Clovis I

Clovis (Latin: Chlodovechus; reconstructed Frankish: *Hlōdowig;[1] c. 466 – 27 November 511)[2] was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs.[3] He is considered to have been the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Frankish kingdom for the next two centuries.

Clovis was the son of Childeric I, a Merovingian king of the Salian Franks, and Basina, a Thuringian princess. In 481, at the age of fifteen,[4] Clovis succeeded his father. In what is now northern France, then northern Gaul, he took control of a rump state of the Western Roman Empire controlled by Syagrius at the Battle of Soissons (486), and by the time of his death in either 511 or 513, he had also conquered smaller Frankish kingdoms towards the northeast, the Alemanni to the east, and Visigothic kingdom of Aquitania to the south.

Clovis is important in the historiography of France as "the first king of what would become France".[5]

Clovis is also significant due to his conversion to Catholicism in 496, largely at the behest of his wife, Clotilde, who would later be venerated as a saint for this act, celebrated today in both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. Clovis was baptized on Christmas Day in 508.[6] The adoption by Clovis of Catholicism (as opposed to the Arianism of most other Germanic tribes) led to widespread conversion among the Frankish peoples, to religious unification across what is now modern-day France, Belgium and Germany, and three centuries later to Charlemagne's alliance with the Bishop of Rome and in the middle of the 10th century under Otto I the Great to the consequent birth of the early Holy Roman Empire.

Clovis I
Saint Remy baptise Clovis détail
Baptism of Clovis, ivory book cover, 9th century
King of the Franks
Reignc. 509 – 511
SuccessorClotaire I (Soissons)
Childebert I (Paris)
Chlodomer (Orléans)
Theuderic I (Rheims)
King of the Salian Franks
Reign481 – c. 509
PredecessorChilderic I
Bornc. 466
Tournai (present-day Belgium)
Died27 November 511 (aged about 45)
Paris, Francia
Burial
SpouseClotilde
IssueIngomer
Chlodomer
Childebert I
Chlothar I
Clotilde
Theuderic I
DynastyMerovingian
FatherChilderic I
MotherBasina of Thuringia
ReligionInitially Frankish paganism, but later converted to Catholic Christianity

Name

His name is Germanic, composed of the elements hlod ("fame") and wig ("combat"), and is the origin of the later French given name Louis, borne by 18 kings of France. In Dutch, the most closely related modern language to Frankish, the name is currently rendered as Lodewijk, in Middle Dutch the form was Lodewijch.[7] In modern German the name became Ludwig; in Spanish, Luis; in Italian, Luigi; and in English, Lewis.

Background

Numerous small Frankish petty kingdoms existed during the 5th century. The Salian Franks were the first known Frankish tribe that settled with official Roman permission within the empire, first in Batavia in the Rhine-Maas delta, and then in 375 in Toxandria, roughly the current province of North Brabant in the Netherlands and parts of neighbouring Belgian provinces of Antwerp and Limburg in current Belgium. This put them in the north part of the Roman civitas Tungrorum, with Romanized population still dominant south of the military highway Boulogne-Cologne. Later, Chlodio seems to have attacked westwards from this area to take control of the Roman populations in Tournai, then southwards to Artois, and Cambrai, eventually controlling an area stretching to the Somme river.

Childeric I, Clovis's father, was reputed to be a relative of Chlodio, and was known as the king of the Franks that fought as an army within northern Gaul. In 463 he fought in conjunction with Aegidius, the magister militum of northern Gaul, to defeat the Visigoths in Orléans. Childeric died in 481 and was buried in Tournai; Clovis succeeded him as king, aged just 15. Historians believe that Childeric and Clovis were both commanders of the Roman military in the Province of Belgica Secunda and were subordinate to the magister militum.[8] The Franks of Tournai came to dominate their neighbours, initially aided by the association with Aegidius.[9]

The death of Flavius Aetius in 454 led to the decline of imperial power in the Gaul; leaving the Visigoths and the Burgundians compete for predominance in the area. The part of Gaul still under Roman control emerged as a kingdom under Syagrius, Aegidius' son.[10]

Early reign (481–491)

Road to Soissons

The ruler of Tournai died in 481 and was succeeded by his sixteen-year-old son, Clovis. His band of warriors probably numbered no more than half a thousand. In 486 he began his efforts to expand the realm by allying himself with his relative, Ragnachar, regulus of Cambrai[11] and another Frankish regulus, Chalaric. Together the triumvirate marched against Syagrius and met the Gallo-Roman commander at Soissons. During the battle Chalaric betrayed his comrades for refusing to take part in the fighting.[12] Despite the betrayal, the Franks landed a decisive victory, forcing Syagrius to flee to the court of Alaric II.[11] The battle is considered be the end of Western Roman rule outside of Italy.[13] Following the battle, Clovis invaded the traitor Chararic's territory and was able to imprison him and his son.[12]

Taming Gaul

Conquests of Clovis
Conquests of Clovis between 481 and 511

Prior to the battle, Clovis did not enjoy the support of the Gallo-Roman clergy, hence he proceeded to pillage the Roman territory, including the churches. Quickly, the Bishop of Reims requested Clovis to return everything taken from the Church of Reims, the young king aspired to establish cordial relationships with the clergy and returned a valuable ewer taken from Reims.[14] Despite his position, some Roman cities refused to yield to the Franks, namely Verdun‒which surrendered after a brief siege‒and Paris, which stubbornly resisted a few years, perhaps as many as five.[11] He made Paris his capital[15] and established an abbey dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul on the south bank of the Seine.[16]

