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Merovingian | Merovingian, The fisher king, Priory of sion

The Merovingian kingdoms at their height (the Saxons and Bretons also paid tribute to the Merovingian Kings, though, at different times)

The Merovingian dynasty (/ˌmɛrəˈvɪndʒiən/) was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. [1] 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 Gaulish Romans under their rule. They conquered most of Gaul, defeating the Visigoths (507) and the Burgundians (534), and also extended their rule into Raetia (537). In Germania, the AlemanniBavarii and Saxons accepted their lordship. The Merovingian realm was the largest and most powerful of the states of western Europe following the breaking up of the empire of Theoderic the Great.

The dynastic name, medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingii (“sons of Merovech”), derives from an unattested Frankish form, akin to the attested Old English Merewīowing,[2] with the final –ing being a typical Germanic patronymic suffix. The name derives from King Merovech, whom many legends surround. Unlike the Anglo-Saxon royal genealogies, the Merovingians never claimed descent from a god, nor is there evidence that they were regarded as sacred.

The Merovingians’ long hair distinguished them among the Franks, who commonly cut their hair short. Contemporaries sometimes referred to them as the “long-haired kings” (Latin reges criniti). A Merovingian whose hair was cut could not rule, and a rival could be removed from the succession by being tonsured and sent to a monastery. The Merovingians also used a distinct name stock. One of their names, Clovis, evolved into Louis and remained common among French royalty down to the 19th century.

The first known Merovingian king was Childeric I (died 481). His son Clovis I (died 511) converted to Christianity, united the Franks and conquered most of Gaul. The Merovingians treated their kingdom as single yet divisible. Clovis’s four sons divided the kingdom between them and it remained divided—with the exception of four short periods (558–61, 613–23, 629–34, 673–75)—down to 679. After that it was only divided again once (717–18). The main divisions of the kingdom were AustrasiaNeustriaBurgundy and Aquitaine.

During the final century of Merovingian rule, the kings were increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. Actual power was increasingly in the hands of the mayor of the palace, the highest-ranking official under the king. In 656, the mayor Grimoald I tried to place his son Childebert on the throne in Austrasia. Grimoald was arrested and executed, but his son ruled until 662, when the Merovingian dynasty was restored. When King Theuderic IV died in 737, the mayor Charles Martel continued to rule the kingdoms without a king until his death in 741. The dynasty was restored again in 743, but in 751 Charles’s son, Pepin the Short, deposed the last king, Childeric III, and had himself crowned, inaugurating the Carolingian dynasty.

German History Part III: Decline of the Merovingian Dynasty and the rise of  the Carolingian Dynasty. | European Royal History


Legendary origins

Signet ring of Childeric IMonnaie de Paris.

The 7th-century Chronicle of Fredegar implies that the Merovingians were descended from a sea-beast called a quinotaur:

It is said that while Chlodio was staying at the seaside with his wife one summer, his wife went into the sea at midday to bathe, and a beast of Neptune rather like a Quinotaur found her. In the event she was made pregnant, either by the beast or by her husband, and she gave birth to a son called Merovech, from whom the kings of the Franks have subsequently been called Merovingians.[3]

In the past, this tale was regarded as an authentic piece of Germanic mythology and was often taken as evidence that the Merovingian kingship was sacral and the royal dynasty of supernatural origin. [4] Today, it is more commonly seen as an attempt to explain the meaning of the name Merovech (sea-bull): “Unlike the Anglo-Saxon rulers the Merovingians—if they ever themselves acknowledged the quinotaur tale, which is by no means certain—made no claim to be descended from a god”. [3]

In 1906, the British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie suggested that the Marvingi recorded by Ptolemy as living near the Rhine were the ancestors of the Merovingian dynasty. [5]

Two versions of quinotaur


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Quinotaur (Lat. Quinotaurus) is a mythical sea creature mentioned in the 7th century Frankish Chronicle of Fredegar. Referred to as “bestea Neptuni Quinotauri similis“,[1] (the beast of Neptune which resembles a Quinotaur) it was held to have fathered Meroveus by attacking the wife of the Frankish king Chlodio and thus to have sired the line of Merovingian kings.

The name translates from Latin as “bull with five horns”, whose attributes have commonly been interpreted as the incorporated symbols of the sea god Neptune with his trident, and the horns of a mythical bull or Minotaur. It is not known whether the legend merged both elements by itself or whether this merger should be attributed to the Christian author. [2] The clerical Latinity of the name does not indicate whether it is a translation of some genuine Frankish creature or a coining.

