Pepin The Short

Pepin III more commonly known as Pepin the Short was an important Frankish ruler in the 8th century. The son of Charles Martel, his accomplishments throughout his life were remarkable.

Pepin The Short

Pepin the Short is considered the first ruler of the famous Carolingian Dynasty of Frankish kings. Pepin the Short’s accomplishments were overshadowed by the greatness of his son Charlemagne.

Childhood years

Pepin the Short was born in 714 C.E. in Jupille, Austrasia which is in present-day Belgium. His father was Charles Martel who held the powerful office of the Mayor of the Palace. His mother was named Chrotrud.

Pepin the Short was schooled by monks at St. Denis. His religious schooling would play a big part throughout his life as King of the Franks.

Pepin the Short would marry Bertrada of Laon in 740 C.E. His wife was the daughter of Caribert of Laon, a noble family. Together they had eight children of which only three survived until adulthood including their eldest son Charlemagne.

Assuming power

In 741 C.E. his father passed away. By this time Charles Martel had expanded the Frankish Kingdom. Upon his death Charles Martel left his power to his two sons, Pepin the Short and Carloman.

He split his duties between the two sons. Pepin the Short assumed the role of Mayor of the Palace of Neustria and Carloman was given the role of Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia. Pepin the Short’s half-brother wanted a share of power but was forced into a monastery after being sieged in Laon.

Through this arrangement Pepin the Short was given the territories of Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence. Carloman was given the territories of Austrasia, Thuringia, and Aemannia.

Together the two brothers ruled Francia jointly until 747 C.E. when Carloman pursued his religious beliefs and entered into a monastery.

During this time in Francia, the Mayor of the Palace had great influence over the nobles in the area. The position of Mayor of the Palace controlled all decisions made by the king who was the Merovingian King Childeric III.

But the Mayor of the Palace had to adhere to any policies set forth by the king. In essence, the king had no power and the Mayor had control over the army and nobles.

Pepin the Short consulted with the papacy about deposing King Childeric III because of his lack of decision making power. He asked Pope Zachary if this was proper to have a king without power.

After consulting with the Lombards, Pope Zachary decided that the power of the king should be centralized. Thus, the pope’s decision left the throne vacant. In 751 C.E. Childreic III was deposed as king and sent to a monastery. This ended the Merovingian Dynasty of Frankish kings.

First King of the Franks

During Pepin the Short’s time of ascending to the throne his step-brother Grifo had escaped from the monastery. Grifo tried to start a rebellion against Pepin the Short. In 753 C.E. Grifo would be killed at the battle of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

After consolidating his power and attacking the Lombards, Pepin the Short gave the newly secured lands from the Lombards to the Church.

The giving of lands to the Church is referred to toady as the Donation of Pepin. This action by Pepin the Short created the Papal States. In return he was crowned the King of Franks a second time in Paris by Pope Stephen II in Paris.

Military campaigns

At the time, Byzantine rulers were impressed by the power of Pepin the Short. The rulers wanted to have good relations with the Frankish king. The Byzantine rulers appointed Pepin the Short as “Patricius”.

In 752 C.E. Pepin the Short turned his attention and army on Septimania which was a Muslim stronghold. It would take seven years to dispose of the Muslims in Septimania who would move into Hispania.

He would later set his sights on Aquitaine and Basque. In 767 C.E. he defeated Waifer of Aquitaine and took over the city of Bordeaux. In 768 C.E. Aquitaine and Basque entered into a pro-Frankish peace treaty.

Throughout his reign, Pepin the Short was forced to put down revolts by the Saxons and Bavarians.

He had little success with his many campaigns into Germany to include these entities into Frankish rule. However, the German entities would succumb to his son Charlemagne in future years.

Pepin the Short passed away in 768 C.E. during the campaign against Aquitaine. He was succeeded by his two sons, Charlemagne and Carloman I. Pepin the Short and his wife were buried at the Church of St. Denis in Paris.

Muslim troops leaving Narbonne in 759, after 40 years of occupation

Important facts about Pepin the Short

  • Pepin the Short was born in 714 C.E. in present-day Belgium. His father was Charles Martel, the Mayor of the Palace in Neustria and Austrasia.
  • He received a strong religious education by monks at the Church St. Denis in present-day Paris.
  • Upon his father’s death in 741 C.E. he was appointed the Mayor of the Neustria. His brother Carloman was made the Mayor of the Austrasia.
  • Pepin the Short assumed power of the Mayor of the Austrasia in 747 C.E. when Carloman entered a monastery and gave up his public role of power.
  • Pepin the Short deposed of the Merovingian King Childeric III with the help of the Church.
  • He was crowned King of the Franks in 751 C.E. by Pope Zachary.
  • Pepin the Short was the first Frankish king of the Caralingian Dynasty.
  • He is the father of Charlemagne.


  1. Who was Pepin the Short’s father?

Charles Martel

  1. Pepin the Short was a member of which family dynasty?


  1. Who did Pepin the Short depose of to become King of the Franks?

Childeric III

  1. Who was Pepin the Short’s son?