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Pippin III

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Pepin III (714 - September 24, 768) more often known as Pepin the Short (French, Pépin le Bref; German, Pippin der Kleine), was a King of the Franks (751 - 768).

He was born in 714 in Jupille , in what is today part of Belgium, but then a part of the kingdom of Austrasia. His father was Charles Martel, Mayor of the Austrasian Palace, and his mother was Chrotrud (690-724).

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

On the death of Pepin's father, Charles Martel, in 741, power was passed down to Charles' legimitate sons, Pepin and Carloman. Power may also have been intended for Charles' illegitimate son, Grifo, but he was imprisoned in a monastery by his two half-brothers. Carloman, who by all evidence was a deeply pious man, retired to a monastery in 747. This left France in the hands of Pepin as mayor for the Merovingian King Childeric III. Childeric had the title of King but Pepin had control over orders and actually had the power of the king. Pepin then went to ask the Pope who should be complete ruler; the person with the title of king, or the person who makes the decisions of king. The Pope agreed that the decision making was more important than the title. 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.

During his reign, Pepin 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 Pepin 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 Pepin wanted family continuity, the Pope also anointed Pepin's sons, Charles (eventually known as Charlemagne) and Carloman.

Pepin's first major act was to go to war against the Lombard king Aistulf 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.

Pepin III died at Saint Denis in 768 and is interred there in the Saint Denis Basilica with his wife Bertrada.

Preceded by:
Childeric III
Frankish King
Succeeded by:
Charlemagne and Carloman

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Last updated: 05-07-2005 14:41:57
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