1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clotaire

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CLOTAIRE (Chlothachar), the name of four Frankish kings.

Clotaire I. (d. 561) was one of the four sons of Clovis. On the death of his father in 511 he received as his share of the kingdom the town of Soissons, which he made his capital, the cities of Laon, Noyon, Cambrai and Maastricht, and the lower course of the Meuse. But he was very ambitious, and sought to extend his domain. He was the chief instigator of the murder of his brother Clodomer’s children in 524, and his share of the spoils consisted of the cities of Tours and Poitiers. He took part in the various expeditions against Burgundy, and after the destruction of that kingdom in 534 obtained Grenoble, Die and some of the neighbouring cities. When Provence was ceded to the Franks by the Ostrogoths, he received the cities of Orange, Carpentras and Gap. In 531 he marched against the Thuringi with his brother Theuderich (Thierry) I., and in 542 with his brother Childebert against the Visigoths of Spain. On the death of his great-nephew Theodebald in 555, Clotaire annexed his territories; and on Childebert’s death in 558 he became king of all Gaul. He also ruled over the greater part of Germany, made expeditions into Saxony, and for some time exacted from the Saxons an annual tribute of 500 cows. The end of his reign was troubled by internal dissensions, his son Chram rising against him on several occasions. Following Chram into Brittany, where the rebel had taken refuge, Clotaire shut him up with his wife and children in a cottage, to which he set fire. Overwhelmed with remorse, he went to Tours to implore forgiveness at the tomb of St Martin, and died shortly afterwards.

Clotaire II. (d. 629) was the son of Chilperic I. On the assassination of his father in 584 he was still in his cradle. He was, however, recognized as king, thanks to the devotion of his mother Fredegond and the protection of his uncle Gontran, king of Burgundy. It was not until after the death of his cousin Childebert II. in 595 that Clotaire took any active part in affairs. He then endeavoured to enlarge his estates at the expense of Childebert’s sons, Theodebert, king of Austrasia, and Theuderich II., king of Burgundy; but after gaining a victory at Laffaux (597), he was defeated at Dormelles (600), and lost part of his kingdom. After the war between Theodebert and Theuderich and their subsequent death, the nobles of Austrasia and Burgundy appealed to Clotaire, who, after putting Brunhilda to death, became master of the whole of the Frankish kingdom (613). He was obliged, however, to make great concessions to the aristocracy, to whom he owed his victory. By the constitution of the 18th of October 614 he gave legal force to canons which had been voted some days previously by a council convened at Paris, but not without attempting to modify them by numerous restrictions. He extended the competence of the ecclesiastical tribunals, suppressed unjust taxes and undertook to select the counts from the districts they had to administer. In 623 he made his son Dagobert king of the Austrasians, and gradually subdued all the provinces that had formerly belonged to Childebert II. He also guaranteed a certain measure of independence to the nobles of Burgundy, giving them the option of having a special mayor of the palace, or of dispensing with that officer. These concessions procured him a reign of comparative tranquillity. He died on the 18th of October 629, and was buried at Paris in the church of St Vincent, afterwards known as St Germain des Prés.

Clotaire III. (652–673) was a son of King Clovis II. In 657 he became the nominal ruler of the three Frankish kingdoms, but was deprived of Austrasia in 663, retaining Neustria and Burgundy until his death.

Clotaire IV. (d. 719) was king of Austrasia from 717 to 719.  (C. Pf.)