Chlodovech (Clovis)

First King of all the Franks

"The Franks were a loose grouping of heathen Germans tribes governed by many princelings claiming descent from the house of the Merovings. They were famed for their treachery and perjury. In spite of their long contact with Romans along the Rhine and their employment in the Imperial army, they remained largely uninfluenced by Roman culture or law. It was not until the reign of Chlodovech (Clovis), 481-511, that they were combined under a single king. He succeeded his father Childeric at the age of sixteen and almost at once began his life's work by over-turning the Roman province of Soissons. He then turned on his fellow Franks, and in a series of campaigns incorporated all except the kingdom of Cologne into his own lands, slaying all of the royal line who fell into his hands. He then attacked the Alamanni to the east of the Rhine; and later the Burgundians to this south. In 507 he turned on the Visigoths under their young king, Amalric, choosing as a cause their Arian persecution of their Catholic subjects, to which faith he had meanwhile been converted. The Visigothic power in the south was only saved by the intervention of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, grandfather of Amalric. Finally, Chlodovech seized the last surviving independent Frankish kingdom, Cologne, having encouraged the old king's son to revolt and murder his own father.

"Chlodovech was the only one of the great Teutonic founder-kings whose work was to survive, and this was partly because he and his tribe after him were baptised as Catholics and were therefore in religious sympathy with their Roman subjects, unlike the Goths, Lombards, and Vandals, all of whom were Arians. Chlodovech's personal prestige was strengthened in 508 by the gift of a diadem and robe from the Emperor Anastasius, who hoped to make him his ally against the Ostrogoths in Italy. This gave Chlodovech an appearance of legality in the eyes of his Roman subjects."

A.V.B. Norman, The Medieval Soldier 8-9 (1993 Barnes & Noble, Inc.).
Richard R. Orsinger

Copyright © 1996 Richard R. Orsinger
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