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Chlothar I
Monnaie d'argent de Clotaire Ier.jpeg
Silver coin of Chlothar I
King of Soissons
Reign 511–558
Predecessor Clovis I
Successor Chilperic I
King of Orléans
Reign 524–558
Predecessor Chlodomer
Successor St. Guntram
King of Reims
Reign 555–558
Predecessor Theudebald
Successor Sigebert I
King of Paris
Reign 558
Predecessor Childebert I
Successor Charibert I
King of the Franks
Reign 558–561
Predecessor Vacant (last held by Clovis I)
Successor Vacant (next held by Clotaire II)
Born c. 497
Died 29 November 561
Spouse Guntheuc
Issue Gunthar
St. Guntram
Dynasty Merovingian
Father Clovis I
Mother Clotilde
Religion Roman Catholic

Chlothar I (c. 497 – 29 November 561),[a] also called "Clotaire I" and the Old (le Vieux), King of the Franks, was one of the four sons of Clovis I of the Merovingian dynasty.

Chlothar's father, Clovis I, divided the kingdom between his four sons. In 511, Clothar I inherited two large territories on the Western coast of Francia, separated by the lands of his brother Childebert I's Kingdom of Paris. Chlothar spent most of his life in a campaign to expand his territories at the expense of his relatives and neighbouring realms in all directions.

His brothers avoided outright war by cooperating with his attacks on neighbouring lands in concert or by invading lands when their rulers died. The spoils were shared between the participating brothers. By the end of his life, Chlothar had managed to reunite Francia by surviving his brothers and seizing their territories after they died. But upon his own death, the Kingdom of the Franks was once again divided between his own four surviving sons. A fifth son had rebelled and was killed, along with his family.

Chlothar's father, Clovis I, had converted to Nicene Christianity, but Chlothar, like other Merovingians, did not consider that the Christian doctrine of monogamy should be expected of royalty: he had five wives, more from political expediency than for personal motives. Although at the instigation of his queens he gave money for several new ecclesiastical edifices, he was a less than enthusiastic Christian and succeeded in introducing taxes on ecclesiastical property.