Clovis came to the realisation that he wouldn't be able to rule Gaul without the help of the clergy and aimed to please the clergy by taking a Catholic wife.[14] He also integrated many of Syagrius' units into his own army. The Roman kingdom was probably under Clovis' control by 491, because in the same year Clovis successfully moved against a small number of Thuringians in the eastern Gaul, near the Burgundian border.[17]

Middle reign (492–506)

Clovis 1er
Tomb of Clovis I at the Basilica of St Denis in Saint Denis

Barbarian bonding

Around 493 AD, he secured an alliance with the Ostrogoths through the marriage of his sister Audofleda to their king, Theodoric the Great.[15] In the same year, nearby King of the Burgundians was slain by his brother, Gundobad; bringing a civil turmoil to the kingdom. Gundobad proceeded to drown his sister-in-law and force his niece, Chrona to a convent, yet his other niece, Clotilde managed to flee to the court of her other uncle, Godegisel. Now, finding himself from a precarious position Godegisel decided to ally Clovis by marrying his exiled niece to the Frankish king.[18]

Assault of the Alamanni

Ary Scheffer - Bataille de Tolbiac 496
Clovis I leading the Franks to victory in the Battle of Tolbiac, in Ary Scheffer's 19th-century painting

In 496 the Alamanni invaded, some Salians and Ripuarians reguli defected to their side. Clovis met his enemies near the strong fort of Tolbiac. During the fighting, the Franks suffered heavy losses and Clovis (+three thousand Frankish companions) might have converted to Christianity.[19] With the help of the Ripuarian Franks he narrowly defeated the Alamanni in the Battle of Tolbiac in 496.[15] Now Christian, Clovis confined his prisoners, Chararic and his son to a monastery.[12]

Business in Burgundy

In 500 or 501 the relationship between the Burgundian brothers took the turn to the worse began scheming against his brother. He promised his brother-in-law territory and annual tribute for defeating his brother. He seduced his brother-in-law with the promises of territory and annual tribute for deposing his brother; Clovis was eager to subdue the political threat to his realm and crossed to the Burgundian territory. After hearing about the incident Gundobad moved against Clovis and called his brother. The three armies met near Dijon, where both the Franks and Godegisel's forces defeated the host of dumbfounded Gundobad, who was able to escape to Avignon. Clovis proceeded to follow to the Burgundian king and laid siege to the city, however, after some months he was convinced to abandon the siege and settled for an annual tributary from Gundobad.[20]

Armonici allies

In 501, 502 or 503 Clovis led his troops to Armorica. He had previously restricted his operations to minor raids, yet, this time is the goal was subjugation. Clovis' failed to complete his objective via military means, therefore, he was constrained to statecraft, which proved fruitful for the Armonici shared Clovis' disdain for the Arian Visigoths. And thus Armorica and her fighters were integrated into Frankish realm.[21]

Late reign (507–511)

Visiting the Visigoths

In 507 the planets aligned as Clovis as was greenlit by the magnates of his realm to invade the remaining threat of the Kingdom of the Visigoths.[22] King Alaric had previously tried to establish a cordial relationship with Clovis by serving him the head of exiled Syagrius on a silver plate in 486 or 487.[11] However, Clovis was no longer able to resist the temptation to move against the Visigoths for many Catholics under Visigoth yoke were unhappy and implored Clovis to make a move. [23] But just to be absolutely certain about retaining the loyalties of the Catholics under Visigoths, Clovis ordered his troops to omit raiding and plunder, for this was not a foreign invasion, but a liberation.[22]

Armonici assisted him in defeating the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in the Battle of Vouillé in 507, eliminating Visigothic power in Gaul. The battle added most of Aquitaine to Clovis's kingdom[15] and resulted in the death of the Visigothic king Alaric II.

According to Gregory of Tours, following the battle, the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I granted Clovis the title of consul. Since Clovis's name does not appear in the consular lists, it is likely he was granted a suffect consulship.

Ravishing the reguli

In 507, following Vouillé, Clovis heard about Chararic's plan to escape from his monastic prison and had him murdered.[12]

In the same year, Clovis convinced Prince Chlodoric to murder his father, earning him his nickname. Following the murder, Clovis betrayed Chlodoric and had his envoys strike him down. [24]

In 509, Clovis visited his old ally, Ragnachar in Cambrai. Following his conversion, many of his pagan retainers had defected to Ragnachar's side, making him a political threat. Ragnachar denied Clovis's entry, prompting Clovis to make a move against him. He bribed Ragnachar's retainers and soon, Ragnachar and his brother, Ricchar were captured and executed.[25]

Death

Shortly before his death, Clovis called a synod of Gallic bishops to meet in Orléans to reform the Church and create a strong link between the Crown and the Catholic episcopate. This was the First Council of Orléans. Thirty-three bishops assisted and passed 31 decrees on the duties and obligations of individuals, the right of sanctuary, and ecclesiastical discipline. These decrees, equally applicable to Franks and Romans, first established equality between conquerors and conquered.

