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Arégonde

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Arégonde


Aregund, Aregunda, Arnegund, Aregonda, or Arnegonda (circa AD 0515/520-0580) was a Frankish queen, the wife of Clotaire I, king of the Franks, and the mother of Chilperic I of Neustria. She was the sister of Ingund, one of Clotaire's other wives. Ingund and Aregund were the daughters of Baderic, King of Thuringia.

It is said that Ingund was quite alarmed at her sister staying single and asked her husband Clotaire to find Aregund a husband. After meeting his sister-in-law, Clotaire is rumoured to have announced to his wife he had found her indeed a new husband who deserved her: himself!

This needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Whilst Merovingian kings were not polygamist but certainly serial husbands, one needs to have a look at the number of children Ingund and Aregund had. 5 sons and one daughter we know of against only one son.

The study of Aregund's skeleton suggests she had a child when she was aged about 18 which was late for the time as girls generally married at the age of 15. We also know she must have been limping again osteo-archaeology found out she has suffered poliomyelitis at a young age. Clotaire may have married his sister-in-law out of pity of a girl who was not deemed marriable due to her lameness or possibly as the death rate in childbirth was high, Aregund succeeded her sister to foster her orphaned nephews and nieces. Ingund died between 538 and 546 AD.

Whatever the reason Clotaire married his sister-in-law,in 538 he would marry Radegund of Thuringia who would be the great love of his life.

Interestingly enough Aregund and Radegund would both survive their merciless husband. Radegund would become a Saint, while Aregund would be the great-grandmother of the last of the great kings of the Merovingian dynasty, Dagobert I.

Aregund's sarcophagus, among dozens of others, was discovered in 1959 in the Saint Denis Basilica by archaeologist Michel Fleury. It contained remarkably well-preserved clothing items and jewellery, which were used to identify her.

In an episode of the television series, Digging for the Truth, aired in May 2006, host Josh Bernstein arranged a DNA test of a sample of her remains to see if it showed any Middle Eastern characteristics. It did not. This was meant to disprove the notion put forwards by the Da Vinci Code that the Merovingians were descended from Jesus, though Aregund was merely married into the dynasty, not a blood descendant- so the results of this test are totally irrelevant.

References

  • Erlande-Brandenburg, Alain, "Saint-Denis Cathedral", Editions Quest-France, Rennes, n.d.

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/gregory-hist.asp Wemple, Suzanne Fonay, Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500 to 900, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985

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