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The following story takes place between year 420 and 751 AD BUT THAT IS ANOTHER STORY Medieval France 1: The Merovingian Franks - From the Franks Salios to the Kings Loafers FROM CHROME TO THE GALOS Today we begin the history of Medieval France. However, before entering the subject it may be good to recap a little. It is known of the presence of hominids in the area for at least 1 and a half million years, being perhaps the oldest deposit that of Lézignan-la-Cébe. 300,000 years ago the Neanderthals arrived, and 43,000 the first Homo Sapiens, also called Cro-Magnons. The name Cro-Magnon comes from the cave of Cromagnon in the Dordogne. They were the artists behind the cave paintings of Chauvet or Lascaux, among others. "Host, how beautiful" Around the year 5000 BC the transition from Paleolithic to Neolithic began, and with this period came the agrarian and livestock revolution. On the one hand the people who lived there were influenced by the Culture of the Ceramics of Bands and the Cardial Ceramics, which is believed to be proto-Indo-European. These people began to raise stones to put them in places, known as megalithic art. A good example are the Carnac Alignments. Towards the year 2800 BC came the fashion of bell-shaped glass, since most of the cultures created their bell-shaped jugs. Around 2300 the Unetice Culture arrived, which it was transformed by the 1600 aC in the Culture of the Tumuli and towards the 1300 aC in the Culture of the Fields of Urns. These urneros began a transition between the dead burials to cremation, and the ashes were placed inside ballot boxes underground. By the year 800 BC of the polls we passed to the Hallstatt Culture, and here we can talk about the Iron Age and proto-Celtic. Its digi-evolution was the Culture of La Téne, whose epicenter was in the Swiss Alps but ended up expanding throughout France. These first Celts were organized in villages and well, if you want to know more about their culture and I made two videos talking about them. Summary: the Celts were expanding everywhere and forming different tribes. One of them, the Parisii created a fort on the Isle de la Cité, and it was here that the city of Lutetia, the future Paris, was later to be founded. The Celts of the French zone will be called Gauls, and their territory Gaul, which is what interests us now. As border with Germania would be the river Rhine. In those years the Roman Republic was growing and wanted to expand its horizons, come on, conquer things. But these Celts were very screwed, because in the art of ambushing in forests were the fucking masters. Even a caudillo named Breno managed to plunder the city of Rome in 390 BC Between years 58 and 51 BC Julio César managed to conquer all the territory after the War of the Galias. With this, the Gauls were absorbed by the Roman Republic and Latinized by block. Then came the Empire and Octavius ​​Augustus created 4 provinces: Gaul Narbonensis (which included part of Occitania and Provence and parts of Burgundy), with cities such as Marseille; Gaul Aquitaine (which was basically Aquitaine to the Loire and Auvergne), with Bordeaux as its capital; Gaul Lugdunensis (between the Loire River and the Seine River), where the city of Lugdunum, present-day Lyon, or Autun; and finally there was Belgian Gaul (between the Seine and the River Rhine more or less), with its capital Durocortorum, future Reims, and Trier, in present-day Germany. THE FRANCOS SALIOS (250-511) It was around 250 AD when the Romans began to know better a series of tribes settled in the present Netherlands, in the valley of the Lower Rhine. They were the usipetos, the camavos, the catuarios, the bructeros or the tencteros. Before the Roman advance decided to join forces and became the Franks, which were divided into two, the Salios and the Ripuarios. They spoke Flancic, a western Germanic language that evolved to the present Dutch, also called Flemish in Flanders. Other neighbors were the Frisians or Frisians, who lived in the northern part of the Netherlands. Several Roman emperors such as Constantius Chlorus or Julian the Apostate gave them good ass, and the Franks salios ended up agreeing to have their foedus in exchange for defending Rome from other German invaders. But around the year 400 more barbarians began to arrive in great waves: vandals, Suevos and Alans, who went to Spain, and then the Visigoths and the Burgundians led by Gondioc, who ended up settled in southern Gaul, in the Rhone Valley, an area still with a strong Roman influence, and Romanized quite a lot, not like the Franks. Its capital would be Lyon. It speaks of several mythological Frankish kings, such as Faramundo, who crossed the River Rhine with his people in the year 420. He was succeeded by Clodión the Scalp, so called because the Merovingians said that their world, or divine power, resided in having a penis. "Glamor" But it did not help him much because it is said that the Roman general and governor of Gaul Flavian Aecio gave him hosts as three times and left the Franks made shit. The next king was Meroveo, hence the name of Merovingian. The legend says that it was conceived by the Quinotauro, a sea monster. In the year 451 he joined forces with General Aetius against their common enemy: the Huns of Attila, defeating him in the Catalonian Camps and thus cutting off his advance through Gaul. While the Frankish ripuaries occupied Xanten, Mainz or Cologne and created their own state on the other side of the Rhine, the salians were moving towards Belgium taking Tournai and parts of northern France. The new King Childeric I married Basina, of the Kingdom of Thuringia, and this marriage was born Clovis I, and this is the first important. It was crowned as rex francorum in the year 481, adopting some forms of the recently fallen Roman Empire. Clovis I was a savage and unscrupulous warrior. Throughout his 30 years of reign he was loaded without hesitation to any rival of his tribe and was taking control of all Gaul. He defeated the Roman general Afranio Siagrio and snatched his fief from Soissons; and later in Tolbiac he defeated the tribe of the Alamanos. Clodoveo had married Clotilde, a Catholic princess of the Burgundian kingdom, but he preferred to be a pagan. However, on the verge of losing against the Alamanni, he prayed to Christ. Miraculously, an arrow or magic ax appeared in the sky and fulminated the king of Alaman, and his enemies withdrew. "Look ... this is the hand of God ..." Logically, after this fact, Clodoveo I was baptized by Bishop Remigio in the city of Reims to convert to Catholicism and with this he won the favor of the Gallo-Roman clergy, who could not stand the Visigoth neighbors because they were Arians, among other things. Because of this, the next goal of Clovis I was the Visigoth heretics. His troops crossed the Loire river by the year 507 and gave them milks in