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Clovis ( la, Chlodovechus; reconstructed Frankish: ; – 27 November 511) was the first
king of the Franks The Franks, Germanic-speaking peoples that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, were first led by individuals called dux, dukes and monarch, reguli. The earliest group of Franks that rose to prominence was the Salian Franks, ...
to unite all of the
Frankish tribes
Frankish tribes
under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of petty kings to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs. He is considered to have been the founder of the
Merovingian dynasty The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gauli ...

Merovingian dynasty
, which ruled the Frankish kingdom for the next two centuries. Clovis succeeded his father,
Childeric I Childeric I (; french: Childéric; la, Childericus; reconstructed Old Frankish, Frankish: ''*Hildirīk''; – 481 AD) was a Franks, Frankish leader in the northern part of imperial Roman Gaul and a member of the Merovingian dynasty, described ...

Childeric I
, as a king of
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin: ''Salii''; Ancient Greek language, Greek: Σάλιοι, ''Salioi''), were a northwestern subgroup of the early Franks who appear in the historical record in the fourth and fifth centuries. The ...
in 481, and eventually came to rule an area extending from what is now the southern
Netherlands ) , anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of the Netherlands , established_title = Before independence , established_date = Spanish Neth ...

Netherlands
to northern
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...

France
, corresponding in Roman terms to
Gallia Belgica Gallia Belgica ("Belgic Gaul") was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire located in the north-eastern part of Roman Gaul, in what is today primarily northern France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, along with parts of the Netherlands and German ...
(northern
Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe first described by the Romans. It was inhabited by Celts, Celtic and Aquitani tribes, encompassing present-day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy (only dur ...

Gaul
). At the
Battle of Soissons (486) The Battle of Soissons was fought in 486 between Franks, Frankish forces under Clovis I and the Gallo-Roman Kingdom of Soissons, domain of Soissons under Syagrius. The battle was a victory for the Franks, and led to the conquest of the Roman Emp ...
he established his military dominance of the
rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger State (polity), state, left with a reduced territory in the wake of secession, annexation, military occupation, occupation, decolonization, or a successful coup d'état or revolution on part of it ...
of the fragmenting
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used in historiography to describe the period fr ...

Western Roman Empire
which was then under the command of
Syagrius Syagrius (430 – 486 or 487 or 493–4) was a Roman general and the last ruler 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 ...
. By the time of his death in either 511 or 513, Clovis had conquered several smaller Frankish kingdoms in the northeast of Gaul including some northern parts of what is now France. Clovis also conquered the Alemanni tribes in eastern Gaul, and the
Visigothic The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
kingdom of
Aquitania Gallia Aquitania ( , ), also known as Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France and a former r ...

Aquitania
in the southwest. These campaigns added significantly to Clovis's domains, and established his dynasty as a major political and military presence in western Europe. Clovis is important in the historiography of
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...

France
as "the first king of what would become France". Clovis is also significant due to his conversion to Catholicism in 496, largely at the behest of his wife,
Clotilde Clotilde ( 474–545), also known as Clothilde, Clotilda, Clotild, Rotilde etc. (Latin: Chrodechildis, Chlodechildis from Frankish ''*Hrōþihildi'' or perhaps ''*Hlōdihildi'', both "famous in battle"), was a List of Frankish queens, Queen of A ...

Clotilde
, who would later be venerated as a
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of ...

saint
for this act, celebrated today in both the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...

Roman Catholic Church
and
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
. Clovis was baptized on
Christmas Day Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus, Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people Observance of Christmas by country, around t ...

Christmas Day
in 508. The adoption by Clovis of
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
(as opposed to the
Arianism Arianism ( grc-x-koine, Ἀρειανισμός, ) is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who was begotten by God ...
of most other Germanic tribes) led to widespread conversion among the Frankish peoples; to religious unification across what is now modern-day France, the Low Countries and Germany; three centuries later, to
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...

Charlemagne
's alliance with the
Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or offic ...
; and in the middle of the 10th century under
Otto I the Great Otto I (23 November 912 – 7 May 973), traditionally known as Otto the Great (german: Otto der Große, it, Ottone il Grande), was East Francia, East Frankish king from 936 and Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973. He was the olde ...
, to the consequent birth of the early
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a Polity, political entity in Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central, and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolution i ...
.


Name

Based on the attested forms, the original name is reconstructed in the
Frankish language Frankish ( reconstructed endonym: *), also known as Old Franconian or Old Frankish, was the West Germanic language spoken by the Franks from the 5th to 9th century. After the Salian Franks settled in Roman Gaul, its speakers in Picard ...
as *''Hlōdowik'' or *''Hlōdowig'' and is traditionally considered to be composed of two elements, deriving from both
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic languages, Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. Proto-Germanic eventually developed from ...
: ''*hlūdaz'' ("loud, famous") and ''*wiganą'' ("to battle, to fight"), resulting in the traditional practice of translating Clovis' name as meaning "famous warrior" or "renowned in battle". However, scholars have pointed out that
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman History, historian and Bishops of Tours, Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He ...
consequently transcribes the names of various Merovingian royal names containing the first element as ''chlodo-''. The use of a
close-mid back protruded vowel The close-mid back rounded vowel, or high-mid back rounded vowel, is a type of vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sou ...
(o), rather than the expected
close back rounded vowel The close back rounded vowel, or high back rounded vowel, is a type of Vowel diagram, vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol ...
(u) which Gregory does use in various other Germanic names (i.e.
Fredegund Fredegund or Fredegunda (Vulgar Latin, Latin: ''Fredegundis''; French language, French: ''Frédégonde''; died 8 December 597) was the Queen consort of Chilperic I, the Merovingian Franks, Frankish king of Soissons. Fredegund served as regent ...
is, Arnulfus,
Gundobad Gundobad ( la, Flavius Gundobadus; french: Gondebaud, Gondovald; 452 – 516 AD) was King of Burgundy, King of the Burgundians (473 – 516), succeeding his father Gundioc of Burgundy. Previous to this, he had been a Patrician (ancient Rome), ...
us, etc.) opens up the possibility that the first element instead derives from
Proto-Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic languages, Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. Proto-Germanic eventually developed from ...
''*hlutą'' ("lot, share, portion"), giving the meaning of the name as "loot bringer" or "plunder (bringing) warrior". This hypothesis is supported by the fact that if the first element is taken to mean "famous", then the name of
Chlodomer Chlodomer, also spelled Clodomir or Clodomer (c. 495 - 524) was the second of the four sons of Clovis I, List of Frankish Kings, King of the Franks. On the death of his father, in 511, he divided the kingdom of the Franks with his three brothers: ...
(one of Clovis' sons) would contain two elements (''*hlūdaz'' and ''*mērijaz'') both meaning "famous", which would be highly uncommon within the typical
Germanic name Germanic given name A given name (also known as a forename or first name) is the part of a personal name quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a middle name as well, and differentiates that person from the other members of ...
structure. In
Middle Dutch Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic languages, West Germanic dialects whose ancestor was Old Dutch. It was spoken and written between 1150 and 1500. Until the advent of Modern Dutch after 1500 or c. 155 ...
, a language closely related to Frankish, the name was rendered as ''Lodewijch'' (cf.
modern Dutch Dutch ( ) is a West Germanic language spoken by about 25 million people as a first language and 5 million as a second language. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-Europea ...
''
Lodewijk Lodewijk () is the Dutch language, Dutch name for Louis (given name), Louis. In specific it may refer to: Given name Literature * Lo Hartog van Banda, Lodewijk Hartog van Banda (1916–2006), Dutch comic strip writer * Lodewijk Paul Aalbrecht Bo ...
''). The name is found in other
West Germanic languages The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabu ...
, with
cognate In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical ...
s including
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
''Hloðwig'',
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language and the earliest recorded form of Low German (spoken nowadays in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultura ...
''Hluduco'', and
Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and Old High ...
''Hludwīg'' (variant ''Hluotwīg''). The latter turned into ''Ludwig'' in
Modern German New High German (NHG; german: Neuhochdeutsch (Nhd.)) is the term used for the most recent period in the history of the German language, starting in the 17th century. It is a loan translation of the German (). The most important characteristic o ...
, although the king Clovis himself is generally named Chlodwig. The
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and t ...
form ''Hlǫðvér'' was most likely borrowed from a West Germanic language. The Frankish name ''*Hlodowig'' is at the origin of the French given name '' Louis'' (variant ''
Ludovic Ludovic is a given name and has also been a surname. People with the given name A * Ludovic Albós Cavaliere (born 1979), Andorran ski mountaineer * Ludovic Ambruș (born 1946), Romanian wrestler who competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics * Lu ...
''), borne by 18
kings of France France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacif ...
, via the Latinized form ''Hludovicus'' (variants ''Ludhovicus, Lodhuvicus'', or ''Chlodovicus''). The English ''Lewis'' stems from the Anglo-French ''Louis''. In Spanish, the name became ''Luis,'' in Italian ''Luigi'' (variants ''Ludovico'' and Venetian ''Alvise'', rarer ''Aligi'' and ''Aloisio''), and in Hungarian '' Lajos.''


Background

Clovis was the son of
Childeric I Childeric I (; french: Childéric; la, Childericus; reconstructed Old Frankish, Frankish: ''*Hildirīk''; – 481 AD) was a Franks, Frankish leader in the northern part of imperial Roman Gaul and a member of the Merovingian dynasty, described ...

Childeric I
, a
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gauli ...
king of the
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin: ''Salii''; Ancient Greek language, Greek: Σάλιοι, ''Salioi''), were a northwestern subgroup of the early Franks who appear in the historical record in the fourth and fifth centuries. The ...
, and Basina, a
Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of central Germany, covering , the sixth smallest of the sixteen German states. It has a population of about 2.1 million. Erfurt is t ...
n princess. The dynasty he founded is, however, named after his supposed ancestor, Merovich. Clovis succeeded his father to become king at the age of 15 in 481, as deduced from
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman History, historian and Bishops of Tours, Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He ...
placing the Battle of Tolbiac (
Zülpich Zülpich ( ksh, Zöllech) is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany between Aachen and Bonn. It belongs to the Euskirchen (district), district of Euskirchen. History The town is commonly agreed to be the site with the Latin name of ''Tolbia ...
) in the fifteenth year of Clovis's reign. Numerous small Frankish
petty king A petty kingdom is a kingdom described as minor or "petty" (from the French 'petit' meaning small) by contrast to an empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divid ...
doms existed during the 5th century. The
Salian Franks The Salian Franks, also called the Salians (Latin: ''Salii''; Ancient Greek language, Greek: Σάλιοι, ''Salioi''), were a northwestern subgroup of the early Franks who appear in the historical record in the fourth and fifth centuries. The ...
were the first-known Frankish tribe that settled with official Roman permission within the empire, first in
Batavia Batavia may refer to: Historical places * Batavia (region) Batavia (; , ) is a historical and geographical region in the Netherlands, forming large fertile islands in the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, river delta formed by the waters of the ...
in the Rhine-Maas delta, and then in 375 in
Toxandria Texandria (also Toxiandria; later Toxandria, Taxandria), is a region mentioned in the 4th century AD and during the Middle Ages. It was situated in the southern part of the modern Netherlands and in the northern part of present-day Belgium, current ...
, which in the present day consists of the province of
North Brabant North Brabant ( nl, Noord-Brabant ; Brabantian: ; ), also unofficially called Brabant, is a Provinces of the Netherlands, province in the south of the Netherlands. It borders the provinces of South Holland and Gelderland to the north, Limburg ( ...
in the Netherlands and parts of neighbouring provinces of
Antwerp Antwerp (; nl, Antwerpen ; french: Anvers ; es, Amberes) is the largest city in Belgium by area at and the capital of Antwerp Province in the Flemish Region. With a population of 530,504,
and Limburg in Belgium. This put them in the north part of the Roman
civitas Tungrorum The ''Civitas Tungrorum'' was a large Roman administrative district dominating what is now eastern Belgium and the southern Netherlands. In the early days of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλε ...
, with Romanized population still dominant south of the military highway Boulogne-Cologne. Later,
Chlodio Chlodio (probably died after 450), also Clodio, Clodius, Clodion, Cloio or Chlogio, was a Franks, Frankish king who attacked and then apparently ruled Roman-inhabited lands around Cambrai and Tournai, near the modern border of Belgium and France. ...
seems to have attacked westwards from this area to take control of the Roman populations in
Tournai Tournai or Tournay ( ; ; nl, Doornik ; pcd, Tornai; wa, Tornè ; la, Tornacum) is a city and Municipalities in Belgium, municipality of Wallonia located in the Hainaut Province, province of Hainaut, Belgium. It lies southwest of Brussels on ...
, then southwards to
Artois Artois ( ; ; nl, Artesië; English adjective: ''Artesian'') is a region of Hauts-de-France, northern France. Its territory covers an area of about 4,000 km2 and it has a population of about one million. Its principal cities are Arras (Dut ...
, and
Cambrai Cambrai (, ; pcd, Kimbré; nl, Kamerijk), formerly Cambray and historically in English Camerick or Camericke, is a city in the Nord (French department), Nord Departments of France, department and in the Hauts-de-France Regions of France, regio ...
, eventually controlling an area stretching to the
Somme river The Somme ( , , ) is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wi ...
. 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 Aegidius (died 464 or 465) was the ruler of the short-lived Kingdom of Soissons from 461 to 464/465AD. Before his ascension, he became ''magister militum per Gallias'' (Master of the Soldiers for Gaul) serving under Majorian, in 458AD. An arden ...
, the
magister militum (Latin for "master of soldiers", plural ) was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine the Great. The term referred to the senior military officer (equivalent to a war theatre commander, ...
of northern Gaul, to defeat the
Visigoths The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
in
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
Belgica Secunda Gallia Belgica ("Belgic Gaul") was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire located in the north-eastern part of Roman Gaul, in what is today primarily northern France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, along with parts of the Netherlands and German ...
and were subordinate to the magister militum. The Franks of Tournai came to dominate their neighbours, initially aided by the association with Aegidius. The death of
Flavius Aetius Aetius (also spelled Aëtius; ; 390 – 454) was a Roman general and statesman of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. He was a military commander and the most influential man in the Empire for two decades (433454). He managed po ...
in 454 led to the decline of imperial power in the Gaul; leaving the Visigoths and the Burgundians competing for predominance in the area. The part of Gaul still under Roman control emerged as a kingdom under Syagrius, Aegidius's son. Though no primary sources expounding on the language spoken by Clovis exist, historical linguist consider it likely that, based on his family history and core territories, he spoke a form of
Old Dutch In linguistics, Old Dutch (Dutch: Oudnederlands) or Old Low Franconian (Dutch: Oudnederfrankisch) is the set of Franconian languages, Franconian dialects (i.e. dialects that evolved from Frankish language, Frankish) spoken in the Low Countries ...
. In this, the early
Merovingians The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the Lower Rhine a ...
can be contrasted with the later
Carolingians The Carolingian dynasty (; known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Franks, Frankish noble family named after Charlemagne, grandson of Mayor of the palace, mayor Charles Martel and a descendant ...
, such as
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...

Charlemagne
, of the late
8th century The 8th century is the period from 701 ( DCCI) through 800 ( DCCC) in accordance with the Julian Calendar The Julian calendar, proposed by Roman consul Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on , b ...
and onward, who probably spoke various forms of
Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and Old High ...
.


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 Ragnachar or Ragnarius (died 509) was a Frankish petty king (''regulus'') who ruled from Cambrai Cambrai (, ; pcd, Kimbré; nl, Kamerijk), formerly Cambray and historically in English Camerick or Camericke, is a city in the Nord (French depar ...

regulus
of
Cambrai Cambrai (, ; pcd, Kimbré; nl, Kamerijk), formerly Cambray and historically in English Camerick or Camericke, is a city in the Nord (French department), Nord Departments of France, department and in the Hauts-de-France Regions of France, regio ...
and another Frankish regulus, Chalaric. Together the
triumvirate A triumvirate ( la, triumvirātus) or a triarchy is a political institution ruled or dominated by three individuals, known as triumvirs ( la, triumviri). The arrangement can be formal or informal. Though the three leaders in a triumvirate are ...
marched against
Syagrius Syagrius (430 – 486 or 487 or 493–4) was a Roman general and the last ruler 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 ...
and met the Gallo-Roman commander at
Soissons Soissons () is a Communes of France, commune in the northern French Departments of France, department of Aisne, in the Regions of France, region of Hauts-de-France. Located on the river Aisne (river), Aisne, about northeast of Paris, it is one ...
. During the battle Chalaric betrayed his comrades by refusing to take part in the fighting.''The Cambridge Medieval History'', Vol. 2, (Henry Melvill Gwatkin et al, eds.), Macmillan, 1913, p. 110
/ref> Despite the betrayal, the Franks landed a
decisive victory A decisive victory is a military victory The term victory (from Latin ''victoria'') originally applied to warfare, and denotes success achieved in personal Duel, combat, after military operations in general or, by extension, in any competit ...
, forcing Syagrius to flee to the court of
Alaric II Alaric II ( got, 𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, , "ruler of all"; la, Alaricus; – August 507) was the King of the Visigoths from 484 until 507. He succeeded his father Euric as king of the Visigoths in Toulouse on 28 December 484; he was ...
. This battle is viewed as bringing about the end of the
rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger State (polity), state, left with a reduced territory in the wake of secession, annexation, military occupation, occupation, decolonization, or a successful coup d'état or revolution on part of it ...
of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used in historiography to describe the period fr ...

