Merovingian

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The Merovingians (also Merovings) were a Salian Frankish dynasty that came to rule the Franks in a region (known as Francia in Latin) largely corresponding to ancient Gaul from the middle of the 5th century. Their politics involved frequent civil warfare among branches of the family. During the final century of the Merovingian rule, the dynasty was increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. The Merovingian rule was ended March 752 when Pope Zachary formally deposed Childeric III.[1][2] Zachary's successor, Pope Stephen II, re-confirmed and crowned Pepin the Short in Childeric's place in 754 beginning the Carolingian monarchy and early introduction of the Holy Roman Empire.

They were sometimes referred to as the "long-haired kings" (Latin reges criniti) by contemporaries, for their symbolically unshorn hair (traditionally the tribal leader of the Franks wore his hair long, as distinct from the Romans and the tonsured clergy). The term "Merovingian" comes from medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingi ("sons of Merovech"), an alteration of an unattested Old West Low Franconian form, akin to their dynasty's Old English name Merewīowing,[3] with the final -ing being a typical patronymic suffix.

Contents

Origins

The Merovingian dynasty owes its name to the semi-legendary Merovech (Latinised as Meroveus or Merovius), leader of the Salian Franks, and emerges into wider history with the victories of his son Childeric I (reigned c.457 – 481) against the Visigoths, Saxons, and Alemanni. Childeric's son Clovis I (481 – 511) went on to unite most of Gaul north of the Loire under his control around 486, when he defeated Syagrius, the Roman ruler in those parts. He won the Battle of Tolbiac against the Alemanni in 496, at which time, according to Gregory of Tours, Clovis adopted his wife's Nicene Christian faith. He subsequently went on to decisively defeat the Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse in the Battle of Vouillé in 507. After Clovis' death, his kingdom was partitioned among his four sons, and over the next century this tradition of partition would continue. Even when several Merovingian kings simultaneously ruled their own realms, the kingdom — not unlike the late Roman Empire — was conceived of as a single entity ruled collectively by these several kings (in their own realms) among whom a turn of events could result in the reunification of the whole kingdom under a single ruler. Leadership among the early Merovingians was probably based on mythical descent and alleged divine patronage, expressed in terms of continued military success.

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