Merovingian France


Merovingians, dynasty of Frankish kings, descended, according to tradition, from Merovech, chief of the Salian Franks, whose son was Childeric I and whose grandson was Clovis I, 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 Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy. These kingdoms, whose borders were constantly shifting, were often combined; for brief periods, they were all united in a single realm under Clotaire I (558–61), Clotaire II (613–23), and Dagobert I (629–39). The rule of the Merovingians before Dagobert I was disturbed by chronic warfare among aristocrats and rivals for power, notably between Queen Brunhilda of Austrasia and Queen Fredegunde 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 Carolingians, who became the nominal as well as the actual rulers of the Franks when Pepin the Short deposed (751) the last Merovingian king, Childeric III. See Childebert I; Theodoric I; Guntram; Chilperic I; Sigebert I; Childebert II.

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 Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Merovingian France: Selected full-text books and articles

Neglected Heroes: Leadership and War in the Early Medieval Period By Terry L. Gore Praeger Publishers, 1995
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "The Rise of the Franks: Charles Martel And the Battle of Tours, A. D. 732"
Emperor, Prefects & Kings: The Roman West, 395-565 By P. S. Barnwell University of North Carolina Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "The Franks and Gaul in the Sixth Century"
France: Government and Society By J. M. Wallace-Hadrill; John McManners Methuen & Co., 1957
Librarian's tip: "Frankish Gaul" begins on p. 36
FREE! France, Mediaeval and Modern: A History By Arthur Hassall Clarendon Press, 1919
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "Roman Gaul: The Merovingians, 481-757"
FREE! French Civilization: From Its Origins to the Close of the Middle Ages By Albert Leon Guerard Houghton Mifflin, 1921
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "The Franks"
The Growth of the Medieval City: From Late Antiquity to the Early Fourteenth Century By David Nicholas Longman, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Suburbanisation and Deurbanisation in Merovingian and Carolingian Gaul, 500-830"
The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814 By H. St. L. B. Moss Oxford University Press, 1935
The Earliest Times By Frantz Funck-Brentano; E. F. Buckley William Heinemann, 1927
Librarian's tip: Chap. IV "The Merovingians"
The Birth of Western Economy: Economic Aspects of the Dark Ages By Robert Latouche Barnes & Noble, 1961
Librarian's tip: Part II. "The Merovingian Age"
The History of France By W. Scott Haine Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "From Caesar to Charlemagne"
The World of Gregory of Tours By Kathleen Mitchell; Ian Wood Brill, 2002
Librarian's tip: "Settlements and Cemeteries in Merovingian Gaul" begins on p. 68, "The Merovingian Church in Carolingian Retrospective" begins on p. 241, and "Clovis Augustus and Merovingian Imitatio Imperii" begins on p. 321
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