Western Roman Empire
outside of Italy. Following the battle, Clovis invaded the traitor Chararic's territory and was able to imprison him and his son.


Taming Gaul

Prior to the battle, Clovis did not enjoy the support of the Gallo-Roman clergy, so he proceeded to pillage the Roman territory, including the churches. The Bishop of Reims requested Clovis return everything taken from the Church of Reims, and, as the young king aspired to establish cordial relationships with the clergy, he returned a valuable ewer taken from the church. Despite his position, some Roman cities refused to yield to the Franks, namely
Verdun Verdun (, , , ; official name before 1970 ''Verdun-sur-Meuse'') is a large city in the Meuse (department), Meuse departments of France, department in Grand Est, northeastern France. It is an arrondissement of the department. Verdun is the b ...
‒which surrendered after a brief siege‒and Paris, which stubbornly resisted a few years, perhaps as many as five. He made Paris his capital and established an abbey dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul on the south bank of the
Seine The Seine ( , ) is a river in northern France. Its drainage basin is in the Paris Basin (a geological relative lowland) covering most of northern France. It rises at Source-Seine, northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, ...
. 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. He also integrated many of Syagrius's units into his own army. The Roman kingdom was probably under Clovis's control by 491, because in the same year Clovis successfully moved against a small number of
Thuringians The Thuringii, Toringi or Teuriochaimai, were an early Germanic people that appeared during the late Migration Period The Migration Period was a period in History of Europe, European history marked by large-scale migrations that saw the fa ...
in the eastern Gaul, near the Burgundian border.


Middle reign (492–506)


Barbarian bonding

Around 493 AD, he secured an alliance with the
Ostrogoths The Ostrogoths ( la, Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were a Roman-era Germanic peoples, Germanic people. In the 5th century, they followed the Visigoths in creating one of the two great Goths, Gothic kingdoms within the Roman Empire, based upon the larg ...
through the marriage of his sister
Audofleda Audofleda (ca. 467 - ca. 511), was a Gothic queen of the Ostrogothic Kingdom The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (), existed under the control of the Germanic Ostrogoths in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially th ...
to their king,
Theodoric the Great Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal dynasty, Amal ( got, , *Þiudareiks; Medieval Greek, Greek: , romanized: ; Latin: ), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent ...
. In the same year, the neighboring King of the Burgundians was slain by his brother,
Gundobad Gundobad ( la, Flavius Gundobadus; french: Gondebaud, Gondovald; 452 – 516 AD) was King of Burgundy, King of the Burgundians (473 – 516), succeeding his father Gundioc of Burgundy. Previous to this, he had been a Patrician (ancient Rome), ...
; bringing civil strife to that kingdom. He proceeded to drown his sister-in-law and force his niece, Chrona, into a convent; another niece,
Clotilde Clotilde ( 474–545), also known as Clothilde, Clotilda, Clotild, Rotilde etc. (Latin: Chrodechildis, Chlodechildis from Frankish ''*Hrōþihildi'' or perhaps ''*Hlōdihildi'', both "famous in battle"), was a List of Frankish queens, Queen of A ...

Clotilde
, fled to the court of her other uncle. Finding himself in a precarious position this uncle, Godegisel, decided to ally himself to Clovis by marrying his exiled niece to the Frankish king.


Assault of the Alamanni

In 496, the
Alamanni The Alemanni or Alamanni, were a confederation of Germanic tribes * * * on the Upper Rhine River. First mentioned by Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (), also known as Dio Cassius ( ), was a Roman historian and senator of maternal Greek ori ...
invaded and 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. Clovis, together with over three thousand Frankish companions, may have converted to Christianity around this time. With the help of the Ripuarian Franks he narrowly defeated the Alamanni in the Battle of Tolbiac in 496. Now Christian, Clovis confined his prisoners, Chararic and his son, to a monastery.


Business in Burgundy

In 500 or 501, the relationship between the Burgundian brothers took a turn for the worse when Godegisel began scheming against his brother Gundobad. He promised his brother-in-law territory and annual tribute for defeating 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 Dijon (, , ) (dated) * it, Digione * la, Diviō or * lmo, Digion is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Côte-d'Or Departments of France, department and of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Regions of France, region in northeaster ...
, where both the Franks and Godegisel's forces defeated the host of the dumbfounded Gundobad, who escaped to
Avignon Avignon (, ; ; oc, Avinhon, label= Provençal or , ; la, Avenio) is the prefecture of the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia''. Com ...
. Clovis proceeded to follow 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 tribute from Gundobad.


Armonici allies

In 501, 502 or 503, Clovis led his troops to
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica (Gaulish: ; br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. ...
. He had previously restricted of his operations to minor raids, yet this time, 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's disdain for the Arian Visigoths.
Armorica Armorica or Aremorica (Gaulish: ; br, Arvorig, ) is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and the Loire that includes the Brittany Peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic Coast. ...
and its fighters were thus integrated into the Frankish realm.


