The Coronation Ritual

[...]Under Merovee's successors the kingdom of the Franks flourished. It was not the crude barbaric culture often imagined. On the contrary, it warrants comparison in many respects with the "high civilisation" of Byzantium. Even secular literacy was encouraged. Under the Merovingians secular literacy was more widespread than it would be two dynasties and five hundred years later. This literacy extended up to the rulers themselves a most surprising fact, given the rude, untutored and unlettered character of later medieval monarchs. King Chilperic, for example, who reigned during the sixth century, not only built lavish Roman-style amphitheatres at Paris and Soissons, but was also a dedicated and accomplished poet, who took considerable pride in his craft. And there are verbatim accounts of his discussions with ecclesiastical authorities which reflect an extraordinary subtlety, sophistication and learning hardly qualities one would associate with a king of the time. In many of these discussions Chilperic proves himself more than equal to his clerical interlocutors.s Under Merovingian rule the Franks were often brutal, but they were not really a warlike people by nature or disposition. They were not like the Vikings, for instance, or the Vandals, Visigoths or Huns. Their main activities were farming and commerce. Much attention was devoted to maritime trade, especially in the Mediterranean. And the artefacts of the Merovingian epoch reflect a quality of workmanship which is truly amazing as the Sutton Hoo treasure ship attests. The wealth accumulated by the Merovingian kings was enormous, even by later standards. Much of this wealth was in gold coins of superb quality, produced by royal mints at certain important sites including what is now Sion in Switzerland. Specimens of such coins were found in the Sutton Hoo treasure ship, and can now be seen in the British Museum. Many of the coins bear a distinctive equal-armed cross, identical to the one subsequently adopted during the Crusades for the Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem.

[...]Sons of the Merovingian blood were not "created" kings. On the contrary they were automatically regarded as such on the advent of their twelfth birthday. There was no public ceremony of anointment, no coronation of any sort. Power was simply assumed, as by sacred right. But while the king was supreme authority in the realm, he was never obliged or even expected to sully his hands with the mundane business of governing- He was essentially a ritualised figure, a priest-king, and his role was not necessarily to do anything, simply to be. The king ruled, in short, but did not govern. In this respect, his status was somewhat similar to that of the present British royal family. Government and administration were left to a non-royal official, the equivalent of a chancellor, who held the title "Mayor of the Palace'. On the whole the structure of the Merovingian regime had many things in common with modern constitutional monarchies. Even after their conversion to Christianity the Merovingian rulers, like the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, were polygamous. On occasion they enjoyed harems of oriental proportions. Even when the aristocracy, under pressure from the Church, became rigorously monogamous, the monarchy remained exempt. And the Church, curiously enough, seems to have accepted this prerogative without any inordinate protest. According to one modern commentator: Why was it [polygamy] tacitly approved by the Franks themselves? We may here be in the presence of ancient usage of polygamy in a royal family a family of such rank that its blood could not be ennobled by any match, however advantageous, nor degraded by the blood of slaves ... It was a matter of indifference whether a queen were taken from a royal dynasty or from among courtesans ... The fortune of the dynasty rested in its blood and was shared by all who were of that blood."

[...]Certainly the Merovingian kings do not seem to have been anti-Semitic. On the contrary they seem to have been not merely tolerant, but downright sympathetic to the Jews in their domains and this despite the assiduous protests of the Roman Church. Mixed marriages were a frequent occurrence. Many Jews, especially in the south, possessed large landed estates. Many of them owned Christian slaves and servants. And many of them acted as magistrates and highranking administrators for their Merovingian lords. On the whole the Merovingian attitude towards Judaism seems to have been without parallel in Western history prior to the Lutheran Reformation.

The Merovingians themselves believed their miraculous power to be vested, in large part, in their hair, which they were forbidden to cut. Their position on this matter was identical to that of the Nazorites in the Old Testament, of whom Samson was a member. There is much evidence to suggest that Jesus was also a Nazorite. According to both early Church writers and modern scholars his brother, Saint James, indisputably was.

