Chlothar I

Chlothar I (c. 497 – 29 November 561),[a] also called "Clotaire I" and the Old (le Vieux), King of the Franks, was one of the four sons of Clovis I of the Merovingian dynasty.

Chlothar's father, Clovis I, divided the kingdom between his four sons. In 511, Clothar I inherited two large territories on the Western coast of Francia, separated by the lands of his brother Childebert I's Kingdom of Paris. Chlothar spent most of his life in a campaign to expand his territories at the expense of his relatives and neighbouring realms in all directions.

His brothers avoided outright war by cooperating with his attacks on neighbouring lands in concert or by invading lands when their rulers died. The spoils were shared between the participating brothers. By the end of his life, Chlothar had managed to reunite Francia by surviving his brothers and seizing their territories after they died. But upon his own death, the Kingdom of the Franks was once again divided between his own four surviving sons. A fifth son had rebelled and was killed, along with his family.

Chlothar's father, Clovis I, had converted to Nicene Christianity, but Chlothar, like other Merovingians, did not consider that the Christian doctrine of monogamy should be expected of royalty: he had five wives, more from political expediency than for personal motives. Although at the instigation of his queens he gave money for several new ecclesiastical edifices, he was a less than enthusiastic Christian and succeeded in introducing taxes on ecclesiastical property.

Chlothar I
Monnaie d'argent de Clotaire Ier.jpeg
Silver coin of Chlothar I
King of Soissons
PredecessorClovis I
SuccessorChilperic I
King of Orléans
SuccessorSt. Guntram
King of Reims
SuccessorSigebert I
King of Paris
PredecessorChildebert I
SuccessorCharibert I
King of the Franks
PredecessorVacant (last held by Clovis I)
SuccessorVacant (next held by Clotaire II)
Bornc. 497
Died29 November 561
St. Guntram
FatherClovis I
ReligionRoman Catholic


Hereniging Frankische rijk onder Chlotarius I
The expansion of Clothar's territories, shown in brown

Frankish customs of the day allowed for the practice of polygamy, especially among royalty. So it was not uncommon for a king to have multiple wives and several competing heirs upon his death. This was a major deviation from the monogamy of late Roman customs, influenced by the Church. Frankish rulers followed this practice mainly to increase their influence across larger areas of land in the wake of the Roman empire's collapse. The aim was to maintain peace and ensure the preservation of the kingdom by appeasing local leaders.[1] In the Germanic tradition succession fell, not to sons, but to younger brothers, uncles, and cousins. But under Salic law, Clovis I instituted the custom of sons being the primary heirs in all respects. However, it was not a system of primogeniture, with the eldest son receiving the vast majority of an inheritance, rather the inheritance was split evenly between all the sons. Therefore, the greater Frankish Kingdom was often splintered into smaller sub-kingdoms.[1]


Early life

Chlothar was the fifth son of Clovis I and the fourth son of Queen Clotilde. The name 'Chlothar' means "glory".[2] Chlothar was born around 497 in Soissons. Upon the death of his father on 27 November 511, he received as his share of the kingdom: the town of Soissons, which he made his capital; the cities of Laon, Noyon, Cambrai, and Maastricht; and the lower course of the Meuse River. But he was very ambitious and sought to extend his domain.

Tête de Clotaire
Bust of Chlothar

Accession to the throne

Upon the death of Clovis I in the year 511, the Frankish kingdom was divided between Chlothar and his brothers, Theuderic, Childebert, and Chlodomer.[3] Because of the rights of mothers, queens were granted a portion of their son's kingdom. Clovis I, who had two wives, divided his kingdom into two for each of his wives, then parceled out pieces to his respective sons. The eldest, Theuderic, son of the first wife, had the benefit of receiving one half of the kingdom of Francia, Reims. Chlothar shared the second half of the kingdom with his brothers Childebert and Chlodomer. Chlothar received the northern portion, Childebert the central kingdom of Paris, and Chlodomer the southern Kingdom of Orléans.[1] The domain inherited by Chlothar consisted of two distinct parts: one in Gaulic Belgium, corresponding to the kingdom of the Salian Franks, where he established his capital at Soissons and included the dioceses of Amiens, Arras, Saint-Quentin and Tournai; and the other in Aquitane including the dioceses of Agen, Bazas, and Périgueux.[1]

First Burgundian war

In 516 Gundobad, king of Burgundy, died, and the throne passed to his son Sigismund, who converted to Catholicism. Sigismund adopted an extreme anti-Arian policy, going so far as to execute his Arian son Sigeric, who was the grandson of the Ostrogoth King Theoderic the Great. Sigismund also nearly prompted the Franks to launch an offensive against him, but he avoided a conflict by giving one of his daughters, Suavegotha, in marriage to Chlothar's older half-brother, Theuderic I.

