Merovingian Kings

The Merovingians were a dynasty of Frankish kings who ruled a frequently fluctuating area in various parts of the France and Germany of today. They ruled from the 5th to the 8th centuries. They were called the 'long-haired kings' as their hair was unshorn.

The name Merovingian came from Merovech who was the leader of the Salian Franks from 447 to 457. The kings appointed magnates or counts who had charge of defense, administration, and judged over disputes.

CHILDERIC I born about 437 and died about 481 was the Merovingian King of the Salian Franks from 457 until his death. He succeeded his father, Merovech.

His Frankish warband helped him establish his capital at Tournai. He kept the peace with his allies for a while.

About 463 he defeated the Visigoth. Then he went to Angers and fought against Odoacer and delivered Angers. Later he formed an alliance with Odoacer to stop a band of Alamanni who wanted to invade Italy.

Childeric I died in 481 at Tournai. His son, Clovis I became King of the Franks.

CLOVIS I was born about 466 and died 27 Nov. 511 in Paris, France. He was a member of Merovingian Dynasty. He became King of the Salian Franks when his father, Childreic I, died in 481.

In 486 Clovis had the help of Ragnachar to defeat the last Roman official in Northern Gual, Syagrius who ruled the area around Soissons which is Picardie today. Then Clovis married his sister to Audofleda, daughter of Theodoric The Great who was King of the Ostrogoths. This marriage secured an alliance with them. Clovis then defeated the Thuringians in 491. He won a victory over the Alamanni at the Battle of Tolbiac.

Clovis married Clotilde in 493. She was the Burgundian princess. After his victory at Tolbiac in 496, he converted to her Catholic faith. The conversion of Clovis and most of his subjects strengthened the relationship between his Roman subjects and their Germanic Conquerers.

Clovis called a synod of Gallic bishops to meet at Orleans to reform the church. This reformation brought about a strong link between the crown and the Catholic episcopate.

Clovis I died in 511. He is interred at St. Denis Bascilica in Paris, France. After his death his kingdom was divided between his four sons, Theuderic, Chlodomor, Childebert, and Clotaire. This division caused disunity until the end of the Merovingian dynasty in 751.

CHILDEBERT I was born about 496 in Rheims, Marne, France. He was the son of Clovis I. He died in 558.

In 511 Childeberte's share of his father's kingdom was Paris, and the country to the north of the Somme River, and west to the English Channel with Armorican Peninsula. In 524 his brother Chlodomor's children were murdered and he annexed the cities of Chartres and Orleans to his kingdom. In 535 his brothers guaranteed him possession of Arles and Marseilles.

In 542 he built the Monastery or Abbey of St. Vincent at the gates of Paris. It was later known as St. Germain-des-Prez-France.

Childeberte died in 558 and is buried at the abbey he founded.

CHARIBERT was born about 517. He was the son of Clotaire and Ingonde. He was King of France from 561 to 567. About 604 his daughter Bertha, married Aethelbert, King of Kent. Charibert was very learned in the law and he was also very eloquent. However, he was one of the most dissolute of the Merovingian Kings.

Charibert had bishops elected in the merovingian territories. However, they were subject to much manipulation and their decisions could be vetoed by the king. Saint Martin got King Charibert to give a coronation promise, an oath:

'he would not burden the people with new laws and customs, but he would retain only those which they had previously lived under in the time of his father; and he promised that he would not impose upon them any new ordinance which would result in loss to them.'

Charibert died in 567 and was buried in the Abbey of St. Vincent which is now Saint Germain-des-Prez, just outside of Paris.

CHILDERIC III was the last of the Merovingian Dynasty kings. Pippin The Short and Carloman decided to recognize him as king. However, Childreic had no power and made no decisions. He was basicly king in name only. Carloman retired into a monastery in 747. Pippin decided to take the Royal Crown for himself and did so in 751. Pope Zacharias had said 'it were better to name king him who possessed the power than him who possessed it not'.

Childeric was dethroned, his hair shorne, and sent to the monastery of St. Omer. His son was imprisoned at Saint Wandrifrie. Childeric died about 755.


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