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Brunhilde

(about 545 - 613)
Queen of the Franks
Visigothic princess, Queen of Austrasia
daughter of Visigoth king Athanagild, wife of Frankish King Sigebert, mother and regent of Childebert II, grandmother of Theodoric II and Theodebert II, great-grandmother of Sigebert II
(also known as Brunhilda, Brunhild, Brunehilde, Brunechild, Brunehaut)

Brunhilde married King Sigebert of Austrasia* in 567, when her sister Galswintha married Sigebert's half-brother, Chilperic, king of the neighboring kingdom of Neustria*. When Chilperic's mistress, Fredegunde, engineered Galswintha's murder, and then married Chilperic, forty years of war began, reputedly at the urging of Brunhilde, anxious for revenge.

In 575, Chilperic had Sigebert assassinated and claimed Sigebert's kingdom. Brunhilde asserted the claim of her son, Childebert II. The nobles refused to support her as regent, instead supporting Sigebert's brother, Guntram, king of Burgundy and Orleans. Brunhilde left for Burgundy while Childebert stayed in Austrasia.

In 592, Childebert inherited Burgundy when Guntram died, but Childebert then died in 595, and Brunhilde supported her grandsons Theodoric II and Theodebert II who inherited both Austrasia and Burgundy. Brunhilde continued the war with Fredegund, ruling as regent for her son, Chlotar II, after the death of Chilperic under mysterious circumstances. In 597, Fredegund died, shortly after Chlotar was able to win a victory and regain Austrasia.

In 612, Brunhilde had her grandson Theodoric murder his brother Theodebert, and the next year Theodoric died, too. Brunhilde then took up the cause of her great-grandson, Sigebert II, but the nobility refused to recognize him and instead threw their support to Chlotar II. In 613, Chlotar executed Brunhilde and her great-grandson Sigebert. Brunhilde, almost 80 years old, was dragged to death by a wild horse.

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**Austrasia: today's northeastern France and western Germany
*Neustria: today's northern France

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About Brunhilde

  • Categories: Queen of the Franks, Visigoth princess
  • Places: Burgundy, Francia, Austrasia, France, Germany
  • Period: 6th century, 7th century

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