In 523, at the instigation of their mother, Clotilde, Chlothar, Childebert, and Chlodomer joined forces in an expedition against the Burgundians. The Burgundian army was defeated, and Sigismund was captured and executed. Sigismund's brother Godomar replaced him on the throne, with the support of the aristocracy, and the Franks were forced to leave.

In 524 Chlothar and his brothers, including Theuderic, began a new campaign, advancing to the Isère Valley. But on 25 June 524, they suffered a serious defeat at the Battle of Vézeronce, and Chlodomer was killed. The Franks left Burgundy, and Godomar resumed his rule until 534.[4]

Marriage with Guntheuc

Radegonde à la table de Clotaire
Radegonde's wedding, depiction of her praying, and prostrate in the marital bed

Chlothar married Guntheuc, Queen of Orléans and widow of Chlodomer, his brother. This union gave Chlothar access to Chlodomer's treasury and ensured Guntheuc's position as sole heiress to King Godégisile's lands; Frankish law allowed a woman to inherit land if she had no sons.[5]

Marriage with Aregund

Chlothar's wife Ingund requested that he find a husband worthy of her sister, Aregund. Finding no one suitable, Chlothar took Aregund as one of his own wives. The year was c. 533-538. She remained his wife until the death of her sister, Ingund, in 546, after which she fell out of favor with Chlothar.[6]

Thuringian conquest

In 531 Hermanafrid, king of the Thuringians, promised to give Chlothar's half-brother, Theuderic, part of the Kingdom of Thuringia if he would help to depose Baderic, Hermanafrid's rival and brother. Theuderic accepted. However, having been injured after a victory, he appealed to Chlothar to continue the war. Hermanafrid died around this time, and the goal became simply to conquer Thuringia.

The alliance, along with the aid of his nephew Theudebert I, conquered Thuringia, and it became a part of the Frankish domain. During the division of the spoils, Chlothar and Theuderic argued fiercely over the hand of Princess Radegund, but eventually Chlothar won the dispute on the grounds that it had been his men who had captured her.[7]

Princess Radegund

Radegonde menée auprès de Clotaire
Radegund is brought before Chlothar

In 538, Radegund was brought to Soissons to marry Chlothar, as "not illegitimate but legitimate queen," who could help consolidate his dominance over Thuringia.

While her title and status were necessary for Chlothar to attain authority over Thuringia, Radegund remained in simple clothing and was not treated in the customary manner of a queen. This was largely due to her Christian faith; she did not want to appear luxurious.

Radegund did not eat to excess. She insisted that much of her food be given to the poor. She spent most of her time praying and singing psalms but spent very little time with the king. Her allegiance was to God first and to Chlothar second. Chlothar became irritated and had many disputes with her.[8]

She retired to a convent and went on to found the abbey in Poitiers St. Croix, the first nunnery in Europe. She was canonized Saint Radegund.[9]

Acquisition of the kingdom of Orléans

Chlothar was the chief instigator in the murder of his brother Chlodomer's children in 524, and his share of the spoils consisted of the cities of Tours and Poitiers.

Chlothar's brother, Chlodomer was killed on 25 June 524 during an expedition against the Burgundians at the Battle of Vezeronce. Upon Chlodomer's death, his three sons, Theodebald, Gunther, and Clodoald, were entrusted to care of their grandmother, hence the young princes were raised in Paris by Chlodomer's mother, Chlotilde.

To prevent the kingdom of Orleans from returning to his nephews, Chlothar joined with his brother Childebert in 532 to threaten the young heirs with death unless they agreed to join a monastery. They sent Arcadius, grandson of Sidonius Apollinaris, to their mother, Clotilde, with a pair of scissors and a sword. He gave the queen an ultimatum: the boys could either live as monks or die.

Germanic traditions gave Queen Clotilde, as the mother, the right as head of her household. However, among kings the lineage passed to younger brothers before it passed to the next generation. Due to tribal politics, shearing of the boys' hair could lead to a civil war; long hair was a symbol of Frankish royalty, and to remove it was considered a grave insult. But Theodebald, Gunthar, and Clodoald could someday lay claim to the throne, and it was Chlothar and Childebert's duty to pass authority on to them.

Clotilde was disgusted and shocked at the demands relayed by Arcadius and stated that she would rather see her sons dead than see their hair shorn.[10]

Assassinat de Thibault et Gonthaire
Assassination of Thibaut and Gunthar

The two uncles went through with their plan to murder the children. Chlothar stabbed Theodebald in the armpit. Gunthar threw himself at the feet of Childebert, who began to cry and almost gave in to the pleas of his nephew. Chlothar, however, demanded that Childebert carry through with the murder, stating that it was the only way to consolidate power. Childebert gave Gunthar up to Chlothar, who had him stabbed and strangled. Theodebald and Gunthar were ten and seven years old respectively.

