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European Kingdoms

Western Europe


Merovingian Kingdom of Austrasia (Rheims)
AD 511 - 751

The great empire-builder of the Franks, Clovis, succeeded his father in AD 481 as the Frankish ruler or Camaracum (Cambrai) and Tournai in north-eastern Gaul (now in Belgium). He went on to consolidate a single Frankish kingdom which he was able to hand on to his sons, converting the Franks to Christianity in 497 and ruthlessly eliminating his rivals. All the time he was expanding his influence southwards from the Tournai region. He took the Western Roman province of Belgica Secunda in 486 (better known by this time as the enlargened domain of Soissons), the territories of the Alemanni in 496, the Burgundians in 500, and the Visigoths in 507. The Franks quickly became the dominant Germanic tribe not only in Gaul but throughout central and Western Europe. The territory which forms modern France and Germany, and south to central Italy, soon became known as Francia.

The Pactus Legis Salicae (Law of the Salian Franks) was a written code which combined customary law, Roman written law, Christian ideals, and royal edicts, and this most likely originated during the reign of Clovis. It had a strong influence on what would happen to the Frankish kingdom over the next few centuries. When Clovis died in 511, tradition and his own codified Salic Law demanded that his holdings be divided equally among his sons. One of them, Childebert I, inherited the kingdom of Paris (otherwise known as Neustria and now northern France), while Orleans went to Chlodomer (upper central France), Austrasia went to Theuderich, and Soissons to Chlothar, the youngest of the brothers. The Frankish-dominated Burgundy (by 534, along with Provence) 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 while the Burgundians bordered Austrasia to the south.

In its early days Austrasia's territory was in fact two smaller Frankish territories in north-eastern France - Rheims (Reims) and Metz (or Mainz, captured by the Franks early in the fifth century). These were combined as Austrasia (or even Austria, now the modern Netherlands, Austria, and northern Germany). The kingdom's location gave it is name - 'aust' or 'ost' means east. It was literally the 'eastern kingdom'. Its borders led upwards into the Netherlands, and eastwards into Germany to include Alemannia (conquered in AD 496). It covered the area between Worms and Utrecht, and was centred on Cologne and Metz, with Metz and Rheims serving as the interchangeable capital (Rheims later fell within the borders of Neustria). The Auvergne, in modern south-eastern France, was also included in Austrasia's domains, as was the German region that became known as Franconia.

(Additional information from Chronicon, Marius, from the Chronicle of Fredegar / Latin Chronicle (author unknown but the work has been attributed to Fredegar since the sixteenth century thanks to his name being written in the margin), from the Passio of St Killian, from The Ethnology of Germany Part 3: The Migration of the Saxons, Henry H Howorth (Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol 7, 1878), from The History of the Franks, Volume II, Gregory of Tours (O M Dalton, Trans, 1967), from Atlas historique mondial, Georges Duby (Larousse, 1978), and from Genealogy of the Kings of France, Claude Wenzler (Editions Ouest-France, Rennes, 2008).)

511 - 534

Theuderich / Thierry I

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

532 - 533


Pretender in Auvergne. Killed.


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.

Map of Western Europe at the death of Clovis in AD 511
The Education of the Children of Clovis by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Like their powerful father, the children of Clovis probably received the warrior's education they would have needed in the constant fighting both within and without the various Merovingian kingdoms, while above that is a map showing the state of the Frankish kingdom at Clovis' death in 511 (click or tap on map to view full sized)


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.


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


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. (Could this be behind the removal of both of the dukes of Alemannia at the same time in 554, or is battle against the Bavarians another possible cause?) 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.


The nomadic Avars incur into Austrasia, forcing Sigisbert to move his capital from Rheims. This attack is repelled, as is another in about 568. Defeat at Frankish hands forces the Avars to concentrate on securing the Carpathian Basin as their stronghold.

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


Mother and regent.


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.

Gunthchramn and Childebert II
Gunthchramn of Burgundy is shown here seated next to Childebert II of Austrasia, in a beautifully-coloured plate from the Grandes Chroniques de France

588 - 591

An administrative change is triggered in Alemannia in 588 by Childebert. He removes Leutfred and replaces him with Uncilen. In 591 Childebert appoints Tassilo as 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. The Thurgau, Kembsgau, and Alsace all pass from Austrasia to Burgundy.