Late reign (507–511)


Visiting the Visigoths

In 507 Clovis was allowed by the magnates of his realm to invade the remaining threat of the Kingdom of the Visigoths. 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. 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. 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. Armonici assisted him in defeating the
Visigothic The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
kingdom of
Toulouse Toulouse ( , ; oc, Tolosa ) is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Departments of France, French department of Haute-Garonne and of the larger Regions of France, region of Occitania (administrative region), Occitania. The city is on t ...
in the Battle of Vouillé in 507, eliminating Visigothic power in Gaul. The battle added most of
Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France and a former regions of France, administrative region of the count ...
to Clovis's kingdom and resulted in the death of the Visigothic king
Alaric II Alaric II ( got, 𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, , "ruler of all"; la, Alaricus; – August 507) was the King of the Visigoths from 484 until 507. He succeeded his father Euric as king of the Visigoths in Toulouse on 28 December 484; he was ...
. According to Gregory of Tours, following the battle the
Byzantine Emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation of Constantinople in 330 AD, which marks the conventional start of the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Roman Empire, to Fall of Constantinople, its fall to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 AD. On ...
Anastasius I made Clovis a patrician and honorary consul.


Ravishing the Reguli

In 507, following Vouillé, Clovis heard about Chararic's plan to escape from his monastic prison and had him murdered. In the same year, Clovis convinced Prince Chlodoric to murder his father, earning him his nickname as Chlodoric the Parricide. Following the murder, Clovis betrayed Chlodoric and had his envoys strike him down.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
/ref> 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.


Death

Shortly before his death, Clovis called a synod of Gallic bishops to meet in
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
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 exact date of his death is not known. After his death, Clovis was laid to rest in the Abbey of St Genevieve in Paris. His remains were relocated to
Saint Denis Basilica The Basilica of Saint-Denis (french: Basilique royale de Saint-Denis, links=no, now formally known as the ) is a large former medieval abbey church and present cathedral in the commune of Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. The building ...
in the mid- to late 18th century. When Clovis died, his kingdom was partitioned among his four sons, Theuderic,
Chlodomer Chlodomer, also spelled Clodomir or Clodomer (c. 495 - 524) was the second of the four sons of Clovis I, List of Frankish Kings, King of the Franks. On the death of his father, in 511, he divided the kingdom of the Franks with his three brothers: ...
, Childebert and
Clotaire Chlothar (Latin ''Chlotharius''; Greek ''Khlōthários'' Χλωθάριος; French ''Clotaire'') is a Germanic language, Germanic given name, attested in Old English as ''Hloþhere'', in Old High German as ''Lothari'' (Lothair (disambiguation), Lo ...
. This partition created the new political units of the Kingdoms of
Rheims Reims ( , , ; also spelled Rheims in English) is the most populous city in the French department of Marne, and the 12th most populous city in France. The city lies northeast of Paris on the Vesle river, a tributary of the Aisne Aisne ( ...
,
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
Soissons Soissons () is a Communes of France, commune in the northern French Departments of France, department of Aisne, in the Regions of France, region of Hauts-de-France. Located on the river Aisne (river), Aisne, about northeast of Paris, it is one ...
, and inaugurated a tradition that would lead to disunity lasting until the end of the
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gauli ...
dynasty in 751. Clovis had been a king with no fixed capital and no central administration beyond his entourage. By deciding to be interred at Paris, Clovis gave the city symbolic weight. When his grandchildren divided royal power 50 years after his death in 511, Paris was kept as a joint property and a fixed symbol of the dynasty. The disunity continued under the
Carolingians The Carolingian dynasty (; known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Franks, Frankish noble family named after Charlemagne, grandson of Mayor of the palace, mayor Charles Martel and a descendant ...
until, after a brief unity under
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...

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 Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and former Regions of France, administrative region and province of east-central France. The province was once home to the Duke of Burgundy, Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11 ...
and
Lotharingia Lotharingia ( la, regnum Lotharii regnum Lothariense Lotharingia; french: Lotharingie; german: Reich des Lothar Lotharingien Mittelreich; nl, Lotharingen) was a short-lived medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire. As a more durable ...
.


Baptism

Clovis was born a pagan but later became interested in converting to
Arian Christianity Arianism ( grc-x-koine, Ἀρειανισμός, ) is a Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius Arius (; grc-koi, Ἄρειος, ; 250 or 256 – 336) was a Cyrenaica, Cyrenaic presbyter, asceticism, ascetic, and priest best ...
, whose followers believed that Jesus was a distinct and separate being from
God the Father God the Father is a title given to God in Christianity. In mainstream trinity, trinitarian Christianity, God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity, followed by the second person, God the Son Jesus Christ, and the third pers ...
, both subordinate to and created by him. This contrasted with
Nicene Christianity The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea The First Council of Nicaea (; grc, Νίκαια ) was a council of Christian bishop ...
, whose followers believe that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three persons of one being (
consubstantiality Consubstantiality, a term derived from la, consubstantialitas, denotes identity of substance or essence in spite of difference in Aspect (religion), aspect. It appears most commonly in its adjectival form, "consubstantial", from Latin ''cons ...
). While the theology of the Arians was declared a heresy at the
First Council of Nicea The First Council of Nicaea (; grc, Νίκαια ) was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynian city of Nicaea (now İznik, Turkey) by the Roman emperor, Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, Constantine I in AD 325. This ecu ...
in 325, the missionary work of Bishop
Ulfilas Ulfilas (–383), also spelled Ulphilas and Orphila, all Latinisation of names, Latinized forms of the unattested Gothic language, Gothic form *𐍅𐌿𐌻𐍆𐌹𐌻𐌰 Wulfila, literally "Little Wolf", was a Goths, Goth of Cappadocian Ancie ...
converted a significant portion of the
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin ''pāgānus'' "rural", "rustic", later "civilian") is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christianity, early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, or ethnic religions ot ...
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 Clotilde ( 474–545), also known as Clothilde, Clotilda, Clotild, Rotilde etc. (Latin: Chrodechildis, Chlodechildis from Frankish ''*Hrōþihildi'' or perhaps ''*Hlōdihildi'', both "famous in battle"), was a List of Frankish queens, Queen of A ...