Clodoald remained alive by managing to escape, hidden by loyal supporters. He renounced all claims and chose a monastic life. Childebert and Chlothar could then freely share their acquired territory. Meanwhile, Theuderic captured a parcel consisting of Auxerrois, Berry and Sens.

Second Burgundian war

In 532, Childebert and Chlothar seized Autun. They hunted for Godomar III, brother of Sigismund, with the help of his father and ally, the king of the Ostrogoths Theoderic the Great.

The death of Athalaric, the grandson and successor of Theodoric the Great, in 534 generated a succession crisis in the Ostrogothic kingdom, the Burgundian ally. Chlothar, Theudebert, and Childebert took the opportunity to invade the Burgundian kingdom, now devoid of Ostrogothic protection. The Burgundian kingdom was overtaken and divided between the three Frankish rulers. Chlothar received Grenoble, Die and many of the neighbouring cities.[11]

First Visigoth war

Buste imaginaire de Clotaire Ier
Imagined Bust of Chlothar on coin minted by Louis XVIII

Over the years, the Spanish Visigoths had made many incursions into Frankish territories and had taken lands. Clovis had retrieved them and even made further conquests of Gothic territories. Chlothar sent his eldest sons to reclaim lost territories. Although there was some success, for some unknown reason Gunthar, his second eldest, ended his campaign and returned home. Theudebert, the eldest, continued the war and took the strongholds of Dio-et-Valquières and Cabrières. Most of the lost Frankish lands were recovered.[12]

Civil war

Chlothar attempted to take advantage of Theuderic's illness during this time, trying to attain his kingdom with the help of Childebert. However Theudebert, who was busy securing Arles, rushed back to his father Theuderic's aid. Theuderic died a few days later. And Theudebert, supported by his vassals, managed to keep his kingdom and restrained his uncles from taking over.

Childebert and Theudebert joined forces and declared war on Chlothar. They initially defeated him, forcing him to take refuge in a forest for protection against the alliance. While Chlothar was besieged, a storm ravaged equipment, roads, and horses and disorganized the allied army. Childebert and Theudebert were forced to abandon the siege and make peace with Chlothar.[13]

Ceding of Provence

In 537, a conflict broke out between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogothic kingdom. To ensure Frankish neutrality in the conflict, King Vitiges offered Provence, which the Frankish Kings shared between them, along with the northern Alps with sovereignty over the Alemanni, by grabbing the upper Rhine valley, Main, and high Danube.[14] When the Ostrogoths ceded Provence to the Franks, he received the cities of Orange, Carpentras, and Gap.

Second Visigoth war

In spring 542, Childebert and Chlothar, accompanied by three of his sons, led an army into Visigoth Hispania. They seized Pamplona and Zaragoza but were finally forced to abandon after conquering most of the country. Since most of the king's army was still with Theudis and there was still enough power to be shown, they were ceded some major lands beyond the Pyrénées, although not as much as they had occupied.[12]

Tuscan tribute

The murder of Amalasuntha, the daughter of Theodoric the Great, and of Audofleda, sister of Clovis I, at the hands of the king of Tuscany caused Chlothar to threaten invasion if he did not receive a payment. The agreement that averted the war was for the Tuscan king to send 50,000 gold coins. However, Childebert and Theudebert had it intercepted, and they stole the payment and split it between them before it reached Chlothar. But Chlothar's treasury was still much larger than either Childebert's or Theudebert's.

Death of Clotilde

Le royaume des Francs en 548
Frankish Realm in 548

On 3 June 548, Clotilde, Chlothar's mother, died in the city of Tours. Chlothar and his brother Childebert transported her body by funeral procession to the Basilica of St. Apostles to be buried alongside her husband, Clovis I, and St. Genevieve.

Acquisition of Metz

Theudebald, Chlothar's great-nephew and the grandson of the late Theuderic, died childless in 555. So Chlothar immediately went to Metz to take possession of the kingdom from his late nephew, but under Salic Law he had to share it with his brother. So he married Vuldetrade, Theudebald's widow and the daughter of the Lombard king Wacho. This ensured the smooth succession to the kingdom of Metz, as well as an alliance with the Lombards, established since the reign of Theudebert. But the bishops condemned this incestuous marriage and forced Chlothar to divorce her. They gave her in marriage to the Bavarian Duke Garibald. To compensate for the breakdown of the marriage with Vuldetrade (Waldrada), Chlothar gave Chlothsind, his daughter, to the Lombard prince and future king, Alboin. Condat the Domesticus, great administrator of the palace of King Theudebald, retained his position after the annexation of the kingdom of Metz.[15]

Saxon war

In 555, Chlothar attacked and conquered the Saxons, who had revolted, in the upper valley of the Weser, Elbe, and the coast of the North Sea. As a submission, Chlothar required them to pay a substantial annual tribute and for some time exacted from the Saxons an annual tribute of 500 cows.[16]

