Pepin the Short was a king of Frankia who ruled from 751 to 768 until his death. He was the first Carolingian ruler who became the king. He was the son of Charles Martel, the great warrior prince who defeated the Umayyads at the Battle of Tours.
Pepin received religious education from the monks of St. Denis. He ruled with his brother Carloman. Pepin ruled Provence, Neustria, and Burgundy. His brother ruled Thuringia, Alemannia, and Austrasia. Both brothers were very active in suppressing Saxons, Alemanni, Bavarians, and Aquitanian revolts. The brothers had no personal clash which led to peace in their areas.
Following the death of Charles Martel in 741, the Carolingian realms came to be divided among his two sons, Pepin and Carloman. After the entry of Carloman into a monastery in 747, Pepin became the sole mayor of the palace.
Grifo, the son of Charles from his second wife, demanded his share but he was besieged in Laon and imprisoned in a monastery. After the retirement of Carloman, Grifo fled to Bavaria. Pepin was successful in crushing this rebellion and secured the boundaries of his kingdoms.
In addition to being the mayor of the palace, Pepin was also the commander-in-chief of the armies of the empire.
Childeric III was a Frankish king with no power when Pepin became the mayor. Pepin had all the real power and ran the kingdom. He then questioned Pope Zachery about the actual royal power. Pope Zachery decided to support Pepin’s claim to power as he descended from Charles Martel who had been hailed as the savior of Christendom.
Childeric was then confined to a monastery. An assembly of nobles of Frankia elected Pepin as the first Carolingian king. It is believed that he was elected King around 767. The revolt of Grifo continued. He was killed in 753 by Pepin in the battle of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
The ecclesiastical upbringing and exposure of Pepin influenced him throughout his life. He supported Saint Boniface in the reforming process of the church of Frankia. He intervened in favor of the Papacy of Stephen II.
In Italy, the Lombards were against Stephen II. After the conquest of many cities, Pepin subdued the Lombards and gave the conquered cities to the Pope as a Donation of Pepin. This led to the legal basis of the formation of Papal States in the Middle Ages.
A lavish ceremony was arranged to anoint Pepin. Pope Stephen II traveled to Paris for this extravagant ceremony at St Denis in 754. This marks the first crowning ceremony of a civil ruler by a Pope.
Pepin the Short expanded the Carolingian Empire in the south and captured Septimania. A key Umayyad stronghold, Narbonne, was also conquered. Pepin also won the strongholds of Limoges, Poitiers, and Angouleme.
He then spread his terror by destroying many villas. He captured Toulouse in 767. In 768, Pepin died during a campaign. The Kingdom was divided between his two sons according to the Salic law.