28 February 2017

King Chilperic I (±539-584), the Nero & Herod of his time

Frankish King Chilperic I (±539-584) was one of the sons of Clothaire I of the French Merovingian dynasty. After his father’s death in 561 Chilperic became King of Neustria (the northwestern part of France). Chilperic’s reign saw the introduction of the Byzantine punishment of eye-gouging (the act of pressing or tearing the eye). After sizing some ecclesiastical property, chronicler Gregory of Tours described Chilperic as “the Nero and Herod of his time”.

Chilperic murdering his wife
Chiliperic had his first wife Audovera, the mother of 5 of his children, committed to a convent. There she was murdered in 580. Next, Chilperic married the Visigothic Princess Galaswintha (540-568) in 567, but soon tired of her. One day she was found strangled in bed. She may have been murdered at the instigation of Chilperic’s mistress, a serving-woman called Fredegund, who then married him. Rumour also had it that Chilperic himself had murdered his wife in bed (see picture). 
Since Chilperic’s brother Sigibert had married Galaswintha’s sister, the Visigothic Princess Brunhilda, the murder of Galaswintha resulted in a series of bloody wars. In 575 Fredegund had Sigebert assassinated. His widow Brunhilda then married her nephew Merovech, a son of Chilperic and his first wife Audovera. To nullify the marriage, Chilperic had Merovech tonsured and sent to a monastery to become a priest.

There is a story that one day Chilperic found his new wife Fredegund washing over a basin, and then smacked her bottom. She thought it was her lover and cried out “what do you think you are doing, Landeric?’ She saved herself by having her husband killed. Chilperic was stabbed to death by an unkown assailant. 

7 February 2017

The cruelty & bloodshed of Queen Keo Phimpha of Lan Xang

The notorious Queen Nang Keo Phimpha of Lan Xang in Laos may have been born as the eldest child of King Samsenthai (†1417) and his 1st-wife-and-1st-cousin, Queen Bua Then Fa. After Samsenthai's death Keo Phimpha intrigued and connived as King Maker and Breaker for the best part - or worst - of a decade.

In 1428 King Phommathath, Keo Phimpha's nephew, was beheaded on her orders within 10 months of his accession. Another nephew, King Youkhon, reigned for 8 months and then fled for his life before being killed on the others of his aunt. A 3rd nephew, King Konekham, reigned for 1½ year before Keo Phimpha had him murdered, too.
One of Keo Phimpha’s brothers, called Lue-Sai or Meunsai, who had earlier been passed over in the succession, was allowed to reign for 6 months before committing suicide in the Palace gardens. In 1436 Keo Phimpha raised another brother to the throne. This Khong Kham claimed to be a reincarnation of this own father. He died from a fit in 1438.

Then, finally, the aged Keo Phimpha mounted the throne herself. By then the Council of Ministers and the senior nobility had tired of her intrigues, cruelty and bloodshed. They succeeded in deposing Keo Phimpha within a few months of her accession. She was abandoned on a rock at Pha-Dieo, bound together with her husband and grandnephew, Wiang Pha. They died from either thirst, starvation or being eaten by wild animals.