« PreviousContinue »
“ you in the King's Court. Alfo-They chose "Hilderick for their King, and Wolfold for Mayor ce of the Palace. Which Quotations of ours* might indeed have been made as properly in our foregoing Chapter, where we proved that the greater Employments were not usually given by the Kings, but appointed by the Yearly General Council, and conferred upon Men of the greatest Fidelity and Probity.
But in this Magiftracy, the same thing hapned, which Plutarch tells us ( in his Life of Lysander ) came to pass when Agefilaus was appointed by the Lacedemonians to be General of their Army, and Lysander to be Legate or Lieutenant-General : “Even as in Stage-Plays, " ( says he) the Actors who represent a Sera “ vant or Messenger, have better Parts, and “ are more regarded than him that wears the “ Crown and Scepter, who scarce speaks a “ Word in the whole Play : So the chief Au“thority and Command was lodg'd in Lyfan« der, whilst with the King remained only a “ naked and empty Title.---- Just fo it felt out : in our Francogallia; Fair Opportunities of increasing the Power of these Mayors of the Pallace, being offer'd by the Sloth and Negligence of our Kings; among whom we may reckon Dagobert, Clodoveus, Clotbarius, Childeris cus, Theodoricus, &c. For the Author of the History of the Franks, often cited by Venericus Vercellenfis, tho' without naming him, writes, That during the Reign of Clotharius, Father of Dagobert, the Kingdom of the Franks began to be adminiftred and govern'd by some which were called Provisores Regiæ, or Majores Domus. The same fays Godf. Viterb. parte Chron. 16. Whereupon, whilst those Mayors of the Palace
executed all the important Affairs of the Commonwealth, and commanded all the Armies in time of War ; and the Kings ( spending their Days in Sloth and Idleness ) tarried at Home, content with the bare Title of a King; Matters at last were brought to such a pass, that during the Reign of Childeriak the 18th King, Pipin, Mayor of the Palace, (who in the King's Name had waged great and long Wars, and had overcome and reduced the Saxons to Terms of Submiffion) finding a fit Occasion to alsume the Regal Title which was offer'd him, did not let it slip: Especially seeing himself at, the head of a great and victorious Army, that, espoused his Interests. Of which we have the Testimony of many Authors. First Otto Fria fingius, Chron. s. cap. 12, and his Transcriber Godf. Viterb. Part. 16. who write thus. ---“The “ Kings of France, before the Time of Pipin “ the Great, ( formerly Mayor of the Palace)
were in a manner but Titular Princes, ha, ving very little to do with the Government of the Realm. Sigibertus says almost the same thing sub Anno 662. ---- From this time, (fays he ) the Kings of the Franks degene
rating from their ancient Wisdom and Forti“ tude, enjoy'd little more than the bare Name “ of King : They did indeed bear the Title “according to Custom as being of the ancient Re
gal Race; but neither acted, nor disposed of
any thing: The whole Administration and “ Power of the Kingdom, was lodg'd in the “ Hands of the Mayor of the Palace.
Yet in reading such-like Authorities, we ought to take this Observation along with us. That since Pipin and his Sons laboured (as 'tis probable they did ) under a great Load of EnH 4
vy, for having violently wrested the Royal Dignity from King Childerick, they made it their Business to find out and employ plausíble ingenious Historians, whomagnified the Cowardliness of Childerick and his Predecessors, upbraiding them with Sloath and Idleness, beyond what they deservd. And among such as these, we may reckon Eguinarthus, Chancellor to Charles the Great, and one that did him speci Service of this Nature; who in the beginni of his Book writes thus. ----" The Family of “the Merovingians, out of which the Franks “ used to Elect their Kings, is supposed to have " lafted as long as to Hilderic; who by the Ap
pointment of Pope Stephen, was deposed, sha
ven, and thrựst into a Monastery. Now " tho'it may be said to have ended in him, yet
in truth, for a long tiñe before, it ceased to “ have any Valúe or Excellency, bating the “bare empty Title of King. For both the “ Riches and Power of the Kingdom, were at "the Disposition of the Prefečts of the Palace, e commonly called Majores Domus ; with whom " was also lodg'd the Authority of the Empire: "Neither was there any thing left remaining "to the Kings but only that contenting him
self with the Title, he should fit on a Throne, " wearing his Hair and Beard very long, and
representing the Person of a Ruler ; fome"times giving the firft and last Audience to "Ambassadors from Foreign Parts, and retur“ ning such Answers as were made for him, as
if they procceded immediately from himself. "But besides the unprofitable Name of a King, " and precarious Allowance for his private “ Expences, ( which the Mayor of the Palace was pleased out of Bounty to give him ) he
~ had nothing that he could call his own, exa “ cept one Village of very small Revenue, « where he had a little House, and a few Ser“ vants, barely sufficient for his Neceffary Oct “ casions, bé... o · Sigebertus, fub Anno 662. taking Eguinarthus for his Pattern, inveighs against the former Kings in almost the fame Contumelious Terms. “ Whose Custom (says he) it was, indeed, to “ make an Appearance like a Pritice, accor“ ding to what had been usual to their Family ; “ but neither to act, nor dispose of any thing, “ only to tarry at Home, and to Eat and Drink “ like Irrational Creatures. ---- As if the like Sloth and Cowardise ought to be imputed to all the former Kings among whom we nevertheless find many brave Men, such as Clodoveus, who not only defeated a great Army of Germans, which had made an Irruption into France, in a great Battel near Tolbiàcum ; but also drove the remainder of the Romans out of the Confines of Gallia. What shall we say of Childebert and Clotharius, who rooted the Visigoths and Ostrogoths out of Provence and Aquitain, where they' had seated themselves ? In the Histories of all which Princes, there is no mention made of any Mayor of the Palace, but curforily, and by the By, as one of the King's Servants. - This we may see in Gregorius, lib. 5. cap. 18. where he speaks of Gucilius. Lib. 6. cap. 9. and cap. 45. Lib. 7. cap. 49. And we find this Employment to have been not only in the King's Palace, but also in the Queen's; For the same Gregorius, lib. 7. cap. 27. mentions one Waddo as Mayor of the Palacc,in the Court of Queen Ri. guntha : And in very many other places of their Histories, we find both Gregorius and Aimoinus
had out who
making mention of these Masters of the Court, and the King's House..
Now the first beginning of the great Authority of these Præfe&ti Regii, was (as we told you before ) during the Reign of King Clotharius the Second, about the Year of our Lord 588. that is, about 130 Years after the constituting the Francogallican Kingdom ; which we may also learn from the before-mention’d Hiftorian, so often quoted by Venericus.
Yet there are two other Historians, (tho' not of equal Credit ) Sigibertus and Trithemius, who refers the beginning of so great a Power in the Mayor of the Palace, to the Reign of clown tair the Third ; whose Magister Palatii was one Ebroinus, a Man of extraordinary Wickedness and Cruelty: But however this may be, we find Historians calling them by several other Appellations ; such as Comites Domus Regia, Praz fečti Aula, Comites Palatii, &c. .
CHA P. XIII. Whether Pipin was created King by
tbe Pope, or by the Authority of the Francogallican Council.
ITAving in the former Chapter given an 11 Account, that after the Expulsion of Childeric, (a ftupid Prince, in whom the Line of the Merovingians ended ) Pipin, from being Mayor of the Palace, was created King ; It will be worth our Enquiry, to know by whose Au