Day By Day

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This Day In History

Today is what I said yesterday was -- the annual observance of "Festivus", the holiday for the terminally disaffected among you. So just take yesterday's comments and let them serve for today.

On this day in 558 AD [there is some dispute as to the exact date] Childebert I died and people all over Europe breathed a sigh of relief. Childebert was the son of Clovis I [King of the Franks] and Saint Clotilda. Upon his father's death in 511 AD he and his three brothers divided the kingdom, him getting Paris and the lands west to the sea and Brittany. That didn't last long. Soon he and his brother Chlodomer [King of Orleans] teamed up to attack Burgundy. Chlodomer died [they said] in battle and soon afterwards all of his sons and heirs died mysterious deaths. Childebert then annexed Orleans and its possessions to his own realm. Then he resumed his attacks on Burgundy, annexing much of what is today southern France. He then laid claim to the Ostrogothic land of Provence and his surviving brothers (no doubt remembering what had happened to poor Chlodomer) supported his claim. After taking Provence Childebert turned his attention south. He claimed that his sister Chrotilda, wife of Amalaric, Visigothic King of Spain, was being mistreated by her husband. He invaded Spain, and forced Amalaric to retreat to Barcelona; there he was mysteriously assassinated. Childebert then ordered Chrotilda to return home to Paris but she never made it, dying mysteriously on the journey. This gave Childebert an opportunity to annex yet more lands and to resume his attacks on Spanish kingdoms. As I said at the beginning his death came as something of a relief to a lot of people all over Europe. He is today remembered as a great Christian ruler because most of his victims were non-Christian Arians and he built some churches. Such was life among the Merovingians.

Entering the building: A hearty "Happy Birthday" to Jack Ham, a native of Johnstown [born 1948], graduate of Bishop McCort HS, all-American for Penn State, and then all-pro star for the Super Steelers. He done Pennsylvania proud. "Dobre Shunka".