What purpose did Sigibert III serve as the infant king of Austrasia? Why did the Austrasian nobility want their own king, even if he was an infant?

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
In 632, the Merovingian king Dagobert I installed his infant son Sigibert as king in Austrasia. Was this some kind of concession to the nobility of Austrasia, or an attempt by Dagobert to win them over to his cause? What exactly did the Austrasian elites gain from having an infant Merovingian as their own king?
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Maybe it was something similar when King Edward made his son Prince of Wales. It was a way of saying to those subjects " you wanted your on prince, K gave you one, noe shutup".

Having your own king, even an infant, meant you could retain some of your on independent identity. A king meant a separate court, with a place for the nobles to act. Without their own king, they would just be another part of the existing kingdom, not their own kingdom with its own identity even it subservient. All just a guess.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,463
Dispargum
The Franks may or may not have been unified under Chlodio in the 440s. There is ample evidence the Franks were ruled by multiple independent kings in the time of Clovis (481-511). Clovis is the first king to have clearly (documented proof) unified the Franks into a single kingdom. Ever since Clovis conquered the Ripuarian Franks circa 509, the Rhine Valley Franks, who would later be known as Austrasians, had resisted amalgamation with Clovis' Salian Franks. Upon, or perhaps even shortly before, the death of Clovis circa 511, his son, Theuderic, inherited a kingdom that was almost an exact duplicate of the former Ripuarian Kingdom of Sigebert the Lame. This kingdom remained independent within the Frankish realm until 555 when Theuderic's line died out. But upon the death of Lothar I in 561, another independent East Frankish Kingdom emerged under Lothar's son Sigebert I. This kingdom remained nominally independent until 614 when it was conquered by Dagobert's father Lothar II. In 623, Austrasia asked Lothar for their own king, and he gave them Dagobert. 632 was just a repeat of 623 with father giving Austrasia to son. In 657, Austrasia got its own king again. After the Battle of Tertry in 687, Austrasia came to dominate Neustria (as the Salians had come to be called) and continued to do so until the end of the Merovingian era in 751. In 718-19, Lothar IV was an independent ruler of Austrasia. During this period of Austrasian dominace of the Franks, Neustria rarely, if ever, agitated for their own king. This tradition of independence and resistance to amalgamation seems unique to Austrasia.

It wasn't just having separate kings. The Ripuarians/Austrasians had their own law code. The Salic Law, possibly issued by Clovis, was limited to only those Franks living between the Ardenne Forest and the Loire River, ie, the Salian Franks. The Ripuarian Law, issued about a century later, applied only to the Rhine Valley.

There were also language differences. Early on, these language differences were not great, but the Austrasians continued to speak a Germanic language while the Salians spoke a language that would eventually evolve into French. In the time of Clovis these differences may have only been one of accent (like Massachusetts and Alabama), but by the time of Dagobert it was probably becoming increasingly difficult for Austrasians and Neustrians to understand each other (perhaps like an American and a Jamaican). Even mild accents can be social or political obstacles if people who speak the wrong accent are excluded.
 
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