Montesquieu
 

XXXI.6 Second era of the humiliation of kings of the first dynasty

Since the exe­cu­tion of Brunhilde, the mayors had been the admi­nis­tra­tors of the king­dom under the kings ; and though they had the conduct of war, the kings none­the­less led the armies, and the mayor and the nation fought under them. But the vic­tory of the duke Pépin1 against Theodoric and his mayor2 consum­ma­ted the deba­se­ment of kings ; the vic­tory won by Charles Martel over Chilperic and his mayor Rainfroy3 confir­med this deba­se­ment. Austrasia trium­phed twice over Neustria and Burgundy ; and the mayo­ralty of Astrasia being see­min­gly atta­ched to the family of the Pépins, that mayo­ralty rose over all the other mayo­ral­ties, and that house over all the other hou­ses. The vic­tors fea­red lest some accre­di­ted man seize the per­son of the kings to incite dis­tur­ban­ces. They held them in a royal house as in a sort of pri­son.4 Once a year they were shown to the peo­ple. There they issued ordi­nan­ces,5 but they were the mayor’s ; they replied to ambas­sa­dors, but they were the mayor’s replies. It was in this time that the his­to­rians speak to us of the govern­ment of mayors over the kings who were in sub­jec­tion to them.6

The mania of the nation for the Pépin family went so far that it elec­ted as mayor one of his grand­sons who was still a child7 ; it esta­bli­shed him over a cer­tain Dagobert, and put phan­tom over phan­tom.

See Annals of Metz, on the years 687 and 688.

Illis quidem nomina regum imponens, ipse totius regni habens privilegium, etc. (ibid. for the year 695).

Ibid. on the year 719.

Sedemque illi regalem sub sua ditione concessit (Annals of Metz for the year 719).

Ex Chronico Centulensi, Lib. II. Ut responsa quæ erat edoctus, vel potius jussus, ex sua velut potestate redderet.

Annals of Metz for the year 691. Anno Principatus Pippini super Theodericum… Annales de Fulde ou de Laurishan ; Pippinus dux Francorum obtinuit regnum Francorum per annos 27 cum regibus sibi subjectis.

Posthæc Theudoaldus filius ejus (Grimoaldi) parvulus, in loco ipsius, cum prædicto rege Dagoberto, major-comus palatii effectus est (the anonymous continuator of Fredegar for the year 714, ch. civ).