[...] The most famous of all Merovingian rulers was Merovee's grandson, Clovis I, who reigned between 481 and 511. Clovis's name is familiar to any French schoolchild, for it was under Clovis that the Franks were converted to Roman Christianity. And it was through Clovis that Rome began to establish her undisputed supremacy in Western Europe a supremacy that would remain unchallenged for a thousand years. By 496 the Roman Church was in a precarious situation. During the course of the fifth century, its very existence had been severely threatened. Between 384 and 399 the bishop of Rome had already begun to call himself the pope, but his official status was no greater than that of any other bishop, and quite different from that of the pope today. He was not, in any sense, the spiritual leader or supreme head of Christendom. He merely represented a single body of vested interests, one of many divergent forms of Christianity and one which was desperately fighting for survival against a multitude of conflicting schisms and theological points of view. Officially the Roman Church had no greater authority than, say, the Celtic church -with which it was constantly at odds. It had no greater authority than heresies such as Arianism, which denied Jesus's divinity and insisted on his humanity. Indeed during much of the fifth century every bishopric in Western Europe was either Arian or vacant. If the Roman Church was to survive, still more assert its authority, it would need the support of a champion a powerful secular figure who might represent it. If Christianity was to evolve in accordance with Roman doctrine, that doctrine would have to be disseminated, implemented and imposed by secular force a force sufficiently powerful to withstand and eventually extirpate the challenge of rival Christian creeds.

Not surprisingly the Roman Church, in its most acute moment of need, turned to Clovis. By 486 Clovis had significantly increased the extent of Merovingian domains, striking out from the Ardennes to annex a number of adjacent kingdoms and principalities, vanquishing a number of rival tribes. As a result, many important cities Troyes, for instance, Rheims and Amiens were incorporated into his realm. Within a decade it was apparent that Clovis was well on his way to becoming the most powerful potentate in Western Europe. The conversion and baptism of Clovis proved to be of crucial importance to our investigation. An account of it was compiled, in all its particulars and details, around the time it happened. Two and a half centuries later this account, called The Life of Saint Remy, was destroyed, except for a few scattered manuscript pages. And the evidence suggests that it was destroyed deliberately. Nevertheless the fragments that survive bear witness to the importance of what was involved. According to tradition, Clovis's conversion was a sudden and unexpected affair, effected by the king's wife, Clothilde - a fervent devotee of Rome, who seems to have badgered her husband until he accepted her faith and who was subsequently canonised for her efforts. In these efforts she was said to have been guided and assisted by her confessor, Saint Remy. But behind these traditions, there lies a very practical and mundane historical reality.

When Clovis was converted to Roman Christianity and became first Catholic king of the Franks, he had more to gain than his wife's approbation, and a kingdom more tangibly substantial than the kingdom of Heaven. It is known that in 496 a number of secret meetings occurred between Clovis and Saint Remy. Immediately thereafter an accord was ratified between Clovis and the Roman Church. For Rome this accord constituted a major political triumph. It would ensure the Church's survival, and establish that Church as supreme spiritual authority in the West. It would consolidate Rome's status as an equal to the Greek Orthodox faith based in Constantinople. It would offer a prospect of Roman hegemony and an effective means of eradicating the hydra heads of heresy. And Clovis would be the means of implementing these things the sword of the Church of Rome, the instrument whereby Rome imposed her spiritual dominion, the secular arm and palpable manifestation of Roman power.

