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Franks

Franks

Overview

The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine
Lower Rhine
The Lower Rhine flows from Bonn, Germany, to the North Sea at Hoek van Holland, Netherlands.Almost immediately after entering the Netherlands, the Rhine splits into many branches. The main branch is called the Waal which flows from Nijmegen to meet the river Meuse; after which it is called Merwede...

 River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. Only the Salian Franks
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

 formed a kingdom on Roman-held soil that was acknowledged by the Romans after 357. In the climate of the collapse of imperial authority in the West, the Frankish tribes were united under the Merovingians and conquered all of Gaul except Septimania
Septimania
Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the modern...

 in the 6th century.
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Timeline

394   Battle of the Frigidus: The Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I defeats and kills the pagan usurper Eugenius and his Frankish ''magister militum'' Arbogast.

524   Godomar, King of the Burgundians defeats the Franks at the Battle of Vézeronce.

524   The Franks defeat the Burgundians in the Battle of Vézeronce.

732   Battle of Tours: Near Poitiers, France, the leader of the Franks, Charles Martel and his men, defeat a large army of Moors, stopping the Muslims from spreading into Western Europe. The governor of Cordoba, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, is killed during the battle.

771   Charlemagne becomes the sole King of the Franks after the death of his brother Carloman.

888   Odo, Count of Paris becomes King of the Franks.

986   Louis V becomes King of the Franks.

 
Encyclopedia

The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine
Lower Rhine
The Lower Rhine flows from Bonn, Germany, to the North Sea at Hoek van Holland, Netherlands.Almost immediately after entering the Netherlands, the Rhine splits into many branches. The main branch is called the Waal which flows from Nijmegen to meet the river Meuse; after which it is called Merwede...

 River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. Only the Salian Franks
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

 formed a kingdom on Roman-held soil that was acknowledged by the Romans after 357. In the climate of the collapse of imperial authority in the West, the Frankish tribes were united under the Merovingians and conquered all of Gaul except Septimania
Septimania
Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis. It corresponded roughly with the modern...

 in the 6th century. The Salian political elite would be one of the most active forces in spreading Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 over western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

.

The Merovingian dynasty, descended from the Salians, founded one of the Germanic monarchies
Germanic monarchy
Germanic kingship refers to the customs and practices surrounding kings among the pagan Germanic tribes of the Migration period and the kingdoms of the Early Middle Ages ....

 which replaced the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 from the fifth century. The Frankish state consolidated its hold over large parts of western Europe by the end of the eighth century, developing into the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 which dominated most of Western Europe. This empire would gradually evolve into France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

.

Contemporary definitions of the ethnicity of the Franks vary by period and point of view. The word "Frankish" quickly ceased to have an exclusive ethnic connotation. It is unclear, though, to what extent different Western European groups described or referred to themselves as the Franks. Within Neustria
Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

everyone north of the Loire
Loire (river)
The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of , it drains an area of , which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It is the 170th longest river in the world...

 seems to have been considered a Frank by the mid-seventh century at the latest; "Romans" were essentially the inhabitants of Aquitaine
Gallia Aquitania
Gallia Aquitania was a province of the Roman Empire, bordered by the provinces of Gallia Lugdunensis, Gallia Narbonensis, and Hispania Tarraconensis...

 after that. On the other hand, Marculf's Formulary of circa 700 still mandates that:
"all the peoples who dwell there [i.e. in the official's province], Franks, Romans, Burgundians, and those of other nations, live ... according to their law and their custom;..."

which implies a continuation of national identities within a mixed population. Viewed from outside, many in the East used the term "Franks" to describe or refer to Western Europeans and Roman Catholic Christians
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in general, even down to the time of the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 six centuries after Clovis
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

; the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word for "Europe" to this day is Firanja.

The closest linguistic descendants of the Franks, the modern Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

-speakers
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 (the initial Frankish range) seem to have broken with this endonym
Exonym and endonym
In ethnolinguistics, an endonym or autonym is a local name for a geographical feature, and an exonym or xenonym is a foreign language name for it...

 around the 9th century. By this time Frankish identity had changed from an ethnic identity to a national identity, becoming localized and confined to the modern Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

and principally to the French province of Île-de-France
Île-de-France (province)
The province of Île-de-France or Isle de France is an historical province of France, and the one at the centre of power during most of French history...

. In the 9th century, only today's Hesse and Franconia formed East Francia's stem Duchy of Franconia, while the Frankish homeland became part Lotharingia and did not bear the name of the Franks. Today only the people of the northern Bavarian region of Franconia, where Frankish settlement did not start until the 6th century, still refer to themselves as Franken.

Name


The ethnonym "Frank" is thought to be derived from a Germanic word for "bold, fierce" (cf. Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic dialects which were spoken and written between 1150 and 1500...

 vrac, Old English frǣc, Old Norwegian
Old Norwegian
Old Norwegian refers to a group of Old Norse dialects spoken and written in Norway in the Middle Ages. They bridged the dialect continuum from Old East Norse to Old West Norse.-Old Norwegian vs Common Norse:...

 frakkr). The name has sometimes been traced to the Germanic word for "javelin
Javelin
A Javelin is a light spear intended for throwing. It is commonly known from the modern athletic discipline, the Javelin throw.Javelin may also refer to:-Aviation:* ATG Javelin, an American-Israeli civil jet aircraft, under development...

" (cf. Old English franca, Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 frakka), however the opposite may be the case, as in the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 francisca "throwing axe", which was named after the tribe. A weapon-based tribal name would be comparable to that of the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

. The name's origin remains disputed.

Physical appearance


The Franks were noted to have thin moustaches as opposed to the thicker beards of the other Germanic tribes.

Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg...

 described their distinct moustaches and also noted of their light blue eyes:


‘‘Their eyes are faint and pale, with a glimmer of greyish blue. Their faces are shaven all round, and instead of beards they have thin moustaches which they run through with a comb. Close fitting garments confine the tall limbs of the men, they are drawn up high so as to expose the knees, and a broad belt supports their narrow middle.’’

Mythological origins


Like many Germanic peoples, the Franks developed an origin story to connect themselves with peoples of antiquity. In the case of the Franks, these peoples were the Sicambri
Sicambri
The Sicambri were a Germanic people living on the right bank of the Rhine river, near where it passes out of Germany and enters what is now called the Netherlands at the turn of the first millennium....

 and the Trojans
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

. An anonymous work of 727 called Liber Historiae Francorum
Liber Historiae Francorum
Liber historiae Francorum is a book that briefly starts as secondary source for early Franks in the time of Marcomer, and it gives a short breviarum of events until the time of the late Merovingians, where it becomes an important primary source of the contemporaneous history...

states that, following the fall of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

, 12,000 Trojans led by chiefs Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

 and Antenor
Antenor (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Anthenor was a son of the Dardanian noble Aesyetes by Cleomestra. He is a counselor to Priam during the Trojan War.-History:He was one of the wisest of the Trojan elders and counsellors...

 moved to the Tanais
Tanais
Tanais is the ancient name for the River Don in Russia. Strabo regarded it as the boundary between Europe and Asia.In antiquity, Tanais was also the name of a city in the Don river delta that reaches into the northeasternmost part of the Sea of Azov, which the Greeks called Lake Maeotis...

