History of the Ancient and Medieval World - Vol. 9

By Henk Dijkstra | Go to book overview

Miniature from a
ninth-century manuscript
portraying the hand of God
crowning a Frankish
prince, probably Pépin the
Short, expressing the
concept of divine authority
of rulers


The Frankish Empire
Western Europe in the Middle Ages

Under Frankish law promulgated by Clovis shortly before his death, no distinction was made between public and private individuals, a fact that was to have far-reaching political effect. The rules of inheritance demanded that any legacy be divided among the sons of the deceased. They applied to king and landowner alike. It was hard enough to settle an ordinary inheritance, let alone the kingdom and the

Merovingian dynasty Clovis had founded. When he died in Paris in AD 511, his empire had to be divided among his sons, who soon took to armed conflict. The empire rapidly disintegrated.

No individual Merovingian ultimately triumphed in the battles that followed. Clovis's grip on power had already been weakened by prolonged war before his death. During the century that followed,

-1159-

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