Clovis I is traditionally said to have died on 27 November 511; however, the Liber Pontificalis suggests that he was still alive in 513, so the date of his death is not known for certain.[26] After his death, Clovis was laid to rest in the Abbey of St Genevieve in Paris. His remains were relocated to Saint Denis Basilica in the mid- to late-18th century.

Clotilde partageant le royaume entre ses fils
The partition of the Frankish kingdom among the four sons of Clovis with Clotilde presiding, Grandes Chroniques de Saint-Denis (Bibliothèque municipale de Toulouse).

When Clovis died, his kingdom was partitioned among his four sons, Theuderic, Chlodomer, Childebert, and Clotaire. This partition created the new political units of the Kingdoms of Rheims, Orléans, Paris and Soissons, and inaugurated a tradition that would lead to disunity lasting until the end of the Merovingian dynasty in 751. The disunity continued under the Carolingians until, after a brief unity under Charlemagne, the Franks splintered into distinct spheres of cultural influence that coalesced around Eastern and Western centers of royal power. These later political, linguistic, and cultural entities became the Kingdom of France, the myriad German States, and the semi-autonomous kingdoms of Burgundy and Lotharingia.

Baptism

Clovis was born a pagan but later became interested in converting to Arian Christianity, whose followers believed that Jesus was a distinct and separate being from God the Father, both subordinate to and created by Him. This contrasted Nicene Christianity, whose followers believe that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three persons of one being (consubstantiality). While the theology of the Arians was declared a heresy at the First Council of Nicea in 325, the missionary work of Bishop Ulfilas converted the pagan Goths to Arian Christianity in the 4th century. By the time of the ascension of Clovis, Gothic Arians dominated Christian Gaul, and Catholics were in the minority.

Clovis's wife Clotilde, a Burgundian princess, was a Catholic despite the Arianism that surrounded her at court.[27] Her persistence eventually persuaded Clovis to convert to Catholicism, which he initially resisted. Clotilde had wanted her son to be baptized, but Clovis refused, so she had the child baptized without Clovis's knowledge. Shortly after his baptism, their son died, which further strengthened Clovis's resistance to conversion. Clotilde also had their second son baptized without her husband's permission, and this son became ill and nearly died after his baptism.[28] Clovis eventually converted to Catholicism following the Battle of Tolbiac on Christmas Day 508[29][30] in a small church in the vicinity of the subsequent Abbey of Saint-Remi in Reims; a statue of his baptism by Saint Remigius can still be seen there. The details of this event have been passed down by Gregory of Tours, who recorded them many years later in the 6th century.

The king's Catholic baptism was of immense importance in the subsequent history of Western and Central Europe in general, for Clovis expanded his dominion over almost all of Gaul. Catholicism offered certain advantages to Clovis as he fought to distinguish his rule among many competing power centers in Western Europe. His conversion to the Roman Catholic form of Christianity served to set him apart from the other Germanic kings of his time, such as those of the Visigoths and the Vandals, who had converted from Germanic paganism to Arian Christianity. His embrace of the Roman Catholic faith may have also gained him the support of the Catholic Gallo-Roman aristocracy in his later campaign against the Visigoths, which drove them from southern Gaul in 507 and resulted in a great many of his people converting to Catholicism as well.[31]

On the other hand, Bernard Bachrach has argued that his conversion from Frankish paganism alienated many of the other Frankish sub-kings and weakened his military position over the next few years. In the interpretatio romana, Saint Gregory of Tours gave the Germanic gods that Clovis abandoned the names of roughly equivalent Roman gods, such as Jupiter and Mercury.[32] William Daly, more directly assessing Clovis's allegedly barbaric and pagan origins,[33] ignored the Gregory of Tours version and based his account on the scant earlier sources, a sixth-century "vita" of Saint Genevieve and letters to or concerning Clovis from bishops and Theodoric.

Division of Gaul - 511
Frankish territories at the time of Clovis's death

Clovis and his wife were buried in the Abbey of St Genevieve (St. Pierre) in Paris; the original name of the church was the Church of the Holy Apostles.[34]

Roman Law

Under Clovis, the first codification of the Salian Frank law took place. The Roman Law was written with the assistance of Gallo-Romans to reflect the Salic legal tradition and Christianity, while containing much from Roman tradition. The Roman Law lists various crimes as well as the fines associated with them.[35]

Legacy

The legacy of Clovis's conquests, a Frankish kingdom that included most of Roman Gaul and parts of western Germany, survived long after his death.[36] To the French people, he is the founder of France.

Detracting, perhaps, from this legacy, is his aforementioned division of the state. This was done not along national or even largely geographical lines, but primarily to assure equal income amongst his sons after his death. While it may or may not have been his intention, this division was the cause of much internal discord in Gaul. This precedent led in the long run to the fall of his dynasty, for it was a pattern repeated in future reigns.[37] Clovis did bequeath to his heirs the support of both people and Church such that, when the magnates were ready to do away with the royal house, the sanction of the Pope was sought first.

By his conversion to Christianity he made himself the ally of the papacy and its protector as well as that of the people, who were mostly Catholics.

Battle of Tolbiac

Battle of Tolbiac. Fresco at the Panthéon (Paris) by Joseph Blanc, circa 1881.