 (Don) river, settled in Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

 near the Maeotis, now Sea of Azov
Sea of Azov
The Sea of Azov , known in Classical Antiquity as Lake Maeotis, is a sea on the south of Eastern Europe. It is linked by the narrow Strait of Kerch to the Black Sea to the south and is bounded on the north by Ukraine mainland, on the east by Russia, and on the west by the Ukraine's Crimean...

, and founded a city called "Sicambria". Within just two generations (Priam and his son Marcomer
Marcomer
Marcomer was a Frankish leader in the late 4th century who invaded the Roman Empire in the year 388, when the usurper and leader of the whole of Roman Gaul, Magnus Maximus was surrounded in Aquileia by Theodosius I....

) from the fall of Troy (by modern scholars dated in the late Bronze Age), they arrived in the late fourth century at the Rhine. An earlier variation of this story can be read in Fredegar. In Fredegar's version, an early king named Francio serves as namegiver for the Franks, just as Romulus
Romulus
- People:* Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome* Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor* Valerius Romulus , deified son of the Roman emperor Maxentius* Romulus , son of the Western Roman emperor Anthemius...

 has lent his name to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

.

History



The major primary sources on the early Franks include Panegyrici Latini
Panegyrici Latini
The Panegyrici Latini or Latin Panegyrics is a collection of twelve ancient Roman panegyric orations. The authors of most of the speeches in the collection are anonymous, but appear to have been Gallic in origin. Aside from the first panegyric, composed by Pliny the Younger in 100 CE, the other...

, Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

, Claudian
Claudian
Claudian was a Roman poet, who worked for Emperor Honorius and the latter's general Stilicho.A Greek-speaking citizen of Alexandria and probably not a Christian convert, Claudian arrived in Rome before 395. He made his mark with a eulogy of his two young patrons, Probinus and Olybrius, thereby...

, Zosimus
Zosimus
Zosimus was a Byzantine historian, who lived in Constantinople during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I . According to Photius, he was a comes, and held the office of "advocate" of the imperial treasury.- Historia Nova :...

, Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg...

 and Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

. The Franks are mentioned also on the Tabula Peutingeriana
Tabula Peutingeriana
The Tabula Peutingeriana is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map of which this is a unique copy was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century. It covers Europe, parts of Asia and North Africa...

(a road map) as the Chamavi qui est Pranci (meaning "Chamavi
Chamavi
The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Late Antiquity and the European Dark Age. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that, for most of their history, existed along the North bank of the Lower Rhine in the region today called Hamaland after...

 (a Germanic tribe), who are Pranci", probably an error for Franci). However, the Chamavi were only one of numerous small tribes populating the region of origin.

Ripuarians


Modern scholars of the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 are in agreement that the Frankish identity emerged at the first half of the 3rd century out of various earlier, smaller Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 groups, including the Salii
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

, Sicambri
Sicambri
The Sicambri were a Germanic people living on the right bank of the Rhine river, near where it passes out of Germany and enters what is now called the Netherlands at the turn of the first millennium....

, Chamavi
Chamavi
The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Late Antiquity and the European Dark Age. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that, for most of their history, existed along the North bank of the Lower Rhine in the region today called Hamaland after...

, Bructeri
Bructeri
The Bructeri were a Germanic tribe located in northwestern Germany , between the Lippe and Ems rivers south of the Teutoburg Forest, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia around 100 BC through 350 AD....

, Chatti
Chatti
The Chatti were an ancient Germanic tribe whose homeland was near the upper Weser. They settled in central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of the Weser River and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder, Fulda and Weser River regions, a district approximately...

, Chattuarii
Chattuarii
The Chattuarii or Attoarii were a Germanic tribe of the Franks. They lived originally east of the northern Rhine and west of the Chatti. Their land was south of the Bructeri. Some of them settled in the pagus attuariorum south of Langres in the 3rd century...

, Ampsivarii
Ampsivarii
The Ampsivarii, sometimes referenced by modern writers as Ampsivari , were a Germanic tribe mentioned by ancient authors....

, Tencteri, Ubii
Ubii
thumb|right|350px|The Ubii around AD 30The Ubii were a Germanic tribe first encountered dwelling on the right bank of the Rhine in the time of Julius Caesar, who formed an alliance with them in 55 BC in order to launch attacks across the river...

, Batavi
Batavians
The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe, originally part of the Chatti, reported by Tacitus to have lived around the Rhine delta, in the area that is currently the Netherlands, "an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the...

 and the Tungri
Tungri
The Tungri were a tribe, or group of tribes, who lived in the Belgic part Gaul, during the times of the Roman empire. They were described by Tacitus as being the same people who were first called "Germani" , meaning that all other tribes who were later referred to this way, including those in...

. These tribes inhabited the lower and middle Rhine valley between the Zuyder Zee and the river Lahn
Lahn
The Lahn River is a -long, right tributary of the Rhine River in Germany. Its course passes through the federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia , Hesse , and Rhineland-Palatinate ....

 and extended eastwards as far as the Weser, but were the most densely settled around the IJssel
IJssel
River IJssel , sometimes called Gelderse IJssel to avoid confusion with its Hollandse IJssel namesake in the west of the Netherlands, is a branch of the Rhine in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel...

 and between the Lippe
Lippe River
The Lippe is a river in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is a right tributary of the Rhine and in length.The source is located at the edge of the Teutoburg Forest in Bad Lippspringe close to the city of Paderborn. It runs westward through Paderborn, Lippstadt and then along the northern edge...

 and the Sieg. They are termed by the scholars the Ripuarian Franks
Ripuarian Franks
Ripuarian Franks is a distinction of the Frankish people made by a number of writers in the Latin language of the first several centuries of the Christian Era...

, following an ancient distinction, because they held the right bank (ripa) of the Rhine. The Romans held the left bank.

The Frankish confederation probably began to coalesce in the 210s north of the Roman province called Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior was a Roman province located on the left bank of the Rhine, in today's Luxembourg, southern Netherlands, parts of Belgium, and North Rhine-Westphalia left of the Rhine....

, "Lower Germany," which had been settled earlier by Celticised Germanic immigrants called by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 the Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

 (from which Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

). Along the Rhine itself were a number of Germanic-speaking cities, the interface between Roman and Germanic civilization. The Germanics were not allowed south of the Rhine without Roman permissions. Any unauthorized entry at all was regarded as a hostile act, which must be punished.

Salians



Franks appear in Roman texts as both allies and enemies (laeti
Laeti
Laeti, the plural form of laetus, was a term used in the late Roman Empire to denote communities of barbari permitted to, and granted land to, settle on imperial territory on condition that they provide recruits for the Roman military...

or dediticii). Around 250, one group of Franks, taking advantage of a weakened Roman Empire, penetrated as far as Tarragona
Tarragona
Tarragona is a city located in the south of Catalonia on the north-east of Spain, by the Mediterranean. It is the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and the capital of the Catalan comarca Tarragonès. In the medieval and modern times it was the capital of the Vegueria of Tarragona...

 in present-day Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, plaguing this region for about a decade before Roman forces subdued them and expelled them from Roman territory. In 287 or 288, the Roman Caesar Maximian overwhelmed the Salian king Gennobaude. He and his people surrendered without a fight. Maximian accepted the surrender and installed the Salians in Toxandria (Germania inferior) at the mouth of the Rhine behind the limes in Belgic Gaul, under the statute of Laeti
Laeti
Laeti, the plural form of laetus, was a term used in the late Roman Empire to denote communities of barbari permitted to, and granted land to, settle on imperial territory on condition that they provide recruits for the Roman military...

