Two Medieval Queens History Tried to Forget

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By Erin Long

We are sharing an article about Shelly Puhak’s new book The Dark Queens. For anyone interested in history, how history is altered, or how women have been erased from most historical narratives, this is for you. It is the history of the Frankish Queens, Brunhild, and Fredegun. 

“…the empire these two queens shared encompassed modern-day France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, western and southern Germany, and swaths of Switzerland. And they ruled during a critical period in Western history. Janus-like, they looked back toward the rule of both the Romans and tribal barbarian warlords, while also looking forward to a new era of nation-states.

The Queens Brunhild and Fredegund are brought to life in this article. Two medieval women who fought their ways into power and maintained it by any means necessary. They ruled with craft and cunning but were quickly wiped away from history.

“The ghosts of these two Frankish queens are everywhere. During their lifetimes, they grabbed power and hung on to it; they convinced warriors, landowners and farmers to support them, and enemies to back down. But as with so many women before them, history blotted out their successes and their biographies. When chroniclers and historians did make note of them, Brunhild and Fredegund were dismissed as minor queens of a minor era.”

At first glance, this may appear to be a story for girls about girls. There is no doubt girls need robust stories about fellow women. This is a story, however, highlighting the full spectrum of determination families had for power. These queens stepped in when the kings were gone. They exercised fierce political and military might to maintain their kingdoms. All with the backdrop of fierce laws that limited and outlawed women from ruling. 

“Both ruled longer than almost every king and Roman emperor who had preceded them. Fredegund was queen for 29 years, and regent for 12 of those years, and Brunhild was queen for 46 years, regent for 17 of them. And these queens did much more than simply hang on to their thrones. They collaborated with foreign rulers, engaged in public works programs, and expanded their kingdoms’ territories. They did all this while shouldering the extra burdens of queenship.”

Please check out this article and share it with your kids. 

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