Chlodwigs taufe

Saint Remigius baptizes Clovis, in a painting of ca 1500

Bateme de Clovis par St Remy-edit

Statue depicting the baptism of Clovis by Saint Remigius.

Sculpture.Notre.Dame.de.Corbeil

Clovis statue at the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis

Clovis-Moreau

The Sons of Clovis, by Georges Moreau de Tours (1877)

Chronology

  • c. 466: Clovis is born in Tournai.
  • c. 467: Clovis' sister, Audofleda is born.
  • c. 468: Clovis's sister, Lanthilde is born.
  • c. 470: Clovis's sister Aboflede is born.
  • c. 477: Clovis's mother, Basina dies.
  • c. 481: Clovis's father, Childeric I dies and succeeded by Clovis.
  • c. 486: Clovis defeats Syagrius in Soissons and begins the takeover of the kingdom.
  • c. 487: Clovis' son Theuderic I is born.
  • c. 491: Clovis completes the conquest of the kingdom and turns his attention elsewhere.
  • c. 493:
    Clovis marries Audofleda to Theoderic the Great.
    Clovis marries a Burgundian princess, Clotilde.
  • c. 494: Clovis' and Clotilde's first child, Ingomer is born and dies.
  • c. 495.
    Clovis' and Clotilde's second son, Chlodomer is born.
    Clovis becomes an uncle as Audofleda gives birth to an Ostrogothic princess, Amalasuntha.
  • c. 496:
    Clovis is baptised (early estimate).
    Clovis defeats the Alamanni threat.
    Clovis' and Clotilde's third son, Childebert I is born.
  • c. 497. Clovis' and Clotilde's fourth son, Chlothar I is born.
  • c. 500:
    Clovis subjugates Burgundy.
    Clovis' and Clotilde's only daughter, Clotilde is born.
    Albofleda dies.
  • c. 501: Clovis' ally and brother-in-law, Godegisel is murdered.
  • c. 502:
    Clovis allies himself with the Armonici.
    Theuderic marries Suavegotha.
  • c. 503: Clovis becomes a grandfather, when Theuderic secures a son of his own, Theudebert I.
  • c. 507: Clovis liberates Aquitainia and murders various Frankish reguli.
  • c. 508: Clovis baptized by the Bishop of Reims (late estimate).[38]
  • c. 509:
    Clovis executes the last pagan regulus.
    Clovis is declared the king of all the Franks.
  • 511 November 27 or 513: Clovis dies in Paris

Ancestry

Ancestors of Clovis I
16. Pharamond (traditional)
8. Clodio (traditional)
17. Argotta (traditional)
4. Merovech (traditional)
9. Basine (traditional)
2. Childeric I
1. Clovis I
3. Basina of Thuringia

