Pepin Carolingian

Pepin Carolingian (abt. 0767 - abt. 0811)

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Pepin "the Hunchback" Carolingian
Born about [location unknown]
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died about [location unknown]
Profile last modified | Created 18 Jul 2014
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Two of Charlemagne's children are easily confused because both were called Pepin:

  • Pepin, called Pepin the Hunchback, was born about 770 to Charlemagne and Himiltrude who was either his mistress or wife according to Germanic custom. He is not known to have had children.
  • Carloman, was named Carloman at birth about 777 to Charlemagne and his wife Hildegard, but baptized with the name Pepin in 781. As Pepin, he became King of Italy.



  • Pepin
  • Pippin
  • Pepin the Hunchback [1]
  • French: Pépin le Bossu, [1]
  • German: Pippin der Buckelige[1]

769 Birth

Pepin was born about 769, the eldest son of Charlemagne. His mother was Charlemagne's mistress Himiltrude, a Frankish noblewoman. [1]

Pepin probably developed kyphosis after birth, leading early medieval historians to give him the epithet "hunchback".

He lived with his father's court even after Charlemagne dismissed his mother and took another wife, Hildegard.

Pepin's Legitimacy

"The circumstances of Pepin's birth remain unclear to modern scholars, especially regarding the legitimacy of his mother's union to Charles. Most Carolingian-era sources dismiss Charles's first union as illegitimate. The contemporary historian Einhard writes merely that Pepin was born to a "concubine", and he does not list him among Charlemagne's legitimate offspring.[2]

"Although it is possible that Pepin was born to a now-forgotten concubine, Einhard is probably referring to Himiltrude—the first child-bearing partner of Charlemagne, about whom little is now known.[2] [3]

"However, Einhard and most other Carolingian historians worked in the courts of Charlemagne's successors, and had a vested interest in undermining the legitimacy of the claims of other potential royal lines. These writers may have maligned Charles's union to Himiltrude after the fact, in order to lend a post facto justification to Pepin's later disinheritance.

"It is possible that the union of Charlemagne and Himiltrude was a Germanic form of marriage with fewer obligations than the sacramental marriage of the Church—what some medievalists have called Friedelehe—although the concept is controversial. [4]

"Paul the Deacon writes in his Gesta Episcoporum Mettensium that Pepin was born ante legale connubium or "before legal marriage", but his precise meaning is unclear: he does not specify as to whether Charles and Himiltrude were not fully, legally married by the church, or if they simply got married after Pepin was born. [4]

"In a letter to Charlemagne, Pope Stephen III described the relationship as a legitimate marriage, but he had a vested interest in preventing Charlemagne from taking a new wife—the daughter of the Lombard king Desiderius, who was a major political enemy of the papacy. [5]

"After Charles ignored Stephens's advice and married the Lombard princess Desiderata, the story of Himiltrude might have been altered and forgotten. Or, perhaps, Charles's resentment over a deformed son led him to divorce Himiltrude once an opportune and advantageous time arrived.[6]

"Yet another possibility is that, when Pepin's hunchback became evident, stories needed to change to accommodate a different heir. At any rate, concepts like legitimacy and rightful inheritance were very likely more fluid for the Carolingians than they were for later monarchies—an ambiguity that continues to provoke debate about Pepin's disinheritance. [7]

What we do know fairly certainly is that Charles fathered a son with a woman named Himiltrude, with whom he may or may not have been married.


Pepin apparently continued to live at his father's court even after Charlemagne dismissed Pepin's mother Himiltrude to marry Desiderata, the daughter of the Lombard king, around 770. [8]

Only after Charlemagne's marriage to Hildegard, and the birth of new male heirs like Charles the Younger (772) and Carloman (773), did Pepin's position seem to become more precarious.

781 Carloman renamed Pepin

Around 781, Pepin's half brother Carloman was rechristened as "Pepin of Italy"—a step that may have signaled Charlemagne's decision to disinherit the elder Pepin, for a variety of possible reasons. [1]

In either 780 or 781, Charles had the young Carloman baptized by Pope Hadrian in Rome, renaming him Pepin.[2] The Poeta Saxo, a 9th-century Latin poet who records the events of Charlemagne's reign, tells us that while Charlemagne "attended the solemnties of Easter the venerable Pope administered soul-saving baptism to Charles's son Pepin [formerly Carloman]." [9]

Even after Carloman was rechristened "Pepin", Charlemagne maintained the older Pepin at his court, right alongside Charles the Younger, one of Charlemagne's sons by Hildegard. [8]

792 Revolt

In 792, Pepin the Hunchback revolted against his father with a group of leading Frankish nobles, but the plot was discovered and put down before the conspiracy could put it into action. Charlemagne commuted Pepin's death sentence, having him tonsured and exiled to the monastery of Prüm instead. [1]

Abbey of Prüm

Pepin became a monk, and settled at the abbey of Prüm (50.206389,6.425833). Located near the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, just north of modern-day Luxembourg, Prüm was far from the heart of Charles’s empire, and therefore a fitting site for exile. Pepin spent his remaining years there, sheltered from political intrigues and upheavals. [1]

811 Death

He died about 811, aged 42. [1]

Sometime around 811, Pepin died while at Prüm, likely from plague. [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  2. Einhard, and Notker The Stammerer. Two Lives of Charlemagne. Trans. David Ganz. N.p.: Penguin, 2008, cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hodgkin, Thomas. The Life of Charlemagne (Charles the Great). [Whitefish, MT]: Kessinger Pub., 2006, cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  4. 4.0 4.1 Goffart, Walter (1986). "Paul the Deacon's 'Gesta Episcoporum Mettensium' and the Early Design of Charlemagne's Succession." Traditio 42: 59–93. JSTOR 27831181, cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  5. Kitterick, Rosamond. Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008; cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  6. Winston, Richard. Charlemagne: From the Hammer to the Cross. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954, cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  7. Airlie, Stuart. "The Aristocracy: Captains and Kings." Charlemagne: Empire and Society. Ed. Joanna Story. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005. cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  8. 8.0 8.1 Scholz, Bernhard Walter, Barbara Rogers, and Nithard. Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard's Histories. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1972. cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback
  9. McKinney, Mary E., trans. The Saxon Poet's Life of Charles the Great. New York: Pageant, 1956, cited by Wikipedia: Pepin the Hunchback

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Images: 1
Charlemagne (left) and his son Pippin of Italy (10th c.)
Charlemagne (left) and his son Pippin of Italy (10th c.)


On 30 Sep 2016 at 21:00 GMT Anonymous (Holland) Carroll wrote:

Source: "Royal Ancestry" 2013 by Douglas Richardson Vol. V. page 483.
PEPIN (or PIPPIN), King of Italy, born April 773, originally named Caroloman. By his mistress, he had one illegitimate son, Bernard [King of Italy]. PEPIN (or PIPPIN), King of Italy, died at Milan 8 July 810

Bernard (Carolingian-119) di Italia (abt. 0797 - 0818)

Thank you,  :-)

On 30 May 2016 at 16:51 GMT Pierre Goolaerts wrote:

King of Italy-13 and Carolingian-153 do not represent the same person because: They are half-brothers. One lived from 767 - 811, the other from 773 - 810. source Wikipedia.

On 15 May 2016 at 02:22 GMT Darlene (Athey) Athey-Hill wrote:

King of Italy-13 and Carolingian-153 appear to represent the same person because: same person; please merge.

Pepin is 38 degrees from Sharon Caldwell, 32 degrees from Burl Ives and 28 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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