Merovingian Franks

The foundation of Frankish power was laid by Clovis. Some of the Franks had long been living in Roman territory for a long time. After the Caesar and future Emperor Julian defeated them in 358, he had settled some on the left bank of the Rhine as foederati of Rome.

As the Western Empire collapsed, they expanded slowly at first. Then Clovis not only occupied northern Gaul (486), absorbed the Alemanni (505), and defeated the Visigoths (507), but actually converted to orthodox Catholicism, making the Franks the first major German tribe to accept the spiritual authority of the Roman Church (others were Arian Christians) and so the Pope in Rome itself.
This was later viewed as a portent for Frankish greatness, and it was believed that a vial of oil descended from heaven to anoint and sanctify Clovis as King. The thus “anointed” Kings of France later stoutly maintained that their authority was directly from God, without the mediation of either the Emperor or the Pope (both of whom had different ideas).

The division of the Kingdom, in time honored Germanic fashion, between the four sons of Clovis, fragmented Frankish power and slowed its growth. After the conquest of the Thuringians (531), the Burgundians (534), Provence (536), and the Bavarians (555), there was little expansion of the Kingdom for the remaining period of the Merovingian Dynasty. As external threats appeared, like the inroads of Islâm from Spain, power began to pass to the Mayors of the Palace like Charles Martel, who retroactively can be called “Carolingian,” though this, of course, is to name them after Charlemagne, who hasn’t lived yet. Since the Merovingian dynasty had been hallowed by time, and the kingship was consequently not thought of as elective, a change of dynasty was not a step to be undertaken lightly – but the last King is so ephemeral that it is not even known who his parents were.

Kings of Merovingian Franks

Merovech (Meerwig)          447-458
Childerich I                                458-481
Clovis I (Chlodwig)                481-511
Chlothar I                                    511-561
Chlodomer                                 511-524
Childebert I                                511-558
Theuderich I                               511-534
Theudebert I                              534-548
Theudebald                                 548-555
Charibert I                                   561-567
Gunthchramn                            561-593
Sigibert I                                       561-575
Chilperich I                                 561-584
Childebert II                               575-595
Chlothar II                                   584-629
Theudebert II                             595-612
Theuderich II                              595-613
Sigibert II                                      613
Dagobert I                                    623-638
Charibert II                                  629-632
Sigibert III                                     634-656
Clovis II                                          638-657
Dagobert II                                   656
Childebert Adoptivus            656-661
Chlothar III                                   657-673
Childerich II                                 662-675
Theuderich III                             673-691
Clovis III                                         675-676
Clovis IV                                         691-695
Childebert III                               695-711
Dagobert III                                  711-715
Chilperich II                                  715-721
Chlothar (Lothair) IV               717-720
Theuderich IV                              721-737
Interregnum (by mayors)      737-743
Childerich III                                 743-751