King Guntram of Burgundy (r. 561-593), by the end of his reign, knew that he would die without an eligible offspring to inherit his kingdom. His two sons and heirs, Chlotar and Chlodomer, had both died of dysentery in 577, and disease returned in 580 to take away King Guntram’s wife, Autrechild. Guntram never formally remarried, and instead of trying to produce a son to inherit his kingdom, the king ultimately decided to nominate as heir his nephew, King Childebert II of Austrasia (r. 575-595). Yet, although King Guntram had no surviving sons, he was not a childless man—in fact, he had a daughter named Clotild (or Clotilde).
King Guntram and his nephew, Childebert, met on November 28, 587, to discuss succession and other matters concerning their kingdoms. From this meeting was produced the Treaty of Andelot. During this treaty negotiation, the two kings mainly reaffirmed their alliance, discussed the transference of vassals, and negotiated over who would control what disputed land until the future succession occurred. Yet, within these deals and agreements, King Guntram also made sure to have some protections for his daughter, Clotild, written into the treaty. Gregory of Tours (c. 539-594), a contemporaneous bishop and historian who knew both kings well, preserved a copy of the Treaty of Andelot. The passage relevant to Guntram’s daughter, Clotild, read as follows:
“It is further most specifically agreed, and it shall be observed come what may, that whatsoever King Guntram has donated to his daughter Clotild, or may, by God’s grace, in the future donate, in property of all kinds, in men, cities, lands or revenues, shall remain in her power and under her control. It is agreed that if she shall decide of her own free will to dispose of any part of the lands or revenues or monies, or to donate them to any person, by God’s grace they shall be held by that person in perpetuity, and they shall not be taken from him at any time or by any other person. Moreover, she herself shall, under the protection and guardianship of King Childebert, hold secure, in all honour and dignity, everything of which she shall stand possessed at the death of her father” (Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, IX.20).
Unfortunately, the above quoted paragraph is the first and only mention of Guntram’s daughter in Gregory of Tours’ lengthy history. Therefore, how Clotild’s future ultimately faired is unclear. Yet, with the bloodshed and intrigue that was prevalent at that time in King Guntram’s Merovingian Dynasty, perhaps no news was good news for Clotild. Although it is a shame that Clotild could not inherit her father’s kingdom, it is apparent that King Guntram wanted his daughter to live a comfortable, secure and fairly autonomous life once he was gone.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
- The History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, translated by Lewis Thorpe. New York: Penguin Classics, 1971.