PEPIN The Short

PEPIN The Short. (PEPIN III)(Peppin, Pippin, de korte, Pépin le Bref, Pippin der Kleine). King of the Franks (741/751-768).
He was born in 714 in Jupille, Austrasia, in what is today part of Belgium; son of CHARLES MARTEL, Mayor (maior domus) of the Palace, and Chrotrud. His father gave him the lands of Neustria, Burgundy and Provence. He worked together with his brother Carloman in continuing the work his father had been involved with. They continued the task of Christianization, which was carried out by Archbishop Boniface with the benediction of Pope Zacharias. They tamed the Alemanni and once again subdued Aquitaine. When their half-brother Grifo was causing problems, they had him interned at Neufchateau in Luxemburg. In 747, when his brother Carloman became a monk, Pepin ruled alone.

In 740 Pepin married Bertrada of Laon. Of their children, two sons and one daughter survived to adulthood.(S3).

Pepin The Short was a great man, but little is known of his private life. He is depicted as an extremely brave man, not afraid of taking on wild animals in circus games. He had strong political intuition, probably the best of all his dynasty. He fully understood the power held by the Church and realized his father's mistake in alienating it. It was impossible to go back on Charles Martel's confiscations as the nation's finances would crumble. A transaction was sought which had originally been instigated by Carloman. Ecclesiastical establishments which had property confiscated were to be allowed rights of ownership. This principle granted, it was understood that the bishoprics and monasteries should concede their appropriated property to the warriors, and this under an uncertain title bringing on average an annual "quit-rent" fixed at one golden sou per family holding. At the death of the temporary title holder, the property would revert to the Church, unless affairs of state made it necessary to renew the title for the benefit of another titulary owner. These principles, which allowed for the reconciliation of Church and State while retaining great advantages for the latter, were codified by Pepin at the Neustrian synod at Soissons on 2 MAR 744. Thus, as the new regine gave the church a reasonable subsustence, Pepin won it to his side, an advantage from which he rapidly profited.

On the death of his father in 741, Pippin became Mayor of the Palace and attempted to divide power with his brothers Carloman and Grifo. Grifo soon lost all power to his brothers, and Carloman, who by all evidence was a deeply pious man, retired to a monastery in 747. This left Francia in the hands of Pippin as mayor for the Merovingian king Childeric III. Childeric was unable to fulfill the most important function of a Frankish king, namely, to provide his warriors with a constant source of booty; Pippin was thus able to demonstrate to the leading men of the Franks that, as a better military leader, he was more qualified to be their king. He succeeded in obtaining the support of the papacy, which helped to discourage opposition. He was elected King of the Franks by an assembly of the Frankish leading-men and anointed at Soissons, perhaps by Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz. (S3).

When his brother Carloman retired, Pepin judged himself strong enough to give his half-brother Grifo his freedom. In this he miscalculated. Grifo first of all incited the Saxons to revolt. Then at the death of Odilo, Grifo tried to take over Bavaria. The Bavarians rejected him, and delivered him to Pepin. Pepin established his nephew Tassilo III in Bavaria and pardoned Grifo, granting him an endowment of twelve Neustrian counties, with Le Mans as capital. Not content with this, Grifo fled to Aquitaine.

In 750, weary of agitations and rebellions, Pepin felt the time was ripe to consolidate his authority. He sent two trusted men, chaplain Fulrad and Burchard bishop of Wuerzburg, to confer with Pope Zacharias. Their orders were to discuss that, "In France, kings no longer exert their royal power - is this a good thing oa a bad?" Pope Zacharias replied "that it was better to give the name of king to the man who in fact held power than to the man who merely did so nominally. He recommended that Pepin be made king to keep order." He did not however issue it as an order.

Pepin was elected king "according to the tradition of the kings of France." he was lifted on to a shield during an assembly of magnates and bishops which was called at Soissons in November 751. For the first time in France's history and with Papal consent, the new king was anointed at Soissons by Archbishop Boniface. This was an important precedent which would apply to all the kings of France up to the Revolution. By the anointing of the coronation, this made them into the chosen of God and solidified their power with the people.

During his reign, Pippin III's conquests gave him more power than anyone since the days of King Clovis. He added to that power after Pope Stephen II traveled all the way to Paris to anoint King Pippin in a lavish ceremony at Saint Denis Basilica, bestowing upon him the additional title of Patrician of the Romans. As life expectancies were short in those days, and Pippin wanted family continuity, the Pope also anointed Pippin's sons, Charles (born April 2, 742, eventually known as Charlemagne) and Carloman (born 751). (S3).

Before he was crowned, Pepin felt it unnecessary to encumber himself with Childeric III any longer. He had him tonsured and sent to a convent. Thus the rule changed from the Merovingen dynasty to the Carolingen dynasty smoothly and without serious opposition.

