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European Kingdoms

The Franks

 

 

 

MapMerovingian Kingdom of Austrasia (Rheims)
AD 511 - 751

The kingdom of Rheims and Metz (in its earliest days), or Austrasia (or even Austria) was formed by succession laws which divided the Frankish kingdom of Clovis, creator of the vast realm, between all his surviving sons. Theuderich was one of those four sons, and he gained Austrasia, which was located in north-eastern France ('aust' or 'ost' means east). Its borders led upwards into the modern Netherlands, and east into modern Germany to include the Alemanni, covering the area between Worms and Utrecht, and centering on Cologne and Metz (Mainz), with Metz and Rheims serving as the interchangeable capital. The Auvergne, in modern south-eastern France, was included in Austrasia's domains. Two others inherited Orleans and Paris, while Soissons went to Chlothar, the youngest brother. The kingdom of the Burgundians bordered it to the south.

511 - 534

Theuderich / Thierry I

First son of Clovis. First king of Austrasia (with Auvergne).

532 - 533

Munderic

Pretender in Auvergne. Killed.

531

Theuderich conquers the Thuringians and apparently rules the region directly, without appointing any sub-kings. Portions of the territory are lost to the Saxons, but there also seems to be a reverse migration of Germanics from the east coast of Britain, where the recent native victory at Mons Badonicus has cut them off from the acquisition of new lands. These returning Angles and Saxons appear to be given land in Thuringia by King Theuderich.

532/533

In either 532 or 533, a wealthy nobleman in Auvergne, south-eastern Gaul, by the name of Munderic puts forward a claim that he is a descendant of the Frankish Minor King of around 509, Chlodoric the Parricide. Married to Florentinus, the daughter of a Roman senator, Munderic and his supporters are cut down after responding to a call to negotiate.

The Education of the Children of Clovis by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Like their powerful father, the children of Clovis probably received a warrior's education

534

On the death of his father, Theudebert has to fight off his uncles, Childebert of Neustria and Chlothar of Frankish Soissons. His military prowess so impresses Childebert that the two combine their forces against Chlothar for a short time.

534 - 548

Theudebert / Thibert I

Son.

548 - 555

Theudebald / Theobald

Son. Died without an heir.

555 - 561

Austrasia is reunited under the rule of Chlothar I of Frankish Soissons, making him king of all the Franks until his death. Then his domains are divided between his sons as per Frankish law. Charibert gains Paris and Orleans as Neustria, Sigisbert I gains Austrasia, Chilperic I gains Soissons, and Chlothar's third son, Gunthchramn, gains the Burgundian kingdom.

561 - 575

Sigisbert / Sigebert I

Son of Chlothar I, king of all the Franks. Assassinated.

562

The nomadic Avars incur into Austrasia, forcing Sigisbert to move his capital from Rheims. This attack is repelled, as is another in about 568.

573 - 575

Rivalry between Sigisbert and Chilperic of Frankish Soissons flares up, and not for the first time. The two go to war, with Sigisbert winning Poitiers and Touraine, and much of the kingdom, before being assassinated. Sigisbert is succeeded by his son, with his widow as regent. They put themselves under the protection of Childebert's uncle, Guntramn of Burgundy and he adopts the boy as his own son.

575 - 595

Childebert II

Son. King of Austrasia & Provence.

575 - 583

Brunhilda

Mother and regent.

584/585

The Lombards invade the Merovingian region of Provence. In return, Childebert II and Guntramn, king of Burgundy, invade Lombard Italy. They capture Trent and open negotiations with the Eastern Roman emperor via Ravenna, perhaps with the view of carving up Italy between them. The Lombards, fearing Frankish domination, elect a king to end their disunity. He is successful in throwing out the invaders and restoring the strength of the kingdom.

591

Childebert appoints Tassilo king of the Bavarians in order to end a war between Bavarians and Franks which had begun under their first duke. The act also reaffirms Frankish control of the Bavarians.

593 - 595

When Childebert dies just two years after annexing the kingdom of Burgundy, his second son gains that throne, while his eldest, Theudebert, succeeds him in Austrasia.

595 - 612

Theudebert / Thibert II

Son of Childebert. King of Austrasia & Provence.

612

Theudebert is killed while at war against his brother, Theuderich of Burgundy. Theuderich annexes the kingdom to his own, although only briefly before he too dies, of dysentry.

612 - 613

Theuderich / Thierry II

Brother. King of Burgundy (595-613).

613

Sigisbert / Sigebert II

Son. 'False' king of Burgundy & Austrasia. Killed by Chlothar II.

613

Brunhilda

Great-grandmother and regent.