Between 555 and 556, the Saxons revolted again, perhaps instigated by Childebert. Faced with the Saxon revolt and threat of a massacre, Chlothar preferred peace talks. He offered to forego battle if they would accept his demand to continue to pay him tribute, despite a previous rejection. But his men, aggressive, eager for battle, contested the decision. Talks were cut short when the soldiers forced him, with insults and death threats, to take on the Saxons. After an incredibly bloody battle, the Saxons and Franks made peace.[17]

Frankish Real from 556-560

Submission of Auvergne

Auvergne, a once prosperous Roman province, which had resisted the Visigoths and Franks, had hoped they could avoid destruction by offering their loyalty. Theuderic had devastated much of the land, and Theudebert pacified the land by marrying a Gallo-Roman woman of Senatorial descent. In anticipation of the death of Theodebald, Chlothar sent his son Chram to take possession of the area. In time, Chram came to control a larger area and desired to break away from his father entirely. To achieve this, he joined politically with Childebert who encouraged his dissent. In time his influence was expanded over Poitiers, Tours, Limoges, Clermont, Bourges, Le Puy, Javols, Rodez, Cahors, Albi, and Toulouse.[18]

War with Chram

Chlothar again engaged in war with the Saxons. He sent his sons Charibert and Guntram to lead an army against Chram. They marched to Auvergne and Limoges and finally found Chram in Saint-Georges-Nigremont. Their armies met at the foot of a "black mountain" where they demanded that Chram relinquish land belonging to their father. He refused, but a storm prevented the battle. Chram sent a messenger to his half-brothers, falsely informing them of the death of Chlothar at the hand of the Saxons. Charibert and Guntram immediately marched to Burgundy. The rumor that Chlothar had died in Saxony spread throughout Gaul, even reaching the ears of Childebert. It is possible that Childebert was behind the rumor as well. Chram then took the opportunity to extend his influence to Chalon-sur-Saône. He besieged the city and won. Chram married Chalda, daughter of Wiliachaire (Willacharius), Count of Orléans, which was under Childebert's authority.[19]

Unification of all Francia

Mort de Chramn
The Death of Chramn, in a 16th-century miniature

On 23 December 558, Childebert died childless after a long illness. This allowed Chlothar to reunite the Greater Frankish Kingdom, as his father Clovis had done, and seize the treasure of his brother.[20]

The news of Childebert's death had caused many kingdoms to unify under Chlothar. Paris, which had fought against him, submitted to his rule. Chram therefore called on the Bretons to allow him refuge. He had made such an agreement with his father-in-law Willacharius, Count of Orléans, although he was currently taking refuge himself in the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours. He was caught and subsequently burned "for the sins of the people and the scandals that were perpetrated by Wiliachaire and his wife." Chlothar then restored the Basilica.[20]

Between 1 September and 31 August 559, with the help of the Bretons, Chram plundered and destroyed a large number of places belonging to his father. Chlothar, accompanied by his son Chilperic, advanced to Domnonée and arrived there in November or December of 560. During the battle, located near the coast, Conomor was defeated and killed when he attempted to flee. Conomor owned land on both sides of the Channel, and Chram perhaps intended to flee from Chlothar to take refuge in England with the support of Conomor. Chram fled for the sea, but first attempted to rescue his wife and daughters. He was then captured and immediately sentenced to death. He and his wife and daughters were locked in a shack and were strangled and burned.[21] Overwhelmed with remorse, he went to Tours to implore forgiveness at the tomb of St Martinand died shortly afterwards at the royal palace at Compiègne.

Relations with the church

In 561 Chlothar attempted to raise taxes on churches, despite the exemption granted by Roman law which had been routinely confirmed by past kings. Indeed, Childeric I had granted immunities to ecclesiastics. The Bishop of Tours, Injuriosus refused, left his diocese, and abandoned Chlothar. At the death of the bishop, the king replaced him with a member of his household named Baudin. Similarly, he exiled the bishop of Trier, Nizier, because of its inflexibility on canon law. Thus the tax on churches held.

Ingund and Chlothar made many additions to churches, including the decorations of the tomb of Saint-Germain Auxerre; the basilica are preserved with a given royal chalice.


At the end of his reign, the Frankish kingdom was at its peak, covering the whole of Gaul (except Septimania) and part of present-day Germany. He died at the end of 561 of acute pneumonia at the age of 64, leaving his kingdom to his four sons. They went to bury him at Soissons in the Basilica of St. Marie, where he had started to build the tomb of St. Médard.[22]


  • Charibert received the ancient kingdom of Childebert I, between the Somme and Pyrénées, with Paris as its capital, and including the Paris Basin, Aquitaine and Provence.
  • Guntram received Burgundy with a part of the Kingdom of Orléans, where he established his capital.
  • Sigebert received the Kingdom of Metz with its capital Reims and Metz.
  • Chilperic received the territories north of the Kingdom of Soissons.[23]

Female monasticism

Chlothar financed the construction of the monastery of Sainte-Croix in Poitiers, which folds Radegund. He transferred reliquaries that the queen had accumulated during her stay with the king to the monastery of St. Croix.


