Online Encyclopedia

MEROVINGIANS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 172 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MEROVINGIANS, the name given to the first dynasty which reigned over the kingdom of the Franks. The name is taken from Merovech, one of the first kings of the Salian Franks, who succeeded to Clodio in the middle of the 5th century, and soon became the centre of many legends. The chronicler known as Fredegarius Scholasticus relates that a queen was once sitting by the seashore, when a monster came out of the sea, and by this monster she subsequently became the mother of Merovech, but this myth is due to an attempt to explain the hero's name, which means " the sea-born." At the great battle of Mauriac (the Catalaunian fields) in which Aetius checked the invasion of the Huns (451), there were present in the Roman army a number of Frankish foederati, and a later document, the Vita lupi; states that Merovech (Merovaeus) was their leader. Merovech was the father of Childeric I. (457-481), and grandfather of Clovis (481-511), under whom the Salian Franks conquered the whole of Gaul, except the kingdom of Burgundy, Provence and Septimania. The Sens of Clovis divided the dominions of their father between them, made themselves masters of Burgundy (532), and in addition received Provence from the Ostrogoths (535); Septimania was not taken from the Arabs till the time of Pippin, the founder of the Carolingian dynasty. From the death of Clovis to that of Dagobert (639), the Merovingian kings displayed considerable energy, both in their foreign wars and in the numerous wars against one another in which they found an outlet for their barbarian instincts. After 639, however, the race began to decline, one after another the kings succeeded to the throne, Christo or a Christian. The " Panegyric " and minor poems have been edited by B. G. Niebuhr (1824); by I. Bekker in the Bonn Corpus scriptorumhist. Byz. (1836) ; the " De Christo " in T. Birt's Claudian (1892), where the authorship of Merobaudes is upheld; see also A. Ebert, Geschichte der Literatur des Mittelalters i»s Abendlande (1889).
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