The suggested rape and subsequent family relation of this monster attributed to Frankish mythology correspond to both the Indo-European etymology of Neptune (from PIE ‘*nepots’, “grandson” or “nephew”, compare also the Indo-Aryan ‘Apam Napat‘, “grandson/nephew of the water”)[3] and to bull-related fertility myths in Greek mythology, where for example the princess Europa was abducted by the god Zeus, in the form of a white bull, that swam her to Crete; or to the very myth of the Minotaur, which was the product of Pasiphaë‘s, a Cretan Queen’s, intercourse with a white bull, initially allotted to King Minos, Pasiphaë’s husband, as a sacrifice for Poseidon.


  1. ^ Pseudo-Fredegar – Historia, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum, Tomus II. Hannover: 1888.
  2. ^ Fabbro, Eduardo. “Germanic Paganism among the Early Salian Franks.” Archived February 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine The Journal of Germanic Mythology and Folklore. Volume 1, Issue 4, August 2006.
  3. ^ J.P.Mallory – In Search of the Indo-Europeans, Thames and Hudson, 1989, ISBN 0-500-27616-1, p 129.

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Àlex Claramunt on Twitter: "El bautismo de Clodoveo (Maestro de San Gil,  ca. 1500).… "
Baptism of Clovis

Frankish gold Tremissis, imitation of Byzantine Tremissis, mid-6th century.Coin of Chlothar II, 584–628. British Museum.

In 486 Clovis I, the son of Childeric, defeated Syagrius, a Roman military leader who competed with the Merovingians for power in northern France. He won the Battle of Tolbiac against the Alemanni in 496, at which time, according to Gregory of Tours, Clovis adopted his wife Clotilda‘s Orthodox (i.e. NiceneChristian faith. He subsequently went on to decisively defeat the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in the Battle of Vouillé in 507. After Clovis’s death, his kingdom was partitioned among his four sons. This tradition of partition continued over the next century. Even when several Merovingian kings simultaneously ruled their own realms, the kingdom—not unlike the late Roman Empire—was conceived of as a single entity ruled collectively by these several kings (in their own realms) among whom a turn of events could result in the reunification of the whole kingdom under a single ruler.

Upon Clovis’s death in 511, the Merovingian kingdom included all of Gaul except Burgundy and all of Germania magna except Saxony. To the outside, the kingdom, even when divided under different kings, maintained unity and conquered Burgundy in 534. After the fall of the Ostrogoths, the Franks also conquered Provence[6] After this their borders with Italy (ruled by the Lombards since 568) and Visigothic Septimania remained fairly stable. [7]

Baptism of Clovis at Reims Bath Towel for Sale by Francois-Louis Dejuinne

Division of the kingdom

Internally, the kingdom was divided among Clovis’s sons and later among his grandsons and frequently saw war between the different kings, who quickly allied among themselves and against one another. The death of one king created conflict between the surviving brothers and the deceased’s sons, with differing outcomes. Later, conflicts were intensified by the personal feud around Brunhilda. However, yearly warfare often did not constitute general devastation but took on an almost ritual character, with established ‘rules’ and norms. [8]Triens of Dagobert I and moneyer Romanos, Augaune, 629–639, gold 1.32g. Monnaie de Paris.

Reunification of the kingdom

Eventually, Clotaire II in 613 reunited the entire Frankish realm under one ruler. Later divisions produced the stable units of AustrasiaNeustria, Burgundy and Aquitania[citation needed]

The frequent wars had weakened royal power, while the aristocracy had made great gains and procured enormous concessions from the kings in return for their support. These concessions saw the very considerable power of the king parcelled out and retained by leading comites and duces (counts and dukes). Very little is in fact known about the course of the 7th century due to a scarcity of sources, but Merovingians remained in power until the 8th century.

pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #37926790

Weakening of the kingdom

Clotaire’s son Dagobert I (died 639), who sent troops to Spain and pagan Slavic territories in the east, is commonly seen as the last powerful Merovingian King. Later kings are known as rois fainéants[1] (“do-nothing kings”), despite the fact that only the last two kings did nothing. The kings, even strong-willed men like Dagobert II and Chilperic II, were not the main agents of political conflicts, leaving this role to their mayors of the palace, who increasingly substituted their own interest for their king’s. [9] Many kings came to the throne at a young age and died in the prime of life, weakening royal power further.

Return to power

The conflict between mayors was ended when the Austrasians under Pepin the Middle triumphed in 687 in the Battle of Tertry. After this, Pepin, though not a king, was the political ruler of the Frankish kingdom and left this position as a heritage to his sons. It was now the sons of the mayor that divided the realm among each other under the rule of a single king.

After Pepin’s long rule, his son Charles Martel assumed power, fighting against nobles and his own stepmother. His reputation for ruthlessness further undermined the king’s position. Under Charles Martel’s leadership, the Franks defeated the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732. After the victory of 718 of the Bulgarian Khan Tervel and the Emperor of Byzantium Leo III the Isaurian over the Arabs led by Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik prevented the attempts of Islam to expand into eastern Europe, the victory of Charles Martel at Tours limited its expansion onto the west of the European continent. During the last years of his life he even ruled without a king, though he did not assume royal dignity. His sons Carloman and Pepin again appointed a Merovingian figurehead (Childeric III) to stem rebellion on the kingdom’s periphery. However, in 751, Pepin finally displaced the last Merovingian and, with the support of the nobility and the blessing of Pope Zachary, became one of the Frankish kings.

