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Merovingians,dynasty of Frankish kings, descended, according to tradition, from Merovech, chief of the Salian FranksFranks,
group of Germanic tribes. By the 3d cent. A.D., they were settled along the lower and middle Rhine. The two major divisions were the Salian Franks in the north and the Ripuarian Franks in the south.
..... Click the link for more information. , whose son was Childeric IChilderic I
, c.436–481, Merovingian king of the Salian Franks (c.457–481), a Germanic tribe; son of Meroveus and father of Clovis I. Information on him is mostly legendary. His rule was that of a tribal chieftain.
..... Click the link for more information. and whose grandson was Clovis IClovis I
, c.466–511, Frankish king (481–511), son of Childeric I and founder of the Merovingian monarchy. Originally little more than a tribal chieftain, he became sole leader of the Salian Franks by force of perseverance and by murdering a number of relatives.
..... Click the link for more information. , the founder of the Frankish monarchy. Merovingian kings followed Frankish custom in dividing the patrimony. After the death (511) of Clovis I, the kingdom was divided among his descendants into various kingdoms, which later became known as AustrasiaAustrasia
, northeastern portion of the Merovingian kingdom of the Franks in the 6th, 7th, and 8th cent., comprising, in general, parts of E France, W Germany, and the Netherlands, with its capital variously at Metz, Reims, and Soissons.
..... Click the link for more information. , NeustriaNeustria
, western portion of the kingdom of the Franks in the 6th, 7th, and 8th cent., during the rule of the Merovingians. It comprised the Seine and Loire country and the region to the north; its principal towns were Soissons and Paris.
..... Click the link for more information. , and BurgundyBurgundy
, Fr. Bourgogne , historic region, E France. The name once applied to a large area embracing several kingdoms, a free county (see Franche-Comté), and a duchy.
..... Click the link for more information. . These kingdoms, whose borders were constantly shifting, were often combined; for brief periods, they were all united in a single realm under Clotaire IClotaire I
, d. 561, Frankish king, son of Clovis I. On his father's death (511) he and his brothers received equal shares of the Frankish kingdom. His capital was at Soissons.
..... Click the link for more information. (558–61), Clotaire IIClotaire II,
d. 629, Frankish king, son of Chilperic I and Fredegunde. He succeeded (584) his father as king of Neustria, but his mother ruled for him until her death (597).
..... Click the link for more information. (613–23), and Dagobert IDagobert I
, c.612–c.639, Frankish king, son and successor of King Clotaire II. His father was forced to appoint Dagobert king of the East Frankish kingdom of Austrasia at the request of Pepin of Landen, mayor of the palace, and Arnulf, bishop of Metz, who effectively
..... Click the link for more information. (629–39). The rule of the Merovingians before Dagobert I was disturbed by chronic warfare among aristocrats and rivals for power, notably between Queen BrunhildaBrunhilda
, d. 613, Frankish queen, wife of Sigebert I of the East Frankish kingdom of Austrasia; daughter of Athanagild, the Visigothic king of Spain.
..... Click the link for more information. of Austrasia and Queen FredegundeFredegunde
, c.545–597, Frankish queen. The mistress of King Chilperic I of Neustria, she became his wife after inducing him to murder his wife Galswintha (567). Fredegunde and Brunhilda, Galswintha's sister and wife of King Sigebert I of Austrasia, were among the leading
..... Click the link for more information. of Neustria. Dagobert I was the last active ruler; his descendants were called the rois fainéants, or idle kings. They were entirely subject to their mayors of the palace, the CarolingiansCarolingians
, dynasty of Frankish rulers, founded in the 7th cent. by Pepin of Landen, who, as mayor of the palace, ruled the East Frankish Kingdom of Austrasia for Dagobert I.
..... Click the link for more information. , who became the nominal as well as the actual rulers of the Franks when Pepin the ShortPepin the Short
(Pepin III), c.714–768, first Carolingian king of the Franks (751–68), son of Charles Martel and father of Charlemagne. Succeeding his father as mayor of the palace (741), he ruled Neustria, Burgundy, and Provence, while his brother Carloman (d.
..... Click the link for more information. deposed (751) the last Merovingian king, Childeric III. See Childebert IChildebert I
, d. 558, Frankish king, son of Clovis I. On his father's death (511) he and his three brothers shared equally in the Frankish kingdom. His capital was at Paris.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Theodoric ITheodoric I
or Thierry I
, d. 534, Frankish ruler, son of Clovis I. On his father's death (511) he shared equally with his brothers, Clodomer, Childebert I, and Clotaire I, in the division of the Frankish kingdom. His capital was at Reims.
..... Click the link for more information. ; GuntramGuntram
, c.525–592, Frankish king of Burgundy and Orléans (561–92), son of Clotaire I. He intervened in the wars of his relatives in order to maintain the balance of power in the Frankish lands.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Chilperic IChilperic I
, d. 584, Frankish king of Neustria (561–84), son of Clotaire I. He feuded bitterly with his brother Sigebert I, who had inherited the E Frankish kingdom that came to be known as Austrasia.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Sigebert ISigebert I
, d. 575, Frankish king of Austrasia (561–75), son of Clotaire I. He constantly feuded with his brother Chilperic I, who had inherited the western portion of the Frankish lands, which came to be known as Neustria.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Childebert IIChildebert II,
570–95, Frankish king of Austrasia (575–95) and Burgundy (593–95), son of Sigebert I and Brunhilda. His mother actually ruled for him. Chaos and warfare marked his reign.
..... Click the link for more information. .
See S. Dill, Roman Society in Gaul in the Merovingian Age (1926, repr. 1966); J. M. Wallace-Hedrill, Long-Haired Kings and Other Studies in Frankish History (1982); P. J. Geary, Before France and Germany (1988); E. James, The Franks (1991).
the first royal dynasty of the Prankish state. Named after Merovaeus (Merovech), its legendary founder, it came to an end in 751. Feudal relations emerged among the Franks during the Merovingian period.
The chief representatives of the dynasty were Childeric I (457–481), its actual founder; Clovis I (481–511); Chilperic I (561–584), who ruled over part of the Prankish territory at Soissons; Sigebert I (561–575), who ruled in Austrasia; Clotaire II (584–629), who ruled over Neustria until 613; Dagobert I (629–639); and Childeric III (743–751), who was deposed by Pipin the Short. The successors of Dagobert I were called the do-nothing kings, because during their reigns de facto power was held by the mayors of the palace.