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ Alain de Benoist, Dictionnaire des prénoms, d'hier et aujourd'hui, d'ici et d'ailleurs, p. 294, éd. Jean Picollec, 2009.
  2. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Clovis" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 563–564.
  3. ^ Brown, Peter (2003). The Rise of Western Christendom. Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. p. 137.
  4. ^ The date 481 is arrived at by counting back from the Battle of Tolbiac, which Gregory of Tours places in the fifteenth year of Clovis's reign.
  5. ^ General Charles de Gaulle is cited (in the biography by David Schœnbrun, 1965), as having said "For me, the history of France begins with Clovis, elected as king of France by the tribe of the Franks, who gave their name to France. Before Clovis, we have Gallo-Roman and Gaulish prehistory. The decisive element, for me, is that Clovis was the first king to have been baptized a Christian. My country is a Christian country and I reckon the history of France beginning with the accession of a Christian king who bore the name of the Franks." (Pour moi, l'histoire de France commence avec Clovis, choisi comme roi de France par la tribu des Francs, qui donnèrent leur nom à la France. Avant Clovis, nous avons la Préhistoire gallo-romaine et gauloise. L'élément décisif pour moi, c'est que Clovis fut le premier roi à être baptisé chrétien. Mon pays est un pays chrétien et je commence à compter l'histoire de France à partir de l'accession d'un roi chrétien qui porte le nom des Francs.)
  6. ^ Danuta, Shanzer (March 1998). "Dating the baptism of Clovis: the bishop of Vienne vs the bishop of Tours". Early Medieval Europe. 7 (1): 29–57. doi:10.1111/1468-0254.00017.
  7. ^ Meertens Instituut, Nederlandse Voornamenbank, Lodewijk. The second element corresponds to Middle High German wîc, with final-obstruent devoicing, as in Ludewic. The Middle Dutch form is wijch (modern Dutch wijg; see WNT, "wijg"), as in original Dutch Hadewig, Hadewijch.
  8. ^ Rosenwein, Barbara (2004). A Short History of the Middle Ages. Canada: University of Toronto Press. p. 43.
  9. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780816657001.
  10. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780816657001.
  11. ^ a b c d Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780816657001.
  12. ^ a b c d The Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. 2, (Henry Melvill Gwatkin et al, eds.), Macmillan, 1913, p. 110
  13. ^ Frassetto, Michael, Encyclopedia of barbarian Europe, (ABC-CLIO, 2003), p. 126
  14. ^ a b Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780816657001.
  15. ^ a b c d "Iron Age Braumeisters of the Teutonic Forests". BeerAdvocate.
  16. ^ The abbey was later renamed Sainte-Geneviève Abbey, in honor of the patron saint of Paris, and was demolished in 1802. All that remains is the "Tour Clovis", a Romanesque tower which now lies within the grounds of the Lycée Henri-IV, just east of The Panthéon, and the parish Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which was built on the abbey territory.
  17. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 5. ISBN 9780816657001.
  18. ^ Wikisource "Clotilda, Saint" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 557.
  19. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780816657001.
  20. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780816657001.
  21. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 10. ISBN 9780816657001.
  22. ^ a b Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780816657001.
  23. ^ Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751. U of Minnesota Press. p. 7. ISBN 9780816657001.
  24. ^ Howorth, H.H., "The Ethnology of Germany", The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 13, Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1884, p. 235
  25. ^ Bachrach (1972), 31; Gregory, II, 42.
  26. ^ Collins, Roger, Early Medieval Europe
  27. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms, (Longman, 1994), 45.
  28. ^ Geary, Patrick (2003). Readings in Medieval History: Gregory of Tours History of the Franks. Canada: Broadview Press Ltd. pp. 145–146.
  29. ^ Danuta, Shanzer (March 1998). "Dating the Baptism of Clovis: The bishop of Vienna vs the bishop of Tours". Early Medieval Europe. 7 (1): 29–57. doi:10.1111/1468-0254.00017.
  30. ^ Gender and Conversion in the Merovingian Era, Cordula Nolte, Varieties of Religious Conversion in the Middle Ages, ed. James Muldoon, (University of Florida Press, 1997), 88
  31. ^ Robinson, J.H. (1905). Readings in European History. Boston. pp. 51–55.
  32. ^ James, Edward (1985) Gregory of Tours: Life of the Fathers. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press; p. 155 n. 12
  33. ^ Daly, William M., "Clovis: How Barbaric, How Pagan?" Speculum 69.3 (July 1994:619–664)
  34. ^ Geary, Patrick (2003). Readings in Medieval History: Gregory of Tours History of the Franks. Canada: Broadview Press Ltd. p. 153.
  35. ^ Geary, Patrick (2003). Readings in Medieval History:Rome Law. Canada: Broadview Press Ltd. pp. 129–136.
  36. ^ Rickard, J (1 January 2013), Clovis I, king of the Franks, r.481-511
  37. ^ "The Rise of the Carolingians or the Decline of the Merovingians?" (pdf)
  38. ^ "Clovis I | Biography, Significance, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica.

Sources

  • Daly, William M. (1994) "Clovis: How Barbaric, How Pagan?" Speculum, 69:3 (1994), 619–664
  • James, Edward (1982) The Origins of France: Clovis to the Capetians, 500–1000. London: Macmillan, 1982
  • Kaiser, Reinhold (2004) "Das römische Erbe und das Merowingerreich", in: Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte; 26. Munich (in German)
  • Oman, Charles (1914) The Dark Ages 476–918. London: Rivingtons
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1962) The Long-haired Kings. London
Clovis I
Born: 466 Died: November 27 511
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Childeric I
King of the Salian Franks
481 – c. 509
Conquered Francia
Conquest
of Francia
King of the Franks
c. 509 – 511
Succeeded by
Clotaire I
in Soissons
Succeeded by
Childebert I
in Paris
Succeeded by
Chlodomer
in Orléans
Succeeded by
Theuderic I
in Reims
Political offices
Preceded by
Flavius Ennodius Messala,
Areobindus Dagalaiphus Areobindus
Consul of the Roman Empire
507
with Anastasius I,
Venantius Junior
Succeeded by
Basilius Venantius,
Celer
5th century

The 5th century is the time period from 400 to 500 Anno Domini (AD) or Common Era (CE) in the Julian calendar. The 5th century is noted for being a period of migration and political instability, throughout Eurasia.

It saw the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, which came to an end in 476 AD. The Western Roman Empire was ruled by a succession of weak emperors, and true power began to fall increasingly into the hands of powerful generals. Internal instability and the pressing military problem of foreign invaders resulted in the ransacking of Rome by a Visigoth army in 410. Some recovery took place during the following decades, but the Western Empire received another serious blow when a second barbarian group, the Vandals, occupied Carthage, capital of the extremely important province of Africa. Attempts to retake the province were interrupted by the invasion of the Huns under Attila. After Attila's defeat, both Eastern and Western empires joined forces for a final assault on Vandal North Africa, but this campaign was a spectacular failure.

In China, the period known as the Sixteen Kingdoms, where various barbarian tribes formed their own kingdoms, persisted. After the fall of the Former Qin towards the end of the previous century, the north of China was eventually once again reunited by Northern Wei in 439. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Jin dynasty, the Jin statesman and general Liu Yu started consolidating his power and eventually forced the last Emperor of the Jin dynasty, Emperor Gong of Jin, to abdicate to him in 420, creating the (Liu) Song dynasty, which was also the starting point of the period known as the Northern and Southern dynasties.

Towards the end of the 5th century, the Gupta Empire of India was invaded from Central Asia and occupied by elements of the Huna peoples – who may have been related to the Huns who had attacked the Romans (see above).