 (subject to imperial authority). This success, however, did not allow him to regain Britain. Later, Constantius completed the reconquest of Britain and, having had problems with some Franks, deported Chamavi and Frisians
Frisians
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

 in Gaul in the country Ambiani and Bellovaci.

About forty years later, the Franks had the region of the Scheldt
Scheldt
The Scheldt is a 350 km long river in northern France, western Belgium and the southwestern part of the Netherlands...

 river (present day west Flanders and southwest Netherlands) under control and were raiding the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, disrupting transportation to Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

. Roman forces pacified the region, but did not expel the Franks, who continued to be feared as pirates along the shores at least until the time of Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 (358), when Salian Franks were granted to settle as foederati
Foederati
Foederatus is a Latin term whose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republic and the end of the Western Roman Empire...

in Toxandria
Toxandria
Toxandria is the classical name for a region between the Meuse and the Scheldt rivers in the Netherlands and Belgium. The name is also spelled Taxandria...

, according to Ammianus Marcellinus.

The Salian Franks invaded the Roman Empire and were accepted as Foederati
Foederati
Foederatus is a Latin term whose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republic and the end of the Western Roman Empire...

 by Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 in 358. By the end of the fifth century, the Salian Franks had largely moved onto Roman soil, to a territory now comprising the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 south of the Rhine, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Northwestern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 where, during the chaos of the migration period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

, they formed a kingdom
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

, eventually giving rise to the Merovingian dynasty.

Merovingian kingdom (481–751)


In the 5th century, numerous small Frankish kingdoms existed, among them the ones in Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Tournai
Tournai
Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

, Le Mans
Le Mans
Le Mans is a city in France, located on the Sarthe River. Traditionally the capital of the province of Maine, it is now the capital of the Sarthe department and the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Le Mans. Le Mans is a part of the Pays de la Loire region.Its inhabitants are called Manceaux...

 and Cambrai
Cambrai
Cambrai is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese whose jurisdiction was immense during the Middle Ages. The territory of the Bishopric of Cambrai, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, included...

. The kings of Tournai eventually came to subdue the other Frankish kings. This was probably enabled by their association with Aegidius
Aegidius
Aegidius was a Gallo-Roman warlord of northern Gaul. He had been promoted as magister militum in Gaul under Aëtius around 450. An ardent supporter of Majorian, Aegidius rebelled when Ricimer deposed Majorian, engaging in several campaigns against the Visigoths and creating a Roman rump state that...

, the magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 of northern Gaul; King Childeric I
Childeric I
Childeric I was a Merovingian king of the Salian Franks and the father of Clovis.He succeeded his father Merovech as king, traditionally in 457 or 458...

 fights on Aegidius' side in 463. It is assumed that Childeric and Clovis I
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

, his son, were commanders of the Roman military in the Province of Belgica Secunda, and thus subordinate to the magister militum. Clovis later turned against the Roman military leaders and won a battle against Syagrius
Syagrius
Syagrius was the last Roman official in Gaul, whose defeat by king Clovis I of the Franks is considered the end of Roman rule outside of Italy. He came to this position through inheritance, for his father was Aegidius, the last Roman magister militum per Gallias...

 in 486/487. After this battle, Clovis had Chararic
Chararic (Frankish king)
Chararic was a Frankish king from sometime before 486 until his death sometime after 507. The primary source for his career is Gregory of Tours....

, another Frankish king, imprisoned; he was later executed. A few years later, Ragnachar
Ragnachar
Ragnachar or Ragnarius was a Frankish petty king who ruled from Cambrai. According to Gregory of Tours, Ragnachar "was so unrestrained in his wantonness that he scarcely had mercy for his own near relatives", an attribute he shared with his contemporary, fellow king and relative, Clovis.In 486,...

, Frankish king of Cambrai, and his brothers were killed by Clovis. By the 490s, Clovis had conquered all the Frankish kingdoms to the west of the River Maas, leaving only the Ripuarian Franks
Ripuarian Franks
Ripuarian Franks is a distinction of the Frankish people made by a number of writers in the Latin language of the first several centuries of the Christian Era...

. The city of Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 became his capital.

Clovis I
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 became the first king of all Franks in 509, when he conquered the kingdom of Cologne. He had conquered the Kingdom of Soissons
Domain of Soissons
The Domain of Soissons, by later writers called the Kingdom of Soissons, Kingdom of Aegidius or the Kingdom of Syagrius, was a rump state of the Western Roman Empire in northern Gaul for some 25 years during Late Antiquity....

 of the Roman general Syagrius
Syagrius
Syagrius was the last Roman official in Gaul, whose defeat by king Clovis I of the Franks is considered the end of Roman rule outside of Italy. He came to this position through inheritance, for his father was Aegidius, the last Roman magister militum per Gallias...

 and expelled the Visigoths from southern Gaul at the Battle of Vouillé
Battle of Vouillé
The Battle of Vouillé or Vouglé was fought in the northern marches of Visigothic territory, at Vouillé, Vienne near Poitiers , in the spring of 507 between the Franks commanded by Clovis and the Visigoths of Alaric II, the conqueror of Spain.Clovis and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire agreed...

, thus establishing Frankish hegemony over most of Gaul, excluding Burgundy
Kingdom of Burgundy
Burgundy is a historic region in Western Europe that has existed as a political entity in a number of forms with very different boundaries. Two of these entities - the first around the 6th century, the second around the 11th century - have been called the Kingdom of Burgundy; a third was very...

, Provence
Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

, and Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, which he left to his successors, the Merovingians, to conquer.

Clovis divided his realm between his four sons in a manner which would become familiar, as his sons and grandsons in turn divided their kingdoms between their sons. Clovis' sons united to defeat Burgundy in 534, but internecine feuding came to the fore during the reigns of the brothers Sigebert I
Sigebert I
Sigebert I was the king of Austrasia from the death of his father in 561 to his own death. He was the third surviving son out of four of Clotaire I and Ingund...

 and Chilperic I
Chilperic I
Chilperic I was the king of Neustria from 561 to his death. He was one of the sons of the Frankish king Clotaire I and Queen Aregund....

 and their sons and grandsons, largely fueled by the rivalry of the queens Fredegunda and Brunhilda
Brunhilda of Austrasia
Brunhilda was a Visigothic princess, married to king Sigebert I of Austrasia who ruled the eastern kingdoms of Austrasia and Burgundy in the names of her sons and grandsons...

. This period saw the emergence of three distinct regna (realms or subkingdoms): Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

, Neustria
Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

, and Burgundy. Each region developed in its own way and often sought to exert influence over the others. The rising star of the Arnulfing clan of Austrasia meant that the centre of political gravity in the kingdom gradually shifted eastwards from Paris and Tours to the Rhineland.