According to Gregory of Tours, "The King Chlothar had seven sons of various women, namely: with Ingund he had Gunthar, Childeric, Charibert, Guntram, Sigebert, and a daughter named Chlothsind; of Aregund, sister of Ingund he had Chilperic; and of Chunsine he had Chram."

Le royaume des Francs en 561
Breakup of the Frankish Kingdoms upon Chlothar's death in 561

Chlothar's first marriage was to Guntheuc, widow of his brother Chlodomer, sometime around 524. They had no children. His second marriage, which occurred around 532, was to Radegund, daughter of Bertachar, King of Thuringia, whom he and his brother Theuderic defeated.[24] She was later canonized. They also had no children. His third and most successful marriage was to Ingund,[25] by whom he had five sons and two daughters:

He likely had an illegitimate son named Gondovald with an unnamed woman, born sometime in the late 540s or early 550s. Since Chlothar had sown children all throughout Gaul this was not unlikely. The boy was given a literary education and allowed to grow his hair long, a symbol of belonging to royalty. Although Chlothar would offer no more aid or privilege to the boy, his mother took him to the court of Childebert, who recognized him as his nephew and agreed to keep him in court.

His next marriage was to a sister of Ingund, Aregund, with whom he had a son, Chilperic, King of Soissons.[25] His last wife was Chunsina (or Chunsine), with whom he had one son, Chram,[26] who became his father's enemy and predeceased him. Chlothar may have married and repudiated Waldrada.

A false genealogy found in the Brabant trophies, made in the ninth century during the reign of Charles the Bald, invents a daughter of Chlothar's named Blithilde who supposedly married the saint and bishop Ansbert of Rouen, who was himself alleged to be son of Ironwood III. The Duke Arnoald, father of Arnulf of Metz, was said to have been born of this marriage, thus connecting the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties and creating the appearance that the Carolingian ruled by right of inheritance. It also linked them to the Romans by their affiliation with the senatorial family Ferreoli.


  1. ^ semi-legendary
  2. ^ putative


  1. ^ Also spelled Chlothachar, Chlotar, Clothar, Clotaire, Chlotochar, and Hlothar, giving rise to the name Lothair.


  1. ^ a b c d Michel Rouche, Aquitaine from the Visigoths to the Arabs, 418-781 : naissance d'une région, Paris, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Jean Touzot, 1979
  2. ^ Jean-Louis Fetjaine, The Purple Queens: The Robes of Fredegonde. Chap 1, Belfond, Paris, 2006, p. 14.
  3. ^ Godefroid Kurth, Clovis, the Founder, Éditions Tallandier, 1896, p.505 ; Patrick Périn, Clovis and the Birth of France, Éditions Denoël, collection « The History of France », 1990, p.117 ; Rouche (1996), p.345 ; Laurent Theis, Clovis, History and Myth, Bruxelles, Éditions Complexe, collection « Le Temps et les hommes », 1996, p.80.
  4. ^ Récit des campagnes burgondes : Lebecq, page 65.
  5. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 6.
  6. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre IV, 3.
  7. ^ Bernard Bachrach, Quelques observations sur la composition et les caractéristiques des armées de Clovis dans Rouche (1997) pp.689-703, p.700, n. 55.
  8. ^ Georges Duby, Le Moyen Âge 987-1460. Histoire de France Hachette, 1987, p.56.
  9. ^ Bernet (2007), p.143.
  10. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 18.
  11. ^ Marius d'Avenches, Chronique, a. 534.
  12. ^ a b Isidore de Séville, Historia Gothorum. Auctores antiquissimi, t. XI.
  13. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 28.
  14. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 31.
  15. ^ Venance Fortunat, Carmina, VII, 16 ; PLRE, III, 1, pp. 331-332.
  16. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, (Longman Limited, 1994), 65.
  17. ^ Ferdinand Lot, Naissance de la France, éditions Fayard, 1948, pp. 59-61.
  18. ^ Rouche (1979), p. 494, n. 67.
  19. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre VII, 18.
  20. ^ a b Rouche (1979), p. 63.
  21. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre IV, 20.
  22. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre IV, 19, 21, 54.
  23. ^ Armand (2008), p. 34.
  24. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, 137.
  25. ^ a b Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, 59.
  26. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, 60.

