The Merovingian Dynasty of the Franks began with Childeric I. (c. 457 – 481 A.D.) Clovis I, Childeric’s son, is the most famous of all Merovingian monarchs.
Clovis I, also known as Louis I, reigned from 481 to 511. His second wife was the gentle princess of Burgundy, Clotilda, a Catholic who would later be venerated a saint. Clovis is renowned for being the first Frankish king to unite all tribes under one rule. When he died his vast kingdom was divided between his sons, who continued to conquer the lands around them.
However, the Merovingian Dynasty began to drastically decline in the sixth century A.D. They fought amongst themselves and went back to some of their crude barbaric traditions, abandoning Christianity, their adopted faith since Clovis’ enlightening rule. The Mayor of the Palace, Pepin the Short, then took power into his own hands.
Pepin the Short went to Pope Stephen II in 751, and was granted a change in dynasty. Pepin became the benevolent king and began the Carolingian Dynasty of the Franks.
The papal-Frankish Alliance was also begun by the aspiring Pepin the Short. The popes wanted to break their friendship with the Byzantine Empire, who were too controlling of Papal affairs. But the popes, being protected by the Byzantines, were afraid of the brutal Lombards who threatened to invade. So, Pope Stephen II went to the king of the Franks for help. And a year later, in 754, an alliance was agreed upon. This alliance was partly fostered because both parties supported the Anglo-Saxon Christian missionaries throughout France.
Charlemagne, the most famous and proactive of all Carolingian kings, was born sometime in the 740’s A.D. He began his just rule after his father Pepin the Short died. Charlemagne’s brother Carloman I ruled alongside him until he died in 771.
Charlemagne was a devout Christian and is often referred to as ‘the Father of Europe.’ He led more than fifty-three violent battle campaigns himself, and his known for winning more. In Christmas of the year 800, Pope Leo III appointed him Holy Roman Emperor, a title that would continue to be used for centuries. Charlemagne died fourteen years later leaving the empire to his only living son, Louis the Pious.