The Frankish realm was united again in 613 by Chlothar II, son of Chilperic. Chlothar granted the Edict of Paris
Edict of Paris
The Edict of Paris of Chlothar II, the Merovingian king of the Franks, promulgated October 18 614 , is one of the most important royal instruments of the Merovingian period in Frankish history and a hallmark in the history of the development of the Frankish monarchy...

 to the nobles in an effort to cut down on corruption and unite his vast realm under his authority. After the militarily successful reign of his son and successor Dagobert I
Dagobert I
Dagobert I was the king of Austrasia , king of all the Franks , and king of Neustria and Burgundy . He was the last Merovingian dynast to wield any real royal power...

, royal authority rapidly declined under a series of kings traditionally known as rois fainéants. By 687, after the Battle of Tertry
Battle of Tertry
The Battle of Tertry was an important engagement in Merovingian Gaul between the forces of Austrasia on one side and those of Neustria and Burgundy on the other. It took place in 687 at Tertry, Somme....

, the chronicler could say that the mayor of the palace
Mayor of the Palace
Mayor of the Palace was an early medieval title and office, also called majordomo, from the Latin title maior domus , used most notably in the Frankish kingdoms in the 7th and 8th centuries....

, formerly the king's chief household official, "reigned." Finally, in 751, with the approval of the papacy and the nobility, the mayor Pepin the Short deposed the last Merovingian king, Childeric III
Childeric III
Childeric III was the last King of the Franks in the Merovingian dynasty from 743 to his deposition by Pope Zachary in March 752...

, and had himself crowned, inaugurating a new dynasty, the Carolingians.

Carolingian empire (751–843)


The unification of most of what is now western and central Europe under one chief ruler provided a fertile ground for the continuation of what is known as the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

. Despite the almost constant internecine warfare that beset the Carolingian Empire, the extension of Frankish rule and Roman Christianity over such a large area ensured a fundamental unity throughout the Empire. Each part of the Carolingian Empire developed differently; Frankish government and culture depended very much upon individual rulers and their aims. Those aims shifted as easily as the changing political alliances within the Frankish leading families. However, those families, the Carolingians included, all shared the same basic beliefs and ideas of government. These ideas and beliefs had their roots in a background that drew from both Roman and Germanic tradition, a tradition that began before the Carolingian ascent and continued to some extent even after the deaths of Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

 and his sons.

The sons of Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's grandsons, fought a civil war after Louis' death over their inheritance, which only ended in exhaustion. The Frankish lands were divided between them. Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 was given the western lands, "West Francia", that would later become France. Louis the German
Louis the German
Louis the German , also known as Louis II or Louis the Bavarian, was a grandson of Charlemagne and the third son of the succeeding Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious and his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye.He received the appellation 'Germanicus' shortly after his death in recognition of the fact...

 received the eastern lands, which would become Germany. Lothair I
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

 was given the lands between the two, "Middle Francia" which consisted of Lotharingia, Provence, and northern Italy. Middle Francia was not united in any way, and in the next generation disintegrated into smaller lordships, with West Francia and East Francia fighting for control over them. Arguably, France and Germany continued to fight over these lands up until World War II.

Military


In general Germanic peoples on the borders are known to have served in the Roman army since the days of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

. The tribes at the Rhine delta that later became Franks were no exception to that general rule. Despite the fact that from the 3rd century onward large numbers of Germanic peoples served in the Roman army, others kept on invading and raiding Roman soil. This caused confrontations between Franks and their neighbours on Roman soil such as the Batavi and Menapii
Menapii
The Menapii were a Belgic tribe of northern Gaul in pre-Roman and Roman times. Their territory according to Strabo, Caesar and Ptolemy stretched from the mouth of the Rhine in the north, and southwards along the west of the Schelde. Their civitas under the Roman empire was Cassel , near Thérouanne...

. When Roman administration collapsed in Gaul in the 260's due to joint invasions of Franks and Alamanni, the Germanic Batavian Postumus
Postumus
Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus was a Roman emperor of Batavian origin. He usurped power from Gallienus in 260 and formed the so-called Gallic Empire...

 was forced to usurp power and restore order. From that time on Germanic soldiers in the Roman army, most notably Franks, were visibly promoted from the ranks. A few decades later the Menapian Carausius
Carausius
Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Valerius Carausius was a military commander of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century. He was a Menapian from Belgic Gaul, who usurped power in 286, declaring himself emperor in Britain and northern Gaul. He did this only 13 years after the Gallic Empire of the Batavian...

 (born in Batavia) created a Batavian-British rumpstate on Roman soil that was supported by Frankish soldiers and raiders. In the mid 4th century Frankish soldiers like Magnentius
Magnentius
Flavius Magnus Magnentius was a usurper of the Roman Empire .-Early life and career:...

, Silvanus
Claudius Silvanus
Claudius Silvanus was a Roman general of Frankish descent, usurper in Gaul against Emperor Constantius II for 28 days in 355.- Origin and career :...

 and Arbitio
Arbitio
Arbitio was a Roman general and Consul who lived in the middle of the 4th century.- In the Reign of Constantius II :...

 held command positions in the Roman military. From the narrative of Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 it becomes clear that both Frankish and Alamannic tribal armies were organised along Roman lines and fought comparably.

After the invasion of Chlodio the Roman armies at the Rhine border became a Frankish "franchise", and Franks were known to levy Roman-like troops that were supported by a Roman-like armour and weapons industry. This lasted at least till the days of Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, when the Western Roman Empire was gone for more than a century, because this historian reports that the former Rhine army was still in operation and that "legions" kept on using the same standard and insignia as had their forefathers during Roman times.

Militarily, the Franks under the Merovingians melded Germanic custom with Romanized organisation and several important tactical innovations. Before their conquest of Gaul, the Franks fought primarily as a tribe unless they were part of a Roman military unit fighting in conjunction with other imperial units.

Early Frankish warfare


The primary sources for Frankish military custom and armament are Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

, Agathias
Agathias
Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus , of Myrina , an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor , was a Greek poet and the principal historian of part of the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian I between 552 and 558....

, and Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, the latter two Eastern Roman historians writing about Frankish intervention in the Gothic War
Gothic War (535–552)
The Gothic War between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom of Italy was fought from 535 until 554 in Italy, Dalmatia, Sardinia, Sicily and Corsica. It is commonly divided into two phases. The first phase lasted from 535 to 540 and ended with the fall of Ravenna and the apparent...

.

Writing of 539, Procopius says:

At this time the Franks, hearing that both the Goths and Romans had suffered severely by the war ... forgetting for the moment their oaths and treaties ... (for this nation in matters of trust is the most treacherous in the world), they straightway gathered to the number of one hundred thousand under the leadership of Theudebert I
Theudebert I
Theudebert I was the Merovingian king of Austrasia from 533 to his death in 548. He was the son of Theuderic I and the father of Theudebald....

 and marched into Italy: they had a small body of cavalry about their leader, and these were the only ones armed with spears, while all the rest were foot soldiers having neither bows nor spears, but each man carried a sword and shield and one axe. Now the iron head of this weapon was thick and exceedingly sharp on both sides, while the wooden handles was very short. And they are accustomed always to throw these axes at one signal in the first charge and thus to shatters the shields of the enemy and kill the men.


