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Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire ( la, Imperium Francorum), was the largest post-Roman
barbarian kingdom The barbarian kingdoms, also known as the post-Roman kingdoms, the western kingdoms or the early medieval kingdoms, were the states founded by various non-Roman, primarily Germanic peoples, Germanic, peoples in Western Europe and North Africa fol ...
in
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. The concept of "the West" appeared in Europe in juxtaposition to "the East" and originally applied to the ancient Mediterranean ...

Western Europe
. It was ruled by 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 and the Ems River, on the edge of the Roman Empire.H. Schutz: Tools, ...

Franks
during late antiquity and the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They ...
. After the
Treaty of Verdun The Treaty of Verdun (), agreed in , divided the Francia, Frankish Empire into three kingdoms among the surviving sons of the emperor Louis the Pious, Louis I, the son and successor of Charlemagne. The treaty was concluded following almost three ...

Treaty of Verdun
in 843,
West Francia In medieval history, West Francia (Medieval Latin: ) or the Kingdom of the West Franks () refers to the western part of the Francia, Frankish Empire established by Charlemagne. It represents the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting fr ...
became the predecessor 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
, and
East Francia East Francia (Medieval Latin: ) or the Kingdom of the East Franks () was a successor state of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire, empire ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911. It was created through the Treaty of Verdun (843) which divided t ...
became that of
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...

Germany
. Francia was among the last surviving Germanic kingdoms from the
Migration Period The Migration Period was a period in History of Europe, European history marked by large-scale migrations that saw the fall of the Western Roman Empire and subsequent settlement of its former territories by various tribes, and the establishment ...
era before its partition in 843. The core Frankish territories inside the former
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
were close to the
Rhine The Rhine ; french: Rhin ; nl, Rijn ; wa, Rén ; li, Rien; rm, label=Sursilvan, Rein, rm, label=Sutsilvan and Surmiran, Ragn, rm, label=Rumantsch Grischun, Vallader and Puter, Rain; it, Reno ; gsw, Rhi(n), including in Alsatian dialect, Al ...

Rhine
and
Meuse The Meuse ( , , , ; wa, Moûze ) or Maas ( , ; li, Maos or ) is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea from the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta. It has a to ...

Meuse
rivers in the north. After a period where small kingdoms interacted with the remaining
Gallo-Roman Gallo-Roman culture was a consequence of the Romanization of Gauls under the rule of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the p ...
institutions to their south, a single kingdom uniting them was founded by
Clovis I Clovis ( la, Chlodovechus; reconstructed Old Frankish, Frankish: ; – 27 November 511) was the first List of Frankish kings, king of the Franks to unite all of the Franks, Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a ...

Clovis I
who was crowned
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, ...
in 496. His dynasty, 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
, was eventually replaced by the
Carolingian dynasty 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 ...
. Under the nearly continuous campaigns of
Pepin of Herstal Pepin II (c. 635 – 16 December 714), commonly known as Pepin of Herstal, was a Frankish statesman and military leader who de facto ruled Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, ...
,
Charles Martel Charles Martel ( – 22 October 741) was a Frankish political and military leader who, as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, was the de facto ruler of Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Re ...

Charles Martel
,
Pepin the Short Pepin the Short (french: Pépin le Bref; – 24 September 768), also called the Younger (german: Pippin der Jüngere), was King of the Franks from 751 until his death in 768. He was the first Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (; known ...
,
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
, and
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (german: Ludwig der Fromme; french: Louis le Pieux; 16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, co-emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813. He was ...

Louis the Pious
—father, son, grandson, great-grandson and great-great-grandson—the greatest expansion of the Frankish empire was secured by the early 9th century, and was by this point dubbed the
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. It was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty, which had ruled as kings of the Franks since 751 and as kings of ...
. During the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties the Frankish realm was one large
polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize ...
subdivided into several smaller kingdoms, often effectively independent. The geography and number of subkingdoms varied over time, but a basic split between eastern and western domains persisted. The eastern kingdom was initially called
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the north-eastern 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 t ...
, centred on the
Rhine The Rhine ; french: Rhin ; nl, Rijn ; wa, Rén ; li, Rien; rm, label=Sursilvan, Rein, rm, label=Sutsilvan and Surmiran, Ragn, rm, label=Rumantsch Grischun, Vallader and Puter, Rain; it, Reno ; gsw, Rhi(n), including in Alsatian dialect, Al ...

Rhine
and
Meuse The Meuse ( , , , ; wa, Moûze ) or Maas ( , ; li, Maos or ) is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea from the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta. It has a to ...

Meuse
, and expanding eastwards into
central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) between Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestanti ...

central Europe
. Following the
Treaty of Verdun The Treaty of Verdun (), agreed in , divided the Francia, Frankish Empire into three kingdoms among the surviving sons of the emperor Louis the Pious, Louis I, the son and successor of Charlemagne. The treaty was concluded following almost three ...

Treaty of Verdun
in 843, the Frankish Realm was divided into three separate kingdoms:
West Francia In medieval history, West Francia (Medieval Latin: ) or the Kingdom of the West Franks () refers to the western part of the Francia, Frankish Empire established by Charlemagne. It represents the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting fr ...
,
Middle Francia Middle Francia ( la, Francia media) was a short-lived Frankish kingdom which was created in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun after an intermittent civil war between the grandsons of Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, ...
and
East Francia East Francia (Medieval Latin: ) or the Kingdom of the East Franks () was a successor state of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire, empire ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911. It was created through the Treaty of Verdun (843) which divided t ...
. In 870, Middle Francia was partitioned again, with most of its territory being divided among West and East Francia, which would hence form the nuclei of the future
Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France; frm, Royaulme de France; french: link=yes, Royaume de France) is the historiographical name or umbrella term given to various political entities of France France (), officially the Fr ...
and the
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 ...
respectively, with West Francia (France) eventually retaining the choronym.


History


Origins

The term "Franks" emerged in the 3rd century AD, covering Germanic tribes who settled on the northern Rhine frontier of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
, including the Bructeri, Ampsivarii,
Chamavi The Chamavi, Chamãves or Chamaboe () were a Germanic peoples, Germanic tribe of Roman empire, Roman imperial times whose name survived into the Early Middle Ages. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD ''Germania (book), Germania ...
, Chattuarii and Salians. While all of them had a tradition of participating in the Roman military, the Salians were allowed to settle within the Roman Empire. In 358, having already been living in the ''civitas'' of Batavia for some time, Emperor Julian defeated the Chamavi and Salians, allowing the latter to settle further away from the border, in Toxandria. Some of the early Frankish leaders, such as Flavius Bauto and Arbogast, were committed to the cause of the Romans, but other Frankish rulers, such as Mallobaudes, were active on Roman soil for other reasons. After the fall of Arbogastes, his son Arigius succeeded in establishing a
hereditary Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that does not involve the fusion ...

hereditary
countship at
Trier Trier ( , ; lb, Tréier ), formerly known in English as Trèves ( ;) and Triers (see also Names of Trier in different languages, names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle (river), Moselle in Germany. It lies in a valley b ...

