History of the Low Countries

By J. C. H. Blom; E. Lamberts et al. | Go to book overview

1 A Long Beginning The Low Countries through the Tenth Century

L. J.R. Milis

The first historical records for "the Low Countries" date back to the arrival of the Romans from the south in the first century B.C. With the invasion of the Germanic tribes, the Roman Empire collapsed, and one of these tribes, the Franks, succeeded during the fifth centuryin establishing a strong kingdom, with Parisas its capital. Under the Merovingian kings, as they were called, Roman and German customs and laws coexisted. After the Merovingians were cast aside in the eighth centuryby a new dynasty, the Carolingians, royal power shifted from Paristo Aachen. Charlemagneand his son Louis the Piousaimed both at administrative centralization and the Christianization of society. The growth of central authority also cultivated new cultural life among the empire's elites.

The Carolingian Empire, however, soon collapsed under its own weight, from a lack of finances (which led feudalism) and through the old Germanic custom of dividing royal territory among sons. The border between the two realms that resulted from the division - Franceand Germany - ran across the territory of what became known as the Low Countries in later centuries.

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