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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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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, 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.
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, 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.
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. 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.
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 (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).
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 (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
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 (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
or Brunehaut
, d. 613, Frankish queen, wife of Sigebert I of the East Frankish kingdom of Austrasia; daughter of Athanagild, the Visigothic king of Spain.
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 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
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 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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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; 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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; 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.
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; 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.
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; 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.
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; 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.
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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).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Thierry, A. “Rasskazy iz vremen Merovingov.” In his book Izbr. soch. Moscow, 1937. (Translated from French.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although the real extent of the Arnulfings' interest to the recording of the past and to raising the general awareness of the importance of history is a matter of significant discussion, one may still accept as the fact that in their struggle to redefine Merovingian political networks to create new political connections, the court of the Frankish mayor and later king Pippin III needed the new ways to construct his image.
We retreat further into the Merovingian world in the final three chapters.
The Merovingian dynasty--the Frankish kings who ruled during the early Dark Ages before the era of Charlemagne--were of the bloodline of Jesus, says Brown, so the Holy Grail of medieval legend ("sangreal," or "royal blood" in medieval French, according to Brown) is also part of the story.
The conversion of Kent was, after all, the product of influence from a Merovingian empire occupied with supplying its provinces with Latin law codes formed after the model of the Lex Salica.
After lying low for a while, the "Jesus family" legged it to the Provencal region of France, where they founded the Merovingian dynasty of French warrior-kings, rumored to have gnarly mystical powers.
The advent of the Carolingian dynasty, and the energetic efforts of the Carolingians to blacken the name of the Merovingian dynasty they replaced, mean that the Merovingian period has suffered in the eyes of generations of historians.
`If anyone', he writes at the very beginning of his conclusion, `takes up this little work that I have made and begins to read it, he may indeed accuse me of rusticity of expression, but not lying'.(29) Such an apology is not uncommon among Merovingian writers, and while it may be interpreted as a mere literary topos widespread at that time,(30) it may also be regarded as a true and sincere apology.
The moral aspect rang a high note in the treatise of Du Haillan, where he claimed that all kings of the first "race", the Merovingians, were in their behavior were much like children, and thus period of the Frankish history could be considered childhood " Le second age qui est de ieiunesse et adolescence commance au Roy Clovis, qui fut le premier Roy Chrestien, et qui accreust le Royame de la soy Chrestiene ...
The first six chapters of the book are concerned with political history and center on several of the most important texts for studying the Merovingians and Carolingians: the histories of Gregory of Tours and Fredegar, the Royal Frankish Annals and its various continuations, the Liber historiae Francorum and the Liber pontificalis, Einhard's Life of Charlemagne and Paul the Deacon's Historia langobardorum.
According to Einhard, the biographer of the most famous Carolingian, Charlemagne, the later Merovingians were rois faineants, decadent and do-nothing kings, whose power had been effectively supplanted by the Carolingian dynasty in the form of Mayors of the Palace.
This is probably the reason for Ongentheow's choice of this moment to strike at the Geats--their king is recently dead of sorrow for a killing within his own family that has presumably done nothing to improve the group solidarity of the Geats, and so they are ripe for a raid.(11) This sort of political opportunism conditioning the timing of the feud is brought out elsewhere in the poem--especially in the messenger's prediction that the Merovingians, Frisians and Swedes will choose the moment of Beowulf's death to settle their old scores with the Geats: