Eugène Philastre, The Death of Galswintha, 1846

Queen Galswintha (540–568) was born a wealthy Visigoth princess who was forced to travel to Neustria (part of modern-day France) to marry King Chilperic I. When she arrived the king was quite taken with her. He gifted her the lands of Limoges, Bordeaux, Cahors, Bearn, and Bigorre, and promised to dismiss all his wives and other betrothals if she would marry him (he may have been after her hefty dowry). They were married in 567.

One of Chilperic’s wives, Fredegund, was furious. She continued to sleep with the king and complained bitterly. Fredegund’s influence over Chilperic resulted in him having Galswintha murdered, strangled in her bed.

Galswintha’s sister Brunhilda was married to Chilperic’s brother Sigebert in the neighbouring kingdom of Austrasia. Although Chilperic managed to keep Galswintha’s dowry, the lands he gifted to her were passed on to Brunhilda, who was angry over her sister’s murder. The legacy was 40 years of conflict between Austrasia and Neustria.

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