The Frankish state of Merovingians

In the middle of the V century. On the territory of modern Belgium arose the kingdom of seaside francs. In 481, their king became Clovis, of the sort of the legendary King of Merovei. In honor of him, the dynasty of Frankish kings in the first half of the VIII cc. called the Merovingians.

The legend says that the name Merovei means “sea warrior”. He allegedly had two fathers – one earthly, ordinary king, and the second – a water marine monster. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Merovei arrived by sea. Merovingians were considered “sorcerers”, “wizards”, “miracle workers”; called “hairy kings” for their long hair, like a stormy sea full, it was believed that they contained a magical power; that is why the Merovingians were credited with the gift of witchcraft. When the king wanted to deprive the throne, his magnificent hair was cut and he seemed to lose his magical power.

In 486, Clovis led his army

against the Roman governor of Siagrius, the governor of Gaul. The decisive battle took place near the city of Soissons. The Franks defeated the Roman army, capturing all of North Gaul up to the Loire River.

Bishop Gregory of Tours, author of the work “History of the Franks,” the most important literary monument of the Merovingian period, describes an interesting episode connected with the division of trophies after the victory over the Siagri and characterizing the attitude of the francs to royal power. After the capture of Soissons, Clovis wished to receive, besides the trophies by lot, a valuable church cup as well, in order to return it to the local bishop for political reasons. However, she got a simple warrior, and he, not wanting to give it to the king, cut the cup with an ax.

This indicates that then the king was considered only the first among equals; his will was not a law for the Franks, and his personality was not perceived as divine. But the next year during the military review, Clovis avenged a simple franc. He was indignant at the state of his weapons and, cutting the warrior’s

head, said: “So you did with that cup in Soissons.”

To strengthen his power, Clovis signed an alliance with the Christian church. Around 498, he was the first of the Frankish kings to be baptized. According to the testimony of Gregory of Tours, Clovis’s wife was a Christian, and here the king held fast to the pagan faith. But somehow, during the war, he was on the verge of life and death and turned to the Lord: if he really exists, let him give him life and then he, Clovis, will believe in his power and will be baptized. And a miracle happened: the enemies of the Franks fled, the victory was won by Clovis. The promise was fulfilled: on one day three thousand soldiers were baptized with their king.

Gradually, through bribery, treason, violence, Clovis destroyed all his opponents, among whom were even his relatives, and strengthened his power. This is evidenced by the investigation carried out at the beginning of the sixth century. The first record of the legal customs of the Franks, called “Salic Truth.” This judgment was granted to the Franks on his own behalf as a royal law.

“Salic truth” contains rich material about the economic life and the social system of the Franks. For most of the misdemeanors, a fine was fixed – Wergeld, for example, for the murder of a simple franc, a vergeld was collected at 200 Solidov; for the murder of the royal retinue of 600 solid. At the same time, the custom of blood feud was preserved. In order to establish the guilt of the suspect, the testimony of witnesses was taken into account or the judgment of God was carried out.

For a quarter of a century, Clovis took possession of almost all of Roman Gaul and left behind a large unified state. However, during the reign of the heirs of Clovis, the kingdom gradually lost its integrity.

Since 639, the kings of the Merovingian dynasty have lost real power and have retained only the title, which is why the Merovingians are dismissed scornfully as “lazy kings”. However, the kings were not so lazy as they were deprived of power. The Majordomas began to dispose of the country. First the majordomo were simply the rulers of the royal palaces. Gradually they seized the full power, as the Frankish kingdom practically divided into several large territories, each had its own majordomo. In 687, one of them, Pepin Geristalsky, defeated his rivals and united the Frankish state.

IX century. From the work of the monk Einhard “The Life of Charlemagne” about the power of the majordomo

Wealth and power were concentrated at court majordomous nobles. And the king was to be satisfied with his title in creating the appearance of power when, sitting on the throne, shaggy and long-bearded, he listened to foreign ambassadors and answered them, ostensibly, from himself, in fact dictated and memorized.

In addition to the title, for which there was nothing, and the wretched content allocated to him by the majordomo, he had only one, and even that small estate in which he lived and kept a few servants. Wherever the king went, he rode in a cart, harnessed, as was the case in the village, with oxen run by a shepherd. So he went to the palace, to the annual people’s congresses… and just returned home…

Solid is a Roman golden coin weighing 4.55 g, which became the model for the coins of most barbarian kingdoms.

God’s judgment is a way of establishing the guilt or innocence of the accused as a result of the test of his cross, consecrated by bread, hot iron, immersing his hand in boiling water, etc. In Europe, God’s judgment existed until the 18th century.

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The Frankish state of Merovingians