1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clotilda, Saint

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21529161911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 6 — Clotilda, Saint

CLOTILDA, SAINT (d. 544), daughter of the Burgundian king Chilperic, and wife of Clovis, king of the Franks. On the death of Gundioc, king of the Burgundians, in 473, his sons Gundobald, Godegesil and Chilperic divided his heritage between them; Chilperic apparently reigning at Lyons, Gundobald at Vienne and Godegesil at Geneva. According to Gregory of Tours, Chilperic was slain by Gundobald, his wife drowned, and of his two daughters, Chrona took the veil and Clotilda was exiled. This account, however, seems to have been a later invention. At Lyons an epitaph has been discovered of a Burgundian queen, who died in 506, and was most probably the mother of Clotilda. Clotilda was brought up in the orthodox faith. Her uncle Gundobald was asked for her hand in marriage by the Frankish king Clovis, who had just conquered northern Gaul, and the marriage was celebrated about 493. On this event many romantic stories, all more or less embroidered, are to be found in the works of Gregory of Tours and the chronicler Fredegarius, and in the Liber historiae Francorum. Clotilda did not rest until her husband had abjured paganism and embraced the orthodox Christian faith (496). With him she built at Paris the church of the Holy Apostles, afterwards known as Ste Geneviève. After the death of Clovis in 511 she retired to the abbey of St Martin at Tours. In 523 she incited her sons against her uncle Gundobald and provoked the Burgundian war. In the following year she tried in vain to protect the rights of her grandsons, the children of Clodomer, against the claims of her sons Childebert I. and Clotaire I., and was equally unsuccessful in her efforts to prevent the civil discords between her children. She died in 544, and was buried by her husband’s side in the church of the Holy Apostles.

There is a mediocre Life in Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script. rer. Merov., vol. ii. See also G. Kurth, Sainte Clotilde (2nd ed., Paris, 1897).  (C. Pf.)