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7.1 The Facts

This Frankish dynasty has always been known as the “first race” of the kings of France. It reigned on Gaul from the 5th to the 8th century that means from Clovis I (481-511) to Childeric III (743-751). Its name comes from Merovech who was Childeric I’s father. Childeric I ruled over the Salian Frank tribe from his capital in Tournai, Belgium. His son, Clovis I born in 465 succeeded him in 481 or 482 A.D. He rallied under him in addition to the Salian the Ripuarian Franks and the Alamanni. He defeated Syagrius and the Visigoth king Alaric II in 507. His country extended this way to the Pyrennées. His conversion from Paganism to the Catholic religion promoted the fusion between the Franks and the Gallo-Roman population of the conquered countries. This assured the survival of his achievements whereas his Visigoth predecessors had been Arians trying to rule the Catholic Gaul.

The territories were partitioned between his three sons at his death in 511 but he expansion went on with the conquest of Burgundy. Clotaire I reunited the territories in 558 but it was partitioned again in 561, It took half a century of internal battles and the arrival of Clotaire II to reunite them again in 613. Dagobert I became the sole king in 629. On Dagobert’s death in 639 the kingdom was divided again. Siegebert III had been King of Austrasia under Dagobert I until 639 and then sole king until 656. At his death Dagobert II became King of Austrasia until 660 or 661 when the Carolingians took over. Dagobert II was restored in 676 until his assassination in 679. He had a son called Sigebert IV. It is not known for certain if he was killed with his father or if he escaped.

The Carolingians took gradually over as Grand Master of the Palace and reduced the Merovingians Kings to mere puppets especially with Pepin II of Herstal. In the winter of 751-752 the last Merovingian King, Childeric III, was deposed and the Carolingian Pepin the Short was elected King in his place. He was send to a monastery with his son and did not leave any successor.

The only possibility to have a continuity in the Merovingian dynasty would be with Dagobert II’s son, Sigebert IV, if it could be proved that he was not killed with his father.