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- Charlemagne unified an impressive chunk of the continent, including northern Italy, France, most of Germany and the Netherlands. Contemporaries called him Europae Pater, or father of Europe, and his legacy is still invoked among unifiers today.
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The Kingdom of France (Old French: Reaume de France, Middle French: Royaulme de France, French: Royaume de France) was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Western Europe. It was among the most powerful states in Europe and a great power from the High Middle Ages onward. It was also an early colonial power, with possessions around the world.
France: The Merovingians Clovis (reigned 481/482–511), the son of Childeric, unified Gaul with the exception of areas in the southeast. According to the traditional... A brief treatment of the Merovingians follows.
Clovis I, (born c. 466—died November 27, 511, Paris, France), king of the Franks and ruler of much of Gaul from 481 to 511, a key period during the transformation of the Roman Empire into Europe. His dynasty, the Merovingian s, survived more than 200 years, until the rise of the Carolingian s in the 8th century.
Aug 22, 2018 · Charlemagne unified an impressive chunk of the continent, including northern Italy, France, most of Germany and the Netherlands. Contemporaries called him Europae Pater, or father of Europe, and...
- Early History & Division
- West Francia & Viking Raids
- The Counts of West Francia & King Odo
- Charles The Simple & Rollo of Normandy
- West Francia in Vikings & Legacy
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century CE, the region known as Gaul was governed by separate kingdoms of the Visigoths, Alemani, and others until its conquestby the Salian Franks under Merovech and Childeric I who founded the Merovingian Dynasty. Childeric I’s son, Clovis I (c.466-511 CE), would unite the land under his reign to become the first King of the Franks, ruling from c. 509-511 CE, and the region appears in documents at this time under the name Francia. After Clovis I’s death, his kingdom was divided between his four sons, reunited under the reign of Clothar I (r. 511-588 CE), and then again divided into the three territories of Austrasia, Burgundy, and Neustria. Although ruled by kings, the actual power in government was the position known as Mayor of the Palace(roughly equivalent to a Prime Minister) whose occupant made all the actual decisions and formed policy while the king appeared in public ceremonies and performed necessary rituals. The most...
Throughout Charlemagne’s reign, he engaged in almost incessant warfare to expand his own power and that of the church. His Saxon Wars (772-804 CE), carried out to subjugate the region and convert the Norse pagans to Christianity, destroyed the land and resulted in thousands of deaths, most notably in the Massacre of Verden in 782 CE when Charlemagne ordered the execution of 4,500 Saxons. As many of these Saxons had relatives in Denmark, this outrage was not soon forgotten and the history of West Francia would be significantly impacted by Viking raids primarily from Denmark. The Franks and the Scandinavians were known to each other long before Charlemagne through tradeand had been on good terms. Scholar Janet L. Nelson cites a number of examples of cordial relationships including one in which a Frankish bishop, lost in northern Frisia, was helped by “Northmen”, most likely Danes (Sawyer, 20). The expansion of Frankish power under Charlemagne no doubt worried his neighbors but it is n...
Aside from the Viking skills mentioned above by Nelson, what encouraged the success of the Viking raids was the structure of West Francia following the death of Louis I and the division of the empire. Even though the treaty had been struck, there was still tension between the three brothers and this would only worsen later with their successors. Further, although Lothair I, Louis the German, and Charles the Bald ruled their respective regions overall, the distinct principalities within those regions were controlled by counts who held significant power and autonomy. The policies of these counts, naturally, sought to increase their own power at the expense of their neighbors. As scholar Henri Pirenne points out: This peace and order, however, usually was only apparent in the immediate vicinity of their courts and laws were often poorly enforced elsewhere in their districts. Further, the focus on their own lands discouraged any inclination to help those elsewhere. When the Viking raids...
The Viking raids by this time had been going on for nearly a century and Charles needed them to stop. The Viking chief Rollo had been in the country since the Paris siege of 885-886 CE conducting successful raids from his camp on the Seine between 887-911 CE. Although Rollo certainly destroyed property and crops, and no doubt killed a number of people along the way, he seemed primarily interested in loot and slaves, not murder or destruction just for the sake of it. Nelson notes how events like Rollo’s raids demonstrate the “Northmen’s clear desire to capture rather than to kill” (Sawyer, 29). Captives could be sold and the Vikings grew rich from the slave trade. Clearly it was more profitable to carry monks away from their abbeys and people from their farms than to kill them and the records of the time suggest this is what Rollo did. When Charles found he could not stop Rollo in any way, he fell back on the precedent of paying a Viking chief to leave or, as in the case of Veland (a...
West Francia is featured in the TV series Vikings beginning in Season 3. As the show is entertainment, not history, it is not expected to adhere to the historical record and makes free use of poetic license. In the actual 845 CE raid by Reginherus, the people of Paris had fled before the Vikings arrived and there was little if any actual combat; more Vikings died of dysentery in the raid than in battle. The dramatic scene in Season 3:10 in which Ragnar converts to Christianity, seemingly dies, and then leaps from his coffin once inside the cathedral is taken from an account of the Viking leader Hastein who is said to have used this trick at least twice in other cities, not Paris. Gisela of Francewas only a young girl at the time of her betrothal to the historical Rollo in 911 CE and so her depiction in the show is completely fictional. The depiction of Odo, Count of Paris, is accurate only in so far of his defense of the city and personal power but not in his interactions with There...
- Joshua J. Mark
Dominating present-day northern France, Belgium, and western Germany, the Franks established the most powerful Christian kingdom of early medieval western Europe. The name France (Francia) is derived from their name. The division of the Frankish kingdom among the sons of Clovis at his death in 511. Charlemagne assumed rulership at a moment when powerful forces of change were affecting his kingdom.
The great conflicts with the kings of England were important occasions for asserting royal power. The 13th century re-annexations of Normandy and of Languedoc to the French kingdom were two important stages in the unification of the kingdom. France soon lost the County of Barcelona, from the end of the 9th century.
The remaining northern part of the kingdom was again joined with France by personal union in 1589 when King Henry III of Navarre inherited the French throne as Henry IV of France, and in 1620 it was merged into the Kingdom of France. The monarchs of this unified state took the title "King of France and Navarre" until its fall in the French Revolution, and again during the Bourbon Restoration from 1814 until 1830 (with a brief interregnum in 1815).