The Franks Essay Research Paper The last

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The Franks Essay, Research Paper The last phase of the Western Roman Empire, the period of transition between Romanity and the rise of a new medieval world, is marked by successive incursions of Barbarians from the north. In particular, there were the Goths (Visigoths and Ostrogoths), Alans, Suebi, Vandals, Huns, and the Franks. Dominating present-day northern France, Belgium, and western Germany, one of these groups, the Franks, established the most powerful Christian kingdom of early medieval western Europe. The origins of the Franks are obscure. They seemed to have developed as a distinct people during the 1st or 3rd century A.D. as a result of a fusion of many small Germanic tribes living along the east bank of the lower Rhine River. While the tribes were linked by

language and institutions, they were not united politically(Malcolm 9) Two large groupings of the Franks, the Salians and the Ripuarians, existed as early as the 3rd century. Each of these was divided into many petty kingdoms rules by warrior chiefs whose personal ability and success in war determined the fortune of each kingdom( McNeill 75) The turning point in the Franks history came with their movement west of the Rhine into Roman Gaul.(Latouche 216) In the mid-3rd century the Franks tried unsuccessfully to expand westward across the Rhine into Roman-held Gaul. In the mid-4th century the Franks again attempted to invade Gaul, and in 358 Rome was compelled to abandon the area between the Meuse and Scheldt rivers(now in Belgium) to the Salian Franks. During the course of these

drawn-out struggles, the Franks were gradually influenced by Roman civilization. Some Frankish leaders became Roman allies in the defense of the Roman frontier, and many Franks served as auxiliary soldiers in the Roman army.(Mcneill 76) The Vandals launched a massive invasion of Gaul in 406, and in the ensuing decades, the Franks took advantage of the overstrained Roman defenses. They solidified their hold on what is now Belgium, took permanent control of the lands immediately west of the middle Rhine River, and edged into what is now northeastern France.(Cottingham 29) The firm establishment of the Franks in northeastern Gaul by the year 480 meant that both the former Roman province of Germania and part of the two former Belgic provinces were lost to Roman rule. The small

Gallo-Roman population therefore became submerged among the German immigrants, and Latin ceased to be the language of everyday speech.(McManus 46) The extreme limit of Frankish settlement at this time is marked by the linguistic frontier that still divides the Romance-speaking peoples of France and southern Belgium from the Germanic-speaking peoples of northern Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany.(McNeill 76) Under the Salian king Clovis I, the power and extent of the Frankish kingdom grew considerably. In 481-482, Clovis succeeded his father Childeric, as the ruler of the Salian Franks of Tournai. In 486 Clovis overthrew Syagrius, the last Roman governor in Gaul, and in the following years, compelled the other Salian and Ripuarian tribes to submit to his authority.(Cottingham

31) This marked the first time the Franks had stood united. Clovis then took advantage of the depleted Roman defenses and led the united Franks in a series of campaigns that brought all of northern Gaul under his rule by 494. He stemmed the Alemannic migrations into Gaul from east of the Rhine, and in 507 he drove southward, subduing the Visigoths who had established themselves in southern Gaul. A unified Frankish kingdom was thus established and secured. Clovis converted to Catholicism, and the massive adoption of orthodox Christianity by the Franks only helped to further unite them.(McNeill 77) Clovis belonged to the Merovingian dynasty, so named for his grandfather Merovich.(Latouche 215) After the death of Clovis, the kingdom was divided among his four sons, and for the