the Battle of Vouillé. The poor king Alaric II finished mortadela and the Franks managed to conquer the territory north of the Pyrenees with the exception of the region Narbonense. The capital of the kingdom would be installed in Paris, and the construction of beautiful churches in the surroundings would begin. These kept the Roman style but with Germanic touches on the capitals and sarcophagi. For the next century the Franks would become good artisans of glass, and begin to create those important things called windows. The Germans were never many, these francs in particular did not exceed 150,000. They took advantage of the emptiness of Roman power and took control of the most powerful towns; the people accepted them without much trouble. They adapted to the Gallo-Roman culture, although they did not complicate their lives with administrative issues. The Frankish king exercised supreme power, and was surrounded by the leudes, an aristocracy that controlled the civil service. From them arose the dukes and counts, who governed the provinces in the name of the king in a non-hereditary way. There was not a permanent army yet, it was very expensive, and in case of war the dukes and counts had to recruit soldiers either among their own Frankish warriors or among the population. Cavalry barely had, and their most typical weapon was the Franciscan ax. These new Germanic kingdoms supposed a stage of decay with respect to the classic culture. They were illiterate, somewhat savage, semi-nomadic, little given to art and had not yet developed the writing, not counting the runes, but hey, I'll talk about that in another video. They spoke Germanic languages, but in many of their kingdoms Latin continued to be used; but the vulgar Latin, different from the classic one, that when mixing with other languages ​​gave origin, over the centuries, to varieties that is what we call Romance languages ​​or romances: Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, French, Italian, Romanian, Sardinian ... The Germanic law was for a long time customary, but thanks to the influence of other Roman codes, they began to create their own. Clodoveo I is credited with drafting the Salic Law, which comes from the Salians, which regulated monarchical succession, inheritances, robberies and crimes in general, and even hexes and shits of witchcraft. For these things they condemned you to the gallows or the bonfire. Also the revenge for offense was very habitual (at the moment we would get thin), and the ordeal, which was a kind of judgment of God. If you were thrown into a river and floated, you were guilty because obviously an evil power that was saving and pushing out of the water. In short, things of the Middle Ages. And now be careful because curves come. You are going to see many kings, many fragmented kingdoms and a lot of shit. The next period is quite complex, dark and dense, so as I always say, do not get overwhelmed by these things that go by quickly. Also, if you are thinking what name to put your children ... from here you can get very good ideas. THE CHILDREN OF CLODOVEO I (511-561) In the year 511 Clovis I died and did what must never be done: divide the kingdom among the children. Teodorico I received the region of Reims, or of Austrasia, the land of this, with capital in Metz; Clodomiro was made with Orleans, in the Loire Valley; Childebert I with Paris and the valley of the Seine, although shortly after he conquered the part of Clodomiro; and Clotario I received Soissons and the Belgian zone, and ruled the region of Neustria, the land of the west. People on the other side of the English Channel, the Bretons, colonized the peninsula of Armorica, what we now know as French Brittany. The region of Burgundy was still under the control of the Kingdom of the Burgundians, although for a short time, and finally the highly Romanized Aquitaine became part of Neustria, but with enough autonomy. The ambition of Clotario I made him wish the territories of his brothers. The first to fall was Clodomiro in 524, but the culprit was the Burgundian king Gundemaro III, against whom the brothers began the 1st Burgundian War. The Franks lost, and now the rich territory of Orleans was to be divided among the children of the dead. None of that! Said the brothers, and they charged every god, anyone who could inherit, and each one was left with a trozico. In 531 the King of Thuringia Hermanfred arrived and promised the brothers part of his kingdom if they helped him fight against his brother and rival Baderico. And what do you think happened? Teodorico I took advantage and everything was left, and with that a part of Germania became part of the Franco Kingdom. Something similar happened with the Burgundians. Gundemaro III was without ostrogoda help and the brothers went to sack for him in a 2nd Burgundian War that ended in the absorption of their territory by Clotario and Childeberto. The latter also fought against the Visigoths and took Pamplona even, although when he went to Zaragoza they gave him good ass. He wore San Vicente's tunic as a relic and began to build churches throughout Paris. Here another thing, no, but religious buildings ... for a tube. And La Cité, where the king lived, fortified to the extreme. Theodoric died of illness while he and his son Theodobert I tried to take Arles. Clotario I attacked him to keep the inheritance, but Childeberto I joined his nephew and almost defeated him in Rouen, but after a siege with infernal storm included decided to be at peace. Now Theodobert would face, supported by the Byzantines, the Ostrogoths, and although he won good victories, he soon made it. It would not be until the year 555, with the death of his son Teodobaldo, when Clotario appeared in the city of Metz to claim the throne of Austrasia. Childeberto died sick 3 years later, and as it could not be otherwise, Clotario I presented himself in Paris and unified all Frankia just as his father had done 50 years before. It had cost a lot, but total for what? 3 years later Clotario wrote it and the disunity returned. "FIGHT FIGHT" LA QUERELLA MEROVINGIA (561-639) Year 561. The sons of Clotario I share the kingdom. Gontrán stayed with Orleans and Burgundy. Sigebert I with Austrasia, and had to change his capital from Reims to Metz for the attack of the Avars. Chilperico I stayed with a small Neustria. And finally Cariberto I with Paris and with Aquitaine, although he died soon because of the revelry that he was hitting ... and the others divided up their lands. Paris was the sacred city, none of the brothers could enter it without punishment. Sigeberto I and Chilperico I were bad people, and both wanted to take over the whole kingdom. Gontrán I, on the contrary, was good people, and tried to put peace. However, in the year 575 began a quarrel or civil war that lasted about 40 years. Let me tell you. Sigeberto married Brunegilda, a Visigothic princess; and his