(d. 680)

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St Ouen (c. 610—684)

St Wilfrid (c. 634—709) bishop of Hexham


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(d. 680),

wife of Clovis II. An Anglo-Saxon slave girl who was sold into the household of the mayor of the imperial palace, Erchinoald, Bathild attracted the notice of King Clovis by her ability and beauty. In 649 they were married and had three sons, Clotaire III, Childeric II, and Thierry III. In 657 Clovis died and Bathild acted as regent, as her eldest son was only five. She founded the monasteries of Corbie and Chelles, promoted the work of Ouen, Leger, and others, and was especially zealous in suppressing the slave-trade and redeeming those already captured. After a palace revolution in 665 she was removed to her nunnery at Chelles where, according to her Legend, she served the other nuns and was extraordinarily obedient to the abbess. Eddius' Life of Wilfrid unexpectedly describes her as a Jezebel for causing the assassination of ten French bishops, but almost certainly Eddius got the name wrong. Chelles was a convent destined to have notable contacts with Anglo-Saxon England: several of the more famous English nuns were trained there. Bathild, a rare example of extreme social mobility among the Anglo-Saxons, had a cult stronger in France than in Britain. She is represented in art as a crowned nun; predictably a ladder to heaven, implying the pun échelle-Chelles, is her emblem. Feast: 30 January.

AA.SS. Ian. III (1643), 347–64; Life in M.G.H. Scriptores rerum merov. (ed. B. Krusch), ii. 475–508; references in the Life of St Ouen, ibid., iv. 634–761;W. Levison, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century (1946);E. Vacandard, Vie de Saint Ouen (1902).

Subjects: Christianity.

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