Frankish Kingdoms

Frankish Kingdoms

History of France

Consequences of Germanic migrations for Roman Gaul. The Frankish Kingdoms in the European context and facing the irruption of Islam.

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After 507, in order to organize his kingdom and establish peace there, Clovis promulgates the most famous barbarian law transmitted, the pactus legis salicœ or pact of the salic law. The Salic law is a code of judicial procedure and a penal code, divided into sixty-five titles, themselves comprising articles written mainly in Latin. The parts written in the Salian language refer to old case law. This law provides for the exclusion of women from land inheritance, a provision which will be used improperly as a legal basis to exclude the King of England from the succession to the throne of France at the beginning of the 14th century.

The baptism of Clovis a December 25th (1), followed by 3,000 of its warriors, is a major event in early medieval history. Nor does it illustrate the birth of France, which will take place much later, this act does not consecrate the conversion of a Gaul long acquired to the Christian faith. More surely, this event marks the beginning of the rebirth of western christian civilization, who almost drowned with the Roman Empire under the blows of the invasions, and sealed a permanent alliance between theRoman catholic church and the Frankish then French monarchy.

The matrix dynasty of French royalty, theMerovingians were, however, for a long time the victims of a "black legend", kept alive as early as the 6th century by Grégoire de Tours, then by their successors, the Carolingians, written by Eginhard. They thus became the "lazy kings" of images for schoolchildren until the 19th century (and beyond ...). Apart from Clovis, and for other reasons Dagobert I, the Merovingian period was like a black hole in the history of France. Let’s try to (re) discover these kings, and queens, on the border between the end of a "barbaric" Antiquity and a Middle Ages in which France was going to be built. Construction to which the Merovingians themselves were far from foreign ...

Clovis I, king of francs, is the most illustrious of merovingians. At the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, this grandson of the legendary king Merovée seized almost all of Roman Gaul. To consolidate his authority over his immense domain, he skillfully entered into an alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, the only institution to have survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Putting the conquering Franks and the Gallo-Romans on an equal footing, Clovis made of these two peoples a single nation: the Regnum francorum, the kingdom of francs. Thehistory of francs, written a century later by Gregory of Tours, is one of the few sources on the reign of Clovis available to us.

Made famous by Richard Wagner through the epic of the Nibelungen, the Burgundy kingdom and its people, however, appear in history as a quiet neighbor to the main barbarian kingdoms. We have very few sources on them. Without a chronicler like a Gregory of Tours to relate their facts, surrounded by great powers, the Burgundians show themselves too little to interest the Greek and Latin authors of late Antiquity. Indeed, they do not ravage Gaul, they do not seize Rome, they do not kill the emperor either, they remain in the shadows and remain unrecognized today. Their history, although incomplete, is nevertheless rich in events and twists.


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