With the accession of Clovis, son of Childeric I of
the Salian Franks, the Germanic occupiers of north-eastern Gaul had
found a king who would change their fortunes out of all recognition.
Rather than follow his father's policy of allying himself with the
Roman domain of Soissons and trying to preserve some kind of peace
in Gaul, Clovis pursued a highly aggressive policy of expansion.
He united the two main branches of the Franks, the
Salians on the west bank of the Rhine and the Ripuarians on the east
bank, and converted them all to Christianity in AD 497. Between then
and 509 he also took steps to eliminate his rival Frankish kings,
killing them and annexing their territory.
In 486 he conquered the Roman domain of Soissons, opening up western
and central Gaul and allowing him to move the Frankish capital to
the small town of Paris. The Alemanni were narrowly conquered in
496. In 507 the Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse, which encompassed all
of southern and central Gaul, was defeated and the Visigoths forced
to retreat into Spain. The Auvergne was secured, but although Clovis
also claimed Aquitaine, the region remained disputed for quite some
time afterwards. A rare defeat came in 510, when an Ostrogoth
success at Narbonne forced Clovis away from the Mediterranean
The Franks quickly became the dominant Germanic
tribal grouping in Gaul under Clovis, laying the foundations for
further expansion south and eastwards under subsequent Merovingian
and Carolingian kings.