Clovis I

Clovis (; reconstructed Frankish: *Hlodowig; c. 466 – c. 511) was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs. He is considered to have been the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Frankish kingdom for the next two centuries. Clovis was the son of Childeric I, a Merovingian king of the Salian Franks, and Basina, Queen of Thuringia, and he succeeded his father in 481, at the age of fifteen. He conquered the remaining rump state of the Western Roman Empire at the Battle of Soissons, and by his death in 511 he had conquered much of the northern and western parts of what had formerly been Roman Gaul. Clovis is important in the historiography of France as „the first king of what would become France”. General Charles de Gaulle is cited (in the biography by David Schœnbrun, 1965), as having said „For me, the history of France begins with Clovis, elected as king of France by the tribe of the Franks, who gave their name to France. Before Clovis, we have Gallo-Roman and Gaulish prehistory. The decisive element, for me, is that Clovis was the first king to have been baptized a Christian. My country is a Christian country and I reckon the history of France beginning with the accession of a Christian king who bore the name of the Franks. ” (”Pour moi, l’histoire de France commence avec Clovis, choisi comme roi de France par la tribu des Francs, qui donnèrent leur nom à la France. Avant Clovis, nous avons la Préhistoire gallo-romaine et gauloise. L’élément décisif pour moi, c’est que Clovis fut le premier roi à être baptisé chrétien. Mon pays est un pays chrétien et je commence à compter l’histoire de France à partir de l’accession d’un roi chrétien qui porte le nom des Francs.) His name is Germanic, composed of the elements hlod („fame”) and wig („combat”), and is the origin of the later French given name Louis, borne by 18 kings of France. Dutch, the most closely related modern language to Frankish, reborrowed the name as Lodewijk from German in the 12th century. Meertens Instituut, Nederlandse Voornamenbank, Lodewijk. The second element corresponds to Middle High German wîc, with final-obstruent devoicing, as in Ludewic. The Middle Dutch form is wijch (modern Dutch wijg; see WNT, „wijg”), as in original Dutch Hadewig, Hadewijch”. Clovis is also significant due to his conversion to Christianity in 496, largely at the behest of his wife, Clotilde, who would later be venerated as a saint for this act, celebrated today in both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. The adoption by Clovis of Chalcedonian Christianity (as opposed to the Arianism of some other Germanic tribes) led to widespread conversion among the Frankish peoples, to religious unification across modern-day France and Germany, and to Charlemagne’s alliance with the Bishop of Rome and the consequent birth of the early Holy Roman Empire.

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