Fastrada

(d. 794)
   The third wife of the great Carolingian king Charlemagne, Fastrada played a critical role in her husband's reign, according to the biographer Einhard. She was from the eastern part of the Frankish empire, and her marriage to Charlemagne demonstrates the position of women and marriage in the Carolingian kingdom in the eighth century. She also appears in a most negative light in Einhard's biography of Charlemagne.
   After the death of Charlemagne's second wife, Hildegard, in 783, the great king married Fastrada. She was the daughter of a powerful east Frankish count, and the marriage between Charlemagne and Fastrada was an important political arrangement, one that reconciled the king to the powerful east Frankish nobility. The marriage produced two daughters, Theoderada and Hiltrude, of whom little else is known. Useful as the marriage may have been politically, Fastrada herself influenced political events, if Einhard is to be believed, less positively. He accused the queen of great cruelty and of influencing her husband to perpetrate actions "fundamentally opposed to his normal kindness and good nature"(76). As a result, Charlemagne faced two conspiracies during his marriage to Fastrada. The first revolt occurred in 785 and involved a number of nobles from the eastern part of the kingdom, and the second involved his favorite bastard, Pippin the Hunchback, in 792. Both revolts were suppressed, and Einhard blames the revolts on Fastrada and her negative influence on Charlemagne. Although Fastrada's exact role in the origins of the two revolts is unclear, it is likely that she had some influence on her husband and, at the very least, played an important role in the creation of marriage alliances in the Carolingian kingdom.
   See also
   Bibliography
 ♦ Einhard and Notker the Stammerer. Two Lives of Charlemagne. Trans. Lewis Thorpe. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1981.
 ♦ Collins, Roger. Charlemagne. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.
 ♦ Halphen, Louis. Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire. Trans. Giselle de Nie. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1977.
 ♦ McKitterick, Rosamond. The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987. London: Longman, 1983.
 ♦ Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe. Trans. Michael Idomir Allen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.
 ♦ Scholz, Bernhard Walter, trans. Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard's History. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972.
 ♦ Wemple, Suzanne. Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500 to 900. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985.

Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe. 2014.

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