Pepin the Hunchback - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Page 1 of 2
Pepin the Hunchback
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pepin (or Pippin) the Hunchback, (c. 769 – 811) was the eldest
son of Charlemagne by Himiltrude.
Accounts describe Pepin as normally proportioned with
attractive features. However, his looks were marred by a spinal
deformity from which his nickname is derived.
Due to his disability, and possible illegitimacy, Pepin was never
likely to inherit much of the Frankish domains. Nevertheless,
Charles treated his son well, giving him precedence over his
younger brothers as was appropriate for his age. Pepin was an
amiable fellow, and he grew to be a well-liked member of
Charles' court. The hunchbacked prince probably held some hope
for succession from his father. In addition, Pepin was an easy
target for discontented nobles, who lavished sympathies on him
and lamented the treatment his mother had received when
Charles had put her aside in order to marry a Lombard princess,
In 780, Charles formally disinherited Pepin and had the pope Charlemagne and Pepin the
Hunchback. 10th century copy of a
baptize his third son, Carloman, who now received the name
lost original from about 830
Pepin. The name had a special significance as Pepin had been a
recurring name in the Carolingian dynasty. This move may have
been prompted by Hildegard, Charles' wife and Carloman's mother, who felt her son's inheritance
expectations threatened by the hunchbacked prince.
Pepin was allowed to remain at court, and Charles continued to give the boy precedence over his
younger brothers. Pepin also remained a popular "friend" of discontented nobles, and in 792, several
counts played upon Pepin's dislike for his brothers to convince the deformed prince to play the
figurehead in their rebellion. The conspirators planned to kill Charles, his wife Hildegarde, and his three
sons by her. Pepin the Hunchback would then be set upon the throne as a more sympathetic (and more
easily manipulated) king. The day of the assassination, Pepin pretended to be ill in order to meet with
the plotters. The scheme nearly succeeded, but a Lombard deacon named Fardulf ultimately exposed it.
Charlemagne held an assembly at Regensburg to try the conspirators, and all were found guilty of high
treason and ordered executed. Charles seemed still to have held fond feelings for his first son, however,
for Pepin's sentence was commuted. Instead, Pepin was forced to enter the monastery of Prüm to live out
the rest of his life as a monk. Pepin died there some twenty years later.
The Broadway musical Pippin was based on his life, but uses it more as a framework for very modern
issues than to relate history.
Pepin the Hunchback - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Page 2 of 2
1. ^ For the nature of the relationship between Charlemagne and Himiltrude see this article.
■ Winston, Richard (1954). Charlemagne: From the Hammer to the Cross. Indianapolis, Indiana:
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