595 - 612

Theudebert / Thibert II

Son of Childebert. King of Austrasia & Provence.

605 - 606

Theuderich of Burgundy goes to war with his brother, Theudebert II of Austrasia. His army, which does not want to fight its Austrasian countrymen, he places under the command of Protadius with instructions to induce the soldiers to fight.

In 606 at Quierzy-sur-Oise, Theuderich re-assembles the army, but the men once again refuse to fight their countrymen. The king orders Uncilen, duke of Alemannia, to coerce them. Uncilen, however, declares that the king has ordered the death of Protadius. The despised general is promptly killed by his troops and the king is forced to sign a treaty with Austrasia. Queen Brunhilda, who had induced Theuderich to war, has Uncilen's foot removed. According to the Lex Alamannorum, a duke is only eligible for office if he can mount a horse. Being unable to continue to exercise his office, Uncilen is removed.


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 dysentery.

612 - 613

Theuderich / Thierry II

Brother. King of Burgundy (595-613).


Sigisbert / Sigebert II

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



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, and it seems likely that Gunzo, duke of Alemannia and father of Sigisbert's fiancé, is removed from his office.

In 622 Clothar 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).


The Saxons have been paying tribute to the Franks at the rate of four hundred cows a year until this year (alternatively shown as 631). The Liber Historiae Francorum (of AD 727) and the Gesta Dagoberti (of the 830s) both describe Berthoald's revolt against Frankish authority, beginning with the defeat of Dagobert. Clothar is forced to intervene and Berthoald is slain in battle. The Saxons pay a heavy price for their revolt, with many being killed in retaliation.

628 - 639

Pepin I

Carolingian mayor of the palace of Austrasia.

629 - 631

Dagobert gains Neustria in 629, and the following year becomes king of the Franks. Around 631, Duke Chrodebert of Alemannia participates in Dagobert's assault on the realm of the Carinthian Slavs to the east. The Alemannic host (exercitus Alamannorum, in the words of the Chronicle of Fredegar) is one of three columns formed by the Austrasian army (exercitus regnum universum Austrasiorum). While the Alemanni win a battle at an unknown location and their Lombard allies are successful against the Slavs in the Julian Alps, the main Austrasian Frankish army under Dagobert is defeated at the Battle of Wogastisburg.

634 - 638

Towards the end of his life, possibly around AD 634, Dagobert appoints one Hruodi to command the River Main region from its capital at Würzburg. For almost a century now, Franks have been settling along the course of the Main, gradually securing more territory towards the east. Hruodi's appointment is an attempt to stabilise the eastern area of Austrasia that is gradually becoming known as Franconia in order to counterbalance the threat posed by the Slavs. Hruodi may be the same figure as the powerful Duke Radulf of Thuringia, but is more likely to be a counterbalance to him, in order to prevent him from adding to his own territory in a region in which firm borders have yet to be established.

After Dagobert's 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, and 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


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


According to Fredegar's Chronicle, it is Leutfred II, duke of Alemannia, who now murders Otto, mayor of the palace of Austrasia. By doing so he places Grimoald I in the position for his overlord, Sigisbert III, strengthening the role of the Carolingian mayors of the palace.

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. Also in this year (662) Dagobert of the Austrasians orders the slaughter of around 9,000 Bulgars under the leadership of Prince Alcioka. Something like seven hundred survivors enter the marca Vinedorum, the land of the Slavs, and meet its ruler, one Duke Valuk ('Wallucum ducem Vinedorum', possibly linked to the Slav Kingdom).

662 - 674

Childerich / Childeric II

Son of Clovis II. King of the Franks.

656 - 680


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).


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


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.

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.


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.


With the Pope's blessing, the Carolingian mayor of the palace deposes the Merovingians and takes control of the empire. Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy are controlled directly, and the former two names fade from common usage. In the following century, Austrasia's territory is broken up into separate regions, one of which, the easternmost, becomes known as Franconia.

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