Forgotten DM: March 2017


See also: Royal household under the Merovingians and CarolingiansThe Merovingian Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains in Metz, capital of Austrasia

The Merovingian king redistributed conquered wealth among his followers, both material wealth and the land including its indentured peasantry, though these powers were not absolute. As Rouche points out, “When he died his property was divided equally among his heirs as though it were private property: the kingdom was a form of patrimony.”[10] Some scholars have attributed this to the Merovingians’ lacking a sense of res publica, but other historians have criticized this view as an oversimplification.

The kings appointed magnates to be comites (counts), charging them with defenseadministration, and the judgment of disputes. This happened against the backdrop of a newly isolated Europe without its Roman systems of taxation and bureaucracy, the Franks having taken over administration as they gradually penetrated into the thoroughly Romanised west and south of Gaul. The counts had to provide armies, enlisting their milites and endowing them with land in return. These armies were subject to the king’s call for military support. Annual national assemblies of the nobles and their armed retainers decided major policies of war-making. The army also acclaimed new kings by raising them on its shields continuing an ancient practice that made the king leader of the warrior-band. Furthermore, the king was expected to support himself with the products of his private domain (royal demesne), which was called the fisc. This system developed in time into feudalism, and expectations of royal self-sufficiency lasted until the Hundred Years’ War. Trade declined with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and agricultural estates were mostly self-sufficient. The remaining international trade was dominated by Middle Eastern merchants, often Jewish Radhanites.


Merovingian law was not universal law equally applicable to all; it was applied to each man according to his origin: Ripuarian Franks were subject to their own Lex Ripuaria, codified at a late date,[11] while the so-called Lex Salica (Salic Law) of the Salian clans, first tentatively codified in 511[12] was invoked under medieval exigencies as late as the Valois era. In this the Franks lagged behind the Burgundians and the Visigoths, that they had no universal Roman-based law. In Merovingian times, law remained in the rote memorisation of rachimburgs, who memorised all the precedents on which it was based, for Merovingian law did not admit of the concept of creating new law, only of maintaining tradition. Nor did its Germanic traditions offer any code of civil law required of urbanised society, such as Justinian I caused to be assembled and promulgated in the Byzantine Empire. The few surviving Merovingian edicts are almost entirely concerned with settling divisions of estates among heirs.


Coin of Theudebert I, 534–548

Byzantine coinage was in use in Francia before Theudebert I began minting his own money at the start of his reign. He was the first to issue distinctly Merovingian coinage. On gold coins struck in his royal workshop, Theudebert is shown in the pearl-studded regalia of the Byzantine emperor; Childebert I is shown in profile in the ancient style, wearing a toga and a diadem. The solidus and triens were minted in Francia between 534 and 679. The denarius (or 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 penning, in Gaul from 755 to the 11th century.

Merovingian coins are on display at the Monnaie de Paris in Paris; there are Merovingian gold coins at the Bibliothèque NationaleCabinet des Médailles.


See also: List of Merovingian monasteries and List of Frankish synodsFrankish gold Tremissis with Christian cross, issued by minter Madelinus, DorestadNetherlands, mid-7th century Merovingian fibulaeCabinet des MédaillesA gold chalice from the Treasure of GourdonCover of Merovingian sarcophagus with Christian IX monogramMusée de Saint-Germain-en-LayeBaptistry of St. Jean, Poitiers

Christianity was introduced to the Franks by their contact with Gallo-Romanic culture and later further spread by monks. The most famous of these missionaries is St. Columbanus (d 615), an Irish monk. Merovingian kings and queens used the newly forming ecclesiastical power structure to their advantage. Monasteries and episcopal seats were shrewdly awarded to elites who supported the dynasty. Extensive parcels of land were donated to monasteries to exempt those lands from royal taxation and to preserve them within the family. The family maintained dominance over the monastery by appointing family members as abbots. Extra sons and daughters who could not be married off were sent to monasteries so that they would not threaten the inheritance of older Merovingian children. This pragmatic use of monasteries ensured close ties between elites and monastic properties.