His contemporary, Agathias, says:

The military equipment of this people [the Franks] is very simple .... They do not know the use of the coat of mail or greaves and the majority leave the head uncovered, only a few wear the helmet. They have their chests bare and backs naked to the loins, they cover their thighs with either leather or linen. They do not serve on horseback except in very rare cases. Fighting on foot is both habitual and a national custom and they are proficient in this. At the hip they wear a sword and on the left side their shield is attached. They have neither bows nor slings, no missile weapons except the double edged axe and the angon which they use most often. The angons are spears which are neither very short nor very long they can be used, if necessary, for throwing like a javelin, and also in hand to hand combat.


While the above quotations have been used as a statement of the military practices of the Frankish nation in the sixth century and have even been extrapolated to the entire period preceding Charles Martel
Charles Martel
Charles Martel , also known as Charles the Hammer, was a Frankish military and political leader, who served as Mayor of the Palace under the Merovingian kings and ruled de facto during an interregnum at the end of his life, using the title Duke and Prince of the Franks. In 739 he was offered the...

's reforms (early–mid eighth century), post-Second World War historiography has emphasised the inherited Roman characteristics of the Frankish military from the date of the beginning of the conquest of Gaul. The Byzantine authors present several contradictions and difficulties. Procopius denies the Franks the use of the spear while Agathias makes it one of their primary weapons. They agree that the Franks were primarily infantrymen, threw axes, and carried a sword and shield. Both writers also contradict the authority of Gallic authors of the same general time period (Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg...

 and Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

) and the archaeological evidence. The Lex Ribuaria, the early 7th-century legal code of the Rhineland or Ripuarian Franks, specifies the values of various goods when paying a wergild in kind; whereas a spear and shield were worth only two solidi, a sword and scabbard were valued at seven, a helmet at six, and a "metal tunic" at twelve. Scramasaxes and arrowheads are numerous in Frankish graves even though the Byzantine historians do not assign them to the Franks.

The evidence of Gregory and of the Lex Salica implies that the early Franks were a cavalry people. In fact, some modern historians have hypothesised that the Franks possessed so numerous a body of horses that they could use them to plough fields and thus were agriculturally technologically advanced over their neighbours. The Lex Ribuaria specifies that a mare's value was the same as that of an ox or of a shield and spear, two solidi, and a stallion seven or the same as a sword and scabbard, which suggests that horses were relatively common. Perhaps the Byzantine writers considered the Frankish horse to be insignificant relative to the Greek cavalry, which is probably accurate.

Composition and development


The Frankish military establishment incorporated many of the pre-existing Roman institutions in Gaul, especially during and after the conquests of Clovis I in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. Frankish military strategy revolved around the holding and taking of fortified centres (castra) and in general these centres were held by garrisons of milities or laeti
Laeti
Laeti, the plural form of laetus, was a term used in the late Roman Empire to denote communities of barbari permitted to, and granted land to, settle on imperial territory on condition that they provide recruits for the Roman military...

, that is, former Roman mercenaries usually of Germanic origin. Throughout Gaul the descendants of Roman soldiers continued to wear their uniforms and perform their ceremonial duties.

Immediately beneath the Frankish king in the military hierarchy were the leudes, sworn followers of the king, generally "old soldiers" in service away from court. They could be Gallo-Romans or Franks, laymen or clergy. Some historians have gone to the length of relating their oath-making to the later development of feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

. The king also had an elite bodyguard called the truste (trustis). Members of the truste, antrustiones, often served in centannae, garrison settlements of Franks (or others) established for military and police purposes throughout the realm. The actual day-to-day bodyguard of the king was made up antrustiones (senior soldiers who were aristocrat
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

s in military service) and pueri (junior soldiers and not aristocrats, who in time would be promoted to antrustiones). All high-ranking men had pueri.

The Frankish military was not composed solely of Franks and Gallo-Romans, but also contained Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

, Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

, Taifals
Taifals
The Taifals, Taifali, Taifalae, Tayfals, or Theifali were a people settled by the late Roman Empire in Poitou in the fourth century. They served as dediticii and laeti in the Roman and subsequently Merovingian militaries...

, and Alemanni. After the conquest of Burgundy
Kingdom of Burgundy
Burgundy is a historic region in Western Europe that has existed as a political entity in a number of forms with very different boundaries. Two of these entities - the first around the 6th century, the second around the 11th century - have been called the Kingdom of Burgundy; a third was very...

 (534) the well-organised military institutions of that kingdom were integrated into the Frankish realm. Chief among these was the standing army under the command of the Patrician of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

.

In the late sixth century, during the wars instigated by Fredegund
Fredegund
Fredegund was the Queen consort of Chilperic I, the Merovingian Frankish king of Soissons.All her wealth and power came to her through her association with Chilperic...

 and Brunhilda, the Merovingian monarchs introduced a new element into their militaries: the local levy. A levy consisted in all the able-bodied men of a district who at the call had to report for military service. The local levy applied only to a city and its environs. Initially only in certain cities in western Gaul, in Neustria and Aquitaine, did the kings possess the right or power to call up the levy. The commanders of the local levies were always different from the commanders of the urban garrisons. Often the former were commanded by the count
Comes
Comes , plural comites , is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus, especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. The word comes derives from com- "with" +...

s of the districts. A much rarer occurrence was the general levy, which applied to the entire kingdom and included peasants (pauperes and inferiores). General levies could also be made within the still-pagan trans-Rhenish stem duchies at the bequest of a monarch. The Saxons, Alemanni, and Thuringii
Thuringii
The Thuringii or Toringi were a Germanic tribe which appeared late during the Völkerwanderung in the Harz Mountains of central Germania around 280, in a region which still bears their name to this day — Thuringia. They evidently filled a void left when the previous inhabitants — the...

 all had the levy and it could be depended upon by the Frankish monarchs until the mid-seventh century, when the stem dukes began to sever their ties to the monarchy. Radulf of Thuringia
Radulf, King of Thuringia
Radulf was the Duke of Thuringia from 632 or 633 until his death after 642.According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, he was a son of one Chamar, a Frankish aristocrat, and rose to power under the Merovingian king Dagobert I, who appointed him as dux in the former Thuringian kingdom which Francia...

 called up the levy for a war against Sigebert III
Sigebert III
Sigebert III was the king of Austrasia from 634 to his death; probably on 1 February 656, or maybe as late as 660. He was the eldest son of Dagobert I....

 in 640.

Soon the local levy spread to Austrasia and the less Romanised regions of Gaul. On an intermediate level, the kings began calling up territorial levies from the regions of Austrasia (which did not have major cities of Roman origin). However, all the forms of the levy gradually disappeared in the course of the seventh century after the reign of Dagobert I
Dagobert I
Dagobert I was the king of Austrasia , king of all the Franks , and king of Neustria and Burgundy . He was the last Merovingian dynast to wield any real royal power...

. Under the so-called rois fainéants, the levies disappeared by mid-century in Austrasia and later in Burgundy and Neustria. Only in Aquitaine, which was fast becoming independent of the central Frankish monarchy, did complex military institutions persist into the eighth century. In the final half of the seventh century and first half of the eighth in Merovingian Gaul, the chief military actors became the lay and ecclesiastical magnate
Magnate
Magnate, from the Late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus 'great', designates a noble or other man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities...

s with their bands of armed followers called retainers. The other aspects of the Merovingian military, mostly Roman in origin or innovations of powerful kings, disappeared from the scene by the eighth century.