Trier
and after the fall of the usurper Constantine III some Franks supported the usurper Jovinus (411). Jovinus was dead by 413, but the Romans found it increasingly difficult to manage the Franks within their borders. The Frankish king Theudemer was executed by the sword, in c. 422. Around 428, the king
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. ...
, whose kingdom may have been in the '' civitas Tungrorum'' (with its capital in
Tongeren Tongeren (; french: Tongres ; german: Tongern ; li, Tóngere ) is a City status in Belgium, city and Municipalities of Belgium, municipality located in the Provinces of Belgium, Belgian province of Limburg (Belgium), Limburg, in the southeastern ...

Tongeren
), launched an attack on Roman territory and extended his realm as far as ''Camaracum'' (
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 ...

Cambrai
) and the Somme. Though
Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
relates that
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 ...
defeated a wedding party of his people (c. 431), this period marks the beginning of a situation that would endure for many centuries: the Germanic Franks ruled over an increasing number of Gallo-Roman subjects. The
Merovingians
Merovingians
, reputed to be relatives of Chlodio, arose from within the Gallo-Roman military, with Childeric and his son Clovis being called "King of the Franks" in the Gallo-Roman military, even before having any Frankish territorial kingdom. Once Clovis defeated his Roman competitor for power in northern Gaul,
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 ...
, he turned to the kings of the Franks to the north and east, as well as other post-Roman kingdoms already existing in Gaul:
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 ...
,
Burgundians The Burgundians ( la, Burgundes, Burgundiōnes, Burgundī; on, Burgundar; ang, Burgendas; grc-gre, Βούργουνδοι) were an early Germanic peoples, Germanic tribe or group of tribes. They appeared in the middle Rhine region, near the R ...
, and
Alemanni 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 ...
. The original core territory of the Frankish kingdom later came to be known as
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the north-eastern 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 t ...
(the "eastern lands"), while the large Romanised Frankish kingdom in northern Gaul came to be known as
Neustria Neustria was the western part of the Kingdom of the Franks. Neustria included the land between the Loire and the Silva Carbonaria, approximately the north of present-day France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a ...
.


Merovingian rise and decline, 481–687

Chlodio's successors are obscure figures, but what can be certain is that
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
, possibly his grandson, ruled a Salian kingdom from
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 ...

Tournai
as a '' foederatus'' of the Romans. Childeric is chiefly important to history for bequeathing the Franks to his son
Clovis
Clovis
, who began an effort to extend his authority over the other Frankish tribes and to expand their ''territorium'' south and west into
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
. Clovis converted 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 ...
and put himself on good terms with the powerful Church and with his Gallo-Roman subjects. In a thirty-year reign (481–511) Clovis defeated the Roman general
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 conquered the
Kingdom of Soissons The Kingdom or Domain of Soissons was a rump state of the Western Roman Empire in northern Gaul, between the Somme and the Seine, that lasted for some 25 years during Late Antiquity. The rulers of the rump state, notably its final ruler Syagrius, ...
, defeated the
Alemanni 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 ...
(
Battle of Tolbiac
Battle of Tolbiac
, 496) and established Frankish hegemony over them. Clovis defeated the Visigoths ( Battle of Vouillé, 507) and conquered all of their territory north of the Pyrenees save
Septimania Septimania (french: Septimanie ; oc, Septimània ) is a historical region in modern-day Southern France. It referred to the western part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed to the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septima ...
, and conquered the
Bretons The Bretons (; br, Bretoned or ''Vretoned,'' ) are a Celts, Celtic ethnic group native to Brittany. They trace much of their heritage to groups of Common Brittonic, Brittonic speakers who emigrated from Dumnonia, southwestern Great Britain, par ...
(according to
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 ...
) and made them vassals of Francia. He conquered most or all of the neighbouring Frankish tribes along the Rhine and incorporated them into his kingdom. He also incorporated the various Roman military settlements ('' laeti'') scattered over Gaul: the Saxons of Bessin, the Britons and the
Alans The Alans (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) around prese ...

Alans
of
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. ...

Armorica
and Loire valley or the
Taifals The Taifals or Tayfals ( la, Taifali, Taifalae or ''Theifali''; french: Taïfales) were a people group of Germanic or Sarmatian origin, first documented north of the lower Danube in the mid third century AD. They experienced an unsettled and fr ...
of
Poitou Poitou (, , ; ; Poitevin: ''Poetou'') was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers. Both Poitou and Poitiers are named after the Pictones Gallic tribe. Geography The main historical cities are Poitiers (historical ...

Poitou
to name a few prominent ones. By the end of his life, Clovis ruled all of Gaul save the Gothic province of Septimania and the
Burgundian kingdom The Kingdom of the Burgundians or First Kingdom of Burgundy was established by Germanic Burgundians The Burgundians ( la, Burgundes, Burgundiōnes, Burgundī; on, Burgundar; ang, Burgendas; grc-gre, Βούργουνδοι) were an early Ger ...

Burgundian kingdom
in the southeast. The Merovingians were a
hereditary monarchy A hereditary monarchy is a form of government and succession of power in which the throne passes from one member of a royal family, ruling family to another member of the same family. A series of rulers from the same family would constitute a dyna ...
. The Frankish kings adhered to the practice of
partible inheritance Partible inheritance is a system of inheritance in which property is apportioned among heirs. It contrasts in particular with primogeniture, which was common in feudal society and requires that the whole or most of the inheritance passes to the el ...
: dividing their lands among their sons. Even when multiple Merovingian kings ruled, the kingdom—not unlike the late
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...

Roman Empire
—was conceived of as a single realm ruled collectively by several kings and the turn of events could result in the reunification of the whole realm under a single king. The Merovingian kings ruled by divine right and their kingship was symbolised daily by their long hair and initially by their acclamation, which was carried out by raising the king on a shield in accordance with the ancient Germanic practice of electing a war-leader at an assembly of the warriors.


Clovis's sons

At the death of Clovis, his kingdom was divided territorially by his four adult sons in such a way that each son was granted a comparable portion of fiscal land, which was probably land once part of the Roman fisc, now seized by the Frankish government. Clovis's sons made their capitals near the Frankish heartland in northeastern Gaul. Theuderic I made his capital at
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 ...

Reims
,
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: ...
at
Orléans Orléans (;"Orleans"
(US) and
,
Childebert I
Childebert I
at
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 ...

Paris
, and
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 ...
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 ...