sister Galsuinda married King Chilperico. Two sisters for two brothers, in short. But Chilperico still put a hand with his old concubine Fredegunda, and she snorted him to load Galsuinda and make her queen. Days later the girl appears strangled and the sister and her husband, King Sigeberto, swear revenge and declare war. The War of the Two Queens is sometimes called, because although the two kings died, the throne was inherited by their minor children, and those who had the de facto power were both Brunegilda in Austrasia and Fredegunda in Neustria, and they took care of perpetuate the conflict. They were for years sending hitmen with poisoned daggers to see if they charged each other. "Gonorrhea, wrong delivery" But Meroveo II, son of Chilperico I, married in secret with his aunt Brunegilda in Romeo plan and Julieta incest edition. They escape but the boy is charged soon, and the girl ends up asking for protection to Gontrán, whom he has adopted his son Childeberto II in 587. In Neustria, Chilperico I was murdered to death by assassins and his son inherited the throne with Fredegunda, Clotario II. He was not more than a year old, but this king will be very important, you'll see. This era was a total lack of control, and with so many divisions the kings had to divide their wealth among the children. The less wealth the less loyalty of the aristocracy, and in the end it was they who benefited from this weakness. The most relevant figure is found in the position of Palace Steward, who acted practically as a Prime Minister, as a second in command. Towards the year 613 Clotario II was close to losing the civil war against Brunegilda and his two grandchildren, but they killed each other and then, the Neustrian managed to get the nobility of Austrasia to take his part, kicking the old woman Queen. That same year Clotario II managed to unify again the Frankish Kingdom, and to the conspirators he gave them as doorkeepers as palace stewards. They were Pipino de Landen and Bishop San Arnulfo de Metz in Austrasia, and Warnacario in Burgundy. These mayordomos would be the ones who would handle all the threads of the Frankish government during the next century and a half. It is important the Council of Paris of the year 614, where ecclesiastics and nobles obtained great benefits. In fact, before his death he was forced to succeed his son Dagoberto I. On the other hand, his brother Cariberto II was named viceroy of Aquitaine to fight against the rebel rebels in the area. Dagobert I moved the capital from Metz to Paris, and built the Abbey of St. Denis, founded by St. Genevieve, where many of his successors were buried ... and also ordered the construction of the oldest castle in Germany, that of Alten Schloss, in Merseburg . He reorganized the kingdom's administration and justice and did a lot of good things like peace treaties and shit. In addition, in these years the Gallo-Roman bishop Gregorio de Tours finished his book "History of the Franks", which as his own name indicates, told the history of the Franks until almost the year 600. He also had rather regrettable moments, such as his defeat against the Slavs, for example. Pepin de Landen and other nobles of Austrasia had him taken by the eggs, and they forced him to name his son Sigeberto III, a few years old, king of the territory, to control them. On the other hand, Dagoberto named his other son, Clodoveo II, king of Neustria, and the kingdom returned to fragment. With his death in the year 639 and with his two minor children, the majordomos of the two kingdoms gained total control of everything ... and this would eventually destroy the Merovingian dynasty. LOS REYES HOLGAZANES (639-751) This period of little more than a century is popularly known as that of the idle kings because these Merovingian kings were all a bunch of vagrants who dedicated themselves more to living life than to governing. Well, it is not that they had many options. All its functions were taken over by the nobility and the palace butlers, especially those of a family: the Pipinids. The first was Pippin de Landen, whose son Grimoaldo inherited his position and made King Sigebert III appoint his son, Childebert the adopted, as king. The nobles did not see anything this well and both the steward and his son were sentenced to death in 662. At that time there was also a move in Nuestria, as the Ebroino butler, a supporter of the kings, faced the nobility led by the Bishop of Autun Leodegardo, After the death of Clotario III, he seated his son, Teodorico III, on the throne, but the nobles made the king of Austrasia Childerico II king. But 3 years and the grave; Theodoric III and Ebroino returned to control the cotarro. However, here appears the nephew of Grimoaldo, Pipino de Heristal, the mayordomo of Austrasia, and returned the hosts between both kingdoms. After the Battle of Tertry he defeated Bertar, rival steward of the kingdom of Neustria, and King Theodoric III, and Pepin was able to rule the entire Frankish kingdom except Aquitaine, which began to be ruled by the powerful Duke Odon the Great. In the year 714 the East Pepin died but all his children had touched it. Well, there was one he had with a concubine, Carlos Martel, but the widowed queen Plectruda imprisoned him in Cologne. He escaped, conquered Austrasia, placed the puppet Clotario IV ... and then managed to remove Chilperico II and his butler Rainfroi from power. He ruled nearly 20 years to his ball, undertaking major campaigns of war. It fought against Saxony, against Bavarians of Bavarian, and invaded the territory that Friesians maintained in the present Netherlands. His last leader was Redbad I, who could not do anything to avoid the conquest. But undoubtedly his greatest feat was the beating that got the Arab invaders of the Umayyad Caliphate during the Battle of Poitiers or Tours of the year 732, allied with the aforementioned Odón de Aquitania. Some years before these guys had conquered the entire Iberian peninsula after eliminating the last Visigothic king, Rodrigo, at the Battle of Guadalete. Now they wanted more, but with swords, Carlos "the Hammer" managed to stop bothering for a while. Martel died in 741 and as usual he distributed his titles among his children: Carloman inherited the title of steward of Austrasia and Pepin the Short of Neustria. However, the first did not take long to get bored and retire to a monastery, so in 747 Pepin the Brief took control of everything. The last Merovingian king was Childerico III, who was there with astonishment, and Pepin maneuvered with legal chicanery with Pope Zacarias to officially become king. And in the end the papacy, faced with the Lombard threat and seeing that the Franks were their only friends, decided that ok, to become king. Thus, in 751 Pepin the Brief was crowned by St. Boniface in Soissons. With him came a new dynasty to the power of the Frankish Kingdom: the Carolingian.