Strategy, tactics, and equipment


The equipment of the Merovingian armies was as varied as the composition. Magnates were known to provide their retainers with coats of mail
Hauberk
A hauberk is a shirt of chainmail. The term is usually used to describe a shirt reaching at least to mid-thigh and including sleeves. Haubergeon generally refers to a shorter variant with partial sleeves, but the terms are often used interchangeably.- History :The word hauberk is derived from the...

, helmet
Helmet
A helmet is a form of protective gear worn on the head to protect it from injuries.Ceremonial or symbolic helmets without protective function are sometimes used. The oldest known use of helmets was by Assyrian soldiers in 900BC, who wore thick leather or bronze helmets to protect the head from...

s, shield
Shield
A shield is a type of personal armor, meant to intercept attacks, either by stopping projectiles such as arrows or redirecting a hit from a sword, mace or battle axe to the side of the shield-bearer....

s, lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

s, sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

s, bows and arrows, and war horses. The magnates' private armies resembled in armament those of the Gallo-Roman potentiatores of the late Empire. The descendants of Roman soldiers continued to use their service weapons. There was a strong element of Alanic cavalry settled in Armorica
Armorica
Armorica or Aremorica is the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul that includes the Brittany peninsula and the territory between the Seine and Loire rivers, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic coast...

 which influenced the fighting style of the Bretons down into the twelfth century. Local urban levies could be reasonably well-armed and even mounted, but the more general levies were composed of pauperes and inferiores who were mostly farmers by trade and carried into battle whatever weapons they had at hand, often tools or farming implements which made them militarily ineffective and thus rarely called upon. The peoples east of the Rhine – Franks, Saxons, and even Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 – who were sometimes called upon to serve wore less and more rudimentary armour and carried more primitive weaponry, including spear
Spear
A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head.The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or...

s and axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

s. Few of these men were mounted and they were not affected very much by Roman traditions and technologies.

Merovingian strategy was wound up in the militarised nature of the entire society. The Franks, unlike their Germanic neighbours to a great extent in this respect, were disposed to call annual meetings each 1 March (the so-called Marchfeld, because assemblies so large had to meet in large open fields) whereat the nobles in the presence of the king determined the military target or targets for the coming season of campaigning. This also served as a "show of strength" on behalf of the monarch, and a way for the monarch to retain the loyalty of common troops. In their civil wars with one another, the Merovingian kings concentrated on the holding of fortified places and cities (castra) and siege warfare was a primary aspect in all their endeavours. Siege engine
Siege engine
A siege engine is a device that is designed to break or circumvent city walls and other fortifications in siege warfare. Some have been operated close to the fortifications, while others have been used to attack from a distance. From antiquity, siege engines were constructed largely of wood and...

s of Roman type were used extensively and the greatest emphasis on tactics was tied to sieges. In offensive wars waged against external foes, the objective was typically the acquisition of booty or the enforcement of tribute. Only in the lands beyond the Rhine did the Merovingians seek to extend their political control over their neighbours.

Tactically, the Merovingians borrowed heavily from the Romans, especially regarding siege warfare. However, they were not bereft of innovation and there seems to be little remnant of tribal custom in their battle tactics, which were highly flexible and designed to meet the specific circumstances under which battle was being given. Subterfuge, as a tactic, was endlessly employed. Cavalry formed a large segment of the Merovingian military, but mounted troops readily dismounted when appropriate to fight on foot with the infantry. The Merovingians were capable of raising naval forces when necessary. The most significant naval campaign was waged against the Danes by Theuderic I
Theuderic I
Theuderic I was the Merovingian king of Metz, Rheims, or Austrasia—as it is variously called—from 511 to 533 or 534....

 in 515 and involved ocean-worthy ships. More regular was the use of rivercraft on the Loire
Loire
Loire is an administrative department in the east-central part of France occupying the River Loire's upper reaches.-History:Loire was created in 1793 when after just 3½ years the young Rhône-et-Loire department was split into two. This was a response to counter-Revolutionary activities in Lyon...

, Rhone
Rhône River
The Rhone is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland and running from there through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhone and the Little Rhone...

, and Rhine.

Language and literature


The language spoken by the early Franks is known as Old Frankish
Old Frankish
Old Frankish is an extinct West Germanic language, once spoken by the Franks. It is the parent language of the Franconian languages, of which Dutch and Afrikaans are the most known descendants...

. It is attested only in personal names, and is mostly reconstructed from Old Dutch
Old Dutch
In linguistics, Old Dutch denotes the forms of West Franconian spoken and written in the Netherlands and present-day northern Belgium during the Early Middle Ages. It is regarded as the primary stage in the development of a separate Dutch language...

 and loanwords in Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Though it lent its name to a number of widely spoken dialects in modern Germany (Ripuarian, Moselle-Franconian, Rhine-Franconian, East-Franconian, South-Franconian), France (Lorrainian) and Luxemburg (Luxembourgish), these languages are not directly related to the ancient language of the Franks.

There is no surviving work of literature in the Frankish language and perhaps no such works ever existed. Latin was the written language of Gaul before and during the Frankish period (e.g. Salic law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

). Of the Gallic works which survive, there are a few chronicles, many hagiographies and saints' lives, and a small corpus of poems.

The word "frank" has the meaning of "free" (e.g. English frank, frankly, franklin). This arose because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.

Paganism




Echoes of Frankish paganism arise in the primary sources, but their meaning is not always clear. Modern scholars vary wildly about their interpretation, but it is very likely that Frankish paganism shared most of its characteristics with the other varieties of Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

. The mythology of the Franks was probably a form of Germanic polytheism, later adapted and supplanted in the wake of their incursion into the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.

It was highly ritualistic and many daily activities centred around the multiple deities, chiefest of which may have been the Quinotaur
Quinotaur
The Quinotaur is a mythical sea creature mentioned in the 7th century Frankish Chronicle of Fredegar. Referred to as "bestea Neptuni Quinotauri similis", it was held to have fathered Meroveus by attacking the wife of the Frankish king Chlodio and thus to have sired the line of Merovingian...

, a water-god from whom the Merovingians were reputed to have derived their ancestry. Most of the pagan gods were associated with local cult centres and their sacred character and power were associated with specific regions, outside of which they were neither worshipped nor feared. Most of the gods were "worldly", possessing form and having concrete relation to earthly objects, in contradistinction to the transcedent God of Christianity.

Archaeologically, Frankish paganism has been observed in the burial site of Childeric I
Childeric I
Childeric I was a Merovingian king of the Salian Franks and the father of Clovis.He succeeded his father Merovech as king, traditionally in 457 or 458...

, where the king's body was found covered in a cloth decorated with numerous bees or flies. The symbolism of these insects is unknown.