Soissons
. During their reigns, the
Thuringii The Thuringii, Toringi or Teuriochaimai, were an early Germanic peoples, Germanic people that appeared during the late Migration Period in the Harz Mountains of central Germania, a region still known today as Thuringia. It became a kingdom, whic ...
(532), Burgundes (534), and
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of Germanic peoples, Germanic * * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (Old Saxony, la, Saxo ...

Saxons
and
Frisians The Frisians are a Germanic peoples, Germanic ethnic group native to the German Bight, coastal regions of the Netherlands and northwestern Germany. They inhabit an area known as Frisia and are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland an ...

Frisians
(c. 560) were incorporated into the Frankish kingdom. The outlying trans-Rhenish tribes were loosely attached to Frankish sovereignty, and though they could be forced to contribute to Frankish military efforts, in times of weak kings they were uncontrollable and liable to attempt independence. The Romanised Burgundian kingdom, however, was preserved in its territoriality by the Franks and converted into one of their primary divisions, incorporating the central Gallic heartland of Chlodomer's realm with its capital at Orléans. The fraternal kings showed only intermittent signs of friendship and were often in rivalry. On the early death of Chlodomer, his brother Chlothar had his young sons murdered in order to take a share of his kingdom, which was, in accordance with custom, divided between the surviving brothers. Theuderic died in 534, but his adult son
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 ...
was capable of defending his inheritance, which formed the largest of the Frankish subkingdoms and the kernel of the later kingdom of
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the north-eastern 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 t ...
. Theudebert was the first Frankish king to formally sever his ties to the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...

Byzantine Empire
by striking gold coins with his own image on them and calling himself ''magnus rex'' (great king) because of his supposed suzerainty over peoples as far away as
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire bounded on the north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Roman Italy, Italy, and southward with Dalmatia (Roman province), Dalmatia and upper Moesia ...

Pannonia
. Theudebert interfered in the Gothic War on the side of the
Gepids The Gepids, ( la, Gepidae, Gipedae, grc, Γήπαιδες) were an East Germanic tribes, East Germanic tribe who lived in the area of modern Romania, Hungary and Serbia, roughly between the Tisza, Sava and Carpathian Mountains. They were said t ...
and
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who ruled most of the Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774. The medieval Lombard historian Paul the Deacon wrote in the ''History of the Lombards'' (written ...
against 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 ...
, receiving the provinces of
Raetia Raetia ( ; ; also spelled Rhaetia) was a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire, named after the Rhaetian people. It bordered on the west with the country of the Helvetii, on the east with Noricum, on the north with Vindelicia, on the so ...

Raetia
,
Noricum Noricum () is the Latin name for the Celts, Celtic kingdom or federation of tribes that included most of modern Austria and part of Slovenia. In the first century AD, it became a Roman province, province of the Roman Empire. Its borders were th ...
, and part of
Veneto Veneto (, ; vec, Vèneto ) or Venetia is one of the 20 regions of Italy. Its population is about five million, ranking fourth in Italy. The region's capital is Venice while the biggest city is Verona. Veneto was part of the Roman Empire unt ...

Veneto
.


Chlothar

His son and successor, Theudebald, was unable to retain them and on his death all of his vast kingdom passed to Chlothar, under whom, with the death of Childebert in 558, the entire Frankish realm was reunited under the rule of one king. In 561 Chlothar died and his realm was divided, in a replay of the events of fifty years prior, between his four sons, with the chief cities remaining the same. The eldest son, Charibert I, inherited the kingdom with its capital at Paris and ruled all of western Gaul. The second eldest,
Guntram Saint Gontrand (c. 532 in Soissons – 28 March 592 in Chalon-sur-Saône), also called Gontran, Gontram, Guntram, Gunthram, Gunthchramn, and Guntramnus, was the king of the Kingdom of Orléans from AD 561 to AD 592. He was the third eldest and ...
, inherited the old kingdom of the Burgundians, augmented by the lands of central France around the old capital of Orléans, which became his chief city, and most of
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône to the west to the France–Italy border, Italian border ...

Provence
. The rest of Provence, the
Auvergne Auvergne (; ; oc, label= Occitan, Auvèrnhe or ) is a former administrative region in central France, comprising the four departments of Allier, Puy-de-Dôme, Cantal and Haute-Loire. Since 1 January 2016, it has been part of the new region ...
, and eastern Aquitaine were assigned to the third son,
Sigebert I Sigebert I (c. 535 – c. 575) was a Franks, Frankish king of Austrasia from the death of his father in 561 to his own death. He was the third surviving son out of four of Clotaire I and Ingund. His reign found him mostly occupied with a succes ...
, who also inherited Austrasia with its chief cities of Reims and
Metz Metz ( , , lat, Divodurum Mediomatricorum, then ) is a city in northeast France located at the confluence of the Moselle (river), Moselle and the Seille (Moselle), Seille rivers. Metz is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Moselle (de ...

Metz
. The smallest kingdom was that of Soissons, which went to the youngest son,
Chilperic I Chilperic I (c. 539 – September 584) was the king of Neustria (or Soissons) from 561 to his death. He was one of the sons of the Franks, Frankish king Clotaire I and Queen Aregund. Life Immediately after the death of his father in 56 ...
. The kingdom Chilperic ruled at his death (584) became the nucleus of later
Neustria Neustria was the western part of the Kingdom of the Franks. Neustria included the land between the Loire and the Silva Carbonaria, approximately the north of present-day France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a ...
. This second fourfold division was quickly ruined by fratricidal wars, waged largely over the murder of Galswintha, the wife of Chilperic, allegedly by his mistress (and second wife)
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 ...
. Galswintha's sister, the wife of Sigebert,
Brunhilda
Brunhilda
, incited her husband to war and the conflict between the two queens continued to plague relations until the next century. Guntram sought to keep the peace, though he also attempted twice (585 and 589) to conquer Septimania from the Goths, but was defeated both times. All the surviving brothers benefited at the death of Charibert, but Chilperic was also able to extend his authority during the period of war by bringing the Bretons to heel again. After his death, Guntram had to again force the Bretons to submit. In 587, the Treaty of Andelot—the text of which explicitly refers to the entire Frankish realm as ''Francia''—between Brunhilda and Guntram secured his protection of her young son
Childebert II Childebert II (c.570–596) was the Merovingian king of Austrasia (which included Provence at the time) from 575 until his death in March 596, as the only son of Sigebert I and Brunhilda of Austrasia; and the king of Burgundy from 592 to his de ...

Childebert II
, who had succeeded the assassinated Sigebert (575). Together the territory of Guntram and Childebert was well over thrice as large as the small realm of Chilperic's successor,
Chlothar II Chlothar II, sometime called "the Young" (French language, French: le Jeune), (May/June 584 – 18 October 629), was king of Neustria and king of the Franks, and the son of Chilperic I and his third wife, Fredegund. He started his reign as an in ...

