In 656, at the moment of his accession to power, Sigebert III, the king of Austrasia, had just died, and the Austrasian mayor of the palace, Grimoald, was attempting to usurp the authority. The great nobles, however, appealed to the king of Neustria, Clovis II, and unity was re-established. But in spite of a very firm policy Ebroin was unable to maintain this unity, and while Clotaire III, son of Clovis II, reigned in Neustria and Burgundy, he was obliged in 660 to give the Austrasians a special king, Childeric II, brother of Clotaire III, and a special mayor of the palace, Wulfoald.
He endeavoured to maintain at any rate the union of Neustria and Burgundy, but the great Burgundian nobles wished to remain independent, and rose under St Leger (Leodegar), bishop of Autun, defeated Ebroin, and interned him in the monastery of Luxeuil (670). A proclamation was then issued to the effect that each kingdom should keep its own laws and customs, that there should be no, further interchange of functionaries between the kingdoms, and that no one should again set up a tyranny like that of Ebroin. Soon, however, Leger was defeated by Wulfoald and the Austrasians, and was himself confined at Luxeuil in 673.
In the same year, taking advantage of the general anarchy, Ebroin and Leger left the cloister and soon found themselves once more face to face. Each looked for support to a different Merovingian king, Ebroin even proclaiming a false Merovingian as sovereign. In this struggle Leger was vanquished; he was besieged in Autun, was forced to surrender and had his eyes put out, and, on October 12 678, he was put to death after undergoing prolonged tortures. The church honours him as a saint.
After his death Ebroin became sole and absolute ruler of the Franks, imposing Isis authority over Burgundy and subduing the Austrasians, whom he defeated in 678 at Bois-du-Fay, near Laon. His triumph, however, was short-lived; he was assassinated in 681, the victim of a combined attack of his numerous enemies. He was a man of great energy, but all his actions seem to have been dictated by no higher motives than ambition and lust of power.
See Liber historiae Francorum, edited by B Krusch, in Mon. Germ. hist. script. rer. Merov. vol. ii.; Vita sancti Leodegarii, by Ursinus, a monk of St Maixent (Migne, Pair. Latina, vol. xcvi.); Vita metrica in Poëtae Latini aevi Carolini, vol. iii. (Mod. Germ. hist.); JB Pitra, Histoire de Saint Léger (Paris, 1846); and J Friedrich, Zur Gesch. des Hausmeiers Ebroin, in the Proceedings of the Academy of Munich (1887, pp. 42-61).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.