The 20 Children of Charlemagne

charlemagneThe name Charlemagne — French for Carolus Magnus, or “Carl the strong” — debuted on the girls’ list last year, strangely.

Let’s celebrate this weirdness by checking out what the King of the Franks named his own kids.

Historians believe Charlemagne had about 20 children with various wives and concubines. His first child was born around 768 and his last came along in 807.

Here are the names of Charlemagne’s 11 daughters:

  • Adalhaid – based on the Germanic words adal meaning “noble” and heid meaning “sort, kind.”
  • Adaltrude – based on the Germanic words adal meaning “noble” and þruþ meaning “strength.”
  • Alpaida – ?
  • Amaudru – ?
  • Bertha – based on the Germanic word berht meaning “bright” or “famous.”
  • Gisela – based on the Germanic word gisil meaning “pledge.”
  • Hildegarde – based on the Germanic words hild meaning “battle” and gard meaning “enclosure.”
  • Hiltrude – based on the Germanic words hild meaning “battle” and þruþ meaning “strength.”
  • Rotrude, also written Hruodrud – based on the Germanic words hrod meaning “fame” and þruþ meaning “strength.”
  • Ruodhaid – based on the Germanic words hrod meaning “fame” and heid meaning “sort, kind.”
  • Theodrada – based on the Germanic words þeud meaning “people, race” and rat meaning “advice, counsel.”

And here are the names of Charlemagne’s 9 sons:

  • Carloman, later renamed Pepin/Pippin – the first based on the Germanic words karl meaning “free man” and man meaning “man,” the second of unknown origin, possibly based on the Germanic root bib-, meaning “to tremble.”
  • Charles – based on the Germanic word karl meaning “free man.”
  • Drogo – of unknown origin, possibly based on the Germanic word (gi)drog meaning “ghost,” the Germanic word tragen meaning “to carry,” or the Slavic word dorogo meaning “dear.”
  • Hugh – based on the Germanic word hug meaning “heart, mind, spirit.”
  • Lothair (twin) – based on the Germanic words hrod meaning “fame” and hari meaning “army.”
  • Louis (twin) – based on the Germanic words hrod meaning “fame” and wig meaning “war.”
  • Pippin – see Carloman.
  • Richbod – based on the Germanic words ric meaning “power, ruler” and bod meaning “ruler” or “messenger.”
  • Theodoric – based on the Germanic words þeud meaning “people, race” and ric meaning “power, ruler.”

Which of the above name(s) do you like best?

(And, does anyone know the etymology of either Alpaida or Amaudru? I’m stumped on those.)

Sources:


5 thoughts on “The 20 Children of Charlemagne

  1. The two daughters with question marks are questionable, German and French wikipedias do not list them.

    Most problematic is Amaudru — the quoted source has vanished from the web. The name looks like a French attrition of Amaltrud. amal is either a tribal name or related to a Gothic word meaning “work” or “diligence”

    Alpaida seems also to be badly attested (no source quoted at all), although other bearers of this name can easily be located. The Name is probably analysed as Alb-haid, alb means “elf”.

    To the “like” question: I like Rotraut (a variant of Rotrude) for a girl and Karlmann (the normal german version of Carloman) for a boy best.

  2. Thank you, elbowin!

    (Alpaida and Amaudru do seem to be French versions of Germanic names; I’ve found both as-is in several old French history books.)

  3. Amaudru is most well-known as an officer in the army of French emperor Napoleon. It also may be a (mis-?)rendition of the name Himiltrud.

    Alpaida is (among others) the mother of Charles Martell, and thus one of the great-grandmothers of Charlemagne.

    Even more perplexing is, that seemingly the same person (this time identified as a daughter of Louis the pious, again with lots of uncertainty) can go by the names Alpaida as well as Amaudru (most frequently her name is given as Alpais).

  4. I’m not sure in what order the children were born, but many of them seem to be named in pairs:

    Adalhaid
    Alpaida (Alphaid)

    Adaltrude
    Amaudru (Amaltrud)

    Bertha
    Gisela

    Hildegarde
    Hiltrude

    Rotrude
    Ruodhaid

    Theodrada
    Theodoric

    Carloman
    Charles (Karl)

    Drogo
    Hugh (Hugo)

    Lothair (Chlodochar)
    Louis (Chlodovech)

    Richbod

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