Chlothar II
. During this period Francia took on the tripartite character it was to have throughout the rest of its history, being composed of Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy.


Francia split into Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy

When Guntram died in 592, Burgundy went to Childebert in its entirety, but he died in 595. His two sons divided the kingdom, with the elder Theudebert II taking Austrasia plus Childebert's portion of Aquitaine, while his younger brother Theuderic II inherited Burgundy and Guntram's Aquitaine. United, the brothers sought to remove their father's cousin Chlothar II from power and they did succeed in conquering most of his kingdom, reducing him to only a few cities, but they failed to capture him. In 599 they routed his forces at Dormelles and seized the Dentelin, but they then fell foul of each other and the remainder of their time on the thrones was spent in infighting, often incited by their grandmother Brunhilda, who, angered over her expulsion from Theudebert's court, convinced Theuderic to unseat him and kill him. In 612 he did and the whole realm of his father Childebert was once again ruled by one man. This was short-lived, however, as he died on the eve of preparing an expedition against Chlothar in 613, leaving a young son named Sigebert II. During their reigns, Theudebert and Theuderic campaigned successfully in Gascony, where they had established the Duchy of Gascony and brought the Basques to submission (602). This original Gascon conquest included lands south of the Pyrenees, namely Biscay and Gipuzkoa, but these were lost to the Visigoths in 612. On the opposite end of his realm, the Alemanni had defeated Theuderic in a rebellion and the Franks were losing their hold on the trans-Rhenish tribes. In 610 Theudebert had extorted the Duchy of Alsace from Theuderic, beginning a long period of conflict over which kingdom was to have the region of Alsace, Burgundy or Austrasia, which was only terminated in the late seventh century. During the brief minority of Sigebert II, the office of the Mayor of the Palace, which had for sometime been visible in the kingdoms of the Franks, came to the fore in its internal politics, with a faction of nobles coalescing around the persons of Warnachar II, Rado (mayor of the palace), Rado, and Pepin of Landen, to give the kingdom over to Chlothar in order to remove Brunhilda, the young king's regent, from power. Warnachar was himself already the mayor of the palace of Austrasia, while Rado and Pepin were to find themselves rewarded with mayoral offices after Chlothar's coup succeeded and Brunhilda and the ten-year-old king were killed.


Rule of Chlothar II

Immediately after his victory, Chlothar II promulgated the Edict of Paris (614), which has generally been viewed as a concession to the nobility, though this view has come under recent criticism. The Edict primarily sought to guarantee justice and end corruption in government, but it also entrenched the regional differences between the three kingdoms of Francia and probably granted the nobles more control over judicial appointments. By 623 the Austrasians had begun to clamour for a king of their own, since Chlothar was so often absent from the kingdom and, because of his upbringing and previous rule in the Seine basin, was more or less an outsider there. Chlothar thus granted that his son Dagobert I would be their king and he was duly acclaimed by the Austrasian warriors in the traditional fashion. Nonetheless, though Dagobert exercised true authority in his realm, Chlothar maintained ultimate control over the whole Frankish kingdom. During the joint reign of Chlothar and Dagobert, who have been called "the last ruling Merovingians", the Saxons, who had been loosely attached to Francia since the late 550s, rebelled under Berthoald, Duke of Saxony, and were defeated and reincorporated into the kingdom by the joint action of father and son. When Chlothar died in 628, Dagobert, in accordance with his father's wishes, granted a subkingdom to his younger brother Charibert II. This subkingdom, commonly called Aquitaine, was a new creation.


Dagobert I

Dagobert, in his dealings with the Saxons, Alemans, and Thuringii, as well as the Slavs beyond the borders of Francia, upon whom he tried to force tribute but who instead defeated him under their king Samo at the Battle of Wogastisburg in 631, made all the far eastern peoples subject to the court of Neustria and not of Austrasia. This, first and foremost, incited the Austrasians to request a king of their own from the royal household. The subkingdom of Aquitaine corresponded to the southern half of the old Roman province of Aquitania and its capital was at Toulouse. The other cities of his kingdom were Cahors, Agen, Périgueux, Bordeaux, and Saintes, Charente-Maritime, Saintes; the duchy of Vasconia was also part of his allotment. Charibert campaigned successfully against the Basques, but after his death they revolted again (632). At the same time the Bretons rose up against Frankish suzerainty. The Breton leader Saint Judicael, Judicael relented and made peace with the Franks and paid tribute after Dagobert threatened to lead an army against him (635). That same year Dagobert sent an army to subdue the Basques, which it did. Meanwhile, Dagobert had Charibert's infant successor Chilperic of Aquitaine, Chilperic assassinated and reunited the entire Frankish realm again (632), though he was forced by the strong Austrasian aristocracy to grant his own son Sigebert III to them as a subking in 633. This act was precipitated largely by the Austrasians' desire to be self-governing at a time when Neustrians dominated at the royal court. Chlothar had been the king at Paris for decades before becoming the king at Metz as well and the Merovingian monarchy was ever after him to be a Neustrian monarchy first and foremost. Indeed, it is in the 640s that "Neustria" first appears in writing, its late appearance relative to "Austrasia" probably due to the fact that Neustrians (who formed the bulk of the authors of the time) called their region simply "Francia". ''Burgundia'' too defined itself in opposition to Neustria at about this time. However, it was the Austrasians, who had been seen as a distinct people within the realm since the time of Gregory of Tours, who were to make the most strident moves for independence. The young Sigebert was dominated during his minority by the mayor, Grimoald the Elder, who convinced the childless king to adopt his own Merovingian-named son Childebert the Adopted, Childebert as his son and heir. After Dagobert's death in 639, the duke of Thuringia, Radulf, King of Thuringia, Radulf, rebelled and tried to make himself king. He defeated Sigebert in what was a serious reversal for the ruling dynasty (640). The king lost the support of many magnates while on campaign and the weakness of the monarchic institutions by that time are evident in his inability to effectively make war without the support of the magnates; in fact, he could not even provide his own bodyguard without the loyal aid of Grimoald and Adalgisel. He is often regarded as the first ''roi fainéant'': "do-nothing king", not insofar as he "did nothing", but insofar as he accomplished little. Clovis II, Dagobert's successor in Neustria and Burgundy, which were thereafter attached yet ruled separately, was a minor for almost the whole of his reign. He was dominated by his mother Nanthild and the mayor of the Neustrian palace, Erchinoald. Erchinoald's successor, Ebroin, dominated the kingdom for the next fifteen years of near-constant civil war. On his death (656), Sigbert's son was shipped off to Ireland, while Grimoald's son Childebert reigned in Austrasia. Ebroin eventually reunited the entire Frankish kingdom for Clovis's successor Chlothar III by killing Grimoald and removing Childebert in 661. However, the Austrasians demanded a king of their own again and Chlothar installed his younger brother Childeric II. During Chlothar's reign, the Franks had made an attack on northwestern Italy, but were driven off by Grimoald, King of the Lombards, near Rivoli, Piedmont, Rivoli.