Christianity


Some Franks converted early to Christianity, like the usurper Silvanus
Claudius Silvanus
Claudius Silvanus was a Roman general of Frankish descent, usurper in Gaul against Emperor Constantius II for 28 days in 355.- Origin and career :...

 in the 4th century. In 496, Clovis I
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

, who had married a Burgundian
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 Catholic named Clotilda three years earlier, was baptised into the (Trinitarian
Trinitarian Order
The Order of the Holy Trinity is a Catholic religious order that was founded in the area of Cerfroid, some 80 km northeast of Paris, at the end of the twelfth century. The founder was St. John de Matha, whose feast day is celebrated on 17 December...

) Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 faith by Saint Remi after a decisive victory over the Alemanni at the Battle of Tolbiac
Battle of Tolbiac
The Battle of Tolbiac was fought between the Franks under Clovis I and the Alamanni, traditionally set in 496. The site of "Tolbiac", or "Tulpiacum" is usually given as Zülpich, North Rhine-Westphalia, about 60km east of the present German-Belgian frontier, which is not implausible...

. According to Gregory of Tours, over 3000 of his soldiers were baptised alongside him. Clovis' conversion to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 would prove to have an enormous effect on the course of European history, for at the time the Franks were the only major Christianized
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 Germanic tribe without a predominantly Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 aristocracy (their contemporary rivals, the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 and Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

, had converted to Arian Christianity
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

), and this led to a naturally amicable relationship between the Church of Rome and the increasingly powerful Franks.

Though a sizeable portion of the Frankish aristocracy quickly followed Clovis in converting to Christianity, the conversion of the whole of the people under Frankish rule required a considerable amount of time and effort - in some places two centuries or more. Early efforts towards organized resistance were quickly squelched: the Chronicle of St. Denis relates that, following Clovis' conversion, a number of devout pagans, unhappy with this turn of events, rallied around Ragnachairus (or Ragnachar), a powerful figure who had played an important role in Clovis' initial rise to power. Though the text remains unclear as to the precise pretext, Clovis soon had Ragnachairus thrown in chains and then executed. As for the remaining pockets of resistance, they were overcome region by region - primarily due to the work of the quickly expanding network of monasteries.


The Frankish church of the Merovingians was shaped by a number of internal and external forces: it had to come to terms with an established Gallo-Roman Christian hierarchy entrenched in a culturally resistant aristocracy; it had to Christianize
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 pagan Frankish sensibilities and effectively suppress their expression; it had to provide a new theological basis for Merovingian forms of kingship, which were deeply rooted in pagan Germanic tradition; it had to accommodate Irish and Anglo-Saxon missionary activities on the one hand and papal requirements on the other. The Carolingian reformation of monastic life and teaching and church-state relations can be seen both as the culmination of the Frankish church and a transformation of it.

The increasing personal wealth of the Merovingian elite allowed the endowment of many monasteries, such as those of the Irish missionary Saint Columbanus
Columbanus
Columbanus was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil and Bobbio , and stands as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.He spread among the...

. The fifth, sixth and seventh centuries saw two major waves of hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

ism in the Frankish world, a movement which was eventually reorganised by legislation requiring that all monks and hermits follow the Rule of St Benedict
Rule of St Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...

.

The period of Frankish rule saw the gradual replacement, always pushed for by Rome, of the Gallican rite
Gallican rite
The Gallican Rite is a historical sub-grouping of the Roman Catholic liturgy in western Europe; it is not a single rite but actually a family of rites within the Western Rite which comprised the majority use of most of Christianity in western Europe for the greater part of the 1st millennium AD...

 of the Gallo-Roman church with the Roman rite
Roman Rite
The Roman Rite is the liturgical rite used in the Diocese of Rome in the Catholic Church. It is by far the most widespread of the Latin liturgical rites used within the Western or Latin autonomous particular Church, the particular Church that itself is also called the Latin Rite, and that is one of...

; this does not seem to have stirred passions outside the clergy.

The Church seems to have had a somewhat uneasy relationship with the Merovingian kings, whose claim to rule depended on a mystique of royal descent that the Church had not yet come to terms with, and who tended to revert to the polygamy of their pagan ancestors. When the mayors took over, the Church was supportive, and an Emperor crowned by the Pope was much more to their liking.

Art and architecture




Early Frankish art and architecture belong to that phase of European art called Migration Period art
Migration Period art
Migration Period art denotes the artwork of the Germanic peoples during the Migration period . It includes the Migration art of the Germanic tribes on the continent, as well the start of the Insular art or Hiberno-Saxon art of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic fusion in the British Isles...

, and have left very few remains. The later period is called Carolingian art
Carolingian art
Carolingian art comes from the Frankish Empire in the period of roughly 120 years from about AD 780 to 900 — during the reign of Charlemagne and his immediate heirs — popularly known as the Carolingian Renaissance. The art was produced by and for the court circle and a group of...

, or, especially in architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, the Pre-Romanesque.

Merovingian


Very little is preserved in the way of Frankish architecture of the Merovingian period. The works of Gregory of Tours praise the churches of his day, which mostly seem to have been timber-built, with larger examples using the basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 plan, but the most completely surviving example of Merovingian architecture is a baptistery
Baptistery
In Christian architecture the baptistry or baptistery is the separate centrally-planned structure surrounding the baptismal font. The baptistry may be incorporated within the body of a church or cathedral and be provided with an altar as a chapel...

 dedicated to Saint John in Poitiers
Poitiers
Poitiers is a city on the Clain river in west central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and of the Poitou-Charentes region. The centre is picturesque and its streets are interesting for predominant remains of historical architecture, especially from the Romanesque...

. It is a small building with three apses, now much rebuilt, essentially continuing Gallo-Roman style. In the South of France a number of small baptistries have survived, as separate baptistries fell permanently out of fashion in later periods, so they were not updated as the main churches have been.

What is preserved of the visual and plastic arts largely consists of archaeological finds of jewellery (such as brooches), weapons (such as swords with decorative hilts), and apparel (such as capes and sandals) found in grave sites, such as the famous grave of the queen Aregund, discovered in 1959, or the Treasure of Gourdon
Treasure of Gourdon
The Treasure of Gourdon , unearthed near Gourdon, Saône-et-Loire, in 1845, is a hoard of gold, the objects dating to the end of the fifth or beginning of the sixth century, which was secreted soon after 524...

, deposited soon after 524. Not many illuminated manuscripts survive from the Merovingian period, though the few that do, like the Gelasian Sacramentary
Gelasian Sacramentary
The so-called "Gelasian Sacramentary" is a book of Christian liturgy. A sacramentary contains the priest's texts for celebrating the Eucharist throughout the year...

, contain a great deal of zoomorphic representations. Compared to the similar hybrid works of Insular art
Insular art
Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Great Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe...

 from the British Isles, Frankish works in all these media show more continuing use of late Antique style and motifs, and a lesser degree of skill and sophistication in design and manufacture. The numbers surviving are so small, however, that the best quality of work may not be represented.

Carolingian



The work of the main centres of the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

 represents a great transformation from that of the earlier period, and has survived in far greater quantity. The visual and literary arts were lavishly funded and encouraged by Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, using imported artists where necessary, and Carolingingian developments were in many areas decisive for the future course of Western art.