Austrasia

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 Soissons (486)

The Battle of Soissons was fought in 486 between Frankish forces under Clovis I and the Gallo-Roman domain of Soissons under Syagrius. The battle was a victory for the Franks, and led to the conquest of the Roman rump state of Soissons, a milestone for the Franks in their attempt to establish themselves as a major regional power.

In the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire between 476 and 480, Syagrius was the only remaining representative of Roman rule in the area between the Loire and the Somme. Syagrius was the son of Aegidius, the last Roman magister militum per Gallias; he preserved his father's rump state, the Domain of Soissons, between the Somme and the Loire, calling himself dux.

The central location of Soissons in northern Gaul and its largely intact infrastructure allowed a level of stability in the years of the Migration Period, but also made the area tempting for their Frankish neighbours to the north-east. The realm of Syagrius was of almost the same size as the Frankish area, though the Franks were divided into small kingdoms, and, on the right bank of the Rhine, little touched by Roman culture.

Nevertheless, Clovis I managed to assemble enough Franks to confront Syagrius's forces. Clovis issued a challenge to Syagrius naming the time and place of the battle. Gregory of Tours mentions that one Chararic had brought his forces to the battlefield but then stood aloof, hoping to ally with the winner.The ensuing battle was a decisive victory for Clovis and his Franks. Syagrius fled to the Visigoths (under Alaric II), but Clovis threatened war and the Visigoths handed Syagrius over for execution.

Consequently, the realm of the Franks almost doubled in size; its border was now on the Loire adjacent to the realm of the Visigoths, who were finally routed at the Battle of Vouillé in 507 and forced to retreat south of the Pyrenées.

In due course Clovis marched against Chararic, captured him and his sons, and forced them to accept ordination and tonsures as deacons. On report of their hope to regain power, he had them executed.

Battle of Tolbiac

The Battle of Tolbiac was fought between the Franks, who were fighting under Clovis I, and the Alamanni, whose leader is not known. The date of the battle has traditionally been given as 496, though other accounts suggest it may either have been fought earlier, in the 480s or early 490s, or later, in 506. The site of "Tolbiac", or "Tolbiacum", is usually given as Zülpich, North Rhine-Westphalia, about 60 km east of what is now the German-Belgian frontier. The Franks were successful at Tolbiac and established their dominance over the Alamanni.

Catholic Church in France

The Catholic Church in France is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in communion with the Pope in Rome. Established in the 2nd century in unbroken communion with the bishop of Rome, it is sometimes called the "eldest daughter of the church".

The first written records of Christians in France date from the 2nd century when Irenaeus detailed the deaths of ninety-year-old bishop Saint Pothinus of Lugdunum (Lyon) and other martyrs of the 177 AD persecution in Lyon. In 496 Remigius baptized King Clovis I, who therefore converted from paganism to Catholicism. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, forming the political and religious foundations of Christendom in Europe and establishing in earnest the French government's long historical association with the Catholic Church. The French Revolution (1789-1790) was followed by heavy persecution of the Catholic Church. Laïcité, absolute neutrality of the state with respect to religious doctrine, is nowadays the official policy of the Republic of France.

Estimates of the proportion of Catholics range between 41% and 88% of France's population, with the higher figure including lapsed Catholics and "Catholic atheists". The Catholic Church in France is organised into 98 dioceses, which in 2012 were served by 7,000 sub-75 priests. 80 to 90 priests are ordained every year, when the church would need eight times as many to compensate the number of priest deaths. Approximately 45,000 Catholic church buildings and chapels are spread out among 36,500 cities, towns, and villages in France, but a majority are no longer regularly used for mass. Notable churches of France include Notre Dame de Paris, Chartres Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, and Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, Eglise de la Madeleine, and Amiens Cathedral. Its national shrine, Lourdes, is visited by 5 million pilgrims yearly. The capital city, Paris, is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics as well.

Some of the most famous French saints include St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Irenaeus, St. Jean-Marie Vianney the Curé of Ars, St. Joan of Arc, St. Bernadette, Louis IX of France, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, St. Catherine Labouré and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Childebert I

Childebert I (c. 496 – 13 December 558) was a Frankish King of the Merovingian dynasty, as third of the four sons of Clovis I who shared the kingdom of the Franks upon their father's death in 511. He was one of the sons of Saint Clotilda, born at Reims. He reigned as King of Paris from 511 to 558 and Orléans from 524 to 558.

Childeric I

Childeric I (; French: Childéric; Latin: Childericus; reconstructed Frankish: *Hildirīk; c. 437 – 481 AD) was a Frankish leader in the northern part of imperial Roman Gaul and a member of the Merovingian dynasty, described as a King (Latin Rex), both on his Roman-style seal ring, which was buried with him, and in fragmentary later records of his life. He was father of Clovis I, who acquired lordship over all or most Frankish kingdoms, and a significant part of Roman Gaul.

Chlodomer

Chlodomer, also spelled Clodomir or Clodomer (c. 495 - 524) was the second of the four sons of Clovis I, King of the Franks. On the death of his father, in 511, he divided the kingdom of the Franks with his three brothers: Theuderic I, Childebert I, and Clotaire I. Although Theuderic, the eldest, had a better claim, Chlodomer divided half of the kingdom with his two other brothers. This was the kingdom of Orléans, taken from the former kingdom of Syagrius. This kingdom included, most notably, the bishoprics of Tours, Poitiers and Orléans. Chlodomer married Guntheuc, with whom he had three sons: Theodebald, Gunthar, and Clodoald.

