Plectrudis (fl. 665–717)
Plectrudis (fl. 665–717)
Queen and regent of Austrasia and Neustria. Name variations: Plectrud or Plectrude. Flourished between 665 and 717; daughter of Hugobert and Irmina , both founders of Echternach; first and senior wife of Pepin II of Herstol or Heristal, mayor of Austrasia and Neustria (r. 687–714); children: two sons: Grimoald II, mayor of Austrasia and Neustria (d. 714); Drogo, also known as Drogon, duke of Champagne.
First wife of Pepin II and queen and regent of Austrasia and Neustria, Plectrudis became a factor in the political conflicts of the Frankish kingdoms when Pepin fell ill in 714, the same year that her only surviving son Grimoald II was assassinated in Liège. At the time, Pepin held a tenuous authority over Neustria which he had attempted to unite with Austrasia under his rule. He had accomplished this by defeating the Neustrians at the battle of Tertry (near Saint-Quentin) in 687, but his grip on Neustria remained insecure because the noble Neustrian families still thought of him as an outsider, an Austrasian. Pepin had managed to control Neustria with the help of his and Plectrudis' two sons, but trouble erupted at the first sign of weakness. Upon his illness, and the death of Grimoald (son Drogo had also died), Pepin made Grimoald's six-year-old son Theudoald mayor of the palace of Neustria.
Pepin II, however, had more than one wife. His second wife Alphaida (c. 654–c. 714) had given birth to a son, Charles Martel, around 690. Following Pepin's death, it fell to Plectrudis, his senior wife, to protect the power of her grandson, which was now threatened by Martel. First, she imprisoned Martel and established herself at Cologne, assuming the guardianship of Theudoald. But Martel escaped from her custody and rebelled, with the support of his mother's relatives. At the same time, the Neustrians also revolted, electing their own mayor, Raganfred, and setting up a Merovingian puppet, King Chilperic II. After defeating Theudoald in battle in 715, Raganfred took on Martel, whom he also nearly succeeded in destroying. Martel eventually prevailed, however, and after defeating Raganfred at Vinchy (near Cambrai) in 717, he persuaded Plectrudis to surrender Pepin II's possessions and to accept him as head of the family. Martel went on to defeat the invading Muslims in the famous Battle of Tours (732), while Plectrudis slipped into obscurity. Martel founded the Carolingian dynasty dominant in the Frankish kingdom (today's northern France, Belgium, and parts of western Germany); his grandson Charlemagne would continue the expansion.