NameChilperic I King of Neustria
Birth539, France
DeathSep 584, Chelles, France
BurialSt Vincent Abbey, Paris, Seine, France
MotherRadegonda (~518-587)
Misc. Notes
Merovingian king of Soissons whom Gregory of Tours, a contemporary, called the Nero and the Herod of his age.

Son of Chlotar I by Aregund, Chilperic shared with his three half brothers (sons of Ingund, Aregund's sister) in the partition that followed their father's death in 561, receiving the poorest region, the kingdom of Soissons. To this was added, however, the best part of Charibert's lands on the latter's death in 567 or 568, so that Chilperic's kingdom corresponded in large part to that later known as Neustria. In 568 he repudiated his wives in order to marry Galswintha, sister of the Visigothic princess, Brunhild, who had herself recently married his half brother, Sigebert I; but he soon had Galswintha murdered and immediately married Fredegund, an earlier mistress. The consequences of this crime constitute virtually the only clearly discernible thread in the tangled skein of Frankish history over the next four decades, as first Sigebert, whose relations with Chilperic had in fact been bad from the start, and then his descendants, incited by Brunhild, sought revenge for Galswintha's murder upon the persons of Chilperic, Fredegund, and their family.

Saved from apparent disaster by the assassination of Sigebert I in 575, Chilperic was prevented from seizing the lands of the dead king's young heir, Childebert II, by the action of Guntram, his third half brother and the king of Burgundy. Although Chilperic succeeded in forming an alliance with Childebert against Guntram by recognizing the young king as his heir (581), this was short-lived; in 583 Childebert and Guntram again came to terms. A year later Chilperic fell victim to an unknown assassin, leaving a four-month-old son, Chlotar II.

Ambitious, brutal, and debauched, Chilperic nevertheless had pretensions to being a man of learning; he wrote poor poetry, became involved in theological matters, and ordered four letters to be added to the alphabet. Regarding the church as a major rival to his wealth, he treated the bishops with hostility and contempt; at the same time, he had a reputation for injustice toward his subjects at large and imposed heavy taxes.

Frankish king of Neustria (561–84), son of Clotaire I. He feuded bitterly with his brother Sigebert I, who had inherited the E Frankish kingdom that came to be known as Austrasia. Their struggle became savage after Chilperic and his mistress and future wife, Fredegunde, murdered (567) Chilperic's second wife, Galswintha; she was the sister of Sigebert's wife, Brunhilda. In the wars between the two brothers, Sigebert overran Neustria before his death (575). Later, Chilperic was murdered, probably at the instigation of Brunhilda. The feud was inherited by Chilperic's son and successor, Clotaire II.

Chilperic I was King of Neustria (Soissons) 561-584. "History of the Franks," Gregory of Tours (Ernest Brehaut, translator)(NY: W.W.Norton, 1969), p. 277, gives a chart of Clothaire I wives and children, and states that Chilperic I
is son of his 4th wife, Aregunda (sister of his 3rd wife, Ingunda). An extended account of Chilperic is given by Fr.
Funck-Brentano in "A History of Gaul" (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1993, pp. 259-267).

King Chilperic had several wives including Galswinth (the sister of Brunhild) and the elevated slave-girl Fredegund. Galswinth was dissatified with her position within the royal household and threatened to return to her father King Athanagild of Spain. Soon after, she was found dead in her bed. Many contemporaries including Brunhild assumed that
she had been murdered by Chilperic and Fredegund, but Gregory of Tours makes no such claim despite the fact that he
despises Chilperic. This event touched off the bloody feud between Brunhild and Fredegund that dominates
Merovingian history.
Birth543, Paris, France
Death597, Paris, France
ChildrenLothar (Clotaire) II (584-629)
Last Modified 16 Oct 1999Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh