King Childeric's Honeyed Words

Childeric was a Salian Frank and likely King Merovech's son. When King Merovech died, Childeric ascended to the throne, and the Merovingian dynasty was established. It would be the first of several dynasties to inhabit the French throne.

During the 5th century (and many centuries beyond), the practice of having royal concubines and mistresses became a common practice. While the royal behavior was not condoned, it was tolerated. Salian Franks were tribal, and most did not prescribe to Christian values; consequently, promiscuity was not uncommon, but there were limits to this royal liberality. At the age of 18, Childeric's escapades breached the limit of tolerance. After seducing several notable daughters in Tournai, his subjects were appalled, the behavior was no longer tolerable, and rumors stirred.

Frank Territorial Map

(Image courtesy of

Assassination plots were being contrived. Fearing these rumors to be truthful, Childeric intended to seek refuge in his father's ancestral homeland of Thuringi.

(Image courtesy of

Prior to leaving, he and his close friend, Wiomad, devised a secret reinstatement scheme. According to Bishop Gregory of Tours, Wiomad was gifted with 'honeyed words.' He was tasked with bringing Childeric safely home and getting him back on the throne, but how would Childeric know it was time to return? A plan was conceived. Once all was clear for Childeric to safely return to Tournai, a symbol of unity would be used. A gold coin became the token. It was split in half, and each man carried a portion. When it was safe to return, Wiomad would send his half of the coin to the king. If the halves matched, this was the sign for the king to return.

With Childeric's departure known among the Franks, immediately, the Roman Commander, Aegidius, was chosen to be their king.

Arriving in Thuringi, Childeric took refuge with King Bisinus and his wife Basina. Many years would pass. Childeric's exile would last eight years. Eventually, over the course of time, Wiomad was able to provoke the Franks, and they turned against King Aegidius; moreover, using the sweetness of gentle persuasion, he was able to convince Emperor Maurice to sanction Childeric's return. With permission in place and the General deposed, the legendary gold coin was sent. Childeric swiftly and triumphantly returned to the throne.

Not much is known about Childeric's time in Thuringi, but given the events following his Tournai return, one wonders, "Did he continue his lascivious ways or had the Tournai incident changed him?" Based upon the following account, you can decide.

Once restored as king, a peculiar event took place. Dissatisfied with her status in life, Basina chose to abandon King Bisinus and sought Childeric's comfort. When she found King Childeric, he inquired of her intentions. With the tenderness of a connected love interest and a manipulative tug on Childeric's prideful ego, she said, 'I know that you are a strong man and I recognize ability when I see it. I have therefore come to live with you. You can be sure that if I knew anyone else, even far across the sea, who was more capable than you, I should have sought him out and gone to live with him instead.' Legend has it, Basina subsequently proposed to the king. Wooed by her 'honeyed words,' they married and had three children.

#concubines #mistresses #Tournai #Wiomad #Bisinus #Basina

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