Date of birth unknown; d. 597, Paris
Fredegund was a servant in the house of Chilperic I, king of the Frankish kingdom of Soissons who was dubbed the Nero of his time. Fredegund became Chilperic’s mistress and eventually his queen after he murdered his wife, Galswintha, around 568. The event ignited a deadly feud between Chilperic and his brother, King Sigebert of Austrasia, whose wife Brunhilde was the sister of the slain queen. The feud between the families escalated into a full-scale forty-year war, during which Fredegund assassinated Sigebert (575) and made attempts on the lives of other political enemies. Posterity has assigned her a reputation for unsurpassed ruthlessness but, in fact, she seems to have behaved according to the norms of the royal household.