Clovis I

first king of the Franks (c. 466-511)

Clovis I (variously spelled Chlodowech or Chlodwig, giving modern French Louis and modern German Ludwig) (c. 466 – November 27, 511) was the first king of the Franks who united that nation. He succeeded his father Childeric I in 481[1] as King of the Salian Franks, one of two main groups of Frankish tribes,[2] They were occupying the area west of the lower Rhine at that time, with their centre around Tournai and Cambrai along the modern frontier between France and Belgium. Clovis conquered the neighbouring Frankish tribes and established himself as sole king before his death.

Saint Remigius baptizes Clovis

Clovis converted to Catholicism, as opposed to the Arian Christianity that was common among Germanic peoples, because his wife, the Burgundian Clotilde, was a Catholic. He was baptized in the Cathedral of Reims. This act was very important in the following history of France and Western Europe in general, because he expanded his reign over almost all of the old Roman province of Gaul (roughly modern France). He is considered to be the founder both of France (which his state closely resembled geographically at his death) and the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Franks for the next two centuries.

Gaul at Clovis' death
Medal with obverse legend "Clovis Roy de France"

Notes change

  1. The date is arrived at by counting back from the Battle of Tolbiac, which Gregory of Tours places in the fifteenth year of Clovis' reign.
  2. The other group were the Ripuarian Franks.

Sources change

  • Daly, William M., "Clovis: How Barbaric, How Pagan?" Speculum 69.3 July 1994, pp. 619–664.
  • James, Edward. The Origins of France: Clovis to the Capetians 500-1000. Macmillan, 1982.
  • Kaiser, Reinhold. Das römische Erbe und das Merowingerreich. München 2004. (Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte 26)
  • Oman, Charles. The Dark Ages 476-918. Rivingtons: London, 1914.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. The Long-haired Kings. London, 1962.
  • The Oxford Merovingian Page.