In return Clovis was granted the title of "Novus Constantinus' - "New Constantine'. In other words, he was to preside over a unified empire a "Holy Roman Empire' intended to succeed the one supposedly created under Constantine and destroyed by the Visigoths and Vandals not long before. According to one modern expert of the period, Clovis, prior to his baptism, was `fortified ... with visions of an empire in succession to that of Rome, which should be the inheritance of the Merovingian race." According to another modern writer, "Clovis must now become a kind of western emperor, a patriarch to the western Germans, reigning over, though not governing, all peoples and kings." The pact between Clovis and the Roman Church, in short, was one of momentous consequence to Christendom not only the Christendom of the time, but also the Christendom of the next millennium. Clovis's baptism was deemed to mark the birth of a new Roman empire a Christian empire, based on the Roman Church and administered, on the secular level, by the Merovingian bloodline. In other words, an indissoluble bond was established between church and state, each pledging allegiance to the other, each binding itself to the other in perpetuity. In ratification of this bond, in 496, Clovis allowed himself to be formally baptised by Saint Remy at Rheims.

[...] It is important to note that Clovis's baptism was not a coronation as historians sometimes suggest. The Church did not make Clovis a king. He was already that, and all the Church could do was recognise him as such. By virtue of so doing, the Church officially bound itself not to Clovis alone, but to his successors as well not to a single individual, but to a bloodline. In this respect the pact resembled the covenant which God, in the Old Testament, makes with King David a pact which can be modified, as in Solomon's case, but not revoked, broken or betrayed. And the Merovingians did not lose sight of the parallel. During the remaining years of his life Clovis fully realised Rome's ambitious expectations of him. With irresistible efficiency, faith was imposed by the sword; and with the sanction and spiritual mandate of the Church, the Frankish kingdom expanded to both east and south, encompassing most of modern France and much of modern Germany. Among Clovis's numerous adversaries the most important were the Visigoths, who adhered to Arian Christianity. It was against the empire of the Visigoths which straddled the Pyrenees and extended as far north as Toulouse that Clovis directed his most assiduous and concerted campaigns. In 507 he decisively defeated the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouille. Shortly thereafter Aquitaine and Toulouse fell into Frankish hands. The Visigoth empire north of the Pyrenees effectively collapsed before the Frankish ohslaught. From Toulouse, the Visigoths fell back to Carcassonne. Driven from Carcassonne, they established their capital, and last remaining bastion, in the Razes, at Rhedae now the village of Rennes-leChateau.

In 511 Clovis died, and the empire he had created was divided, according to Merovingian custom, between his four sons. For more than a century thereafter the Merovingian dynasty presided over a number of disparate and often warring kingdoms, while lines of succession became increasingly tangled and claims to thrones increasingly confused. The authority once centralised in Clovis became progressively more diffuse, progressively more inchoate, and secular order deteriorated. Intrigues, machinations, kidnappings and political assassination became ever more commonplace. And the court chancellors, or "Mayors of the Palace", accumulated more and more power a factor which would eventually contribute to the fall of the dynasty. Bereft increasingly of authority the later Merovingian rulers have often been called "les rois faineant" - "the enfeebled kings". Posterity has contemptuously stigmatised them as weak, ineffectual monarchs, effeminate and pliably helpless in the hands of cunning and wily counsellors. Our research revealed that this stereotype was not strictly accurate. It is true that the constant wars, vendettas and internecine strife thrust a number of Merovingian princes on to the throne at an extremely youthful age and they were thus easily manipulated by their advisers. But those who did attain manhood proved as strong and decisive as any of their predecessors. This certainly seems to have been the case with Dagobert II.