Dominance of the mayors of the palace, 687–751

In 673, Chlothar III died and some Neustrian and Burgundian magnates invited Childeric to become king of the whole realm, but he soon upset some Neustrian magnates and he was assassinated (675). The reign of Theuderic III was to prove the end of the Merovingian dynasty's power. Theuderic III succeeded his brother Chlothar III in Neustria in 673, but Childeric II of Austrasia displaced him soon thereafter—until he died in 675, and Theuderic III retook his throne. When Dagobert II died in 679, Theuderic received Austrasia as well and became king of the whole Frankish realm. Thoroughly Neustrian in outlook, he allied with his mayor Berchar and made war on the Austrasian who had installed Dagobert II, Sigebert III's son, in their kingdom (briefly in opposition to Clovis III). In 687 he was defeated by
Pepin of Herstal Pepin II (c. 635 – 16 December 714), commonly known as Pepin of Herstal, was a Frankish statesman and military leader who de facto ruled Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, ...
, the Arnulfing mayor of Austrasia and the real power in that kingdom, at the Battle of Tertry and was forced to accept Pepin as sole mayor and ''dux et princeps Francorum'': "Duke and Prince of the Franks", a title which signifies, to the author of the ''Liber Historiae Francorum'', the beginning of Pepin's "reign". Thereafter the Merovingian monarchs showed only sporadically, in our surviving records, any activities of a non-symbolic and self-willed nature. During the period of confusion in the 670s and 680s, attempts had been made to re-assert Frankish suzerainty over the Frisians, but to no avail. In 689, however, Pepin launched a campaign of conquest in Western Frisia (''Frisia Citerior'') and defeated the Rulers of Frisia, Frisian king Radbod, King of the Frisians, Radbod near Dorestad, an important trading centre. All the land between the Scheldt and the Vlie was incorporated into Francia. Then, circa 690, Pepin attacked central Frisia and took Utrecht (city), Utrecht. In 695 Pepin could even sponsor the foundation of the Archdiocese of Utrecht (695–1580), Archdiocese of Utrecht and the beginning of the conversion of the Frisians under Willibrord. However, Eastern Frisia (''Frisia Ulterior'') remained outside of Frankish suzerainty. Having achieved great successes against the Frisians, Pepin turned towards the Alemanni. In 709 he launched a war against Willehari, duke of the Ortenau, probably in an effort to force the succession of the young sons of the deceased Gotfrid on the ducal throne. This outside interference led to another war in 712 and the Alemanni were, for the time being, restored to the Frankish fold. However, in southern Gaul, which was not under Arnulfing influence, the regions were pulling away from the royal court under leaders such as Savaric of Auxerre, Antenor of Provence, and Odo the Great, Odo of Aquitaine. The reigns of Clovis IV and Childebert III from 691 until 711 have all the hallmarks of those of ''rois fainéants'', though Childebert is founding making royal judgements against the interests of his supposed masters, the Arnulfings.


Death of Pepin

When Pepin died in 714, however, the Frankish realm plunged into civil war and the dukes of the outlying provinces became ''de facto'' independent. Pepin's appointed successor, Theudoald, under his widow, Plectrude, initially opposed an attempt by the king, Dagobert III, to appoint Ragenfrid as mayor of the palace in all the realms, but soon there was a third candidate for the mayoralty of Austrasia in Pepin's illegitimate adult son,
Charles Martel Charles Martel ( – 22 October 741) was a Frankish political and military leader who, as Duke and Prince of the Franks and Mayor of the Palace, was the de facto ruler of Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Re ...

Charles Martel
. After the defeat of Plectrude and Theudoald by the king (now Chilperic II) and Ragenfrid, Charles briefly raised a king of his own, Chlothar IV, in opposition to Chilperic. Finally, at Battle of Soissons (718), a battle near Soisson, Charles definitively defeated his rivals and forced them into hiding, eventually accepting the king back on the condition that he receive his father's positions (718). There were no more active Merovingian kings after that point and Charles and his Carolingian heirs ruled the Franks. After 718 Charles Martel embarked on a series of wars intended to strengthen the Franks' hegemony in western Europe. In 718 he defeated the rebellious Saxons, in 719 he overran Western Frisia, in 723 he suppressed the Saxons again, and in 724 he defeated Ragenfrid and the rebellious Neustrians, ending the civil war phase of his rule. In 720, when Chilperic II died, he had appointed Theuderic IV king, but this last was a mere puppet of his. In 724 he forced his choice of Hugbert of Bavaria, Hugbert for the ducal succession upon the Bavarians and forced the Alemanni to assist him in his campaigns in Bavaria (725 and 726), where laws were promulgated in Theuderic's name. In 730 Alemannia had to be subjugated by the sword and its duke, Lantfrid, was killed. In 734 Charles fought against Eastern Frisia and finally subdued it.


Umayyad invasion

In the 730s the Umayyad conquest of Hispania, Umayyad conquerors of Spain, who had also subjugated
Septimania Septimania (french: Septimanie ; oc, Septimània ) is a historical region in modern-day Southern France. It referred to the western part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed to the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septima ...
, began advancing northwards into central Francia and the Loire valley. It was at this time (circa 736) that Maurontus, the ''dux'' of Provence, called in the Umayyads to aid him in resisting the expanding influence of the Carolingians. However, Charles invaded the Rhône Valley with his brother Childebrand and a Lombard army and devastated the region. It was because of the alliance against the Arabs that Charles was unable to support Pope Gregory III against the Lombards. In 732 or 737—modern scholars have debated over the date—Charles marched against an Arab army between Poitiers and Tours and defeated it in a Battle of Tours, watershed battle that turned back the tide of the Arab advance north of the Pyrenees. But Charles's real interests lay in the northeast, primarily with the Saxons, from whom he had to extort the tribute which for centuries they had paid to the Merovingians. Shortly before his death in October 741, Charles divided the realm as if he were king between his two sons by his first wife, marginalising his younger son Grifo (noble), Grifo, who did receive a small portion (it is unknown exactly what). Though there had been no king since Theuderic's death in 737, Charles's sons Pepin the Younger and Carloman, son of Charles Martel, Carloman were still only mayors of the palaces. The Carolingians had assumed the regal status and practice, though not the regal title, of the Merovingians. The division of the kingdom gave
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the north-eastern 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 t ...
, Alemannia, and Thuringia to Carloman and Neustria, Provence, and Burgundy to Pepin. It is indicative of the ''de facto'' autonomy of the duchies of Aquitaine (under Hunald I, Hunoald) and Bavaria (under Odilo of Bavaria, Odilo) that they were not included in the division of the ''regnum''. After Charles Martel was buried, in the Abbey of Saint-Denis alongside the Merovingian kings, conflict immediately erupted between Pepin and Carloman on one side and Grifo their younger brother on the other. Though Carloman captured and imprisoned Grifo, it may have been enmity between the elder brothers that caused Pepin to release Grifo while Carloman was on a pilgrimage to Rome. Perhaps in an effort to neutralise his brother's ambitions, Carloman initiated the appointment of a new king, Childeric III, drawn from a monastery, in 743. Others have suggested that perhaps the position of the two brothers was weak or challenged, or perhaps there Carloman was merely acting for a loyalist or legitimist party in the kingdom. In 743 Pepin campaigned against Odilo and forced him to submit to Frankish suzerainty. Carloman also campaigned against the Saxons and the two together defeated a rebellion led by Hunoald at the head of the Basques and another led by Alemanni, in which Liutfrid of Alsatia probably died, either fighting for or against the brothers. In 746, however, the Frankish armies were still, as Carloman was preparing to retire from politics and enter the monastery of Mount Soratte. Pepin's position was further stabilised and the path was laid for his assumption of the crown in 751.


