Pepin Carolingian was born 770 to Carloman (751-771) and Gerberga of Pavia (c750-) .

Age 4, Claim to the Frankish Throne

Carloman I had married a beautiful Frankish woman, Gerberga, who according to Pope Stephen III was chosen for him, together with Charlemagne's concubine, Himiltrude, by Pepin the Short.[1] With Gerberga he had two sons, the older of whom was named Pepin after his grandfather, marking him according to Carolingian tradition as the heir of Carloman, and of Pepin the Short.[2] After Carloman's death, Gerberga expected her elder son to become King, and for herself to rule as his regent; however, Carloman's former supporters – his cousin Adalhard, Abbot Fulrad of Saint Denis and Count Warin – turned against her, and invited Charlemagne to annex Carloman's territory, which he duly did.[3]

Gerberga then fled (according to Einhard, "for no reason at all")[4] with her sons and Count Autchar, one of Carloman's faithful nobles, to the court of Desiderius, who demanded of the new Pope Hadrian I that he anoint Carloman's sons as Kings of the Franks.[5] Gerberga's flight ultimately precipitated Charlemagne's destruction of the Kingdom of the Lombards; he responded to Desiderius' support of Carloman's children, which threatened Charlemagne's own position, by sweeping into Italy and subjugating it. Desiderius and his family were captured, tonsured, and sent to Frankish religious houses; the fate of Gerberga and her children by Carloman is unknown, although it is possible that they, too, were sent by Charlemagne to monasteries and nunneries.[6]

Despite their difficult relationship, and the events following Carloman's death, Charlemagne would later name his second legitimate son 'Carloman' after his deceased brother. This had, perhaps, been a public gesture to honour the memory of the boy's uncle, and to quell any rumours about Charlemagne's treatment of his nephews. If so, it was swept away in 781, when Charlemagne had his son renamed as Pepin.[7]



  1. ^ Dutton, PE, Carolingian Civilisation: A Reader, p.25
  2. ^ Davis, Raymond (Editor), The Lives of the Eighth Century Popes, 102 n.76
  3. ^ Riché, Pierre, The Carolingians, 86
  4. ^ Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne, in Dutton, PE, Carolingian Civilisation: A Reader, 29
  5. ^ Riché, Pierre, The Carolingians, 97
  6. ^ Chamberlin, Russell, The Emperor Charlemagne, 75.
  7. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named McKitterick65

See Also

  • Pepin - GENI
  • History of the Carolingians - Medland Project
  • Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians.
  • Murray, Archibald Callander, and Goffart, Walter A. After Rome's Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1998.

Footnotes (including sources)


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