Dagobert II was born in 653, heir to the kingdom of Austrasie. On his father's death in 656 extravagant attempts were made to preciude his inheritance of the throne. Indeed Dagobert's early life reads like a medieval legend, or a fairy tale. But it is well documented history." On his father's death Dagobert was kidnapped by the presiding Mayor of the Palace, an individual named Grimoald. Attempts to find the five-year-old child proved fruitless, and it was not difficult to convince the court that he was dead. On this basis Grimoald then engineered his own son's acquisition of the throne, claiming this had been the wish of the former monarch, Dagobert's deceased father. The ruse worked effectively. Even Dagobert's mother, believing her son dead, deferred to the ambitious Mayor of the Palace. However, Grimoald had apparently balked at actually murdering the young prince. In secret Dagobert had been confided to the charge of the bishop of Poitiers. The bishop, it seems, was equally reluctant to murder the child. Dagobert was therefore consigned to permanent exile in Ireland. He grew into manhood at the Irish monastery of Slane, `2 not far from Dublin; and here, at the school attached to the monastery, he received an education unobtainable in France at the time. At some point during this period he is supposed to have attended the court of the High King of Tara. And he is said to have made the acquaintance of three Northumbrian princes, also being educated at Slane. In 666, probably still in Ireland, Dagobert married Mathilde, a Celtic princess. Not long after he moved from Ireland to England, establishing residence at York, in the kingdom of Northumbria. Here he formed a close friendship with Saint Wilfrid, bishop of York, who became his mentor.

During the period in question a schism still existed between the Roman and Celtic Churches, with the latter refusing to acknowledge the former's authority. In the interests of unity Wilfrid was intent on bringing the Celtic Church into the Roman fold. This he had already accomplished at the famous Council of Whitby in 664. But his subsequent friendship and patronage of Dagobert II may not have been devoid of ulterior motive. By Dagobert's time Merovingian allegiance to Rome as dictated by the Church's pact with Clovis a century and a half before -was somewhat less fervent than it might have been. As a loyal adherent of Rome, Wilfrid was eager to consolidate Roman supremacy not only in Britain, but on the continent as well. Were Dagobert to return to France and reclaim the kingdom of Austrasie, it would have been expedient to ensure his fealty. Wilfrid may well have seen the exiled king as a possible future sword-arm of the Church. In 670 Mathilde, Dagobert's Celtic wife, died giving birth to her third daughter. Wilfrid hastened to arrange a new match for the recently bereft monarch, and in 671 Dagobert married for the second time. If his first alliance was of potential dynastic import, his second was even more so. Dagobert's new wife was Giselle de Razes, daughter of the count of Razes and niece of the king of the Visigoths. In other words the Merovingian bloodline was now allied to the royal bloodline of the Visigoths. Herein lay the seeds of an embryonic empire which would have united much of modern France, extending from the Pyrenees to the Ardennes. Such an empire, moreover, would have brought the Visigoths still with strong Arian tendencies firmly under Roman control.

When Dagobert married Giselle, he had already turned to the continent. According to existing documentation, the marriage was celebrated at Giselle's official residence of Rhedae, or Rennes-leChateau. Indeed, the marriage was reputedly celebrated in the church of Saint Madeleine the structure on the site of which Berenger Sauniere's church was subsequently erected. Dagobert's first marriage had produced three daughters but no male heir. By Giselle, Dagobert had two more daughters and at last, in 676, one son the infant Sigisbert IV. And by the time Sigisbert was born, Dagobert was once more a king. For some three years he seems to have bided his time at Rennes-leChateau, watching the vicissitudes of his domains to the north. Finally, in 674, the opportunity had presented itself. With the support of his mother and her advisers, the long-exiled monarch announced himself, reclaimed his realm and was officially proclaimed king of Austrasie. Wilfrid of York was instrumental in his reinstatement. According to Gerard de Sede, so too was a much more elusive, much more mysterious figure, about whom there is little historical information Saint Amatus, bishop of Sion in Switzerland.

Once restored to the throne, Dagobert was no roi faineant. On the contrary, he proved to be a worthy successor to Clovis. At once he set about asserting and consolidating his authority, taming the anarchy that prevailed throughout Austrasie and re-establishing order. He ruled firmly, breaking the control of various rebellious nobles who had mobilised sufficient military and economic power to challenge the throne. And at Rennes-leChateau he is said to have amassed a substantial treasury. These resources were to be used to finance the reconquest of Aquitaine, which had seceded from Merovingian hands some forty years previously and declared itself an independent principality. At the same time Dagobert must have been a severe disappointment to Wilfrid of York. If Wilfrid had expected him to be a sword-arm of the Church, Dagobert proved nothing of the sort. On the contrary he seems to have curbed attempted expansion on the part of the Church within his realm, and thereby incurred ecclesiastical displeasure. A letter from an irate Frankish prelate to Wilfrid exists, condemning Dagobert for levying taxes, for "scorning the churches of God together with their bishops". Nor was this the only respect in which Dagobert seems to have run foul of Rome. By virtue of his marriage to a Visigoth princess he had acquired considerable territory in what is now the Languedoc. He may also have acquired something else.

