Pepin the Short (or Pepin III) was the King of the Franks from 751 until his death. He was the first of the Carolingians to become king. Pepin the Short was born 714 in Jupille, Belgium (Austrasia) to Charles Martel (686-741) and Rotrude of Treves (690-724) and died 24 September 768 Saint Denis of unspecified causes. He married Bertrada of Laon (720-783) .

The younger son of the Frankish prince Charles Martel and his wife Rotrude, Pepin's upbringing was distinguished by the ecclesiastical education he had received from the monks of St. Denis. Succeeding his father as the Mayor of the Palace in 741, Pepin reigned over Francia jointly with his elder brother Carloman. Pepin ruled in Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence, while his brother Carloman established himself in Austrasia, Alemannia and Thuringia. The brothers were active in suppressing revolts led by the Bavarians, Aquitanians, Saxons, and the Alemanni in the early years of their reign. In 743, they ended the Frankish interregnum by choosing Childeric III, who was to be the last Merovingian monarch, as figurehead king of the Franks.

Being well disposed towards the church and Papacy on account of their ecclesiastical upbringing, Pepin and Carloman continued their father's work in supporting Saint Boniface in reforming the Frankish church, and evangelising the Saxons. After Carloman, who was an intensely pious man, retired to religious life in 747, Pepin became the sole ruler of the Franks. He suppressed a revolt led by his half-brother Grifo, and succeeded in becoming the undisputed master of all Francia. Giving up pretense, Pepin then forced Childeric into a monastery and had himself proclaimed king of the Franks with support of Pope Zachary in 751. The decision was not supported by all members of the Carolingian family and Pepin had to put down a revolt led by Carloman's son, Drogo, and again by Grifo.

As King, Pepin embarked on an ambitious program to expand his power. He reformed the legislation of the Franks and continued the ecclesiastical reforms of Boniface. Pepin also intervened in favour of the Papacy of Stephen II against the Lombards in Italy. He was able to secure several cities, which he then gave to the Pope as part of the Donation of Pepin. This formed the legal basis for the Papal States in the Middle Ages. The Byzantines, keen to make good relations with the growing power of the Frankish empire, gave Pepin the title of Patricius. In wars of expansion, Pepin conquered Septimania from the Islamic Umayyads, and subjugated the southern realms by repeatedly defeating Waiofar and his Gascon troops, after which the Gascon and Aquitanian lords saw no option but to pledge loyalty to the Franks. Pepin was, however, troubled by the relentless revolts of the Saxons and the Bavarians. He campaigned tirelessly in Germany, but the final subjugation of these tribes was left to his successors.

Pepin died in 768 and was succeeded by his sons Charlemagne and Carloman. Although unquestionably one of the most powerful and successful rulers of his time, Pepin's reign is largely overshadowed by that of his more famous son.

Marriage and Family

1st Marriage : Leutberga of the Danube

Pepin married Leutberga from the Danube region. They had five children. She was repudiated some time after the birth of Charlemagne and her children were sent to convents.

2nd Marriage : Bertrada of Laon

In 741, Pepin married Bertrada of Laon. Her father, Charibert, was the son of Pepin II's brother, Martin of Laon. They are known to have had six children (maybe 8 per some sources), at least three of whom survived to adulthood:

  1. Charles (747-818) (Charlemagne)
  2. Carloman (751-771)
  3. Gisela (757-810)
  4. Pepin (759-761) - died young
  5. Chrothais (746-) - died young, buried in Metz
  6. Adelais (c749-) - died young, buried in Metz
  7. unnamed mother of Chunibert daughter of Pepin - may be impossible to prove relationship to this Pepin
  8. unnamed mother of Sintpert daughter of Pepin - may be impossible to prove relationship to this Pepin


Offspring of Pepin the Short Carolingian and Bertrada of Laon (720-783)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Charlemagne (747-814) 2 April 747 Herstal, Belgium 28 January 814 Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Himiltrude (c742-c780)
Desiderata of the Lombards (c744-)
Hildegard (758-783)
Gersuinda (750-aft800)
Madelgarde de Lommois (c760-)
Fastrada of Ingelheim (765-794)
Luitgard of Alamannia (c770-800)
Regina (c780-)
Ethelind (c780-)
Carloman (751-771) 28 June 751 4 December 771 Samoussy Gerberga of Pavia (c750-)
Gisela (757-810) 757 810
Pepin (759-761) 759 France 761 France
Chrothais (746-) 746 Liege, Belgium
Adelais (c749-) 749 Liege, Belgium


Offspring of Charles Martel (686-741) and Rotrude of Treves (690-724)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Hiltrud (-754) 754 Odilo von Bayern (c705-748)
Carloman de Franks (c710-754)
Landrada (c712-) 712 Sigramnus
Auda of France (732-bef755) 722 France Thierry d'Autun (c720-c782)
Pepin the Short (714-768) 714 Jupille, Belgium (Austrasia) 24 September 768 Saint Denis Bertrada of Laon (720-783)

Offspring of Charles Martel (686-741) and Swanachild of Agilolfings (c700-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Grifo (726-753) 726 753

Offspring of Charles Martel (686-741) and Ruodhaid (c700-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Bernard (bef732-787) 732 787
Hieronymus (?-?) Ermentrude
Remigius (?-771) 771
Ian (?-783)


See Also

Footnotes (including sources)