Clovis I (Merovingian) Franken

Clovis Hlodowig (Merovingian) Franken (0466 - 0511)

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Clovis Hlodowig (Clovis I) "Chlodovech, Chlodovechus, Chlodwig the Great, Chlodovech" Franken formerly Merovingian aka de Marne
Born in Rheims, Marne, Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire, Francemap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married (to ) [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in St Pierre Island, Biel Lake Canton, Switzerlandmap
Profile last modified | Created 22 Feb 2012
This page has been accessed 15,970 times.

Categories: Merovingian Dynasty | Battle of Soissons (486) | This Day In History November 27 | Ancient Royals and Aristocrats Project.

European Aristocracy
Clovis I (Merovingian) Franken was a member of aristocracy in ancient Europe.
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Clovis I, King of the Franks

Chlodovech (Clovis)
alias: Chlodovechus (Latin), Chlodwig (Frankish)
b. 464/7
d. 27 Nov 511 Paris[1]
bur. Basilique des Saints-Apôtres (later Sainte-Geneviève), Paris[2]

Clovis I (c.466 - 27 Nov 511), was King of the Salian Franks. As founder of the Merovingian dynasty, he was the first to rule all Franks and most of Gaul, from 481 until he died in 511.[3][4][3][4][5]

Although pagan, Clovis became the first Catholic ruler of the Franks, and also created the state's first written Salic laws. His dynasty lasted for 200 years.


Childerich I, King of the Franks (d. 481/1)[6][7]

Basina ______[6]


UNKNOWN (Father: _____ of the Franks of the Rhine).[8] Issue: 1[6]

  • Theoderich I (485 - 533; bur. Metz)[6]
m.1 UNKNOWN or Suavegotta (d. by 566)[9]
m.2 (507/16) Suavegotha of Burgundy (b. 495 or later - d. after 549).
(p. Sigismond, King of Burgundy m.1 Ostrogotha of the Ostrogoths)


m. (492) Chrotechildis "Clotilde[6] or Rotilde" of Burgundy (480 - 548 or 548). Issue: 6

(Father: Chilperich, King of Burgundy)
  • Ingomer (b./d. 493)[6]
  • Chlodomer (494/5 - 21 Jun 524 Vézeronce)[6][7]
m. (514 or 521) Guntheuca "Gondioque" (Father: _____ King of Burgundy)[6][7]
  • Childebert (497 -23 Dec 558 Paris)[6][10]
m Ultrogotha (d. after 561; p. unknown)[6]
  • Chlothachar "Clotaire / Lothar" (501/2 - 30 Dec 561 Soisson; bur. Soissons, basilique Saint-Médard[6]
  • (dau.) Theodechildis (492/501 - 576). [11]
  • Chrothieldis "Clotilde" (502/11 - 531)
m. Amalric, King of the Visigoths
  • (disputed dau) ______[12]


Clovis initially was a commander in the Roman military with his father's ally, Aegidius, the Roman commander of Gaul.


Consolidation of Frankish States

Clovis began expanding his power by turning against his Roman allies. In 486, he beat Syagrius (son of Aegidius), at the Battle of Soissons, and stopped Rome's influence beyond Italy. Syagrius fled to the Visigoth king Alaric II, but this back-fired.

Summoned by Clovis, Alaric turned Syagrius over. Clovis then decapited his enemy,[5] and took up residence at Soissons.

An incident from this battle is recounted by Gregory of Tours regarding a celebrated vase of Soissons. The vase was plundered by a Frankish soldiers. Clovis sought the vase so as to return it to the bishop St. Remigus, but one soldier split the vase with his battle-axe. The soldier was later killed by Clovis.[5]

Unlike other barbarian kingdoms founded upon the ruins of the Roman Empire, Clovis established equality between the Gallo-Roman natives and their Germanic conquerors all sharing the same privileges.[5]

He later defeated Alemanni at the Battle of Tolbiac in 496, the Burgundians in 500, and the Visigoths in 507 at Vouille, where Alaric Ii was slain. This battle incorporated Aquitaine to the Frankish kingdom. Alaric II killed in the battle.[13][4][4][14]

