Plectrude

(d. after 721)
   Wife of the Carolingian mayor of the palace Pippin II of Herstal (d. 714) and, after her husband's death, rival for control of the Frankish kingdom and the Merovingian king with Charles Martel (d. 741), who was Pippin's son by another woman. A member of an important noble family, Plectrude offered Pippin a good marriage alliance and sought to keep control of her power after her husband's death and promote her own heirs to the office of mayor.
   Plectrude was from an important noble family that had extensive domains in the area between the Rhine, Meuse, and Moselle rivers. Her father, Hugobert, was a powerful palace official whose connections and wealth made marriage to Plectrude an attractive proposition. Moreover, she had no brothers, only sisters, and was sure to inherit many of the vast estates of her family, thus making her an even more coveted bride. In 670, Pippin married Plectrude and increased his own power in the north and northwest of the Frankish kingdom as a result. She bore him two sons, Drogo (d. 708) and Grimoald (d. 714), whose marriages further enhanced their father's power. Pippin married the mother of Charles Martel while his first wife still lived, but Plectrude remained the favored and politically prominent wife. She continued by Pippin's side during the rest of his life, signed official documents as his wife, and supported various monasteries in the kingdom, especially Echternach, which was associated with her mother.
   Plectrude remained at her husband's side during his life, and she attempted to keep power after his death in 714. Both of her sons had predeceased their father, Grimoald having died only a few months before Pippin, and after her husband's death she promoted Grimoald's son Theodoald to the office of mayor of the palace to the Merovingian king Dagobert III (d. 715). She also took control of Pippin's treasure and imprisoned her stepson Charles Martel to secure Theodoald's position and prevent Charles from seizing power. Her efforts on her grandson's behalf were met with hostility by the part of the nobility opposed to Pippin and his family. According to a contemporary chronicler, Plectrude kept "Charles from the legitimate governance of his father's authority and she herself, with the infant, in a womanly plan, presumed to control the reins of so great a kingdom" (Fouracre 1996, 365). This hostile chronicler continues that because "she had decided to rule with feminine cunning more cruelly than was necessary, she quickly turned the wrath of the Neustrian Franks to the destruction of her grandson"(365). She faced a revolt that ended with Theodoald in flight and a new mayor, Ragamfred, elected in his stead. The new mayor later marched against her in Cologne and seized part of Pippin's legacy. Not only did she face opposition from outside the family, but her stepson, Charles, also rose against her, seized the rest of his father's wealth, and ultimately took control of the kingdom.
   See also
   Bibliography
 ♦ Fouracre, Paul, and Richard A. Gerberding. Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography, 640-720. Manchester, UK: University of Manchester Press, 1996.
 ♦ Fouracre, Paul. The Age of Charles Martel. New York: Longman, 2000.
 ♦ Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe. Trans. Michael Idomir Allen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.
 ♦ Wallace-Hadrill, J. M., ed. and trans. The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with Its Continuations. London: Nelson, 1960.
 ♦ Wemple, Suzanne. Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500-900. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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