Chlothar III

Chlothar III (or Chlotar, Clothar, Clotaire, Chlotochar, or Hlothar, giving rise to the name Lothair; 652[1]–73) was the eldest son of Clovis II, king of Neustria and Burgundy, and his queen Balthild. When Clovis died in 658, Chlothar succeeded him under the regency of his mother.[2] Only a month beforehand, according to the near-contemporary Life of Eligius by the courtier Audoin (bishop) of Rouen, Saint Eligius had prophesied the death of Clovis, Balthild's downfall, and Chlothar's short reign.[3]

Chlothar III
A tremissis of Chlothar III minted at Paris
King of Neustria and Burgundy
PredecessorClovis II
SuccessorTheuderic III
King of Austrasia
PredecessorChildebert the Adopted
SuccessorChilderic II
Died673 (aged 2021)
FatherClovis II

Few things are known about the time of Chlothar's reign. The Historia Langobardorum reports that in the early 660s a Frankish army invaded Provence and then Italy.[4] This force came upon the camp of the Lombard king Grimoald I of Benevento, at Rivoli near Asta. Grimuald pretended to flee. The Franks looted the camp and celebrated. Then, after midnight, Grimuald attacked and drove them back to Neustria.

After the death of Saint Eligius in 661, the Life of Eligius records that a plague reduced the population of France's cities.[5] A plague in the British Isles, according to Bede, did the same there in 664.[6]

During the regency, Austrasians requested a king of their own and, in 662, Chlothar's court sent another son of Clovis II, Childeric II, to be king there.[7]

Also during his reign, the mayor of the palace Erchinoald died and a council of Franks elected Ebroin to replace him. Ebroin's early administrative authority was significant: Bede tells the story of how, in 668, the newly appointed Theodore of Canterbury could only travel through the Frankish kingdoms from Rome with the mayor's permission.[8] Chlothar may have been more politically active after this time, as he reached the age of majority in 669. The nearest contemporary chronicle, the Liber Historiae Francorum of 727, relates only that he ruled for four years (presumably a reference to his active years 669-673) and then died. He is confirmed as still being in the sixteenth year of his reign in a chronological note in a Victorian Easter table of 673.[9] His brother Theuderic III succeeded him as king later that same year.

It is notable that he is often described as the first roi fainéantdo-nothing kingof the Merovingian dynasty.


  1. Bachrach, Bachrach & Leese 2018.
  2. Liber historiae Francorum, c. 44, in Fouracre & Gerberding.
  3. Audoin, Life of Eligius, c. 32:
  4. Paul the Deacon, History of the Lombards, V. 5.
  5. Audoin, Life of Eligius, c. 43:
  6. Bede, Ecclesiastical History, III. 27.
  7. Life of Balthild, c. 5
  8. Bede, Ecclesiastical History, IV.1
  9. B. Krusch, ‘Die Einführung des griechischen Paschalritus im Abendlande’, Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere deutsche Geschichteskunde 9 (1884), 99-169 at 132.


  • Bachrach, Bernard S.; Bachrach, David S.; Leese, Michael (2018). Deeds of the Bishops of Cambrai, Translation and Commentary. Routledge.

Further reading

  • Fouracre, P., & R. Gerberding, Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography 640-720 (Manchester, 1996).
  • Geary, Patrick, Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World (Oxford, 1988).
  • Gerberding, Richard, The Liber Historiae Francorum and the Rise of the Carolingians (Oxford, 1987).
  • Wood, Ian, The Merovingian Kingdoms 450-751 (Harlow, 1994).
Chlothar III
Born: 652 Died: 673
Preceded by
Childebert the Adopted
King of the Franks of Austrasia
Succeeded by
Childeric II
Preceded by
Clovis II
King of the Franks of Neustria and Burgundy
Succeeded by
Theuderic III
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