Further reading

  • Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481–751. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0-8166-0621-8.
  • Geary, Patrick J. (1988). Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-504458-4.
  • James, Edward (1991). The Franks. London: Blackwell, ISBN 0-631-14872-8.
  • Oman, Charles (1908). The Dark Ages, 476–918. London: Rivingtons.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1962). The Long-Haired Kings, and Other Studies in Frankish History. London: Methuen.
  • Wood, Ian N. (1994). The Merovingian Kingdoms, 450–751. London: Longman, ISBN 0-582-21878-0.
Chlothar I
Born: 497 Died: 561
Preceded by
Clovis I
King of Soissons
Succeeded by
Chilperic I
Preceded by
King of Orléans
Succeeded by
Preceded by
King of Reims
Succeeded by
Sigebert I
Moved to Metz
Preceded by
Childebert I
King of Paris
Succeeded by
Charibert I
Title last held by
Clovis I
King of the Franks
Title next held by
Chlothar II

The 520s decade ran from January 1, 520, to December 31, 529.


Year 561 (DLXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 561 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


The Agilolfings were a noble family that ruled the Duchy of Bavaria on behalf of their Merovingian suzerains from about 550 until 788. A cadet branch of the Agilolfings also ruled the Kingdom of the Lombards intermittently from 616 to 712.

They are mentioned as the leading dynasty in the Lex Baiuvariorum (c. 743). Their Bavarian residence was at Regensburg.

The dynasty's eponymous ancestor is Agilulf (Proto-Germanic Agilwulfaz), a semi-legendary prince of the Suebi and descendant of Hermeric, the 5th-century Suevic king of Galicia,

possibly identical with one Agilulf, a steward of the Visigothic king Theoderic II, who was executed in 457.The first duke identified with the Agilolfing line in German historiography is Garibald I (Gariwald).

However, doubt has been cast on Garibald's membership in the Agilolfing family in modern scholarship, which makes Tassilo I (r. 591–610) the first ascertained member of the dynasty.

The Agilolfings had close ties to the Merovingians. Garibald I himself married Waldrada, the widow of Merovingian king Theudebald, in 555, after her marriage to Chlothar I was annulled on grounds of consanguinity.

As they had their fate intertwined with the Merovingian dynasty, they opposed the rise of the Carolingian majordomos, who finally deprived the Agilolfings of their power.


Ansbertus or Ansbert, Ausbert was a Frankish Austrasian noble, as well as a Gallo-Roman Senator. He is thought to be the son of Ferreolus, Senator of Narbonne and his wife Dode. This would make him the great-grandson of Tonantius Ferreolus Praetorian Prefect of Gaul and his wife Papianilla.

but is most likely to be the son of Ferreolus daughter Tonantia and Sigimberus I Bishop Of Auvergne.

Little of his actual life is known. His wife Billihild was reputed to be a daughter of Charibert I, Merovingian King of Paris, and granddaughter of Chlothar I. Published centuries later, the Liber Historiae Francorum states that an Ansbertus married Blithilde (also called Bilichilde), and that she was the daughter of "Lothar the father of Dagobert", and then continues the line to the Pippinids through his son Arnoald and his granddaughter Itta (wife of Pepin of Landen).


Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks during the 6th to 8th centuries. It was centred on the Meuse, Middle Rhine and the Moselle rivers, and was the original territory of the Franks, including both the so-called Salians and Rhineland Franks, which Clovis I conquered after first taking control of the bordering part of Roman Gaul, now northern France, which is sometimes described in this period as Neustria.

In AD 567, Austrasia became a separate kingdom within the Frankish kingdom and was ruled by Sigebert I. In the 7th and 8th centuries it was the powerbase from which the Carolingians, originally mayors of the palace of Austrasia, took over the rule of all Franks, all of Gaul, most of Germany, and Northern Italy. After this period of unification, the now larger Frankish empire was once again divided between eastern and western sub-kingdoms, with the new version of the eastern kingdom eventually becoming the foundation of the Kingdom of Germany.

Battle of Vézeronce

The Battle of Vézeronce took place on June 25, 524 near Vézeronce-Curtin (then Veseruntia) in Isère, France. This battle was part of an invasion of Burgundy initiated by the four successors of the Frankish king Clovis I: Childebert I, Chlodomer, Chlothar I, and Theuderic I.

The previous Burgundian king Sigismund had been executed by the Franks, and was succeeded by his brother Godomar. Godomar lead the Burgundian army and inflicted a severe defeat on the Franks, with Chlodomer killed during the fighting. However, the defeat of the Franks was only temporary and the kingdom was lost to the Merovingians within a decade.

A helmet was found in the peat marsh of Saint-Didier, to the north of the battle site in 1871 and is conserved in the Musée dauphinois, Grenoble. The helmet is of Byzantine craftsmanship and was probably that of a Frankish chieftain.

Charibert I

Charibert I (French: Caribert; Latin: Charibertus; c. 517 – December 567) was the Merovingian King of Paris, the second-eldest son of Chlothar I and his first wife Ingund. His elder brother Gunthar died sometime before their father's death. He shared in the partition of the Frankish kingdom that followed his father’s death in 561, receiving the old kingdom of Childebert I, with its capital at Paris.