Carolingian empire, 751–840

Pepin reigned as an elected king. Although such elections happened infrequently, a general rule in Germanic law stated that the king relied on the support of his leading men. These men reserved the right to choose a new "kingworthy" leader out of the ruling clan if they felt that the old one could not lead them in profitable battle. While in later France the kingdom became hereditary, the kings of the later
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 ...
proved unable to abolish the Prince-elector, elective tradition and continued as elected rulers until the empire's formal end in 1806. Pepin solidified his position in 754 by entering into an alliance with Pope Stephen II, who presented the king of the Franks a copy of the forged "Donation of Constantine" at Paris and in a magnificent ceremony at Saint Denis Basilica, Saint-Denis anointed the king and his family and declared him ''patricius Romanorum'' ("protector of the Romans"). The following year Pepin fulfilled his promise to the pope and retrieved the Exarchate of Ravenna, recently fallen to the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who ruled most of the Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774. The medieval Lombard historian Paul the Deacon wrote in the ''History of the Lombards'' (written ...
, and returned it to the Papacy. Pepin donated the re-conquered areas around Rome to the Pope, laying the foundation for the Papal States in the "Donation of Pepin" which he laid on the tomb of St Peter. The papacy had good cause to expect that the remade Frankish monarchy would provide a deferential power base (''potestas'') in the creation of a new world order, centred on the Pope. Upon Pepin's death in 768, his sons, Charles and Carloman, son of Pippin III, Carloman, once again divided the kingdom between themselves. However, Carloman withdrew to a monastery and died shortly thereafter, leaving sole rule to his brother, who would later become known 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
or Charles the Great, a powerful, intelligent, and modestly literate figure who became a legend for the later history of both France and Germany. Charlemagne restored an equal balance between emperor and pope. From 772 onwards, Charles conquered and eventually defeated the
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of Germanic peoples, Germanic * * * * peoples whose name was given in the early Middle Ages to a large country (Old Saxony, la, Saxo ...

Saxons
to incorporate their realm into the Frankish kingdom. This campaign expanded the practice of non-Roman Christian rulers undertaking the conversion of their neighbours by armed force; Frankish Catholic missionaries, along with others from Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England, had entered Saxon lands since the mid-8th century, resulting in increasing conflict with the Saxons, who resisted the missionary efforts and parallel military incursions. Charles's main Saxon opponent, Widukind, accepted baptism in 785 as part of a peace agreement, but other Saxon leaders continued to fight. Upon his victory in 787 at Verden (Aller), Verden, Charles ordered the wholesale Massacre of Verden, killing of thousands of Paganism, pagan Saxon prisoners. After several more uprisings, the Saxons suffered definitive defeat in 804. This expanded the Frankish kingdom eastwards as far as the Elbe river, something the Roman empire had only attempted once, and at which it failed in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (9 AD). In order to more effectively Christianize the Saxons, Charles founded several Diocese, bishoprics, among them Archbishopric of Bremen, Bremen, Münster, Paderborn, and Osnabrück. At the same time (773–774), Charles conquered the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who ruled most of the Italian Peninsula from 568 to 774. The medieval Lombard historian Paul the Deacon wrote in the ''History of the Lombards'' (written ...
and thus included northern Italy in his sphere of influence. He renewed the Vatican donation and the promise to the papacy of continued Frankish protection. In 788, Tassilo, ''dux'' (duke) of Bavaria rebelled against Charles. Crushing the rebellion incorporated Bavaria into Charles's kingdom. This not only added to the royal ''fisc'', but also drastically reduced the power and influence of the Agilolfings (Tassilo's family), another leading family among the Franks and potential rivals. Until 796, Charles continued to expand the kingdom even farther southeast, into today's Austria and parts of Croatia. Charles thus created a realm that reached from the Pyrenees in the southwest (actually, including an area in Northern Spain (''Marca Hispanica'') after 795) over almost all of today's France (except Brittany, which the Franks never conquered) eastwards to most of today's Germany, including northern Italy and today's Austria. In the hierarchy of the church, bishops and abbots looked to the patronage of the king's palace, where the sources of patronage and security lay. Charles had fully emerged as the leader of Western Christendom, and his patronage of monastic centres of learning gave rise to the "Carolingian Renaissance" of literate culture. Charles also created a large palace at Aachen, a series of roads, and a canal. On Christmas Day, 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charles as "Emperor, Emperor of the Romans" in Rome in a Charlemagne#Coronation, ceremony presented as a surprise (Charlemagne did not wish to be indebted to the bishop of Rome), a further papal move in the series of symbolic gestures that had been defining the mutual roles of papal ''auctoritas'' and imperial ''potestas.'' Though Charlemagne preferred the title "Emperor, king of the Franks and Lombards", the ceremony formally acknowledged the ruler of the Franks as the Roman Emperor, triggering disputes with the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...

Byzantine Empire
, which had maintained the title since the division of the Roman Empire into East and West. The pope's right to proclaim successors was based on the Donation of Constantine, a forged Roman imperial decree. After an initial protest at the usurpation, the Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rhangabes acknowledged in 812 Charlemagne as co-emperor, according to some. According to others, Michael I Rangabe, Michael I reopened negotiations with 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 and the Ems River, on the edge of the Roman Empire.H. Schutz: Tools, ...

Franks
in 812 and recognized
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
as ''basileus'' (emperor), but not as emperor of the Romans. The coronation gave permanent legitimacy to Carolingian primacy among the Franks. The Ottonians later resurrected this connection in 962. Upon Charlemagne's death on 28 January 814 in Aachen, he was buried in his own Aachen Cathedral, Palace Chapel at Aachen.