In 523–24, possibly at the instigation of his mother Clotilde, who was eager to avenge her nephew who had been assassinated by Sigismund of Burgundy, Chlodomer joined with his brothers in an expedition against the Burgundians. After capturing Sigismund, Chlodomer returned to Orléans. However, Sigismund's brother Gondomar returned triumphantly to Burgundy at the head of the troops sent by his ally, the Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great. There, he massacred the garrison the Franks had left behind.

Although victorious, Chlodomer had Sigismund and his sons Gisald and Gondebaud assassinated on 1 May 524. He then led a second expedition against the Burgundians. He was killed on this expedition, in the spring or summer of the same year, at the Battle of Vézeronce. His three sons were entrusted to his mother until his widow married Clotaire I. Clotaire, however, had Chlodomer's children killed, although Clodoald managed to escape. Better known as Saint Cloud, he later became abbot of Nogent, having given up his hair, the symbol of the Frankish royalty, rather than giving up his life.

Chlothar I

Chlothar I (c. 497 – 29 November 561), 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.

Claudas

King Claudas is a fictional Frankish king and an opponent to King Arthur, Lancelot, and Bors in Arthurian literature. His kingdom is situated in the Berry and is named "Terre Deserte", or "Land Laid Waste", so called because of the destruction Uther Pendragon had wrought there.Claudas appears as the Round Table's adversary in Perlesvaus, the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate Cycles, and Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. He wages war on Kings Ban and Bors in the early period of Arthur's reign, and succeeds in conquering many of their lands. Ban and Bors help Arthur in his conflicts against rebellious kings in Britain, but Arthur is unable to send them reinforcements to deal with Claudas. Bors dies fighting against Claudas, who takes in his sons Bors the Younger and Lionel and has them raised as prisoners in his court. When Ban dies, his son Lancelot is swept away by the Lady of the Lake to be raised in her underwater palace. Arthur pursues a truce with Claudas that lasts some time.

When they are older, Lionel and Bors kill Claudas' son Dorin, but escape to join their cousin with the Lady of the Lake. All three eventually go to Camelot and become Knights of the Round Table. Years later, after Claudas has imprisoned a cousin of Guinevere's, Arthur, Bors and Lionel decide to settle the score for good. They defeat him and win back the lands of Ban and Bors, and all the other lands Claudas had acquired. The old king goes to Rome in disgrace. Claudas' son Claudin becomes an excellent knight and a virtuous man, eventually joining Bors, Percival, Galahad, and eight others to become the only knights to witness the Holy Grail.

Claudas may be based on historical Frankish kings, especially Clodio and Clovis I. The conquests of Claudas resemble those of Clovis, and he is sometimes even said to be Clovis' ancestor.

Frankish mythology

Frankish mythology comprises the mythology of the Germanic tribal confederation of the Franks, from its roots in polytheistic Germanic paganism through the inclusion of Greco-Roman components in the Early Middle Ages.

This mythology flourished among the Franks until the conversion of the Merovingian king Clovis I to Nicene Christianity (c. 500), though there were many Frankish Christians before that. After that, their paganism was gradually replaced by the process of Christianisation, but there were still pagans in the Frankish heartland of Toxandria in the late 7th century.

Gothic Christianity

Gothic Christianity refers to the Christian religion of the Goths and sometimes the Gepids, Vandals, and Burgundians, who may have used the translation of the Bible into the Gothic language and shared common doctrines and practices.

The Gothic tribes converted to Christianity sometime between 376 and 390 AD, around the time of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Gothic Christianity is the earliest instance of the Christianization of a Germanic people, completed more than a century before the baptism of Frankish king Clovis I.

The Gothic Christians were followers of Arianism. Many church members, from simple believers, priests, and monks to bishops, emperors, and members of Rome's imperial family followed this doctrine, as did two Roman emperors, Constantius II and Valens.

After their sack of Rome, the Visigoths moved on to occupy Spain and southern France. Having been driven out of France, the Spanish Goths formally embraced Nicene Christianity at the Third Council of Toledo in 589.

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 who ruled different territories, and the divisions of those territories would also be inconsistent over time. As inheritance traditions changed over time, 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 was to become 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 battles involving France

This is a chronological list of the battles involving France from the reign of Clovis I (481–511) to the ongoing military operations.

This list does not include the battles of the French civil wars (as the Wars of Religion, the Fronde, the War in the Vendée) unless a foreign country is involved; this list includes neither the peacekeeping operations (such as Operation Artemis, Operation Licorne) nor the humanitarian missions supported by the French Armed Forces.

Merovingian dynasty

The Merovingians were a Salian Frankish dynasty that ruled the Franks for three centuries in a region known as Francia in Latin, beginning in the middle of the 5th century. Their territory largely corresponded to ancient Gaul as well as the Roman provinces of Raetia, Germania Superior and the southern part of Germania. The semi legendary Merovech was supposed to have founded the Merovingian dynasty, but it was his famous grandson Clovis I (ruled c. 481–511) who united all of Gaul under Merovingian rule.

