b. circa 534; d. circa 613, Renève, Burgundy
Brunhilde (Brunhild) was the queen of Burgundy and Austrasia, an area comprising parts of modern-day France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In 567, she married King Sigebert, and her sister Galswintha married his half-brother, Chilperic I. Galswintha was murdered, however, at the urging of Chilperic’s mistress, Fredegund, sparking a war between the two brothers that ended with Sigebert’s murder and Brunhilde’s imprisonment. The rest of her life was absorbed in power struggles to regain Austrasia, through her sons and grandsons. She was eventually sentenced to death by one of her greatest political enemies, her nephew Clotaire, who accused her of the deaths of several Frankish kings, although in reality he was probably motivated by fear of her political power. She was first tortured on a rack, then drawn and quartered.