Numerous Merovingians who served as bishops and abbots, or who generously funded abbeys and monasteries, were rewarded with sainthood. The outstanding handful of Frankish saints who were not of the Merovingian kinship nor the family alliances that provided Merovingian counts and dukes, deserve a closer inspection for that fact alone: like Gregory of Tours, they were almost without exception from the Gallo-Roman aristocracy in regions south and west of Merovingian control. The most characteristic form of Merovingian literature is represented by the Lives of the saints. Merovingian hagiography did not set out to reconstruct a biography in the Roman or the modern sense, but to attract and hold popular devotion by the formulas of elaborate literary exercises, through which the Frankish Church channeled popular piety within orthodox channels, defined the nature of sanctity and retained some control over the posthumous cults that developed spontaneously at burial sites, where the life-force of the saint lingered, to do good for the votary[13]

The vitae et miracula, for impressive miracles were an essential element of Merovingian hagiography, were read aloud on saints’ feast days. Many Merovingian saints, and the majority of female saints, were local ones, venerated only within strictly circumscribed regions; their cults were revived in the High Middle Ages, when the population of women in religious orders increased enormously. Judith Oliver noted five Merovingian female saints in the diocese of Liège who appeared in a long list of saints in a late 13th-century psalter-hours. [14] The vitae of six late Merovingian saints that illustrate the political history of the era have been translated and edited by Paul Fouracre and Richard A. Gerberding, and presented with Liber Historiae Francorum, to provide some historical context. [15]

Parkour and the Merovingian Kings (A Historical Parable) — Dominic Marcella

Significant individuals[edit]


Queens and abbesses

Bishops and abbots

Nota bene: All of the listed clergymen are venerated as saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church.


Yitzhak Hen stated that it seems certain that the Gallo-Roman population was far greater than the Frankish population in Merovingian Gaul, especially in regions south of the Seine, with most of the Frankish settlements being located along the Lower and Middle Rhine. [16] The further south in Gaul one traveled, the weaker the Frankish influence became. [16] Hen finds hardly any evidence for Frankish settlements south of the Loire[16] The absence of Frankish literature sources suggests that the Frankish language was forgotten rather rapidly after the early stage of the dynasty. [16] Hen believes that for Neustria, Burgundy and Aquitania, colloquial Latin remained the spoken language in Gaul throughout the Merovingian period and remained so even well in to the Carolingian period. [16] However, Urban T. Holmes estimated that a Germanic language was spoken as a second tongue by public officials in western Austrasia and Neustria as late as the 850s, and that it completely disappeared as a spoken language from these regions only during the 10th century. [17]

Historiography and sources

A limited number of contemporary sources describe the history of the Merovingian Franks, but those that survive cover the entire period from Clovis’s succession to Childeric’s deposition. First among chroniclers of the age is the canonised bishop of ToursGregory of Tours. His Decem Libri Historiarum is a primary source for the reigns of the sons of Clotaire II and their descendants until Gregory’s own death in 594, but must be read with account of the pro-church point of view of its author.

The next major source, far less organised than Gregory’s work, is the Chronicle of Fredegar, begun by Fredegar but continued by unknown authors. It covers the period from 584 to 641, though its continuators, under Carolingian patronage, extended it to 768, after the close of the Merovingian era. It is the only primary narrative source for much of its period. Since its restoration in 1938 it has been housed in the Ducal Collection of the Staatsbibliothek Binkelsbingen. [citation needed] The only other major contemporary source is the Liber Historiae Francorum, an anonymous adaptation of Gregory’s work apparently ignorant of Fredegar’s chronicle: its author(s) ends with a reference to Theuderic IV‘s sixth year, which would be 727. It was widely read; though it was undoubtedly a piece of Arnulfing work, and its biases cause it to mislead (for instance, concerning the two decades between the controversies surrounding mayors Grimoald the Elder and Ebroin: 652–673).

Aside from these chronicles, the only surviving reservoirs of historiography are letters, capitularies, and the like. Clerical men such as Gregory and Sulpitius the Pious were letter-writers, though relatively few letters survive. Edicts, grants, and judicial decisions survive, as well as the famous Lex Salica, mentioned above. From the reign of Clotaire II and Dagobert I survive many examples of the royal position as the supreme justice and final arbiter. There also survive biographical Lives of saints of the period, for instance Saint Eligius and Leodegar, written soon after their subjects’ deaths.

Finally, archaeological evidence cannot be ignored as a source for information, at the very least, on the Frankish mode of life. Among the greatest discoveries of lost objects was the 1653 accidental uncovering of Childeric I’s tomb in the church of Saint Brice in Tournai. The grave objects included a golden bull’s head and the famous golden insects (perhaps bees, cicadas, aphids, or flies) on which Napoleon modelled his coronation cloak. In 1957, the sepulchre of a Merovingian woman at the time believed to be Clotaire I’s second wife, Aregund, was discovered in Saint Denis Basilica in Paris. The funerary clothing and jewelry were reasonably well-preserved, giving us a look into the costume of the time. Beyond these royal individuals, the Merovingian period is associated with the archaeological Reihengräber culture.