Chilperic I

Chilperic I (c. 539 – September 584) was the king of Neustria (or Soissons) from 561 to his death. He was one of the sons of the Frankish king Clotaire I and Queen Aregund.


Chothsind was a daughter of Ingund and King Chlothar I, who was himself one of four sons of King Clovis I. She was the first wife of Alboin King of the Lombards. According to Paul the Deacon, she had one child by Alboin, Albsuinda.


Chram (or Chramn) (French: Chramn or Chramne, meaning Raven in Old Frankish) (died 561) was a son of Chlothar I and his fifth wife, Chunsina.Chram rose in rebellion against his father Chlothar, a king of the Franks, on several occasions. Following one of these rebellions, he fled with his wife and children to the court of Chanao, the ruler of Brittany, pursued by his father. Chlothar gave battle to the combined forces of Chanao and Chram, and his army was successful; the Breton leader was killed, and Chram, delayed in making his escape by sea because of his concern for his family's safety, was captured. Chlothar gave orders that they should be burned, but Chram was strangled before being placed in a cottage, which was subsequently burned. Chlothar reportedly died of remorse later that year.

Doorway from Moutiers-Saint-Jean

The Doorway from Moutiers-Saint-Jean is a portal dating from c 1250, originally for the monastery of Moutiers-Saint-Jean, near Dijon, Burgundy, France, and installed at The Cloisters, New York City, since 1932. It was designed in the Gothic style and carved from white oolitic limestone. The abbey was founded in the 5th century, and became a major center of influence. The abbey was patronised by a line of kings and nobles over the centuries; at one the time it was financed by the dukes of Burgundy.Moutiers-Saint-Jean was sacked, burned and rebuilt a number of times; in 1567 the Huguenot army struck off the heads of the two kings. In 1797, after the French Revolution, the entire building was sold as rubble for rebuilding. It lay in ruin for decades, with the sculpture severely defaced, before the door's transfer to New York, where it is now situated between the Romanesque Hall and the Langon Chapel. The doorway, the main portal of the abbey, was probably built as the south transept door, facing the cloister. It can be linked stylistically to a number of other similar contemporary works in France. The sculptured forms of the donors, flanking either side of the doorway, probably represent the early Frankish kings Clovis I (d. 511), who converted to Christianity c 496, and his son Chlothar I (d. 561). The piers are lined with elaborate and highly detailed rows of statuettes which are mostly set in niches, and are badly damaged; most have been decapitated.

The doorway has been described as "without doubt the finest Gothic portal in America", while the Cloisters considers it amongst their most prized objects, due mainly to the richness and delicacy of its style and the care shown to its overall composition.


Saint Gontrand (c. AD 532 in Soissons – 28 March AD 592 in Chalon-sur-Saône), also called Gontran, Gontram, Guntram, Gunthram, Gunthchramn, and Guntramnus, was the king of the Kingdom of Orleans from AD 561 to AD 592. He was the third eldest and second eldest surviving son of Chlothar I and Ingunda. On his father's death in 561, he became king of a fourth of the Kingdom of the Franks, and made his capital at Orléans. The name "Gontrand" denotes "war raven".


Ingonde, Ingund, or Ingunda (born c. 499, Thuringia) was the daughter of King Baderic of Thuringia (c. 480 - c. 529). She was the wife of Clotaire I and queen of the Franks. She was the mother of Charibert I, Guntram, and Sigebert I. She was the sister of one of Clotaire's other wives, Aregund.

Licinius of Angers

Licinius of Angers (also known as Saint Lezin, or Lésin) (c.540–c.610) was a Frankish nobleman and bishop of Angers, celebrated as Catholic saint on 13 February.Lucinius was born about 540 and sent to the court of King Chlothar I when about 20. Chlothar's son King Chilperic I made him governor of Angers. Upon the death of Bishop Audouin in about 600, he was also made bishop of Angers by King Chlothar II.He founded a monastery and a Church both dedicated to St John the Baptist, and was buried there. His age at death was said to be 64 and the date 618 by one source, but others state earlier.

List of Frankish kings

The Franks were originally led by dukes (military leaders) and reguli (petty kings). The Salian Merovingians rose to dominance among the Franks and conquered most of Roman Gaul. They also conquered the Gaulish territory of the Visigothic Kingdom in 507. The sons of Clovis conquered the Burgundians and Alamanni. They acquired Provence and made the Bavarii and Thuringii their clients. The Merovingians were later replaced by a new dynasty called the Carolingians in the 8th century. By the end of the 9th century, the Carolingians themselves were replaced throughout much of their realm by other dynasties. The idea of a "King of the Franks" or Rex Francorum gradually disappeared over the 11th and 12th centuries, replaced by the title King of France, which represented a shift in thinking about the monarchy from that of a Popular monarchy (the leader of a people, sometimes without a defined territory to rule) to that of a monarchy tied to a specific territory.

