CHILDEBERT, the name of three Frankish kings.
Childebert I. (d. 558) was one of the four sons of Clovis. In the partition of his father’s realm in 511 he received as his share the town of Paris, and the country to the north as far as the river Somme, and to the west as far as the English Channel, with the Armorican peninsula. In 524, after the murder of Chlodomer’s children, Childebert annexed the cities of Chartres and Orleans. He took part in the various expeditions against the kingdom of Burgundy, and in 534 received as his share of the spoils of that kingdom the towns of Mâcon, Geneva and Lyons. When Vitiges, the king of the Ostrogoths, ceded Provence to the Franks in 535, the possession of Arles and Marseilles was guaranteed to Childebert by his brothers. Childebert also made a series of expeditions against the Visigoths of Spain; in 542 he took possession of Pampeluna with the help of his brother Clotaire I., and besieged Saragossa, but was forced to retreat. From this expedition he brought back to Paris a precious relic, the tunic of St Vincent, in honour of which he built at the gates of Paris the famous monastery of St Vincent, known later as St Germain-des-Prés. He died without issue in 558, and was buried in the abbey he had founded, where his tomb has been discovered.
See “Nouveaux documents sur le tombeau de Childebert à Saint-Germain-des-Prés,” in the Bulletin de la Société des Antiquaires (1887).
Childebert II. (570–595), king of Austrasia, was a son of Sigebert. When his father was assassinated in 575, Childebert was taken from Paris by Gundobald, one of his faithful leudes, to Metz, where he was recognized as sovereign. He was then only five years old, and during his long minority the power was disputed between his mother Brunhilda and the nobles. Chilperic, king at Paris, and King Gontran of Burgundy, sought alliance with Childebert, who was adopted by both in turn. But after the assassination of Chilperic in 584, and the dangers occasioned to the Frankish monarchy by the expedition of Gundobald in 585, Childebert threw himself unreservedly into the arms of Gontran. By the pact of Andelot in 587 Childebert was recognized as Gontran’s heir, and with his uncle’s help he quelled the revolts of the nobles and succeeded in seizing the castle of Woëwre. Many attempts were made on his life by Fredegond, who was anxious to secure Gontran’s inheritance for her son Clotaire II. On the death of Gontran in 592 Childebert annexed the kingdom of Burgundy, and even contemplated seizing Clotaire’s estates and becoming sole king of the Franks. He died, however, in 595. Childebert II. had had relations with the Byzantine empire, and fought in 585 in the name of the emperor Maurice against the Lombards in Italy.
Childebert III. was one of the last and feeblest of the Merovingians. A son of King Theuderich III., he succeeded his brother Clovis III. in 695, and reigned until 711.
See B. Krusch, “Zur Chronologie der merowingischen Könige,” in Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, xxii. 451-490. (C. Pf.)
CHILDERIC, the name of three Frankish kings.
Childeric I. (c. 437–481), king of the Salian Franks, succeeded his father Merwich (Merwing) as king about. 457. With his tribe he was established around the town of Tournai, on lands which he had received as a foederatus of the Romans, and for some time he kept the peace with his allies. About 463, in conjunction with the Roman general Egidius, he fought against the Visigoths, who hoped to extend their dominion along the banks of the Loire; after the death of Egidius he assisted Count Paul in attempting to check an invasion of the Saxons. Paul having perished in the struggle, Childeric delivered Angers from some Saxons, followed them to the islands at the mouth of the Loire, and massacred them there. He also stopped a band of the Alamanni who wished to invade Italy. These are all the facts known about him. The stories of his expulsion by the Franks; of his stay of eight years in Thuringia with King Basin and his wife Basine; of his return when a faithful servant advised him that he could safely do so by sending to him half of a piece of gold which he had broken with him; and of the arrival at Tournai of Queen Basine, whom he married, are entirely legendary. After the fall of the Western Empire in 476 there is no doubt that Childeric regarded himself as freed from his engagements towards Rome. He died in 481 and was buried at Tournai, leaving a son Clovis (q.v.), afterwards king of the Franks. His tomb was discovered in 1653, when numerous precious objects, arms, jewels, coins and a ring with a figure of the king, were found.
Childeric II. (c. 653–673), king of Austrasia, was a son of the Frankish king Clovis II., and in 660, although a child, was proclaimed king of Austrasia, while his brother, Clotaire III., ruled over the rest of the dominions of Clovis. After the death of Clotaire in 670 he became ruler of the three Frankish kingdoms, Austrasia, Neustria and Burgundy, but soon quarrelled with some supporters in Neustria, and was assassinated whilst hunting. He was buried at St Germain near Paris.
Childeric III. (d. c. 751), king of the Franks, was the last king of the Merovingian dynasty. The throne had been vacant for seven years when the mayors of the palace, Carloman and Pippin the Short, decided in 743 to recognize Childeric as king. We cannot say whose son he was, or what bonds bound him to the Merovingian family. He took no part in public business, which was directed, as before, by the mayors of the palace. When in 747 Carloman retired into a monastery, Pippin resolved to take the royal crown for himself; taking the decisive step in 751 after having received the celebrated answer of Pope Zacharias that it were better to name king him who possessed the power than him who possessed it not. Childeric was dethroned and placed in the monastery of St Omer; his son, Theuderich, was imprisoned at Saint-Wandrille.
See W. Junghans, Die Geschichte der fränkischen Könige Childerich und Clodovech (Göttingen, 1857); J. J. Chiflet, Anastasis Childerici I. Francorum regis (Antwerp, 1655); J. B. D. Cochet, Le Tombeau de Childeric I, roi des Francs (Paris, 1859); and E. Lavisse, Histoire de France, tome ii. (Paris, 1903).
CHILDERS, HUGH CULLING EARDLEY (1827–1896), British statesman, was born in London on the 25th of June 1827. On leaving Cambridge he went out to Australia (1850), and became a member of the government of Victoria, but in 1857 returned to England as agent-general of the colony. Entering parliament in 1860 as Liberal member for Pontefract (a seat that he continued to hold till 1885), he became civil lord of the admiralty in 1864, and in 1865 financial secretary to the treasury. Childers occupied a succession of prominent posts in the various Gladstone ministries. He was first lord of the admiralty from 1868 to 1871, and as such inaugurated a policy of retrenchment. Ill-health compelled his resignation of office in 1871, but next year he returned to the ministry as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. From 1880 to 1882 he was secretary for war, a post he accepted somewhat unwillingly; and in that position he had to bear the responsibility for the reforms which were introduced into the war office under the parsimonious conditions which were then part of the Liberal creed. During his term of office the Egyptian War occurred, in which Childers acted with creditable energy; and also the Boer War, in which he and his colleagues showed to less advantage. From 1882 to 1885 he was chancellor of the exchequer, and the beer and spirit duty in his budget of the latter year was the occasion of the government’s fall. Defeated at the general election at Pontefract, he was returned as a Home Ruler (one of the few Liberals who adopted this policy before Mr Gladstone’s conversion) in 1886 for South Edinburgh, and was home secretary in the ministry of 1886. When the first Home Rule bill was introduced he demurred privately to its financial clauses, and their withdrawal was largely due to his threat of resignation. He retired from parliament in 1892, and died on the 29th of January 1896, his last piece of work being the drafting of a report for the royal commission on Irish financial relations, of which he was chairman. Childers was a capable and industrious administrator of the old Liberal school, and he did his best, in the political conditions then prevailing, to improve the naval and military administration while he was at the admiralty and war office. His own bent was towards finance, but no