Family tree

hideMerovingian dynasty
King of Burgundy
? ? ?Chilperic I
King of Burgundy
r.≈ 473–480
King of Burgundy
?–453/457? ? ?Chilperic II
King of Burgundy
King of Thuringia
of Thuringia
Childeric I
King of the
Salian Franks
King of the
475–545Clovis I
King of
the Franks
of CologneAlaric II
King of the
King of the
King of the
King of Thuringia
King of Thuringia
King of the
494?–521Theuderic I
King of Metz
of Burgundy
≈515/520–580Chlothar I
King of
the Franks
King of Orléans
Childebert I
King of Paris
Theudebert I
King of Rheims
≈545–597Chilperic I
King of Neustria
~530–580Charibert I
King of Paris
King of
King of
the Lombards
King of Rheims
Theudebert I
of SoissonsBasina
of Kent
≈565– ~601
King of Kent
Sigebert I
King of Austrasia
of Austrasia
≈575–604Chlothar II
King of
the Franks
564–585Childebert II
King of
RagnetrudeDagobert I
King of
the Franks
≈610–642Charibert II
King of
Bishop of Metz
of Landen
Mayor of
Theudebert II
King of Austrasia
Theuderic II
King of Burgundy
of BurgundySigebert III
King of
Clovis II
King of Neustria
and Burgundy
of Ascania
King of
615–693Grimoald I
the Elder

Mayor of
Sigebert II
King of Austrasia
and Burgundy
Dagobert II
King of Austrasia
654–675Childeric II
King of
the Franks
Chlothar III
King of
the Franks
Theuderic III
King of
the Franks
of Herstal
Mayor of
the Adopted

King of Austrasia
? ? ?Chilperic II
King of
the Franks
Clovis III
King of
Chlothar IV
King of
Childebert III
King of
the Franks
Clovis IV
King of
the Franks

Mayor of
Grimoald II
the Younger

Mayor of
? ? ?Carolingian
Childeric III
King of
the Franks
Dagobert III
King of
the Franks
Mayor of
Theuderic IV
King of
the Franks

In popular culture

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The Merovingians play a prominent role in French historiography and national identity, although their importance was partly overshadowed by that of the Gauls during the Third RepublicCharles de Gaulle is on record as stating his opinion that “For me, the history of France begins with Clovis, elected as king of France by the tribe of the Franks, who gave their name to France. Before Clovis, we have Gallo-Roman and Gaulish prehistory. The decisive element, for me, is that Clovis was the first king to have been baptized a Christian. My country is a Christian country and I reckon the history of France beginning with the accession of a Christian king who bore the name of the Franks.”[18]

The Merovingians feature in the novel In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust: “The Merovingians are important to Proust because, as the oldest French dynasty, they are the most romantic and their descendants the most aristocratic.”[19] The word “Merovingian” is used as an adjective at least five times in Swann’s Way.

The Merovingians are featured in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982) where they are depicted as descendants of Jesus, inspired by the “Priory of Sion” story developed by Pierre Plantard in the 1960s. Plantard playfully sold the story as non-fiction, giving rise to a number of works of pseudohistory among which The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was the most successful. The “Priory of Sion” material has given rise to later works in popular fiction, notably The Da Vinci Code (2003), which mentions the Merovingians in chapter 60. [20]

The title of “Merovingian” (also known as “the Frenchman”) is used as the name for a fictional character and a supporting antagonist of the films The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