The Visigoths were only nominally loyal to the Roman Church. In fact their allegiance to Rome was extremely tenuous, and a tendency towards Arianism still obtained in the royal family. There is evidence to suggest that Dagobert absorbed something of this tendency. By 679, after three years on the throne, Dagobert had made a number of powerful enemies, both secular and ecclesiastic. By curbing their rebellious autonomy, he had incurred the hostility of certain vindictive nobles. By thwarting its attempted expansion, he had roused the antipathy of the Church. By establishing an effective and centralised regime, he had provoked the envy and alarm of other Frankish potentates the rulers of adjacent kingdoms. Some of these rulers had allies and agents within Dagobert's realm. One such was the king's own Mayor of the Palace, Pepin the Fat. And Pepin, clandestinely aligning himself with Dagobert's political foes, did not shrink from either treachery or assassination. Like most Merovingian rulers, Dagobert had at least two capital cities. The most important of these was Stenay, on the fringe of the Ardennes. Near the royal palace at Stenay stretched a heavily wooded expanse, long deemed sacred, called the Forest of Woevres.

It was in this forest, on December 23rd, 679, that Dagobert is said to have gone hunting. Given the date, the hunt may well have been a ritual occasion of some sort. In any case, what followed evokes a multitude of archetypal echoes, including the murder of Siegfried in the Nibelungenlied. Towards midday, succumbing to fatigue, the king lay down to rest beside a stream, at the foot of a tree. While he slept, one of his servants. supposedly his godson stole furtively up to him and, acting under Pepin's orders, pierced him with a lance through the eye. The murderers then returned to Stenay, intent on exterminating the rest of the family in residence there. How successful they were in this latter undertaking is not clear. But there is no question that the reign of Dagobert and his family came to an abrupt and violent end. Nor did the Church waste much time grieving. On the contrary, it promptly endorsed the actions of the king's assassins. There is even a letter from a Frankish prelate to Wilfrid of York, which attempts to rationalise and justify the regicide. Dagobert's body and posthumous status both underwent a curious number of vicissitudes. Immediately after his death, he was buried at Stenay, in the Royal Chapel of Saint Remy. In 872 nearly two centuries later he was exhumed and moved to another church. This new church became the Church of Saint Dagobert, for in the same year the dead king was canonised, not by the pope (who did not claim this right exclusively until 1159), but by a Metropolitan Conclave.

The reason for Dagobert's canonisation remains unclear. According to one source, it was because his relics were believed to have preserved the vicinity of Stenay against Viking raids though this explanation begs the question, for it is not clear why the relics should have possessed such powers in the first place. Ecclesiastical authorities seem embarrassingly ignorant concerning the matter. They admit that Dagobert, for some reason, became the object of a fully fledged cult and had his own feast day December 23rd, the anniversary of his death. But they seem utterly at a loss as to why he should have been so exalted. It is possible, of course, that the Church felt guilty about its role in the king's death. Dagobert's canonisation may therefore have been an attempt to make amends. If so, however, there is no indication of why such a gesture should have been deemed necessary, nor why it should have had to wait for two centuries.

