History Files


European Kingdoms

The Franks




MapMerovingian Kingdom of Orleans

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, Chlodomer, inherited Orleans in upper central France. The town of that name was originally the oppidum of Cenabum of the Carnutes tribe, which had been renamed in AD 275. Its new name, Aureliani, was mangled by the Franks to become Orleans, although the Roman name still seems to have been in use - or was at least acknowledged - during the sixth century.

The kingdom that included Orleans at its heart included the bishoprics of Tours, Poitiers and Orleans. Of the other Frankish territories, Paris went to Childebert I, Austrasia went to Theuderich, and the smaller Soissons to Clotaire, 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. The independent kingdom of Brittany bordered Orleans to the west.

511 - 524

Chlodomer / Clodomir

Second son of Clovis I. king of all Franks.


Sigismund of the Burgundians had earlier assassinated the cousin of the four ruling Frankish kings. Now all of them join in an expedition against him and he is captured. The victorious Franks return home, leaving a garrison behind, but this is later massacred. Chlodomer has Sigismund and his sons assassinated on 1 May 524 and leads a second expedition against the Burgundians. He is killed at the Battle of Vézeronce.

Partition of the kingdom of Clovis
Clotilde, the widow of Clovis I, oversaw the partition of his kingdom between her four sons, as pictured in the medieval Grandes Chroniques de Saint-Denis

524 - 558

Chlodomer's three sons, Theodebald, Gunthar, and Clodoald, are entrusted to the care of his mother until his widow marries his brother, Chlothar I. However, Chlothar has two of Chlodomer's children killed, while Clodoald escapes, later becoming abbot of Nogent (later known as St Cloud). Chlodomer's kingdom is divided between his brothers. Childebert I of Paris annexes the heart of the territory, Carnutum (Chartres) and Aureliani (Orleans), while Chlothar takes Turonensis (Tours) and Pictavia (Poitiers).

558 - 561

Childebert fails to produce a surviving heir before his death in 558, 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 Frankish kingdom of Neustria, which is handed to one of his sons, Charibert.