See also


  1. Jump up to:a b Pfister, Christian (1911). “Merovingians” . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 172–172.
  2. ^ Babcock, Philip (ed). Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1993: 1415
  3. Jump up to:a b Wood, Ian N. (2003). “Deconstructing the Merovingian Family”. In Corradini, Richard; Diesenberger, Maximilian; Reimitz, Helmut (eds.). The Construction of Communities in the Early Middle Ages: Texts, Resources and Artefacts. Brill. pp. 149–. ISBN 90-04-11862-4.
  4. ^ Murray, A.C. (1998). “7. Post vocantur Merohingii: Fredegar, Merovech, and ‘Sacral Kingship'”. In Goffart, Walter; Goffart, Walter A. (eds.). After Rome’s Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History : Essays Presented to Walter Goffart. University of Toronto Press. pp. 121–152. ISBN 978-0-8020-0779-7.
  5. ^ Flinders Petrie, W.M. (1906). “Migrations. (The Huxley Lecture for 1906)”The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland36: 189–232 see p. 205. doi:10.2307/1193258JSTOR 1193258Probably among this confederacy should be included the Marvingi* of Ptolemy, to the south of the Catti, … who seem to have given the Merving family to rule the Franks
  6. ^ Moore, Walter Judson (2015-08-27). Mediterranean Beaches and Bluffs: A Bicycle Your France E-guide. Lulu Press. ISBN 9781329514553.
  7. ^ Lewis, Archibald R. (July 1976). “The Dukes in the Regnum Francorum, A.D. 550–751”. Speculum51 (3): 381–410 see p. 384. doi:10.2307/2851704JSTOR 2851704.
  8. ^ Halsall, Guy (28 January 2008). Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West 450–900. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-55387-7.
  9. ^ “Merovingian dynasty | Frankish dynasty”Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  10. ^ Rouche 1987, p. 420
  11. ^ Beyerle & Buchner 1954
  12. ^ Rouche 1987, p. 423
  13. ^ Wallace-Hadrill, J.M. (1983). “V. The Merovingian Saints”. The Frankish Church. Oxford history of the Christian Church. Clarendon Press. pp. 75–94. ISBN 9780198269069.
  14. ^ Oliver, Judith (1993). “”Gothic” Women and Merovingian Desert Mothers”. Gesta32 (2): 124–134. doi:10.2307/767170JSTOR 767170.
  15. ^ Fouracre, Paul; Gerberding, Richard A. (1996). Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography, 640–720. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-4791-6.
  16. Jump up to:a b c d e Hen, Y. (1995). Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, A.D. 481–751. Brill. pp. 24–25. ISBN 90-04-10347-3.
  17. ^ Holmes, U.T.; Schutz, A.H. (1938). A History of the French Language. Biblo & Tannen. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8196-0191-9.
  18. ^ Pour moi, l’histoire de France commence avec Clovis, choisi comme roi de France par la tribu des Francs, qui donnèrent leur nom à la France. Avant Clovis, nous avons la Préhistoire gallo-romaine et gauloise. L’élément décisif pour moi, c’est que Clovis fut le premier roi à être baptisé chrétien. Mon pays est un pays chrétien et je commence à compter l’histoire de France à partir de l’accession d’un roi chrétien qui porte le nom des Francs. cited in the biography by David Schœnbrun, 1965.
  19. ^ Alexander, Patrick (2007). Marcel Proust’s Search For Lost Time: A Reader’s Guide. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-307-47232-8.
  20. ^ Stephen Andrew Missick, The Hammer of God, (self-published) p. 175.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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Pippin III – King of the Franks


Pippin III
Pippin III aka Pepin, father of Charlemagne

Pippin III, also spelled Pepin, byname Pippin the Short, French Pépin le Bref, German Pippin der Kurze, (born c. 714—died September 24, 768, Saint-DenisNeustria [now in France]), the first king of the Frankish Carolingian dynasty and the father of Charlemagne. A son of Charles Martel, Pippin became sole de facto ruler of the Franks in 747 and then, on the deposition of Childeric III in 751, king of the Franks. He was the first Frankish king to be anointed—first by St. Boniface and later (754) by Pope Stephen II.

Background and kingship

For years the Merovingian kings had been unable to prevent power from slipping from their hands into those of the counts and other magnates. The kings were gradually eclipsed by the mayors of the palace, whose status developed from that of an officer of the household to regent or viceroy. Among the mayors, a rich family descended from Pippin of Landen (Pippin I) held a position of especial importance. When Charles Martel, the scion of that family, died in 741, he left two sons: the elder, Carloman, mayor of Austrasia, Alemannia, and Thuringia, and Pippin III, mayor of Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence. No king had ruled over all the Franks since 737, but to maintain the fiction of Merovingian sovereignty, the two mayors gave the crown to Childeric III in 743.

Charles had had a third son, however—Grifo, who had been born to him by a Bavarian woman of high rank, probably his mistress. In 741, when his two brothers were declared mayors of the Franks, Grifo rebelled. He led a number of revolts in subsequent years and was several times imprisoned. In 753 he was killed amid the Alpine passes on his way to join the Lombards, at this time enemies of the Franks as well as of the papacy.

In 747, when Carloman decided to enter monastic life at Rome, a step he had been considering for years, Pippin became sole ruler of the Franks. But Pippin was ambitious to govern his people as king, not merely as mayor. Like his father, he had courage and resolution; unlike his father, he had a strong desire to unite the papacy with the Frankish realm. In 750 he sent two envoys to Pope Zacharias with a letter asking, “Is it wise to have kings who hold no power of control?” The pope answered, “It is better to have a king able to govern. By apostolic authority I bid that you be crowned King of the Franks.” Childeric III was deposed and sent to a monastery, and Pippin was anointed as king at Soissons in November 751 by Archbishop Boniface and other prelates.

Pippin and Pope Stephen II

The pope was in need of aid. Aistulf, king of the Lombards, had seized Ravenna with its lands, known as the exarchate. Soon, Lombard troops marched south, surrounded Rome, and prepared to lay siege to its walls. So matters stood when in 752 Zacharias died and Stephen II became pope. In November 753 Pope Stephen made his way over the stormy mountain passes to Frankish territory. He remained in France until the summer of 754, staying at the abbey of Saint-Denis, Paris. There he himself anointed Pippin and his sons, Charles and Carloman, as king and heirs of the crown.