Clotilde
, a Burgundian princess, was a Catholic despite the Arianism that surrounded her at court. 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. Clovis eventually converted to Catholicism following the Battle of Tolbiac on Christmas Day 508 in a small church in the vicinity of the subsequent
Abbey of Saint-Remi An abbey is a type of monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of Monasticism, monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in Cenobitic monasticism, communities or alone (he ...
in
Reims Reims ( , , ; also spelled Rheims in English) is the most populous city in the French Departments of France, department of Marne (department), Marne, and the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, 12th most populous city in Fr ...
; a statue of his baptism by
Saint Remigius Remigius (french: Remi or ; – January 13, 533), was the Bishop of Reims and "Apostle of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associate ...
can still be seen there. The details of this event have been passed down by
Gregory of Tours Gregory of Tours (30 November 538 – 17 November 594 AD) was a Gallo-Roman History, historian and Bishops of Tours, Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He ...
, 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, as 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 The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
and the
Vandals The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
, 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. On the other hand,
Bernard Bachrach Bernard Stanley Bachrach (born 1939) is an American historian. He taught history at the University of Minnesota from 1967 until his retirement in 2020. He specializes in the Early Middle Ages, mainly on the topics of medieval warfare, History of ...
has argued that his conversion from Frankish
paganism Paganism (from classical Latin ''pāgānus'' "rural", "rustic", later "civilian") is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christianity, early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, or ethnic religions ot ...
alienated many of the other Frankish sub-kings and weakened his military position over the next few years. In the , Saint Gregory of Tours gave the Germanic gods that Clovis abandoned the names of roughly equivalent Roman gods, such as
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
and Mercury. William Daly, more directly assessing Clovis's allegedly barbaric and pagan origins, ignored the Gregory of Tours version and based his account on the scant earlier sources, a sixth-century of
Saint Genevieve Genevieve (french: link=no, Sainte Geneviève; la, Sancta Genovefa, Genoveva; 419/422 AD – 502/512 AD) is the patroness saint of Paris in the Catholic Church, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox traditions. Her Calendar of sain ...
and letters to or concerning Clovis from bishops (now in the ) and
Theodoric Theodoric is a Germanic given name. First attested as a Gothic name in the 5th century, it became widespread in the Germanic-speaking world, not least due to its most famous bearer, Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Overview The name ...
. 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.


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.


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. 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. 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 Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
he made himself the ally of the papacy and its protector as well as that of the people, who were mostly Catholics. File:Battle of Tolbiac.jpg, Battle of Tolbiac. Fresco at the
Panthéon The Panthéon (, from the Classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the fol ...
(
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), ma ...
) by Joseph Blanc, circa 1881 File:Chlodwigs taufe.jpg, Saint Remigius baptizes Clovis, in a painting of c. 1500 File:Bateme de Clovis par St Remy-edit.jpg, Statue depicting the baptism of Clovis by
Saint Remigius Remigius (french: Remi or ; – January 13, 533), was the Bishop of Reims and "Apostle of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associate ...
File:Sculpture.Notre.Dame.de.Corbeil.png, Clovis statue at the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis File:Clovis-Moreau.jpg, The Sons of Clovis, by Georges Moreau de Tours (1877)


Sainthood

In later centuries, Clovis was venerated as a saint in France. The
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Benedic ...
Abbey of Saint-Denis The Basilica of Saint-Denis (french: Basilique royale de Saint-Denis, links=no, now formally known as the ) is a large former medieval abbey church and present cathedral in the commune of Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis, a northern ...
(where Clovis was buried) had a shrine to St. Clovis to the east of the main altar. There was also a shrine to him in the
Abbey of Saint Genevieve The Abbey of Saint Genevieve (French: ''Abbaye Sainte-Geneviève'') was a monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of Monasticism, monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in ...
in Paris.Jansen, Philippe. ''La part du Midi dans la naissance de la nation française: Beaune (Colette), Naissance de la Nation France, Paris, Gallimard, Bibliothèque des Histoires, 1985.'' Annales du Midi. Vol. 99. No. 177. Privat, 1987. This shrine had a statue and a number of epitaphs and was probably where the veneration of St. Clovis began. Despite Clovis's presence in Paris, his cultus was largely based in the south of France. Abbot Aymeric de Peyrat (d. 1406), the author of the History of the
Moissac Abbey Moissac Abbey was a Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Chu ...
, claimed that his own monastery was founded by St. Clovis and there were many monasteries named in his honour.Remensnyder, Amy Goodrich ''Remembering Kings Past: Monastic Foundation Legends in Medieval Southern France'' Aymeric not only referred to Clovis as a saint but also prayed for St. Clovis's intercession. There were also known to be shrines dedicated to Clovis in Église Sainte-Marthe de Tarascon and Saint-Pierre-du- Dorât.Krynen, Jacques. ''«Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?» La réponse médiévale française.'' Revue historique de droit français et étranger (1922–) 64.1 (1986): 71–78. Boniface Symoneta, Jacques Almain and Paulus Aemilius Veronensis gave
hagiographic A hagiography (; ) is a biography of a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as th ...
accounts of Clovis's life and at the time it was common to include Clovis's life in collections of the lives of the saints. It has been suggested that the reason that the French state promoted the veneration of Clovis in the south was to establish a border cult that would cause
Occitans The Occitans ( oc, occitans) are a Romance language, Romance-speaking ethnic group originating in the historical region of Occitania (southern France, northeastern Spain, and northwestern Italy). They have been also called Gascons, Provençals, ...
to venerate the northern-led French state by venerating its founder. Another reason could be that Clovis was a preferable foundation figure for the
House of Valois The Capetian house of Valois ( , also , ) was a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty. They succeeded the House of Capet (or "Direct Capetians") to the List of French monarchs, French throne, and were the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589 ...
as their predecessors were the Direct Capetians who looked back to
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; german: Karl der Große; 2 April 747 – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the first Holy ...