[...]Strictly speaking Dagobert was not the last ruler of the Merovingian dynasty. In fact Merovingian monarchs retained at least nominal status for another three quarters of a century. But these last Merovingians did warrant the appellation of rois faineants. Many of them were extremely young. In consequence they were often weak, helpless pawns in the hands of the Mayors of the Palace, incapable of asserting their authority or of making decisions of their own. They were really little more than victims; and more than a few became sacrifices. Moreover, the later Merovingians were of cadet branches, not scions of the main line descended from Clovis and Merovee. The main line of Merovingian descent had been deposed with Dagobert II. To all intents and purposes, therefore, Dagobert's assassination may be regarded as signalling the end of the Merovingian dynasty. When Childeric III died in 754, it was a mere formality so far as dynastic power was concerned. As rulers of the Franks the Merovingian bloodline had been effectively extinct long before. As power seeped from the hands of the Merovingians, it passed into the hands of the Mayors of the Palace a process that had already commenced before Dagobert's reign. It was a Mayor of the Palace. Pepin the Fat, who engineered Dagobert's death. And Pepin the Fat was followed by his son, the famous Charles Martel.

In the eyes of posterity Charles Martel is one of the most heroic figures in French history. There is certainly some basis for the acclaim given him. Under Charles the Moorish invasion of France was checked at the Battle of Poitiers in 732; and Charles, by virtue of this victory, was, in some sense, both "defender of the Faith" and "saviour of Christendom". What is curious is that Charles Martel, strong man though he was, never seized the throne - which certainly lay within his grasp. In fact he seems to have regarded the throne with a certain superstitious awe and, in all probability, as a specifically Merovingian prerogative. Certainly Charles's successors, who did seize the throne, went out of their way to establish their legitimacy by marrying Merovingian princesses. Charles Martel died in 741. Ten years later his son, Pepin III, Mayor of the Palace to King Childeric III, enlisted the support of the Church in laying formal claim to the throne. "Who should be king?" Pepin's ambassadors asked the pope. "The man who actually holds power, or the one who holds the title ?" By apostolic authority The Pope ordered that Pepin be created king of the Franks - a brazen betrayal of the pact ratified with Clovis two and a half centuries before. Thus endorsed by Rome, Pepin deposed Childeric III, confined the king to a monastery and to humiliate him, to deprive him of his "magical powers' or both had him shorn of his sacred hair. Four years later Childeric died, and Pepin's claim to the throne was undisputed.

A year before a crucial document had conveniently made its appearance, which subsequently altered the course of Western history. This document was called the "Donation of Constantine'. Today there is no question that it was a forgery, concocted and not very skilfully within the papal Chancery. At the time, however, it was deemed genuine, and its influence was enormous. The "Donation of Constantine" purported to date from Constantine's alleged conversion to Christianity in A.D. 312. According to the "Donation", Constantine had officially given to the bishop of Rome his imperial symbols and regalia, which thus became the Church's property. The "Donation" further alleged that Constantine, for the first time, had declared the bishop of Rome to be "Vicar of Christ" and offered him the status of emperor. In his capacity as "Vicar of Christ" the bishop had supposedly returned the imperial regalia to Constantine, who wore them subsequently with ecclesiastical sanction and permission more or less in the manner of a loan.

The implications of this document are clear enough. According to the "Donation of Constantine", the bishop of Rome exercised supreme secular as well as supreme spiritual authority over Christendom. He was, in effect, a papal emperor, who could dispose as he wished of the imperial crown, who could delegate his power or any aspect thereof as he saw fit. In other words he possessed, through Christ, the unchallengeable right to create or depose kings. It is from the "Donation of Constantine" that the subsequent power of the Vatican in secular affairs ultimately derives. Claiming authority from the "Donation of Constantine", the Church deployed its influence on behalf of Pepin III. It devised a ceremony whereby the blood of usurpers, or anyone else for that matter, could be made sacred. This ceremony came to be known as coronation and anointment as those terms were understood during the Middle Ages and on into the Renaissance. At Pepin's coronation, bishops for the first time were authorised to attend, with rank equal to that of secular nobles. And the coronation itself no longer entailed the recognition of a king, or a pact with a king. It now consisted of nothing less than the creation of a king.