The pope returned to Italy accompanied by Pippin and his army. A fierce battle was fought in the Alps against Aistulf and the Lombards. The Lombard king fled back to his capital, Pavia; Pippin and his men plundered the land around Pavia until Aistulf promised to restore to papal possession Ravenna and all the Roman properties claimed by the pope.

Aistulf broke his word. Again and again Pope Stephen wrote to Pippin of his difficulties. In 756 the Frankish king once more entered Italy. Aistulf was once more constrained to make promises, but the same year he died—of a fall from his horse—and in April 757 a new king, Desiderius, became ruler of the Lombards. That year Stephen II also died, and Paul I was elected pope. He, too, constantly wrote to Pippin asking for help.

But the king of the Franks had other concerns. He had to put down revolts in Saxony in 748 and 753 and a rising in Bavaria in 749. He was continually marching against rebellious Aquitaine. In 768 Pippin died at Saint-Denis, on his way back from one of his Aquitanian expeditions.

Pippin is remembered not only as the first of the Carolingians but also as a strong supporter of the Roman church. The papal claims to territory in Italy originated with Pippin’s campaigns against Aistulf and the latter’s pledge to return the Roman territories. His letters also show him calling for archbishoprics in Frankish territory, promoting synods of clergy and layfolk, and as deeply interested in theology.


France: Pippin III At the death of Charles Martel (741), the lands and powers in his hands were divided between his two 


The Merovingian dynasty started when Meroveus,  King of the Salian Franks, married Princess Merira, a descendant of Jesus’ son Joshua, who carried mitochondrial mDNA Mary Magdalene and transmitted it to his successive female descendants for 15 generations.  By the time Meroveus married Merira (13 descent generations from Mary and Jesus), the people of southern France widely believed that the MEROVINGIANS WERE JESUS’ DESCENDANTS THROUGH THIS FEMALE LINE.

The Catholic Church regarded the Franks’ Merovingian King Clovis who knew that descendants of Joshua were the blood of Jesus.  The Church saw that the truth of Jesus’s descendants as a threat to the Church’s misogynist lies that Mary was a prostitute (not the wife of Jesus as the French believed). If the Church couldn’t put crush this belief, its authority and power–based on the lies that Jesus was never married–would be challenged, and thus undermine Catholicism.

The Church suborned Merovingian rivals of Clovis. These traitors kidnapped and murdered Clovis.  The traitors “were duly installed as the puppet kings of the French.” The Romanized traitor-kings “descended through Charles Martel and Pepin Brevis to Charlemagne. [deVere: 35]


11 Merovingian Frankish Queens

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Oil painting showing Queen Fredegund at the deathbed of Bishop Praetextatus.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema  (1836–1912) / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

History & Culture

VIEW MORE By Jone Johnson LewisUpdated January 09, 2020

The Merovingian dynasty in Gaul, or France, was prominent in the 5th and 6th centuries, as the Roman Empire was losing its force and power. Several of the queens are remembered in history: as regents, as persuaders of their husbands, and in other roles. Their husbands, many of whom did not limit themselves to just one wife at a time, were often at war with their own brothers and half-brothers. The Merovingians ruled until 751, when the Carolingians displaced them.

Queens of the Merovingian Franks

A major source for the history of these women is the “History of the Franks” by Gregory of Tours, a bishop who lived at the same time and interacted with some of the individuals listed here. Bede‘s “Ecclesiastic History of the English People” is another source for Frankish history.

Basina of Thuringia

  • circa 438-477
  • Queen Consort of Childeric I
  • Mother of Clovis I

Basina of Thuringia is reported to have left her first husband and to have herself proposed marriage to the Frankish king Childeric in Gaul. She was the mother of Clovis I, giving him the name Chlodovech (Clovis is the Latin form of his name).

Their daughter Audofleda married the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great. Audofleda’s daughter was Amalasuntha, who ruled as Queen of the Ostrogoths.

Saint Clotilde

  • circa 470-June 3, 545
  • Queen Consort of Clovis I
  • Mother of Chlodomer of Orléan, Childebert I of Paris, Clothar I of Soissons, stepmother of Theuderic I of Metz. She had a daughter, also named Clotilde.

Clotilde convinced her husband to convert to Roman Catholicism, aligning France with Rome. It was under Clovis I that the first version of Salic Law was written, listing crimes and the punishment for those crimes. The term “Salic Law” has later become shorthand for the legal rule that women may not inherit titles, offices, and land.

Ingund of Thuringia

  • circa 499-?
  • Queen Consort of Clothar (Clotaire or Lothair) I of Soissons
  • Sister of Aregund, another wife of Clothar
  • Daughter of Baderic of Thuringia
  • Mother of Charibert I of Paris, Guntram of Burgundy, Sigebert I of Austrasia, and daughter Chlothsind

We know little about Ingund other than her family connections.