Divided empire, after 840

Charlemagne had several sons, but only one survived him. This son,
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (german: Ludwig der Fromme; french: Louis le Pieux; 16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, co-emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813. He was ...

Louis the Pious
, followed his father as the ruler of a united empire. But sole inheritance remained a matter of chance, rather than intent. When Louis died in 840, the Carolingians adhered to the custom of
partible inheritance Partible inheritance is a system of inheritance in which property is apportioned among heirs. It contrasts in particular with primogeniture, which was common in feudal society and requires that the whole or most of the inheritance passes to the el ...
, and after a brief civil war between the three sons, they made an agreement in 843, the
Treaty of Verdun The Treaty of Verdun (), agreed in , divided the Francia, Frankish Empire into three kingdoms among the surviving sons of the emperor Louis the Pious, Louis I, the son and successor of Charlemagne. The treaty was concluded following almost three ...

Treaty of Verdun
, which divided the empire in three: # Louis's eldest surviving son Lothair I became Emperor in name but ''de facto'' only the ruler of the Middle Francia, Middle Frankish Kingdom, or Middle Francia, known as King of the Central or Middle Franks. His three sons in turn divided this kingdom between them into Lotharingia (centered on Lorraine (province), Lorraine), Burgundy (region), Burgundy, and (Northern) Italy Lombardy. These areas with different cultures, peoples and traditions would later vanish as separate kingdoms, which would eventually become Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Lorrain (province), Lorraine, Switzerland, Lombardy and the various departments of France along the Rhône drainage basin and Jura massif. # Louis's second son, Louis the German, became King of the East Frankish Kingdom or East Francia. This area formed the kernel of the later
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 ...
by way of the Kingdom of Germany enlarged with some additional territories from Lothair's Middle Frankish Realm: much of these territories eventually evolved into modern Austria, Switzerland and Germany. For a list of successors, see the List of German monarchs. # His third son Charles the Bald became King of the West Franks, of the West Frankish Kingdom or West Francia. This area, most of today's southern and western France, became the foundation for the later France under the House of Capet. For his successors, see the List of French monarchs. Subsequently, at the Treaty of Mersen (870) the partitions were recast, to the detriment of Lotharingia. On 12 December 884, Charles the Fat (son of Louis the German) reunited most of the Carolingian Empire, aside from Burgundy (region), Burgundy. In late 887, his nephew Arnulf of Carinthia revolted and assumed the title as King of the East Franks. Charles retired and soon died on 13 January 888. Odo, Count of Paris was chosen to rule in the west, and was crowned the next month. At this point, West Francia was composed of Neustria in the west and in the east by Francia proper, the region between the
Meuse The Meuse ( , , , ; wa, Moûze ) or Maas ( , ; li, Maos or ) is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea from the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta. It has a to ...

Meuse
and the Seine. The Carolingians were restored ten years later in West Francia, and ruled until 987, when the last Frankish King, Louis V of France, Louis V, died.
West Francia In medieval history, West Francia (Medieval Latin: ) or the Kingdom of the West Franks () refers to the western part of the Francia, Frankish Empire established by Charlemagne. It represents the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting fr ...
was the land under the control of Charles the Bald. It is the precursor of modern France. It was divided into the following great fiefs: Aquitaine, Brittany, Burgundy, Catalonia, Flanders, Gascony, Septimania, Gothia, the Île-de-France, and Toulouse. After 987, the kingdom came to be known as France, because the new ruling dynasty (the House of Capet, Capetians) were originally dukes of the Île-de-France.
Middle Francia Middle Francia ( la, Francia media) was a short-lived Frankish kingdom which was created in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun after an intermittent civil war between the grandsons of Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, ...
was the territory ruled by Lothair I, wedged between East and West Francia. The kingdom, which included the Kingdom of Italy (medieval), Kingdom of Italy, Burgundy, the
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône to the west to the France–Italy border, Italian border ...

Provence
, and the west of
Austrasia Austrasia was a territory which formed the north-eastern 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 t ...
, was an unnatural creation of the Treaty of Verdun, with no historical or ethnic identity. The kingdom was split on the death of Lothair II of Lotharingia, Lothair II in 869 into those of Lotharingia, Provence (with Burgundy divided between it and Lotharingia), and north Italy.
East Francia East Francia (Medieval Latin: ) or the Kingdom of the East Franks () was a successor state of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire, empire ruled by the Carolingian dynasty until 911. It was created through the Treaty of Verdun (843) which divided t ...
was the land of Louis the German. It was divided into four duchies: Duke of Swabia, Swabia (Alamannia), Duchy of Franconia, Franconia, Duchy of Saxony, Saxony and List of rulers of Bavaria, Bavaria; to which after the death of Lothair II were added the eastern parts of Lotharingia. This division persisted until 1268, the end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I was crowned on 2 February 962, marking the beginning of the
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 ...
(''translatio imperii''). From the 10th century, East Francia became also known as ''regnum Teutonicum'' ("Teutons, Teutonic kingdom" or "Kingdom of Germany"), a term that became prevalent in Salian times. The title of Holy Roman Emperor was used from that time, beginning with Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor, Conrad II.


Life in Francia


Law

The different Frankish tribes, such as the Salii, Ripuarian Franks, Ripuarii, and Chamavi, had different legal traditions, which were only later codified, largely under Charlemagne. The ''Lex Salica, Leges Salica'', ''Lex Ribuaria, Ribuaria'', and ''Lex Chamavorum, Chamavorum'' were Carolingian creations, their basis in earlier Frankish reality being difficult for scholars to discern at the present distance. Under Charlemagne codifications were also made of Lex Saxonum, the Saxon law and Lex Frisionum, the Frisian law. It was also under Frankish hegemony that the other Germanic societies east of the Rhine began to codify their tribal law, in such compilations as the ''Lex Alamannorum'' and ''Lex Bajuvariorum'' for the Alemanni and Bavarii respectively. Throughout the Frankish kingdoms there continued to be Gallo-Romans subject to Roman law and clergy subject to canon law. After the Frankish conquest of
Septimania Septimania (french: Septimanie ; oc, Septimània ) is a historical region in modern-day Southern France. It referred to the western part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed to the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septima ...
and Catalonia, those regions which had formerly been under Gothic control continued to utilise the Lex Visigothorum, Visigothic law code. During the early period Frankish law was preserved by the ''rachimburgs'', officials trained to remember it and pass it on. The Merovingians adopted the ''capitulary'' as a tool for the promulgation and preservation of royal ordinances. Its usage was to continue under the Carolingians and even the later Dukes of Spoleto, Spoletan emperors Guy III of Spoleto, Guy and Lambert II of Spoleto, Lambert under a programme of ''renovation regni Francorum'' ("renewal of the Frankish kingdom"). The last Merovingian capitulary was one of the most significant: the edict of Paris, issued by Chlothar II in 614 in the presence of his magnates, had been likened to a Frankish Magna Carta entrenching the rights of the nobility, but in actuality it sought to remove corruption from the judiciary and protect local and regional interests. Even after the last Merovingian capitulary, kings of the dynasty continued to independently exercise some legal powers. Childebert III even found cases against the powerful Arnulfings and became renowned among the people for his justness. But law in Francia was to experience a Carolingian Renaissance, renaissance under the Carolingians. Among the legal reforms adopted by Charlemagne were the codifications of traditional law mentioned above. He also sought to place checks on the power of local and regional judiciaries by the method of appointing ''missi dominici'' in pairs to oversee specific regions for short periods of time. Usually ''missi'' were selected from outside their respective regions in order to prevent conflicts of interest. A capitulary of 802 gives insight into their duties. They were to execute justice, enforce respect for the royal rights, control the administration of the counts and dukes (then still royal appointees), receive the oath of allegiance, and supervise the clergy.


