The Frankish Kingdom

What do you do when an angry tribal warrior is upon you? Of course, your "flight or flight" response activates, and you run away. But when you're the Pope? You name them the Roman Emperor, of course!

Establishment of a Frankish Nation:

In the beginning, the Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes that lived east of the Rhine River. Beginning around 257 AD, the Franks started raiding Roman settlements. Considering how many Germanic tribal confederations tore up Roman settlements after the third century, the Romans had an extremely difficult time on such a wide front. On the other hand, the Franks helped Rome a bit by providing soldiers for Rome. A Frankish tribe received permission to live on Roman land between the Schelde and Meuse Rivers as a Roman ally in 358 AD. They got complete autonomy but still had to provide troops for Rome and became known as the Salian Franks.

Frankish territory after Julian grants land.
Purple is Roman, red is Frankish.
The map shows modern boundaries too.

Beginning the reign of the Frankish King!

Around the year of 430 AD, Franks began to live west of the Salian Franks. Those living east of the Salian Franks were the Ripuarians between the Meuse and Rhine Rivers. The original Franks east of the Rhine were the Eastern Franks. The Salians Kings united all Franks in the second half of the fifth century and were called Merovingians since Merovech was claimed to be their ancestor.
Map of Europe after Justinian (484)

 Clovis comes to power!

Clovis became King at around the year 482 AD. From the start, he fought and killed Frankish rivals. The last independent West Roman territory was conquered in 486 when Clovis crushed Syagrius in northern Gaul, which became known as Neustria (the New Land). The original Frankish territory was Austrasia, the Eastern Land. He went on to conquer Alemanni in around 496 AD, a German tribal confederation. Clotilda, his Burgundian queen, encouraged Clovis to convert to Catholicism, since neighboring Catholic kingdoms began to support him. In 502, the rest of the Alemanni were under Frankish control, and Brittany became a vassal with a little freedom. Clovis ended his wars with a conquest of Aquitaine from the Visigoths in 507 AD. The Eastern Roman Emperor appointed Clovis to become the Roman Consul.

Death of Clovis:

Clovis died in 511 AD, and the Frankish nation was split up between his four sons. As a result, the Franks were unified under one king only once in a long time. On the other hand, the Merovingians often fought each other and many died before they had heirs.
As time went on, the Merovingians battled other Merovingians, not Ostrogoths or Visigoths. The exception were the years from 531 to 537, when the Frankish nations took large territories. Thuringia was crushed and a part was annexed in 531 AD. Burgundy was taken from 532 to 534. The East Roman war against the Ostrogoths forced them to give the rest of Alemannia and Provence to the Franks in 537 and 537. Bavaria and Aquitaine continued to live under Frankish supremacy.

Mister Major Domus!

The Frankish nation split into three different kingdoms - Neustria (west), Austrasia (east), and Burgundy (south). Brittany, Aquitaine, Alemannia, Thuringia and Bavaria were lost and gained in a cycle, which the inter-Frankish conflicts allowed. The
Thuringia won its freedom when Dagobert I died in 639. Acquitaine became independent after Childeric II's murder in 675. Brittany and Bavaria were lost to the Franks in the second half of the seventh century, while Alemannia won independence in 709-712. Small parts of the Alps were ceded from the Lombards in 575. Western Friesland was taken in 689, but it also sought freedom. Meanwhile, kings who rose to power when they were mere children needed a regent - the Major Domus. Eventually, it became permanent and hereditary, and the Major Domus ruled the kingdoms. The kingdom was unified after the Battle of Tertry in 687 where the Austrasian Major Domus Pepin of Heristal crushed Neustria and Burgundy.

 Death of the Merovingians:

After Pepin died in 714, his six year old grandson Theudoald become the new Major Domus. Pepin's illegitimate son, Charles Martel, disagreed by declaring that he was the Major Domus. The Carolingian dynasty began.
In the next few decades, the Carolingians were plunged into constant wars, where they had to both reconquer territories that had become independent and repel the Arabs, who had invaded in 732 at Poitiers. Thuringia, Alemmania, and Bavaria were all reconquered by 744. Aquitaine was taken back in 768, and before that, the Balearic islands were taken in 754, with Septimania conquered from the Arabs in 759. After an alliance with the pope, the Lombards were driven back in 754 and 756. Finally, Pepin the Short deposed the last Frankish king in 751. He became the new king.

Peak and Collapse:

Pepin died in 768, and the nation was split between Charlemagne and Carloman, but Carloman died in three years anyways. Charlemagne invaded Italy in 774, becoming the King of the Lombards. He conquered the Saxons, but it took 32 years from 772 to 804. Thousands were deported and replaced by Franks and Slavs. Bavaria was annexed (it had been a vassal before) in 788. The Avar Empire was defeated in a five year campaign from 791 to 796 AD, and Brittany became a Frankish vassal again in 799. Eastern Friesland was taken in 784 and 785, while Charlemagne pushed the Arabs back to the Ebro river in 812, having lost the Balearic Islands 14 years ago in 798. Finally, the pope coronated Charlemagne to emperor in 800. However, when the kingdom was divided, the nation was split apart, having only been held together by the riches of plunder. After 814, the Frankish Empire dissolved into small feudal nations.

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