King of Franks Pépin III

King of Franks Pépin III

Male 714 - 768  (54 years)

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  • Name , Pépin 
    Title King of Franks 
    Suffix III 
    Born 714  Austrasia, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Find A Grave Memorial 21102 
    Name The Younger 
    Died 24 Sep 768  St Denis, Cher, Centre, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Seine-Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Saint Denis Basilique
    Person ID I6687  Sullivan Burgess Family Tree
    Last Modified 15 Sep 2018 

    Family ID F2485  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Broadfoot, Bertha of Laon,   b. Abt 720, Laon, Belgium Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Jul 783, Choisy, Bourgogne, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 63 years) 
    Married Abt 740 
    +1. Charlemagne I,   b. 2 Apr 742, Aachener Stadtkreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Jan 814, Aachener Stadtkreis, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 15 Sep 2018 
    Family ID F2486  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 714 - Austrasia, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 24 Sep 768 - St Denis, Cher, Centre, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Seine-Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, France Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Pépin III King of the Franks
    Pépin III King of the Franks

    Pépin III Grave Stone
    Pépin III Grave Stone
    Pépin III Grave Stone
    Pépin III Grave Stone

    Family Crest
    Pépin Family Crest
    Pépin Family Crest

  • Notes 
    • Pépin or Pippin (714 - 24 September 768), called the Short, and often known as Pépin the Younger or Pépin III, was the Mayor of the Palace and Duke of the Franks from 741 and King of the Franks from 751 to 768. He was the Father of Charlemagne.

      He was the son of Charles Martel, mayor of the palace and duke of the Franks, and of Rotrude of Trier (690-724).

      Assumption of power

      Pépin's Father, Charles Martel, died in 741. He divided the rule of the Frankish kingdom between Pépin and his elder brother, Carloman, his surviving sons by his first Wife: Carloman became Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, Pépin became Mayor of the Palace of Neustria.

      Grifo, Charles's son by his second Wife, Swanahild (also known as Swanhilde), demanded a share in the inheritance, but he was imprisoned in a monastery by his two half-brothers.

      As in the Frankish realm the unity of the kingdom was essentially connected with the person of the King, Carloman, to secure this unity raised the Merovingian Childeric to the throne (743). In 747 he resolved to enter a monastery. This left Francia in the hands of Pépin as sole mayor of the palace and dux et princeps Francorum, a title originated by his Grandfather and namesake Pépin of Heristal.

      At the time of Carloman's retirement, Grifo escaped his imprisonment and fled to Duke Odilo of Bavaria, who was married to Hiltrude, Pépin's sister. Pépin put down the renewed revolt led by his half-brother and succeeded in completely restoring the boundaries of the kingdom.

      Under the reorganization of Francia by Charles Martel the dux et princeps Francorum were the commanders of the armies of the kingdom, in addition to their administrative duties as mayor of the palace, and specifically commander of the standing guard which Charles Martel had begun maintaining year-round since Toulouse in 721.

      First Carolingian King

      Pépin was subject to the decisions of Childric who had only the title of King but no power. Childric was considered a joke by the people. Since Pépin had control over the magnates and actually had the power of the King, he now addressed to Pope Zachary the suggestive question: In regard to the kings of the Franks who no longer possess the royal power, is this state of things proper?

      Hard pressed by the Lombards, Pope Zacharias welcomed this advance of the Franks which aimed at ending an intolerable condition of things, and at laying the constitutional foundations for the exercise of the royal power. The pope replied that such a state of things was not proper. The de facto power is more important than the de jure power.

      After this decision the throne was declared vacant. The crown was given him not by the Pope but by the Franks. According to the ancient custom Pépin was then elected King of the Franks by an assembly of Frankish leading-men, with a large portion of his army on hand (in the event that the nobility inclined not to honor the Papal bull), and anointed at Soissons, by Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, who, along with his niece, Saint Leoba, was a court advisor.

      Meanwhile, Grifo continued his rebellion, but was eventually killed in the battle of Saint-Jean de Maurienne in 753. Childeric III was deposed, his hair shaved off and he was confined to a monastery. He was the last of the Merovingians.

      Expansion of the Frankish realm

      Pépin added to his power after Pope Stephen II traveled all the way to Paris to anoint him in a lavish ceremony at Saint Denis Basilica, bestowing upon him the additional title of patricius Romanorum (Patrician of the Romans). As life expectancies were short in those days, and Pépin wanted family continuity, the Pope also anointed Pépin's sons, Charles (eventually known as Charlemagne) and Carloman.

      Pépin the Short's first major act was to go to war against the Lombard King Aistulf, who had a policy of expansion into the ducatus Romanum, as a partial repayment for papal support in his quest for the crown. Victorious, he forced the Lombard King to return property seized from the Church and confirmed the papacy in possession of Ravenna and the Pentapolis, the so-called Donation of Pépin whereby the Papal States was founded.

      In 759, he drove the Saracens out of Gaul with the capture of Narbonne and then consolidated his power further by integrating Aquitaine into the kingdom. In taking Narbonne, and formally annexing Aquitaine (whose status was always dependent on the strength of her suzerains), he completed the work of his Father save for one last task: fully subduing the Saxons. He was preparing for war against them when his health began to fail, and thus, this final task was left for his son, the great Charlemagne.


      Pépin died during a campaign and was brought to Saint Denis to be buried near the saint in 768 and is interred there in the basilica with his Wife Bertrada. Pépin was buried "outside that entrance [of Saint Denis Basilica] according to his wishes, face down, for the sins of his Father Charles Martel".

      The Frankish realm was fractioned according to salic law between his two sons: Charlemagne and Carloman I.

      Historical opinion often seems to regard him as the lesser son and lesser Father of two greater men, though a great man in his own right. He continued to build up the heavy cavalry which his Father had begun. He maintained the standing army that his Father had found necessary to protect the realm and form the core of its full army in wartime.

      He not only maintained his Father's policy of containing the Moors, he drove them over and across the Pyrenees with the capture of Narbonne. He continued his Father's expansion of the Frankish Church (missionary work in Germany and Scandinavia) and the infrastructure (feudalism) that would prove the backbone of medieval Europe.

      His rule, while not as great as either his Father's or son's, was historically important and of great benefit to the Franks as a people. It can certainly be argued that Pépin's assumption of the crown, and the title of Patrician of Rome, were harbingers of his son's imperial coronation which is usually seen as the founding of The Holy Roman Empire. He certainly made the Carolingians de jure what his Father had made them de facto-the ruling dynasty of the Franks and the foremost power of Europe. While not known as a great general, he was undefeated during his lifetime.