Church

The Frankish Church grew out of the Christianity in Gaul, Church in Gaul in the Merovingian period, which was given a particularly Germanic Christianity, Germanic development in a number of List of Frankish synods, "Frankish synods" throughout the 6th and 7th centuries, and with the Carolingian Renaissance, the Frankish Church became a substantial influence of the medieval Western Church. In the 7th century, the territory of the Frankish realm was (re-)Christianized with the help of Hiberno-Scottish mission, Irish and Scottish missionaries. The result was the establishment of numerous monasteries, which would become the nucleus of Old High German literacy in the
Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the Early Middle Ages. It was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty, which had ruled as kings of the Franks since 751 and as kings of ...
. Columbanus was active in the Frankish Empire from 590, establishing monasteries until his death at Bobbio in 615. He arrived on the continent with twelve companions and founded Annegray, Luxeuil, and Fontaines in France and Bobbio in Italy. During the 7th century the disciples of Columbanus and other Scottish and Irish missionaries founded several monasteries or ''Schottenklöster'' in what are now France, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. The Irish influence in these monasteries is reflected in the adoption of Insular art, Insular style in book production, visible in 8th-century works such as the Gelasian Sacramentary. The Insular script, Insular influence on the uncial script of the later Merovingian period eventually gave way to the development of the Carolingian minuscule in the 9th century.


Society

Immediately after the fall of Rome and through the Merovingian dynasty, trading towns were re-established in the ruins of ancient cities. These specialised in exchange of goods, craft and agriculture, and were mostly independent of aristocratic control. Carolingian Francia saw royal sponsorship for the construction of monastic cities, built to showcase a revival of the architecture of ancient Rome. Administration was conducted by bishops. The old Gallo-Roman aristocrats had survived in prestige and as an institution by taking up the episcopal offices, and they were now put in charge of fields such as justice, infrastructure, education and social services. Kings were legitimized by their links with the religious institutions. Episcopal elections became supervised by the kings, and royal confirmation helped to strengthen the bishops' authority as well. There were improvements in agriculture, notably the adoption of a new heavy plough and the growing use of the three-field system.


Currency

Byzantine coinage was in use in Francia before
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 ...
began minting his own money at the start of his reign. The solidus (coin), solidus and triens were minted in Francia between 534 and 679. The denarius (or French denier, denier) appeared later, in the name of Childeric II and various non-royals around 673–675. A Carolingian denarius replaced the Merovingian one, and the Frisian Pfennig, penning, in Gaul from 755 to the eleventh century. The denarius subsequently appeared in Italy issued in the name of Carolingian monarchs after 794, later by so-called "native" kings in the tenth century, and later still by the Holy Roman Empire, German Emperors from Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I (962). Finally, denarii were issued in Rome in the names of pope and emperor from Pope Leo III, Leo III and
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
onwards to the late tenth century.


See also

* List of modern countries within the Frankish Empire * List of Frankish kings


References


Citations


Sources

; Primary sources *Ammianus Marcellinus.
Roman History
'. trans. by Roger Pearse. London: Bohn, 1862. *Procopius. ''s:Author:Procopius, History of the Wars''. trans. by H. B. Dewing. *Fredegar.
The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations
'. trans. by John Michael Wallace-Hadrill. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960. *Fredegar.
Historia Epitomata
'. Woodruff, Jane Ellen. PhD Dissertation, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1987. *
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 ...

''Historia Francorum''.
*
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 ...
. ''The History of the Franks''. trans. by Ernest Brehaut. 1916
Excerpts here
*
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 ...
. ''The History of the Franks''. 2 vol. trans. Ormonde Maddock Dalton, O. M. Dalton. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. *Bernard Bachrach, Bachrach, Bernard S. (trans.) ''Liber Historiae Francorum''. 1973. ;Secondary sources *Bernard Bachrach, Bachrach, Bernard S. ''Merovingian Military Organization, 481–751''. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971. *Collins, Roger. ''Early Medieval Europe 300–1000''. London: MacMillan, 1991. *Fouracre, Paul. "The Origins of the Nobility in Francia." ''Nobles and Nobility in Medieval Europe: Concepts, Origins, Transformations'', ed. Anne J. Duggan. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2000. . *Geary, Patrick J. ''Before France and Germany: the Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World.'' New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. *Edward James (historian), James, Edward. ''The Franks''. (Peoples of Europe series) Basil Blackwell, 1988. *Lewis, Archibald R.
The Dukes in the Regnum Francorum, A.D. 550–751.
''Speculum'', Vol. 51, No 3 (July 1976), pp 381–410. *McKitterick, Rosamond. ''The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987''. London: Longman, 1983. . *Murray, Archibald C. and Walter A. Goffart, Goffart, Walter A. ''After Rome's Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History''. 1999. *Nixon, C. E. V. and Rodgers, Barbara. ''In Praise of Later Roman Emperors''. Berkeley, 1994. * Laury Sarti, "Perceiving War and the Military in Early Christian Gaul (ca. 400–700 A.D.)" (= Brill's Series on the Early Middle Ages, 22), Leiden/Boston 2013, . *Herbert Schutz, Schutz, Herbert. ''The Germanic Realms in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, 400–750''. American University Studies, Series IX: History, Vol. 196. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. *John Michael Wallace-Hadrill, Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. ''The Long-Haired Kings''. London: Butler & tanner Ltd, 1962. *John Michael Wallace-Hadrill, Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. ''The Barbarian West''. London: Hutchinson, 1970.


External links


TABLE. Capitals of the Frankish Kingdom according to the years, in 509 – 800
{{Authority control Francia, 480s establishments 840s disestablishments Barbarian kingdoms Former empires in Europe Germanic kingdoms States and territories established in the 480s States and territories disestablished in the 840s