613 - 622

Chlothar II manoeuvres the nobles of Austrasia into abandoning Brunhilda and Sigisbert, the illegitimate son of Theuderich. They are both captured and put to death (painfully and prolonged in the case of Brunhilda). The Frankish empire is reunited under Chlothar II.

In 622 he gives Austrasia to his son, Dagobert I, effectively granting the kingdom semi-autonomy in repayment for the support of its nobles, most notably Pepin I, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, and in recognition of calls from Austrasians for a king of their own.

622 - 634

Dagobert I

Son of Chlothar II. King of Neustria and the Franks (629).

628 - 639

Pepin I

Carolingian mayor of the palace of Austrasia.

629 - 638

Dagobert gains Neustria in 629, and the following year becomes king of the Franks. After his death his sons once more tear the empire apart. Sigisbert III in Austrasia (which he has already been governing in his father's name since 634), and Clovis II, king of Soissons, Neustria & Burgundy. They abandon power to the kingdoms' great dignitaries, in particular the mayors of the palace who had started off as heads of the royal household and now hold the reigns of power.

634 - 656

Sigisbert / Sigebert III

Son of Dagobert I.

639 - 643

Otto

Son of a domesticus. Mayor of the palace of Austrasia.

643 - 656

Grimoald I the Elder

Son of Pepin I. Carolingian mayor of the palace of Austrasia.

656 - 661

Childebert Adoptivus

Son of Grimoald. Carolingian king of the Franks.

656 - 662

Austrasia remains a unified part of the Frankish kingdom until its nobles again beg for a king of their own. The regent of Neustria, the mother of Chlothar III, assigns the boy's brother, Childerich to the Austrasians.

662 - 674

Childerich / Childeric II

Son of Clovis II. King of the Franks.

656 - 680

Wulfoald

Mayor of the palace of Austrasia.

673 - 674

Childerich II displaces Theuderich III and takes control of Neustria for the remaining year or so of his life.

674 - 675

Dagobert II

Son of Sigisbert III. King of the Franks (656).

675

Austrasian nobles proclaim Clovis (III) king in opposition to Wulfoald's claimant, Dagobert II. His parentage is uncertain, but he is possibly the son of Clovis II or Theuderich III. The nobles who raise him up claim he is an illegitimate son of Chlothar III of Neustria. Clovis dies soon after his acclamation and has remained little more than a puppet. He is not always included in the numbering of Merovingian kings.

675 - 676

Clovis (III)

Son (adopted?) of Chlothar III of Neustria.

676 - 679

Dagobert II

Restored. Assassinated.

Sigisbert / Sigebert IV

Son.

679 - 687

Dagobert II is assassinated. The nobles in the Rhineland territory divide that amongst themselves. The mayor of the palace, and now the main power in the kingdom, Pepin II, leaves the throne vacant until after the Battle of Terty in 687, before he appoints Theuderich III.

Officially, Dagobert's son, Sigisbert IV is assassinated with him. The alternative possibility is that he flees to relatives at Razès, the homeland of his mother, Giselle. There, he survives and fathers a bloodline which, according to recent speculation, survives to this day.

Rennes-le-Château
Sigisbert IV is supposed to have sought refuge at Château Hautpoul in Rennes-le-Château after the assassination of his father

687 - 691

Theuderich / Thierry III

Son of Clovis II. King of Franks, Neustria, & Burgundy (673-691).

691 - 718

The Frankish empire is fully reunited under Theuderich's son, Clovis IV, and remains mostly united under succeeding generations of kings; Childebert III and Dagobert III. The Austrasian mayor of the palace, Pepin II, follows the king in assuming complete control of the kingdom, becoming ever more powerful after 691.

718

With support from Charles Martel, the mayor of the palace, Chlothar IV, son of Theuderich III, is proclaimed king of Austrasia in opposition to Chilperich III, dividing the Frankish empire for the first time since 691. In the civil war that follows, Chilperich is defeated and surrenders, handing Charles Martel unquestioned control over the empire. Chlothar apparently dies in 719, so Charles Martel keeps the defeated Chilperich as his figurehead king.

718 - 719

Chlothar / Clotaire / Lothair IV

Son of Theuderich III. Died in 719?

718 - 737

The Frankish empire is fully reunited under the control of Charles Martel, with first Chilperich and then Theuderich IV as his puppet kings.

737 - 743

There is a seven year interregnum during which the Carolingian mayors govern the empire. So sure are they now of their power that they don't feel the need for a figurehead Merovingian king on the throne.

743 - 751

Merovingian 'rule' of the empire is restored with the accession of Childerich III.

751

With the Pope's blessing, the Carolingian mayor of the palace deposes the Merovingians and takes control of the empire. Neustria, Austrasia & Burgundy are controlled directly, and the former two names fade from common use.