A timeline of Frankish rulers is difficult since the realm was, according to old Germanic practice, frequently divided among the sons of a leader upon his death and then eventually reunited through marriage, treaty, or conquest. Thus, there were often multiple Frankish kings ruling different territories, and divisions of those territories was inconsistent over time. As inheritance traditions changed, the divisions of Francia (a modern historiographical term used to denote the lands of the Franks) became more-or-less permanent kingdoms, West Francia formed the nucleus of what later became the Kingdom of France, East Francia evolved into the Kingdom of Germany, while Middle Francia became the short-lived Kingdom of Lotharingia, which was soon divided up between its neighbors. By the time of the Capetian dynasty, the Frankish rulers became Kings of France, a title formalized when Philip II of France altered the prior form in 1190. In the east, Germany passed from Frankish control in 911 with the election of Conrad I as king.

List of French royal mistresses

This page contains a listing of notable French royal mistresses.

St. Radegund's Abbey

St. Radegund's Abbey at Bradsole was a medieval monastic house in the parish of Hougham Without near Dover in southeast England. It was dedicated to Radegund, the sixth-century Merovingian princess, who, once married to the unsavory King Chlothar I, turned to a life of asceticism and charitable works. The remains of the abbey buildings have since have been incorporated into a farm.The abbey was founded in 1191 on the land of Bradsole Manor, which had been donated by King Richard I. The community was established by Premonstratensian Canons sent over from the mother abbey of Prémontré in Aisne, France, and building commenced in 1191, lasting some fifty years. Although the abbey benefitted from its control of several local churches, the site itself proved fairly inhospitable.

By the end of the 13th century the monks were occupied in increasingly secular activities such as supervising the building of Dover Castle and by the end of the following century the monastic buildings had fallen into a state of neglect, with only 8 canons still in residence. In 1538 the abbey was dissolved as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and much of the stone carried away to help build Sandgate Castle.

The site was sold to Simon Edolph in 1590, who converted the refectory building into a farmhouse. Still standing, it is a Grade II* listed building. The remaining ruins, part of which act as a gateway to the farmhouse, have also been Grade II* listed.


Wacho (also Waccho; probably from Waldchis) was king of the Lombards before they entered Italy from an unknown date (perhaps c. 510) until his death in 539. His father was Unichis. Wacho usurped the throne by assassinating (or having assassinated) his uncle, King Tato (again, probably around 510). Tato's son Ildchis fought with him and fled to the Gepids where he died. Wacho had good relations with the Franks.

Wacho married three times. His first marriage was to Raicunda, daughter of Bisinus, King of the Thuringi. His second marriage was to Austrigusa, a Gepid possibly named after her maternal descent from Ostrogothic rulers. Austrigusa was the mother of two daughters: Wisigarda (who married Theudebert I of Austrasia) and Waldrada (who married firstly Theudebald of Austrasia, secondly Chlothar I, King of the Franks, and thirdly Garibald I of Bavaria). Wacho's third marriage was to Silinga, a Heruli, mother of Waltari. According to some historians (Josef Poulík), he was buried on Žuráň hill, however, modern historians are not certain about it.


Waldrada (also Vuldetrada) (531–572), widow (firstly) of Theudebald, King of Austrasia (ruled 548–555), reputed mistress (secondly) of Chlothar I, King of the Franks (ruled until 561), was the daughter of Wacho, King of the Lombards (ruled ca. 510–539) and his second wife called Austrigusa or Ostrogotha, a Gepid.

The Origo Gentis Langobardorum names "Wisigarda…secundæ Walderada" as the two daughters of Wacho and his second wife, specifying that Waldrada married "Scusuald regis Francorum" and later "Garipald". The Historia Langobardorum names "Waldrada" as Wacho's second daughter by his second wife, specifying that she married "Chusubald rex Francorum". Paulus Diaconus names "Wisigarda…[et] secunda Walderada" as the two daughters of King Wacho & his second wife, specifying that Walderada married "Cusupald alio regi Francorum" and later "Garipald". Gregory of Tours names Vuldetrada as the wife of King Theodebald. Herimannus names "Wanderadam" wife of "Theodpaldus rex Francorum" when recording her second marriage to "Lotharius rex patris eius Theodeberti patruus".According to Gregory of Tours, King Clotaire "began to have intercourse" with the widow of King Theodebald, before "the bishops complained and he handed her over to Garivald Duke of Bavaria", which apparently implies that King Clotaire did not marry Waldrada.

Ancestors of Chlothar I
8. Merovech[i]
4. Childeric I
2. Clovis I
5. Basina of Thuringia
1. Chlothar I
24. Gunther[ii]
12. Gondioc
6. Chilperic II of Burgundy
3. Clotilde
Merovingian dynasty (400–755 AD)
Merovingians (486–751)
Robertians and Bosonids (751–987)
House of Capet (987–1328)
House of Valois (1328–1589)
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First Republic (1792–1804)
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