Charlemagne
whose veneration had been widely recognised.Renna, Thomas. ''Saint Louis IX and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III.'' Expositions 9.2 (2015): 35–79. In contrast to the theory of St. Clovis's cult being a primarily northern-supported movement, Amy Goodrich Remensnyder suggests that St. Clovis was used by Occitans to reject the northern concept of the monarchy and to reinstate their autonomy as something granted by the saint. St. Clovis had the role of a more militarised royal saint than the pious
Louis IX of France Louis IX (25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270), commonly known as Saint Louis or Louis the Saint, was King of France from 1226 to 1270, and the most illustrious of the House of Capet, Direct Capetians. He was Coronation of the French monarch, c ...
. As a saint, Clovis was important as he represented the spiritual birth of the nation and provided a chivalrous and ascetic model for French political leaders to follow. The veneration of St. Clovis was not exclusive to France as a print by the Holy Roman woodcut designer Leonhard Beck made for the Habsburg monarchs depicts Clovis as St. Chlodoveus, St. Boniface's Abbey in
Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of the States of Germany, German state of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the List of cities in Germany by popu ...
depicted St. Chlodoveus as a saint worthy of emulation because of his advocacy, and the Florentine Baroque painter Carlo Dolci painted a large depiction of St. Clovis for the Imperial Apartment in the
Uffizi The Uffizi Gallery (; it, Galleria degli Uffizi, italic=no, ) is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence in the region of Tuscany, Italy. One of the most important Italian museums ...
Gallery. St. Clovis had no known official
canonisation Canonization is the declaration of a deceased person as an officially recognized saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God In monoth ...
, neither was he
beatified Beatification (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) arou ...
, so his sainthood was only ever recognised by popular acclaim.Lloberah, Josep R.''The God of Modernity: The Development of Nationalism in Western Europe'' Following the example of the monks of St. Geneviève, St. Clovis's feast day in France was held on 27 November. St. Clovis enjoyed a persistent campaign from French royal authorities that few non-French national or dynastic saints did.Ruddick, Andrea ''English Identity and Political Culture in the Fourteenth Century'' French monarchs, beginning in the 14th century at the latest, attempted to officially canonise Clovis a number of times.Grell, Chantal ''Le baptême de Clovis aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles.'' Versalia. Revue de la Société des Amis de Versailles 1.1 (1998): 48–59. The most notable attempt, led by King Louis XI and modelled on the successful canonisation campaign of Louis IX, occurred during a conflict with the Burgundians. The cause for Clovis's canonisation was taken up once again in the 17th century, with
Jesuit The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviation: SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order of clerics regular of pontifical right for men in the Catholic Church headquartered in Rom ...
support, a '' vita'' and an account of posthumous miracles, in opposition to the controversial historical works of
Calvinist Calvinism (also called the Reformed Tradition, Reformed Protestantism, Reformed Christianity, or simply Reformed) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John C ...
pastor Jean de Serres who portrayed Clovis as a cruel and bloodthirsty king. The Jesuit attempt to formally canonize Clovis came after a rediscovery of Clovis's ''cultus'' in the 16th century. During this period, the dual role St. Clovis could have for modern France was clarified as that of a deeply sinful man who attained sainthood by submitting himself to the will of God, as well as being the founder of the Gallican Church.Yardeni, Myriam. "Le christianisme de Clovis aux XVI e et XVII e siècles." ''Bibliothèque de l’École des chartes'' (1996): 153–172. He also attained an essentially mystic reputation. St. Clovis role in calling for the First Council of Orléans was understood to be strongly Gallican as he called it without Papal authority and with the understanding that he and his bishops had the authority to call councils that were binding for the Frankish people. For Protestant Gallicans, St. Clovis represented the role of the monarchy in governing the Church and curbing its abuses and was contrasted positively against the Papacy of his time. Protestants were unlikely to mention any of the miracles attributed to St. Clovis, sometimes even writing lengthy rejections of their existence. Instead, they saw his sainthood as evident from his creation of a state more holy and Christian than that of Rome. Catholic writers in the 16th century expanded upon the lists of St. Clovis's attributed miracles, but in the early 17th century they also began to minimize their use of the miraculous elements of his hagiography. Mid-to-late-17th-century Jesuit writers resisted this trend and allowed for no doubt as to the miraculous nature of St. Clovis life or his sainthood. Jesuit writers stressed the more extreme elements of his hagiography, and that of other saints associated with him, even claiming that St. Remigius lived for five hundred years. These hagiographies would still be quoted and widely believed as late as 1896, the fourteenth centenary of his baptism, as a speech from Cardinal Langénieux demonstrates. Another factor that led to a resurgence in St. Clovis's veneration was the Spanish Monarchy's use of the title
Catholic Monarchs The Catholic Monarchs were Isabella I of Castile, Queen Isabella I of Crown of Castile, Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, King Ferdinand II of Crown of Aragón, Aragon, whose marriage and joint rule marked the ''de facto'' unification of Spain ...
, a title French Monarchs hoped to usurp by attributing it to the much earlier figure of St. Clovis.


