CHILDEBERT, the name of three Frankish kings.
Childebert I. (d. 558) was one of the four sons of Clovis. In the partition of his father's realm in 511 he received as his share the town of Paris, and the country to the north as far as the river Somme, and to the west as far as the English Channel, with the Armorican peninsula. In 524, after the murder of Chlodomer's children, Childebert annexed the cities of Chartres and Orleans. He took part in the various expeditions against the kingdom of Burgundy, and in 534 received as his share of the spoils of that kingdom the towns of Mâcon, Geneva and Lyons. When Vitiges, the king of the Ostrogoths, ceded Provence to the Franks in 535, the possession of Arles and Marseilles was guaranteed to Childebert by his brothers. Childebert also made a series of expeditions against the Visigoths of Spain; in 542 he took possession of Pampeluna with the help of his brother Clotaire I., and besieged Saragossa, but was forced to retreat. From this expedition he brought back to Paris a precious relic, the tunic of St Vincent, in honour of which he built at the gates of Paris the famous monastery of St Vincent, known later as St Germain-des-Prés. He died without issue in 558, and was buried in the abbey he had founded, where his tomb has been discovered.
See "Nouveaux documents sur le tombeau de Childebert à Saint-Germain-des-Prés," in the Bulletin de la Société des Antiquaires (1887).
Childebert II. (570-595), king of Austrasia, was a son of Sigebert. When his father was assassinated in 575, Childebert was taken from Paris by Gundobald, one of his faithful leudes, to Metz, where he was recognized as sovereign. He was then only five years old, and during his long minority the power was disputed between his mother Brunhilda and the nobles. Chilperic, king at Paris, and King Gontran of Burgundy, sought alliance with Childebert, who was adopted by both in turn. But after the assassination of Chilperic in 584, and the dangers occasioned to the Frankish monarchy by the expedition of Gundobald in 585, Childebert threw himself unreservedly into the arms of Gontran. By the pact of Andelot in 587 Childebert was recognized as Gontran's heir, and with his uncle's help he quelled the revolts of the nobles and succeeded in seizing the castle of Woëwre. Many attempts were made on his life by Fredegond, who was anxious to secure Gontran's inheritance for her son Clotaire II. On the death of Gontran in 592 Childebert annexed the kingdom of Burgundy, and even contemplated seizing Clotaire's estates and becoming sole king of the Franks. He died, however, in 595. Childebert II. had had relations with the Byzantine empire, and fought in 585 in the name of the emperor Maurice against the Lombards in Italy.
Childebert III. was one of the last and feeblest of the Merovingians. A son of King Theuderich III., he succeeded his brother Clovis III. in 695, and reigned until 711.
See B. Krusch, "Zur Chronologie der merowingischen Könige," in Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, xxii. 451-490. (C. Pf.)