Fredegund! (died 597)
“In revenge and in love, woman is more barbaric than man is.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
She was the Queen Consort of Chilperic I. King of the Soissons (people of northern France), but not because of her noble blood. Au contraire. Fredegund was a slave/servant to the King’s wife. Somehow she seduced the king and talked him into divorcing his first wife and sending her to a convent. The plot didn’t really work out at first- Chilperic ended up marrying another woman, Galswintha.
This did NOT go over well. Galswintha died the same year. She was strangled in her sleep. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Chilperic then (probably for self-preservation purposes) married Fredegund.
There are many, many deaths associated with Fredegund and her violent, bloodthirsty ways. Death by poisoned beverages, assassins, torture, and mutilation.
So ok… stay with me here because this gets good.
Brunhilde, Galswintha’s sister, launched a seven year war with Chilperic and Fredegund. Fail. Fredegund defeated everyone and had King Seigebert (Brunhilde’s husband and Chilperic’s half-brother) stabbed in kidneys during a speech about vengeance. She captured Brunhilde and was planning all sorts of torture for her- but Brunhilde was rescued. Seigebert’s top government official was also captured. That poor guy was dismembered with red hot pokers. Ouch. A bit overboard, but whatevs.
She continued on a power rampage by going after Chilperic’s first wife (the one in the convent). She killed her and her sons by infecting them with dysentery. WHAT? Conspirators and supporters of the first wife were also tortured and executed in all sorts of horrible ways.
She even tried to murder her own daughter by slamming her head in a chest!
Her son, Clothar II, continued with his mother’s cause (after mum died) by executing Brunhilde. And I’m not talking just a simple chopping off with the head… oh no… Brunhilde was put on the racks for three days and then drawn and quartered by horses. (Why the long face?)
Fredegund ruled for 40 years, mainly by killing off anyone that disagreed, blinked, spoke, sneezed, etc. and died in Paris in 597.
Oh- one more thing. Chilperic died in 584. He was mysteriously murdered by an unknown assailant while out hunting. Hmmmm. I’ll give you one guess as to who was probably responsible.
There is a great article on her here: http://katsanger.hubpages.com/hub/Fredegund-Vicious-Tyrant-or-Average-Merovingian-Royal