly within this manuscript.  His adult life and reign are documented, but subject to debate.  He was said to be so dissolute his own people rejected him, but after his restoration his rule appeared to be uncontested and fairly strong.

Possibly the most valuable legacy of Childeric was discovered in 1653, when his tomb was uncovered in Tournai at the church of Saint-Brice.  The riches found therein are legendary, in spite—or because—of being plundered in 1831 and lost to us.  Byzantine coinage, a signet ring reading Childerici Regis, the famous crystal head of a bull, and riches of jewels and gold abounded, along with the possibility of equine sacrifice over a period of many memorial years, and on a fairly grand scale.  Most famous are three hundred golden bees, each one attached by embroidery upon a rich Roman robe of silk and worked in garnet cloisonne’ with the backs of the stones incised in an identifiably Merovingian style.

Childeric’s bees have been subject of fables and fantasies, their symbolism discussed in the most fascinating interpretations.  Napoleon had them embroidered onto his coronation robes.  The metaphoric possibilities are tantalizing, and include wonderful tales attaching to the fleur de lys, symbol of France, as well as spearheads and animal lore of varying significance.

Clovis’ succession after his father was not, in his time, the entrenched guarantee royal primogeniture eventually became (partially thanks to Clovis’ own Lex Salica).  His election informs the quotation used after my title page:  rex ex nobilitate, dux ex virtute - king through noble birth, commander through right of virtue.  Like many Germanic cultures, it was the raising on a shield by a people’s commanders which elevated a prince to a throne; the right of inheritance was neither presumed nor automatic.

As always, Author's Notes excerpts are excerpted from the MS, which means they are written "in-universe."  These posts should not be taken as historical resources.

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