Clovis I

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Clovis I

(klō`vĭs), c.466–511, Frankish king (481–511), son of 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.
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 and founder of the Merovingian monarchy. Originally little more than a tribal chieftain, he became sole leader 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.
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 by force of perseverance and by murdering a number of relatives. In 486 he defeated the Roman legions under Syagrius at Soissons, virtually ending Roman domination over Gaul. He then subdued the Thuringians. After his marriage (493) to the Burgundian princess ClotildaClotilda, Saint
, d. 545, Frankish queen. She converted her husband, Clovis I, to Christianity and built with him in Paris the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, later renamed (10th cent.) Sainte-Geneviève.
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, a Catholic, he had his children baptized but was not immediately converted himself. He is said to have invoked the Christian God while locked in battle with the Alemanni in the late 490s. He defeated them and two years later converted, having been persuaded by Clotilda and St. Remi (also known as Remigius), bishop of Reims, who baptized him, reputedly along with 3,000 supporters. Thereafter Clovis was the champion of orthodox Christianity against the Arian heretics, the Burgundians, and the Visigoths. He attacked the Burgundians (500) at Dijon and the Visigoths (507) under Alaric IIAlaric II,
d. 507, Visigothic king of Spain and of S Gaul (c.484–507), son and successor of Euric. He issued (506) at Toulouse the Breviary of Alaric for his Roman subjects.
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 at Vouillé. When he died, he was master of most of Gaul—except Burgundy, Gascony, Provence, and Septimania—and of SW Germany. Shortly before his death he probably had the Salian Law revised and put into writing. Clovis united all Franks under his rule, gained the support of the Gallic clergy, made Paris his base of operations, and extended his conquests into Germany. He thus laid the foundation, which even 400 years of chaos and misrule could not destroy, of the French monarchy and foreshadowed the conquests of CharlemagneCharlemagne
(Charles the Great or Charles I) [O.Fr.,=Charles the great], 742?–814, emperor of the West (800–814), Carolingian king of the Franks (768–814).
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. He was succeeded by his four sons, 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.
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, Clodomir, 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.
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, and 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.
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See the history of Gregory of ToursGregory of Tours, Saint,
538–94, French historian, bishop of Tours (from 573), b. Clermont-Ferrand, of a prominent family. He had a distinguished and successful career as bishop.
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; F. Lot, The End of the Ancient World and the Beginnings of the Middle Ages (1927; tr. 1953, repr. 1961); E. James, The Origins of France: Clovis and the Capetians, A.D. 500–1000 (1982); P. J. Geary Before France and Germany (1988).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Clovis I


Born circa 466; died Nov. 27, 511, in Paris. Became king of the Salian Franks in 481; subsequently king of the entire Frankish kingdom. Member of the Merovingian dynasty.

Clovis routed the army of Syagrius, a former Roman vicegerent who ruled the area of Gaul surrounding Soissons, in 486 and extended the dominion of the Salian Franks to the banks of the Loire. This expansion constituted the first step in the formation of the Frankish state. Clovis conquered many of the Alamanni’s holdings in 496 and expelled the Visigoths from southern Gaul in 507. He also subjugated the Franks living along the middle course of the Rhine.

In 496, Clovis embraced Christianity in its orthodox form (the other German tribes adhered to Arianism). This move bolstered his authority by securing the support of the clergy and the good will of the native Gallo-Roman population. Clovis made Paris his residence. He consolidated his royal power and made the throne hereditary. The Salic Law was promulgated during Clovis’ reign.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Clovis I

German name Chlodwig. ?466--511 ad, king of the Franks (481--511), who extended the Merovingian kingdom to include most of Gaul and SW Germany
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005