Chronology

* c. 466: Clovis is born in
Tournai Tournai or Tournay ( ; ; nl, Doornik ; pcd, Tornai; wa, Tornè ; la, Tornacum) is a city and Municipalities in Belgium, municipality of Wallonia located in the Hainaut Province, province of Hainaut, Belgium. It lies southwest of Brussels on ...
. * c. 467: Clovis's sister,
Audofleda Audofleda (ca. 467 - ca. 511), was a Gothic queen of the Ostrogothic Kingdom The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (), existed under the control of the Germanic Ostrogoths in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially th ...
is born. * c. 468: Clovis's sister, Lenteild is born. * c. 470: Clovis's sister Albofledis is born. * c. 477: Clovis's mother Basina dies. * c. 481: Clovis's father
Childeric I Childeric I (; french: Childéric; la, Childericus; reconstructed Old Frankish, Frankish: ''*Hildirīk''; – 481 AD) was a Franks, Frankish leader in the northern part of imperial Roman Gaul and a member of the Merovingian dynasty, described ...

Childeric I
dies and is succeeded by Clovis. * c. 486: Clovis defeats
Syagrius Syagrius (430 – 486 or 487 or 493–4) was a Roman general and the last ruler 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 ...
in Soissons and begins the takeover of the kingdom. * c. 487: Clovis's son
Theuderic I __NOTOC__ Theuderic I (c. 485 – 533/34) was the Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of n ...
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 Theodoric (or Theoderic) the Great (454 – 30 August 526), also called Theodoric the Amal dynasty, Amal ( got, , *Þiudareiks; Medieval Greek, Greek: , romanized: ; Latin: ), was king of the Ostrogoths (471–526), and ruler of the independent ...
.
Clovis marries a Burgundian princess,
Clotilde Clotilde ( 474–545), also known as Clothilde, Clotilda, Clotild, Rotilde etc. (Latin: Chrodechildis, Chlodechildis from Frankish ''*Hrōþihildi'' or perhaps ''*Hlōdihildi'', both "famous in battle"), was a List of Frankish queens, Queen of A ...

Clotilde
. * c. 494: Clovis's and Clotilde's first child, Ingomer is born and dies. * c. 495:
Clovis's and Clotilde's second son
Chlodomer Chlodomer, also spelled Clodomir or Clodomer (c. 495 - 524) was the second of the four sons of Clovis I, List of Frankish Kings, King of the Franks. On the death of his father, in 511, he divided the kingdom of the Franks with his three brothers: ...
is born.
Clovis becomes an uncle as Audofleda gives birth to an Ostrogothic princess,
Amalasuntha Amalasuintha (495 – 30 April 534/535) was a ruler of Ostrogothic Kingdom from 526 to 535. She ruled first as regent for her son and thereafter as queen on throne. A regent is "a person who governs a kingdom in the minority, absence, or disabili ...
. * c. 496:
Clovis is baptised (early estimate)
Clovis defeats the Alamanni threat.
Clovis's and Clotilde's third son
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 Clot ...
is born. * c. 497. Clovis's and Clotilde's fourth son
Chlothar I Chlothar I, sometime called "the Old" (French language, French: le Vieux), (died December 561) also anglicised as Clotaire, was a king of the Franks of the Merovingian dynasty and one of the four sons of Clovis I. Chlothar's father, Clovis I, d ...
is born. * c. 500:
Clovis subjugates Burgundy.
Clovis's and Clotilde's only daughter
Clotilde Clotilde ( 474–545), also known as Clothilde, Clotilda, Clotild, Rotilde etc. (Latin: Chrodechildis, Chlodechildis from Frankish ''*Hrōþihildi'' or perhaps ''*Hlōdihildi'', both "famous in battle"), was a List of Frankish queens, Queen of A ...

Clotilde
is born.
Albofledis dies. * c. 501: Clovis's ally and brother-in-law Godegisel is murdered. * c. 502:
Clovis allies himself with the Armonici.
Theuderic marries
Suavegotha Suavegotha (died after 549), also known as Suavegotta or Suavegotho, was probably the wife of the Franks, Frankish king Theuderic I. Suavegotha was the daughter of the Burgundians, Burgundian king Sigismund of Burgundy, Sigismund and his Ostrogoth ...
. * c. 503: Clovis becomes a grandfather, when Theuderic secures a son of his own,
Theudebert I Theudebert I (french: Thibert/Théodebert) ( 500 – 547 or 548) was the Merovingian king of Austrasia from 533 to his death in 548. He was the son of Theuderic I and the father of Theudebald. Sources Most of what we know about Theudebert comes fr ...
. * c. 507: Clovis liberates Aquitainia and murders various Frankish reguli. * c. 508: Clovis baptized by the Bishop of Reims (late estimate). * 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


References

Footnotes 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 * Oman, Charles (1914) ''The Dark Ages 476–918''. London: Rivingtons * Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1962) ''The Long-haired Kings''. London , -


External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Clovis 01 460s births 511 deaths Year of birth uncertain Frankish warriors 5th-century monarchs in Europe Burials at the Basilica of Saint-Denis Converts to Christianity from pagan religions Correspondents of Ecdicius Avitus Founding monarchs Merovingian kings Imperial Roman consuls 5th-century Christians 6th-century Christians 5th-century Frankish people 6th-century Frankish kings 6th-century Frankish saints Folk saints Military saints 5th-century Christian saints Roman Catholic royal saints