The Pope's agreement to this arrangement concealed deeper motives which were soon to come to light. On Christmas day 753, Pepin was informed that the pope was about to cross the Alps to visit him. Zacharias's successor, Stephen II, who was a Frank by birth, was coming to ask the new king for his military support to repel the Lombards, who were occupying the north of Italy and for some time had been threatening to invade Rome. Pepin sent his son Charles ahead to meet the pope. Charles accompanied the pope to Ponthion in the Aisne, where Pepin received him on 6 JAN 754.

After unsuccessful negotiations with the Lombards, Pepin prepared for war. Before setting out he had himself, his wife Bertha, and his sons Charles and Carloman solemnly anointed again by the pope. This further consolidated his political power and its sacred sanction. Pepin crossed the Alps, defeated the Lombards and presented the pope with the territories he had won from them, the duchy of Rome and the exarchate of Ravena. Then he seized Gothia (Mediterranean Languedoc) and occupied Nimes. He then undertook to subdue Aquitaine and extended his territory as far as the Pyrenees. Finally, he turned to Bavaria and defeated Duke Tassilo III, who was contesting his vassaldom.

Pippin's first major act was to go to war against the Lombards as a partial repayment for papal support in his quest for the crown. Victorious, he forced the Lombard king to return property seized from the church. In 759, he drove the Saracens out of France with the capture of Narbonne and then consolidated his power further by making Aquitaine a part of his kingdom. (S3).


Pippin the Short indulged in the monopoly of the coining of money, deciding on the opening and closure of minting shops, the weight, title and the subjects represented. European coinage began with Pippin the Short who revived the system put in place by the ancient Greeks and Romans and kept going by the Eastern Roman Empire (1 libra = 20 solidi = 240 denarii).(S3).

To his military successes were added diplomatic successes, of which the most important was an agreement with the emperor of Byzantium, who could well have legitimately protested at the loss of the exarchated of Ravena, one of Byzantium's last possessions on the Italian peninsula.

Pepin died 24 SEP 768 at St. Denis.

Pepin 'The Short', King Of The Franks founded the Carolingian dynasty. Like his father, grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, Pepin served as mayor of the palace in the Merovingian kingdom in France and Germany. In each case, the mayor was the power behind the throne. In 751, an assembly of the Franks deposed Childeric, the last of the weak Merovingian kings, and proclaimed Pepin king. Pope Stephen II, who ruled Rome, asked Pepin for help against the Lombard king, Pepin sent his army to save Rome. The Lombards had captured Ravenna. Pepin recaptured the city and much of the nearby territory, known as 'the Donation of Pepin,' helped build the political power of the pope. Pepin added Aquitaine to his own kingdom, and began many important religious and educational reforms. His son Charlemagne, carried on these reforms.(S4).

Pippin III died at Saint Denis, Paris from “waterzucht” on September 24, 768 and is interred there in the Abbey Basilica with his wife Bertrada.(S3).

Bertrada (Bertha, Bertrade, the J., of the Big Foot, The White Lady). Countess of Laon. Queen of the Franks.
Born in 720 (730-S5) at Laon, Aisne, France; daughter of HERIBERT, Count of Laon, and Bertrada. It has been claimed that she was the sister of Machir Theodoric (S6), but this is not verified. She married Pepin in 740. She died 12 JUL (JUN?) 783 at Choisy-au-Bac, Haute-Savoie, France; and was buried at St Denis, Paris, Seine, France

CHILDREN of Pepin, "The Short" and Bertrada:
  1. CHARLEMAGNE. Charles, "The Great." Born 2 APR 742. He died 28 JAN 814 at Aachen. Rothaid. (Rothaide). Born 744 at Aachen. Died at Dy, Austrasia. Buried at St. Arnulf Abbey, Metz. Adelheid.(Adelaide). Born 746 at Aachen. Died 12 MAY. Buried at St. Arnulf Abbey, Metz. Gertrude. Born 748 at Aachen.
  2. Carloman, King Of Burgundy. Born in 751 at Aachen. He married Gerberga in 768. He died on 4 DEC 771 at the villa of Samoucy (Samoussy), Aisne, Austrasia. Buried at St. Remi Abbey, Reims, Marne, France.
  3. Gilles. Born 755 at Aachen.
  4. Pepin. (Pippin). Born (756-S5,S7)(759) at Aachen. Died (761-S7)(762-S5).
  5. Gisela.(Gisele). Born 757. Died 810-811. Became a nun.
  6. Ade. (Ada). Born 759 at Aachen.


  1. Talendus. Illegitimate.
  2. Berthe. Illegitimate.