The Franks: Clovis
481 AD - 511 AD
Last Updated      11/13/2009     11/25/2007      11/20/2007      10/16/2007      10/15/2007

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The Franks lived along the Rhine River. 
Unlike the Goths and the Vandals, the Franks did more than just fight and rule. 
The Franks farmed. 
In 481 AD Clovis was chosen ruler. 
Clovis was cruel and greedy.
He was a good general and an able king. 
He brought all the Franks under one rule. 
Part of Clovis's empire became France.
Clovis married the christian Clotilda.

St. Clotilda was the daughter of the Burgundian King Chilperic.
Her father was Catholic and his brother, her uncle Gondebaud, was Arian.
Arianism was a terrible heresy that infested the Church for several centuries.
Her Arian uncle killed her father along with great part of her family.
Her mother had a stone tied to her and she was drowned in the Rhone River.
Her brothers were massacred.
I have never read why the uncle did not kill St. Clotilda also.
But he took her to his castle and kept her as a second-class princess, half-free, half-prisoner.
Clovis sent word that he was going to marry Clotilda.

Clovis Becomes a Christian
Clovis was the first Germanic kink to accept the Catholic Religion.  
The Frankish gods had not helped Clovis win battles. 
He decided that if he won his next battle he would become a Christian. 
Clovis's army one and he and 3000 soldiers converted. 
Soon all the Franks followed his example.

Children of Clovis
In time a child was born to Clotilda and Clovis.
There was an heir to the throne.
"Christ claims him," said Clotilda, and Clovis acknowledged the claim.
So the babe was brought to the font of a cathedral, decked out for the ceremony with all imaginable splendour.
Alas! the child had scarcely been stripped of his baptismal robe before the little heart stopped beating, and he was gone.
"It's his baptism that was the death of him," cried the king in his wrath.
"Had I but given him to those old gods of mine he would have been alive now!" 
Next year another son was born.
Unshaken in her faith, Clotilda claimed that he, too, should be baptized.
Again, after the child had been admitted into the Christian Church, he began to sicken.
"He, too, will die as his brother did," growled Clovis brutally.
But he did not die; he recovered, and grew strong. (1)

Clovis and Christianity
Clovis had gained Roman support when he became a Christian. 
The Franks began speaking a language that was a form of Latin that became the modern French language. 
Now all the people practiced the same religion and spoke the same language. 
Clovis had the support of the Pope. 
Priests served in the government. 
Clovis's empire included France and western Germany. 
He set up his capital in Paris.
He wore purple robes simialar to Roman Emperors.
He made Latin the official language of the court.

Time Line of the Franks


387 BC

Gauls defeat the early RomanEmpire and sack Rome.

52 BC

Vercingetorix defeats Julius Caesar

52 BC

Julius Caesar and the Romans defeat the Gauls.
Gaul absorbed into Roman Empire

257 AD

Franks were originally a confederation of Germanic tribes east of the Rhine Began to raid Roman territory

350-550 AD

Germanic tribes migrate all over western Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire

358 AD

Frankish tribe got permission by the emperor Julian to settle on Roman territory between the rivers Schelde and Meuse as foederati (ally)

461 AD

Roman coalition including the Gauls defeats Attilia the Hun

Clovis born to King Childric and Thuringian queen Basina
481 AD Clovis chosen king of Franks at age 16.
Clovis is founder of the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish kings
486 AD Defeats the Roman legions under Syagrius at Soissons. 
Ends Roman domination over Gaul.
493 AD Marries Clotilda, niece of King of Burgandy
Brought all Franks under one rule.
Clovis and 3000 Frankish soldiers accept Catholic religion
496 AD Clovis defeats Alemanni.
Frank border secured to Rhine
Beginning of Middle Ages.
500 AD Attacks Burgundians at Dijon
507 AD Attacks Visigoths under Alaric at Vouille'
508 AD Ostrogoths defeat the Franks.
511 AD Clovis extends rule to the areas France and Western Germany
Clovis Dies
531 AD Franks defeat Thuringans.
533 AD Franks defeat Burgandians.
Burgandy absorbed by Franks.
628 AD Frankisk king Dagobert defeats  heathen forces of Saxons and Frisians.
City of Utrecht falls to Franks.
Dagobert builds a church and begins converting Frisians.
Under first Frisian King Eadgils Franks and Frisians live in peace.
638-751AD "Do Nothings"
679 AD-719 AD King Redbad, the heathen king, is the greatest folk hero of the Frisian.
Attacked the Franks, conquered Utrecht, destroys the church.
Christianity forcefully removed from Frisian
689 AD Pepin II leads Franks against Frisians.
Takes Dorestad.
690-692 AD Pepin II takes Utrecht.
711 AD Muslims (Sacarens) conqured Spain.
714 AD Pepin II dies.
716 AD King Redbad defeats Franks and Charles Martel at Cologne.
Wins bach Frisian Empire.
721 AD Franks and Aquitanians defeat Arabs.


732 AD Charles "Hammer" Martel Defeates Muslims (Saracens) at Battle of Tours.
Enables Christianity to survive in western Europe.
734 AD Charles sends forces to Friesland.
Defeats King Poppa, son of Redbad,
737 AD Battles of Narbone and Nemis.  Moors defeated in their strongholds in the south of France.
Pepin, Charles son, becomes first Frankish king annointed by Pope
Pepin "The Short" defeats Lombards.
Pepin gives Lombard land to Pope.
768 AD Pepin died.
Pepin's sons, Carolman and Charles, share kingdom
Carolman dies
CHARLEMAGNE  "Charles the Great"
Charles "The Great", Charlemagne, Pepin's other son becomes king.
773 AD Charles defeats Lombards.  Gives land to church.
778 AD Charlrmgne defeats the Bavarians
782 AD He called in foreign scholars to restore the schools of France
785 AD Charles attacks and subdues the Saxons in what is now northern Germany.
789 AD Drives back advancing Slavs/
Urged schools to “take care to make no difference between the sons of serfs and of freemen, so that they might come and sit on the same benches to study grammar, music, and arithmetic.”
795 AD Charles fights Muslims in Spain.
800 AD Charlemagne had created a large empire.
800 AD Christmas Day Pope proclaimed Charlemagne the new Roman Emperor.
Pope Leo put a crown on Charlemagne's head.
King of the Holy Roman Empire; King of the Franks; King of the Lombards
813 AD Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's son, becomes Emperor
814 AD Death of Charlemagne
Louis the Pious, divides empire among his three sons
Lothair gets title Emperor
841 AD Franks defeat Holy Roman Empire
843 AD Treaty of Verdun
Lothair keeps title of Emperor.
Louis got East Frankish Kingdom (Germany)
Charles got West Frankish Kingdom (France)
United western Europe divided ito small territories.


Chew, Robin. "Charlemagne King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire." 15 October 2007.

Durant, Will. "King Charlemagne", History of Civilization Vol III, The Age of Faith. Electronic version in the Knighthood, Tournaments & Chivalry Resource Library, Ed. Brian R. Price

Nosotoro, Tit. "Charlamegne."  15 October 2007.

"Simply History." Edited selections of mostly European history from the out-of-copyright book, A Pageant of History, by R.G. Ikin, MA, Kings' College, Cambridge, 1929. 15 Oct. 2007. (1)