Fredegund: the Assassination Princess (mid 500s-597)
Here is the most cartoonishly evil woman I have ever come across: Fredegund. This woman was a 6th-century Merovingian queen consort with a penchant for killing people. Her notable life went roughly as follows:
- She works her way into the palace of Chilperic I as a serving woman for the queen, Audovera.
- Chilperic I, although married to Audovera, takes Fredegund as a concubine.
- Fredegund convinces him to divorce Audovera and send her to a nunnery.
- Fredegund then quietly kills Audovera.
- Chilperic then marries another woman, Galswintha.
- Galswintha turns up strangled in her own bed.
- Chilperic marries Fredegund a couple days later, presumably getting the hint.
- Fredegund kills Chilperic’s brother Sigebert (the two brothers had been fighting). She also tries to kill Sigebert’s son.
- Chilperic turns up mysteriously dead.
- Immediately thereafter, Fredegund takes all his money, skips town, and starts living in Notre Dame Cathedral (sanctuary, indeed!) under the protection of Chilperic’s brother, Guntram.
- Three years later she tries to assassinate Guntram.
- Ten years later, Fredegund dies (how, I do not know).
If Fredegund had a foil, it was Galswintha’s sister (and Sigebert’s widow), Brunhild. For forty years, the two of them fought — resulting in endless warfare and, you can be sure, at least one assassination attempt. In the end, Brunhild outlived Fredegund, but even from beyond the grave, Fredegund had the last word.
Sixteen years after Fredegund’s death, with Brunhild now a sixty-something woman, Fredegund’s son killed her in as brutal a manner as I’ve ever heard. First, torture on the rack. Next, each of her extremities was tied to a different horse, and they were all set to run in different directions, tearing her apart. Lastly, they burnt her body.
But none of these are the craziest thing Fredegund ever did.
So what is the craziest thing she ever did? Well, you see, she had a daughter, Rigunth. Rigunth, as princesses do, was looking forward to one day being queen herself. One day, exasperated by her daughter’s “I want to be queen nowww” whining, Fredegund told her to go look inside Chilperic’s treasure chest and pick out some jewelry for herself.
When Rigunth poked her head in the treasure chest, Fredegund slammed it shut on her neck. Had servants not stopped her, she would have killed her own daughter.
Fredegund: cartoonishly, overwhelmingly evil.
- She has non-complementary colors, to emphasize how off she is (roughly the same color scheme as the Joker!).
- Her costume is as period-appropriate as I could figure. I found getting period reference for this character pretty difficult.
- I’m not happy with the disco light effect cause by light glinting off of the armor, but I maintain it could work. I just need to give it another go down the line.
- This was originally posted to the web on Mother’s Day.
MAJOR thanks to Chad Denton for helping me expand upon Fredegund’s story.
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