The ritual of anointment was similarly transformed. In the past, when practised at all, it was a ceremonial accoutrement an act of recognition and ratification. Now, however, it assumed a new significance. Now it took precedence over blood, and could "magically", as it were, sanctify blood. Anointment became something more than a symbolic gesture. It became the literal act whereby divine grace was conferred upon a ruler. And the pope, by performing this act, became supreme mediator between God and kings. Through the ritual of anointment, the Church arrogated to itself the right to make kings. Blood was now subordinate to oil. And all monarchs were rendered ultimately subordinate, and subservient, to the pope. In 754 Pepin III was officially anointed at Ponthion, thus inaugurating the Carolingian dynasty. The name derives from Charles Martel, although it is generally associated with the most famous of Carolingian rulers, Charles the Great, Carolus Magnus or, as he is best known, Charlemagne. And in 800 Charlemagne was proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor a title which, by virtue of the pact with Clovis three centuries before, should have been reserved exclusively for the Merovingian bloodline. Rome now became the seat of an empire that embraced the whole of Western Europe, whose rulers ruled only with the sanction of the pope.

In 496 the Church had pledged itself in perpetuity to the Merovingian bloodline. In sanctioning the assassination of Dagobert, in devising the ceremonies of coronation and anointment, in endorsing Pepin's claim to the throne, it had clandestinely betrayed its pact. In crowning Charlemagne it had made its betrayal not only public, but a fait accompli. In the words of one modern authority: "We cannot therefore be sure that the anointing with chrism of the Carolingians was intended to compensate for the loss of magical properties of the blood symbolised by long hair. If it compensated for anything, it was probably for loss of faith incurred in breaking an oath of fidelity in a particularly shocking way". And again, "Rome showed the way by providing in unction a king-making rite that somehow cleared the consciences of all the Franks".

Not all consciences, however. The usurpers themselves seem to have felt, if not a sense of guilt, at least an acute need to establish their legitimacy. To this end Pepin III, immediately before his anointment, had ostentatiously married a Merovingian princess. And Charlemagne did likewise. Charlemagne, moreover, seems to have been painfully aware of the betrayal involved in his coronation. According to contemporary accounts, the coronation was a carefully stage-managed affair, engineered by the pope behind the Frankish monarch's back; and Charlemagne appears to have been both surprised and profoundly embarrassed. A crown of some sort had already been clandestinely prepared. Charlemagne had been lured to Rome and there persuaded to attend a special mass. When he took his place in the church, the pope, without warning, placed a crown upon his head, while the populace acclaimed him as "Charles, Augustus, crowned by God, the great and peace-loving emperor of the Romans". In the words of a chronicler writing at the time, Charlemagne "made it clear that he would not have entered the Cathedral that day at all, although it was the greatest of all festivals of the Church, if he had known in advance what the Pope was planning to do. ` But whatever Charlemagne's responsibility in the affair, the pact with Clovis and the Merovingian bloodline had been shamelessly betrayed.

[...] The Carolingians, then all others, are but usurpers. In effect, they were but functionaries of the king, charged with administering lands who, after transmitting by heredity their right to govern these lands, then purely and simply seized power for themselves. In consecrating Charlemagne in the year 800, the Church perjured itself, for it had concluded, at the baptism of Clovis, an alliance with the Merovingians which had made France the eldest daughter of the Church. The Exclusion of Dagobert II from History With the murder of Dagobert II in 679 the Merovingian dynasty effectively ended. With the death of Childeric III in 755 the Merovingians seemed to vanish from the stage of world history completely.

[...]According to scholars, anointing was a deliberate attempt to suggest that the Frankish monarchy was a replica, if not actually a continuation, of the Judaic monarchy in the Old Testament. This, in itself, is extremely interesting. For why would Pepin the usurper want to legitimise himself by means of a Biblical prototype? Unless the dynasty he deposed, the Merovingian dynasty, had legitimised itself by precisely the same means.

[Source: Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln - Holy Blood, Holy Grail]