Aregund of Thuringia

  • circa 500-561
  • Queen Consort of Clothar (Clotaire or Lothair) I of Soissons
  • Sister of Ingund, another wife of Clothar
  • Daughter of Baderic of Thuringia
  • Mother of Chilperic I of Soissons

We would know as little about Aregund as about her sister (above), except that in 1959, her sepulcher was discovered. Some clothing and jewelry that was well preserved there served to identify her to the satisfaction of some scholars. Others dispute the identification and believe the sepulcher is of a later date.

A 2006 DNA test on a sample of the remains of the woman in the sepulcher, presumably Aregund, found no Middle Eastern heritage. This test was inspired by the theory made popular in “The DaVinci Code” and earlier in “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” that the Merovingian royal family was descended from Jesus. However, Aregund married into the Merovingian royal family, so the results didn’t really disprove the thesis.


  • circa 518/520-August 13, 586/587
  • Queen Consort of Clothar (Clotaire or Lothair) I of Soissons

Taken as war booty, she was not Clothar’s only wife, as monogamy was not yet the standard among the Franks. She left her husband and founded a convent.

More Wives of Clothar I

Other wives or consorts of Clothar were Guntheuc (a widow of Clothar’s brother Chlodomer), Chunsine, and Waldrada (he may have repudiated her).


  • ?-circa 580
  • Queen Consort of Chilperic I, son of Clothar I and Aregund
  • Mother of a daughter, Basina, and three sons: Merovech, Theudebert, and Clovis

Fredegund (below) had Audovera and one of Audovera’s sons (Clovis) killed in 580. Audovera’s daughter Basina (below) was sent to a convent in 580. Another son, Theudebert, died in 575 in a battle. Her son Merovech married Brunhilde (below), after Sigebert I died. He died in 578.


  • circa 540-568
  • Queen Consort of Chilperic I, son of Clothar I and Aregund

Galswintha was Chilperic’s second wife. Her sister was Brunhilde (below), married to Chilperic’s half-brother Sigebert. Her death within a few years is usually attributed to her husband’s mistress Fredegund (below).


  • circa 550-597
  • Queen Consort of Chilperic I, son of Clothar I and Aregund
  • Mother and regent of Chlotar (Lothair) II

Fredegund was a servant who became Chilperic’s mistress. Her part in engineering the murder of his second wife Galswintha (see above) began a long war. She is considered to also be responsible for the death of Chilperic’s first wife, Audovera (see above), and her son by Chilperic, Clovis.


  • circa 545-613
  • Queen Consort of Sigebert I of Austrasia, who was a son of Clothar I and Ingund
  • Mother and regent of Childebert II and a daughter Ingund, grandmother of Theodoric II and Theodebert II, great-grandmother of Sigebert II

Brunhilde’s sister Galswintha was married to Sigebert’s half-brother Chilperic. When Galswintha was murdered by Fredegund, Brunhilde urged her husband to wage war for revenge against Fredegunde and her family.


  • Dates unknown
  • Daughter of Charibert of Paris, who was another son of Clothar I of Soissons and Ingund, and of one of Charibert’s four wives, Marcovefa

Clotilde, who was a nun at the Convent of the Holy Cross founded by Radegund (above), was part of a rebellion. After that conflict was resolved, she did not return to the convent.


  • 539-circa 612
  • Daughter of Charibert I of Paris and Ingoberga, one of Charibert’s four consorts
  • Sister of Clotilde, a nun, part of a conflict at the Convent of the Holy Cross with their cousin Basina
  • Queen consort of Aethelberht of Kent

She is credited with bringing Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons.

Bertha, daughter of the king of Paris, was married to Aethelberht of Kent, an Anglo-Saxon king, probably before he became king in about 558. She was a Christian and he was not. Part of the marriage agreement was that she would be permitted her religion.

She restored a church in Canterbury and it served as her private chapel. In 596 or 597, Pope Gregory I sent a monk, Augustine, to convert the English. He became known as Augustine of Canterbury, and Bertha’s support was likely important in Aethelberht’s support of Augustine’s mission. We know that Pope Gregory wrote to Bertha in 601. Aethelberht himself eventually converted and was baptized by Augustine, thus becoming the first Anglo-Saxon king to convert to Christianity.


  • circa 573-?
  • Daughter of Audovera (above) and Chilperic I, who was the son of Clothar I of Souissons and Aregund (above)

Basina was sent to the Convent of the Holy Cross, founded by Radegund (above) after Basina survived an epidemic that killed two of their brothers and after Basina’s stepmother had Basina’s mother and surviving brother killed. She later took part in a rebellion at the convent.


  • Bede. “Ecclesiastical History of the English People.” Penguin Classics, D.H. Farmer (Editor, Introduction), Ronald Latham (Editor), et al., Paperback, Revised edition, Penguin Classics, May 1, 1991. 
  • Tours, Gregory. “A History of the Franks.” Paperback, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, November 23, 2016.


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