The main surviving monument of Carolingian architecture
Carolingian architecture
Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian family dominated west European politics...

 is the Palatine Chapel in Aachen
Palatine Chapel in Aachen
The Palatine Chapel is an Early Medieval chapel that is the remaining component of Charlemagne's Palace of Aachen. Although the palace no longer exists, the chapel has been incorporated into the Aachen Cathedral, Germany. It is the city's major landmark and the central monument of the Carolingian...

, which is an impressive and confident adaptation of San Vitale, Ravenna, from where some of the pillars were brought. Many other important buildings can be largely reconstructed, such as the monasteries of Centula or St Gall, or the old Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site...

, now rebuilt. These were now large structures and complexes with a distinctive and sophisticated style, including an emphasis on the vertical and the frequent use of towers.

Carolingian illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s and ivory plaques survive in reasonable numbers, and now approach those of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in quality, as was certainly the intention.

Law



Like other Germanic peoples, the legal models of the Franks were originally housed only in the memory of designated specialists, rachimburgs, parallel to Scandinavian lawspeaker
Lawspeaker
A lawspeaker is a unique Scandinavian legal office. It has its basis in a common Germanic oral tradition, where wise men were asked to recite the law, but it was only in Scandinavia that the function evolved into an office...

s. By the time codes began to be written down in the sixth century, there persisted two basic legal subdivisions within the Frankish nation: Salian Franks were subject to Salic law
Salic law
Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century...

, Ripuarian Franks to Ripuarian law
Lex Ripuaria
The Lex Ripuaria is a 7th century collection of Germanic law, the laws of the Ripuarian Franks. It is a major influence on the Lex Saxonum of AD 802...

. Gallo-Romans south of the Loire River and the clergy remained subject to traditional Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

. Germanic law was overwhelmingly concerned with private law, which protects individuals, over public law, which protects the interest of the state. According to Michel Rouche, "Frankish judges devoted as much care to a case involving the theft of a dog as Roman judges did to cases involving the fiscal responsibility of curiales, or municipal councilors."

Legacy


Because the Frankish kingdom ("France" name origin) dominated Western Europe for centuries, terms derived from "Frank" were used by many in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and beyond as a synonym for Roman Christians (e.g., al-Faranj in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, farangi in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Urdu, Frenk in Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, Feringhi in Hindi, and Frangos in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

). See also Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

 ฝรั่ง Farang
Farang
Farang , also spelled falang, is the generic Thai word for a Westerner. A general term for foreigners is khon tang prathet . There is no expressly negative or positive implication in the word itself. However when it is used along with other words, it can bring a negative meaning depending on...

. During the crusades, which were at first led mostly by nobles from northern France who claimed descent from Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, both Muslims and Christians used these terms as ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

s to describe the Crusaders. Another term with similar use was "Latins" (cf. the Latin Empire
Latin Empire
The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261...

). This usage is often followed by modern historians, who call Western Europeans in the eastern Mediterranean "Franks" or "Latins" regardless of their country of origin. Compare with Rhomaios, Rûm
Rûm
Rûm, also Roum or Rhum , an indefinite term used at different times in the Muslim world to refer to the Balkans and Anatolia generally, and for the Byzantine Empire in particular, for the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm in Asia Minor, and referring to Greeks living outside of Greece or non-muslims...

i
("Roman"), used for Orthodox Christians. Catholics on various islands in Greece are still referred to as Φράγκοι, "Frangoi" (Franks). Examples include the naming of a Catholic from the island of Syros as "Frangosyrianos" (Φραγκοσυριανός). The term Frangistan
Frangistan
Frangistan was a term used by Muslims and Persians in particular, during the Middle Ages and later historical periods to refer to Western or Christian Europe.-Origin and meaning:...

 was used by Muslims to refer to the land where the Crusaders came from, i.e. Christian Europe. In contemporary Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 the Yiddish word "Frenk" (פרענק) has, by a curious etymological development, come to refer to Mizrahi Jews and carries a strong pejorative connotation. During the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 in the 13-14th centuries, the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 used the term, Franks, to designate Europeans.

The Mediterranean Lingua Franca
Mediterranean Lingua Franca
The Mediterranean Lingua Franca or Sabir was a pidgin language used as a lingua franca in the Mediterranean Basin from the 11th to the 19th century.-History:...

 ("Frankish language") was a pidgin
Pidgin
A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

 spoken among "Franks" (i.e. European Christians) and Muslims in Mediterranean ports from the 11th century to the 19th.

See also



Primary sources


  • Ammianus Marcellinus
    Ammianus Marcellinus
    Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

    . Roman History. trans. by Roger Pearse. London: Bohn, 1862.
  • Procopius
    Procopius
    Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

    . History of the Wars. trans. by H. B. Dewing.
  • Fredegar. The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations. trans. by John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...

    . Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1960.
  • Fredegar. Historia Epitomata. Woodruff, Jane Ellen. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 1987.
  • Gregory of Tours
    Gregory of Tours
    Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

    . Historia Francorum.
    • Gregory of Tours
      Gregory of Tours
      Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

      . The History of the Franks. trans. by Earnest Brehaut. 1916. Excerpts here
    • Gregory of Tours
      Gregory of Tours
      Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

      . The History of the Franks. 2 vol. trans. O. M. Dalton. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.
  • Bachrach, Bernard S.
    Bernard Bachrach
    Bernard S. Bachrach is an American historian and a professor of history at the University of Minnesota. He specialises in the Early Middle Ages, mainly on the topics of Medieval warfare, Medieval Jewry, and early Angevin history...

     (trans.) Liber Historiae Francorum
    Liber Historiae Francorum
    Liber historiae Francorum is a book that briefly starts as secondary source for early Franks in the time of Marcomer, and it gives a short breviarum of events until the time of the late Merovingians, where it becomes an important primary source of the contemporaneous history...

    . 1973.


Secondary sources


  • Bachrach, Bernard S. Merovingian Military Organization, 481–751. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971. ISBN 0 8166 0621 8
  • Collins, Roger. Early Medieval Europe 300–1000. London: MacMillan, 1991.
  • Geary, Patrick J. Before France and Germany: the Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. ISBN 0 19 504458 4
  • Lewis, Archibald R. "The Dukes in the Regnum Francorum, A.D. 550–751." Speculum, Vol. 51, No 3 (July 1976), pp 381–410.
  • McKitterick, Rosamond. The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987. London: Longman, 1983. ISBN 0 582 49005 7.
  • Murray, Archibald Callander, and Goffart, Walter A. After Rome's Fall: Narrators and Sources of Early Medieval History. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1998.
  • Nixon, C. E. V. and Rodgers, Barbara. In Praise of Later Roman Emperors. Berkeley, 1994.
  • Perry, Walter Copland. The Franks, from Their First Appearance in History to the Death of King Pepin. Longman, Brown, Green: 1857.
  • Schutz, Herbert. The Germanic Realms in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, 400–750. American University Studies, Series IX: History, Vol. 196. New York: Peter Lang, 2000.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M.
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...

     The Long-Haired Kings. London: Butler & tanner Ltd, 1962.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M.
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill
    John Michael Wallace-Hadrill CBE was Professor of Mediaeval History at the University of Manchester , a Senior Research Fellow of Merton College in the University of Oxford , Chichele Professor of Modern History, University of Oxford and a Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford...

    The Barbarian West. London: Hutchinson, 1970.


External links