After defeating the Ripurian Franks and capturing Cologne in 508, Clovis became the first king of all the Franks.[14]. He also defeated other minor Frankish kings before his death in 511.[4]

Codification of Salic law

Around 500 Clovis codified Salian Law. The laws put down in writing for the first time were influenced by Salic tradition, Christianity, and Roman tradition.[14]


According to Gregory of Tours, Clovis converted from local paganism to Catholicism at Rheims, on 25 December 496. It would seem ... for Clovis ... this conversion was in name only, and he may have maintained his own customs.[15][13]

While Gregory of Tours, used Chlotilde's alleged emotions as a literary device to further his religious agenda,[6][16] the bigger impact -- at the time -- was not about pagans per se ... but the proselytizing factions of the Arians and Catholics, and the competitive ways of their war-lord patrons.[15]

Fletcher (1997), states that this was an era where, "the traditional Roman view," did not think, "Christianity was ... for barbarians." But Arianism was serious threat to Catholics.

Some reports indicate Clovis, first converted to Arianism before Catholicism, as late as 508. At the very least, he was exposed to the sect through his sister, who adhered to Arianism. And so the letter of baptismal congratulations from, Bishop Avitus of Vienne to Clovis, is conspicuous in that Christianity is not mentioned. Instead it focuses specifically on the orthodox Catholicsm.[15]

While the Visigoths and Vandals, converted to Arianism, Clovis turned to their enemy. Catholicism, set him apart from other Germanic kings, but the support of the Catholic Gallo-Roman aristocracy, helped him drive the Visigoths out of southern Gaul (507).

Albeit a rocky relationship over the centuries, the Frankish Kingdom was thenceforth a representative of Catholicism. As for whether Clovis truly believed in his wife's faith, is a matter of debate. Some historians continue to advocate the king's religious sincerity, and do not accept the idea that he was solely motivated by politics.[5]


481 Rheims: crowned King of the Salian Franks in Rheims, after his father died.[17]

486: defeats Syagrius[7]

500: allied with Godegisel against Gondebaud King of Burgundy

507: battle of Vouillé -- defeated and killed Alaric II, King of the Visigoths at the campus Vogladensis, probably Voulan, near Poitiers


Frankish kingdom was split between the four living sons of Clovis. This resulted in resulted in unrest and disunity between the four brothers until the last brother was left alive. Upon his death, he also split the Frankish kingdom between his four sons. His daughter Clotilda, named after her mother, married Amalric, king of the Visigoths. She died young, being cruelly abused by this Arian prince, who seemed eager to wreak vengeance on the daughter of Clovis for the tragic death of Alaric II.[5]

As a statesman he accomplished what no contemporary barbarian king could achieve: upon the ruins of the Roman Empire he built up a powerful system, the influence of which dominated European civilization during many centuries, and from which sprang France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, without taking into account that northern Spain and northern Italy were also, for a time, under the civilizing regime of the Frankish Empire.[5] To the French he is considered, the father of France. [14]

Primary Source: Gregory of Tours

Much is what is known of Clovis I comes from Gregory of Tours. His literary style mixed fact with myth and legend. Separating fact from fiction in this work is nearly impossible at this late date.[5]

Many dates are subject to different interpretations by scholars. These differences are discussed in detail in Procopius and the Chronology of Clovis's Reign.[18]


