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Bertha Broadfoot, 1848, by Eugène Oudiné

Bertha Broadfoot, 1848, by Eugène Oudiné at Luxembourg Garden, Paris (copyrighted photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons).

Eugène Oudiné’s 1848 statue of Bertrada is one of my favorite artistic interpretations of this Frankish queen. Not for its historical accuracy. Other than the nickname “Bertha Broadfoot,” we have no clue for what she looked like, and the costume is not eighth century.

The reason I like it is for what she is holding in her left hand, the figure of a man on a throne. Whether he is her husband, Pepin the Short, or her son Charles the Great, it is fitting for her.

Although being able to bear a son preserved her marriage to then Mayor of the Palace Pepin, she did more than baby making. She was Pepin’s true partner when he assumed the title of king in 750 and played that role until he died in 768, dividing his kingdom between his two surviving sons. Pepin, in turn, had been a steadfast husband. His only children were born within his marriage.

As queen mother, Bertrada had a new challenge: prevent the tensions between her sons, ages 17 and 20, from turning into civil war. Read more on Unusual Historicals about how Bertrada was a female pioneer.

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