After the death of Clovis, there were frequent clashes between different branches of the family, but when threatened by its neighbours the Merovingians presented a strong united front.

During the final century of Merovingian rule, the kings were increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. The Merovingian rule ended in March 752 when Pope Zachary formally deposed Childeric III. Zachary's successor, Pope Stephen II, confirmed and anointed Pepin the Short in 754, beginning the Carolingian monarchy.

The Merovingian ruling family were sometimes referred to as the "long-haired kings" (Latin reges criniti) by contemporaries, as their long hair distinguished them among the Franks, who commonly cut their hair short. The term "Merovingian" comes from medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingi ("sons of Merovech"), an alteration of an unattested Old Dutch form, akin to their dynasty's Old English name Merewīowing, with the final -ing being a typical patronymic suffix.

Syagrius

Syagrius (430 – 486 or 487) was the last Gallic military commander of a Roman rump state in northern Gaul, now called the Kingdom of Soissons. Gregory of Tours referred to him as King of the Romans. Syagrius's defeat by king Clovis I of the Franks is considered the end of Western Roman rule outside of Italy. He inherited his position from his father, Aegidius, the last Roman magister militum per Gallias. Syagrius preserved his father's territory between the Somme and the Loire around Soissons after the collapse of central rule in the Western Empire, a domain Gregory of Tours called the "Kingdom" of Soissons. Syagrius governed this Gallo-Roman enclave from the death of his father in 464 until 486, when he was defeated in battle by Clovis I.

Historians have mistrusted the title "rex Romanorum" that Gregory of Tours gave him, at least as early as Godefroid Kurth, who dismissed it as a gross error in 1893. The common consensus has been to follow Kurth, based on the historical truism that Romans hated kingship from the days of the expulsion of Tarquin the Proud; for example, Syagrius' article in the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire omits this title, preferring to refer to him as a "Roman ruler (in North Gaul)". However, S. Fanning has assembled a number of examples of rex being used in a neutral, if not favorable, context, and argues that "the phrase Romanorum rex is not peculiar to Gregory of Tours or to Frankish sources", and that Gregory's usage may indeed show "that they were, or were seen to be, claiming to be Roman emperors."

Theuderic I

Theuderic I (c. 487 – 533/4) was the Merovingian king of Metz, Rheims, or Austrasia—as it is variously called—from 511 to 533 or 534.

He was the son of Clovis I and one of his earlier wives or concubines (possibly a Franco-Rhenish Princess, Evochildis of Cologne). He inherited Metz in 511 at his father's death. In accordance with Salian tradition, the kingdom was divided between Clovis's four surviving sons: Childebert I in Paris, Chlodomer in Orléans, and Clothar I in Soissons. Early in his reign, he sent his son Theudebert to kill the Scandinavian King Chlochilaich (Hygelac of Beowulf fame) who had invaded his realm.

Theuderic got involved in the war between the Thuringian King Hermanfrid and his brother Baderic. Theuderic was promised half of Thuringia for his help; Baderic was defeated, but the land promised was not given up. In 531, Theuderic invaded Thuringia with the support of Clothar. Hermanfrid was killed in the invasion and his kingdom was annexed.The four sons of Clovis then all fought the Burgundian kings Sigismund and Godomar; Godomar fled and Sigismund was taken prisoner by Chlodomer. Theuderic married Sigismund's daughter Suavegotha. Godomar rallied the Burgundian army and won back his kingdom. Chlodomer, aided by Theuderic, defeated Godomar, but died in the fighting at Vézeronce.

Theuderic then, with his brother Clotaire and his son, attacked Thuringia to revenge himself on Hermanfrid. With the assistance of the Saxons under Duke Hadugato, Thuringia was conquered, and Clotaire received Radegund, daughter of King Berthar (Hermanfrid's late brother). After making a treaty with his brother Childebert, Theuderic died in 534. Upon his death the throne of Metz, passed (without hindrance, unexpectedly) to his son Theudebert. Theuderic also left a daughter Theodechild (by his wife Suavegotha, daughter of the defeated Sigismund of Burgundy). Theodechild founded the Abbey of St-Pierre le Vif at Sens.

Tolbiac (Paris Métro)

Tolbiac is a station of the Paris Métro. It is at the crossroads of two main roads, the Avenue d'Italie and the Rue de Tolbiac. It is near the Asian Quarter and the Parc de Choisy.

Tolbiac opened as part of a planned section of Line 7, which was temporarily operated as part of Line 10 until the completion of the under-Seine crossing of line 7 from Pont de Sully to Place Monge. On 7 March 1930 the line was extended from Place d'Italie to Porte de Choisy, including Tolbiac. The station was integrated into line 7 on 26 April 1931. It is named after the Rue de Tolbiac. Tolbiac was the site of a battle near Cologne, where the Franks under Clovis I beat the Alamanni in 496.

Zülpich

Zülpich is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany between Aachen and Bonn. It belongs to the district of Euskirchen.

The town is commonly agreed to be the site with the Latin name of Tolbiacum, famous for the Battle of Tolbiac, fought between the Franks under Clovis I and the Alemanni; the traditional date is 496, corrected in many modern accounts to 506. The battle is commemorated in the names of the Rue de Tolbiac and the Tolbiac Métro station in Paris.

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