Clovis I

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Clovis (c. 466–511) was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul (France). He was the son of Childeric I and Basina. In 481, when he was fifteen, he succeeded his father.[1] The Salian Franks were one of two Frankish tribes who were then occupying the area west of the lower Rhine, with their center in an area known as Toxandria, between the Meuse and Scheldt (in what is now the Netherlands and Belgium). Clovis's power base was to the southwest of this, around Tournai and Cambrai along the modern frontier between France and Belgium. Clovis conquered the neighboring Salian Frankish kingdoms and established himself as sole king of the Salian Franks before his death. The small church in which he was baptized is now named Saint-Remi, and a statue of him being baptized by Saint Remigius can be seen there. Clovis and his wife Clotilde are buried in the St. Genevieve church (St. Pierre) in Paris. An important part of Clovis's legacy is that he reduced the power of the Romans in 486 by beating the Roman ruler Syagrius in the famous battle of Soissons.[2]

Clovis was converted to Catholicism, as opposed to the Arian Christianity common among the Goths who ruled most of Gaul at the time, at the instigation of his wife, Clotilde, a Burgundian Gothic princess who was a Catholic in spite of the Arianism which surrounded her at court. He was baptized in a small church which was on or near the site of the Cathedral of Rheims, where most future French kings would be crowned. This act was of immense importance in the subsequent history of Western and Central Europe in general, for Clovis expanded his dominion over almost all of the old Roman province of Gaul (roughly modern France). He is considered the founder of the Merovingian dynasty which ruled the Franks for the next two centuries.


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