Montesquieu

I have said that Clotaire II had com­mit­ted him­self not to take away Warnachar’s posi­tion as mayor while he lived. The revo­lu­tion had a dif­fe­rent effect : before this time, the mayor was mayor of the king ; he became mayor of the king­dom ; the king used to choose him, now the nation does. Protarius, before the revo­lu­tion, had been appoin­ted mayor by Theodoric,1 and Landeric by Fredegund2 ; but since then the nation was empo­we­red to elect.3

One must the­re­fore not, as some wri­ters have done, confuse these mayors of the palace with those who had that dignity before the death of Brunehilde, the mayors of the king with the mayors of the king­dom. We see from the law of the Burgundians that for them the charge of mayor was not one of the fore­most in the state,4 nor was it one of the most emi­nent among the early Frankish kings.5

Clotaire reas­su­red the pos­ses­sers of func­tions and fiefs ; and after the death of Warnachar, this prince,6 having asked the lords assem­bled at Troyes who they wan­ted to put in his place, they all cried out that they would elect ; and beg­ging his favor, they pla­ced them­sel­ves in his hands.

Dagobert, like his father, reu­ni­ted the entire monar­chy ; the nation relied on him, and gave him no mayor. The prince felt him­self at liberty ; and reas­su­red, moreo­ver, by his vic­to­ries, he resu­med Brunhilde’s plan. But the out­come of that was so unfa­vo­ra­ble that the leu­des of Austrasia let them­sel­ves be bea­ten by the Slavonians, went back home, and the confi­nes of Austrasia were a prey to the bar­ba­rians.7

He deci­ded to offer the Austrasians to cede Austrasia to his son Sigebert, with a trea­sury, and to place the govern­ment of the king­dom and the palace in the hands of Cunibert, bishop of Cologne, and Duke Adalgise. Fredegar goes into no detail on the conven­tions that were made at that time, but the king confir­med them all with his char­ters, and at once Austrasia was pla­ced out of dan­ger.8

Dagobert, sen­sing the approach of death, com­men­ded his wife Nentechilde and his son Clovis to Æga. The leu­des of Neustria and Burgundy chose the young prince for their king.9 Æga and Nentechilde gover­ned the palace10 ; they retur­ned all the pro­per­ties that Dagobert had taken,11 and the com­plaints cea­sed in Neustria and in Burgundy, as they had cea­sed in Austrasia.

After the death of Æga, queen Nentechilde per­sua­ded the lords of Burgundy to elect Floachatus as their mayor.12 He sent let­ters to the bishops and prin­ci­pal lords of the king­dom of Burgundy, in which he pro­mi­sed to pre­serve fore­ver, which is to say for their life­ti­mes, their honors and digni­ties.13 He confir­med his word with an oath. It is here that the author of the book of mayors of the royal hou­se­hold pla­ces the begin­ning of the admi­nis­tra­tion of the realm by mayors of the palace.14

Fredegar, who was a Burgundian, went into grea­ter detail over what concer­ned the mayors of Burgundy in the time of the revo­lu­tion we are dis­cus­sing, than over the mayors of Austrasia and Neustria ; but the conven­tions that were made in Burgundy were for the same rea­sons made in Neustria and Austrasia.

The nation belie­ved it was surer to place autho­rity in the hands of a mayor it elec­ted, and on whom it could impose condi­tions, than in the hands of a king whose power was here­di­tary.

Instigante Brunichilde, Theoderico jubente, etc. (Fredegar, ch. xxvii on the year 605).

Gesta regum Francorum, ch. xxxvi.

See Chronicle of Fredegar, ch. liv on the year 626 and his anonymous continuator, ch. ci on the year 695, and ch. cv on the year 715. Aimoin, book IV, ch. xv. Eginhard, Life of Charlemagne, ch. xlviii. Gesta regum Francorum, ch. xlv.

See Law of the Burgundians, in Præfat. and second supplement to this law, tit. 13.

See Gregory of Tours, book IX, ch. xxxvi.

Eo anno Clotarius cum proceribus et leudibus Burgundiæ Trecassinis conjungitur, cum eorum esset sollicitus, si vellent jam, Warnachario discesso, alium in ejus honoris gradum sublimare, sed omnes unanimiter denegantes se nequaquam velle majorem domus eligere, regis gratiam obnixe petentes, cum rege transegere (Chronicle of Fredegar, ch. liv on the year 626).

Istam victoriam quam vinidi contra Francos meruerunt, non tantum Sclavinorum fortitudo obtinuit, quantum dementatio Austrasiorum, dum se cernebant cum Dagoberto odium incurrisse, et assidue expoliarentur (Chronicle of Fredegar, ch. lxviii on the year 630).

Deinceps Austrasii eorum studio limitem et regnum Francorum contra Vinidos utiliter defensasse noscuntur (ibid., ch. lxxv on the year 632).

Ibid. ch. lxxix on the year 638.

Ibid.

Ibid., ch. lxxx on the year 639.

Ibid., ch. lxxxix on the year 641.

Ibid. Floachatus cunctis Ducibus a regno Burgundiæ, seu et Pontificibus, per epistolam etiam et sacramentis firmavit unicuique gradum honoris et dignitatem, seu et amicitiam, perpetuo conservare.

Deinceps a temporibus Clodovei qui fuit filius Dagoberti inclyti Regis, pater vero Theoderici, regnum Francorum decidens per majores domus, cæpit ordinari. De Major. Domus Regiæ.