  1. died 5 years after Battle of Vouille (Gregory of Tours)
  2. Church of Holy Apostles (Gregory of Tours); bur. St. Genevieve, Paris. Clovis and his wife Clotilde, were originally buried in St. Genevieve, where Saint-Denis Basi Basilica now stands.(Wikipedia)
  3. Clovis I." Encyclopædia Britannica.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Frassetto, M. (2003). Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe: Society in Transformation, (pp. 126-1295). CA. Google Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Godefroid K. (1908). "Clovis." The Catholic Encyclopedia, (Vol. 4, pp.70-73). Charles George Herbermann, (Ed). NY: The Universal Knowledge Co. Google Books.[1].
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 Gregory of Tours
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Liber Historiæ Francorum
  8. Settipani
  9. Cawley, 2006, citing Europäische Stammtafeln. Also see: Flodoard’s history of Reims
  10. Marii Episcopi Aventicensis Chronica
  11. possibly a nun or patron of St. Peter, Sens; May have married an unknown king (Cawley, 2006).
  12. Gesta Episcoporum Mettensis
  13. 13.0 13.1 Cawley, 2006
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Wikipedia: Clovis I
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Fletcher, R. (1997). The Barbarian Conversion, (pp. 101 - 105). NY: Henry Holt and Co. Print.
  16. "Clotilde's lack of success in converting her husband to Christianity until the fifteenth year of his reign, when he and his people were baptised by St Rémy Bishop of Reims" (Cawley, 2006, citing Gregory of Tours)
  17. letter of congratulations from St. Remigius, Archbishop of Reims, who later baptised him Catholic (Hebermann)
  18. Bernard S. Bachrach, B.S. (1971). "Procopius and the chronology of Clovis's reign," in Viator: Medievel and Renaissance Studies, 1, pp. 21 -31. Lynn White, Jr., (Ed). Berkeley: University of California Press. Google Books.[2]
  • Cawley, C. (2006). "Chlodovech." Medieval Lands v.3.
  • Le Petit Larousse en couleurs [1972], París, Larousse, 1972. Verseuil, Jean: Clovis ou la naissance des rois, París, 1992. Delorme, Philippe: Clovis, París, 1996
  • Daly, W. M. (1994). "Clovis: How barbaric, how pagan?" Speculum, 69:3, 619–664.
  • James, E. (1982). The Origins of France: Clovis to the Capetians, 500–1000. Macmillan.
  • Kaiser, R. (2004). Das römische Erbe und das Merowingerreich. Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte 26. Munich.
  • Oman, C. (1914). The Dark Ages 476-918. London: Rivingtons.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1962). The Long-haired Kings. London.

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Images: 3
Clovis France Image 1
Clovis France Image 1

Baptism Clovis I of France
Baptism Clovis I of France

Map of Merovingian Territories
Map of Merovingian Territories


On 31 Jul 2017 at 11:36 GMT John Atkinson wrote:

Unknown-241355 and Merovingian-50 appear to represent the same person because: Although the dates of Unknown-241355 are wildly inaccurate, Clovis I can only be Merovingian-50. Unknown-241355 is the father of Clotaire, who is the father of Charibert, who is the father of Bertha, who married the King of Kent. Again this genealogy fits with Unknown-241355 being the same person as Merovingian-50. Please look beyond the difference in dates and merge these two profiles. Thank you

On 25 Jul 2017 at 21:44 GMT Claudia del Valle wrote:

Merovingian-50 and Unknown-241355 do not represent the same person because: Hello! Sorry to reject this merge. I cannot find any matching line between these two. Unknown-241355 was born in 691, which is almost 2 centuries from Merovingian-50's death. And all the other data is unknown. Please kindly check and confirm the reject. Cordially, Claudia A. del Valle

On 14 Jul 2017 at 20:28 GMT Jamie Nelson wrote:

Unknown-241355 and Merovingian-50 appear to represent the same person because: birth date is off but I'm pretty sure they represent the same person

On 25 May 2015 at 12:16 GMT Marty (Lenover) Acks wrote:

I-122 and Merovingian-50 appear to represent the same person because: Same notable historic person.

On 26 Dec 2013 at 23:17 GMT J Pictet wrote:

Husband of Chrotechilds (Bourgogne) Franken — married 0492 in Rheims, Marne, Loirt-Atlantique, France

On 2 Dec 2010 at 19:44 GMT Krissi (Hubbard) Love wrote:

King of the Franks.

Clovis I is 45 degrees from Sharon Caldwell, 41 degrees from Burl Ives and 36 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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