History Files
 

 

European Kingdoms

The Franks

 

 

 

MapMerovingian Kingdom of Paris / Neustria
AD 511 - 751

When the great empire-builder of the Franks, Clovis, died in 511, tradition demanded that his holdings be divided equally among his four sons. One of them, Childebert I, inherited the kingdom of Paris (now northern France), while Orleans went to Chlodomer, Austrasia went to Theuderich, and Soissons to Chlothar, the youngest of the brothers. The kingdom of the Burgundians bordered Orleans to the east, while three other Frankish regions, Bordeaux, Aquitaine and Auvergne lay to the south of Orleans. Bordeaux was held by the king of Paris. The independent kingdom of Brittany bordered both Paris and Orleans in the west.

By the time Paris was an independent kingdom again, in 561, its territory had been fully merged with that of Orleans and it was coming to be known as Neustria, which meant roughly 'north-western land', situated as it was in the north and west of France.

511 - 558

Childebert I

Third son of Clovis I, king of all Franks. King of Paris & Bordeaux.

524

Upon the death of Chlodomer of Orleans, Childebert annexes the heart of his kingdom, Carnutum (Chartres) and Aureliani (Orleans), uniting them with Paris.

528

FeatureChildebert builds the magnificent St Etienne Basilica in Paris, which is later to become the Notre Dame Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris.

558 - 561

Childebert has failed to produce an heir, so the kingdom of Paris is re-absorbed into the Frankish empire for the lifetime of Chlothar I. When he dies in 561, Paris has been merged with the heart of the former kingdom of Orleans to create the larger kingdom of Neustria, which is handed to one of his sons, Charibert. This also includes Aquitaine, Bordeaux and Toulouse.

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

561 - 567

Charibert / Caribert I

Son of Chlothar I, king of all the Franks.

567 - 629

Charibert dies without a surviving male heir, so Neustria is reunited with the Frankish kingdom of Soissons under Chilperic I and then his son, Chlothar II. Full reunification of the empire is achieved in 613, with Neustria and Soissons now permanently combined. This remains the case under Dagobert I, who swiftly secures Neustria from his base in Austrasia on his father's death in 629, preventing his half-brother Charibert II from gaining it. Charibert instead is given Aquitaine.

629

Charibert / Caribert II

Son of Chlothar II, king of the Franks. King of Aquitaine (629).

630 - 656

Neustria remains a constituent part of the Frankish kingdom under Dagobert I and his successor, Clovis II. When Chlothar III succeeds to the throne of Neustria, he leaves the governance of his kingdom to his mayor of the palace.

657 - 673

Chlothar / Clotaire III

Son of Clovis II. King of Neustria & Burgundy, and the Franks (661).

657 - 664

St Balthild of Ascania

Mother and regent.

662 - 664

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 II to the Austrasians in 662. Two years later, when Chlothar III comes of age, Balthild is forced into a convent.

673

Theuderich / Thierry III

Brother of Chlothar. Dispossessed.

673 - 674

Childerich II of Austrasia displaces Theuderich III and takes control of his kingdom for the remaining year or so of his life. Once he is dead, Theuderich is able to reclaim his throne.

675 - 691

Theuderich / Thierry III

Restored. King of Franks, Burgundy, Austrasia (687-691).

691 - 737

The Frankish empire is fully reunited under Theuderich's son, Clovis IV, and for the most part remains united under succeeding generations of kings; Childebert III, Dagobert III, Chilperich II, and Theuderich IV.

737 - 743

There is a seven year interregnum during which the Carolingian mayors govern the empire.

743 - 751

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

751

With the Pope's blessing, the Carolingian Mayors of the Palace depose the Merovingians and take control of the empire. Childeric is sent to a monastery and dies in 755. Neustria, Austrasia & Burgundy are controlled directly, and the former two names fade from use.