The expansion of Clothar's territories, shown in brown
The expansion of Clothar's territories, shown in brown

Frankish customs of the day allowed for the practice of polygamy, especially among royalty. So it was not uncommon for a king to have multiple wives and several competing heirs upon his death. This was a major deviation from the monogamy of late Roman customs, influenced by the Church. Frankish rulers followed this practice mainly to increase their influence across larger areas of land in the wake of the Roman empire's collapse. The aim was to maintain peace and ensure the preservation of the kingdom by appeasing local leaders.[1] In the Germanic tradition succession fell, not to sons, but to younger brothers, uncles, and cousins. But under Salic law, Clovis I instituted the custom of sons being the primary heirs in all respects. However, it was not a system of primogeniture, with the eldest son receiving the vast majority of an inheritance, rather the inheritance was split evenly between all the sons. Therefore, the greater Frankish Kingdom was often splintered into smaller sub-kingdoms.[1]


Early life

Chlothar was the fifth son of Clovis I and the fourth son of Queen Clotilde. The name 'Chlothar' means "glory".[2] Chlothar was born around 497 in Soissons. Upon the death of his father on 27 November 511, he received as his share of the kingdom: the town of Soissons, which he made his capital; the cities of Laon, Noyon, Cambrai, and Maastricht; and the lower course of the Meuse River. But he was very ambitious and sought to extend his domain.

Bust of Chlothar
Bust of Chlothar

Accession to the throne

Upon the death of Clovis I in the year 511, the Frankish kingdom was divided between Chlothar and his brothers, Theuderic, Childebert, and Chlodomer.[3] Because of the rights of mothers, queens were granted a portion of their son's kingdom. Clovis I, who had two wives, divided his kingdom into two for each of his wives, then parceled out pieces to his respective sons. The eldest, Theuderic, son of the first wife, had the benefit of receiving one half of the kingdom of Francia, Reims. Chlothar shared the second half of the kingdom with his brothers Childebert and Chlodomer. Chlothar received the northern portion, Childebert the central kingdom of Paris, and Chlodomer the southern Kingdom of Orléans.[1] The domain inherited by Chlothar consisted of two distinct parts: one in Gaulic Belgium, corresponding to the kingdom of the Salian Franks, where he established his capital at Soissons and included the dioceses of Amiens, Arras, Saint-Quentin and Tournai; and the other in Aquitane including the dioceses of Agen, Bazas, and Périgueux.[1]

First Burgundian war

In 516 Gundobad, king of Burgundy, died, and the throne passed to his son Sigismund, who converted to Catholicism. Sigismund adopted an extreme anti-Arian policy, going so far as to execute his Arian son Sigeric, who was the grandson of the Ostrogoth King Theoderic the Great. Sigismund also nearly prompted the Franks to launch an offensive against him, but he avoided a conflict by giving one of his daughters, Suavegotha, in marriage to Chlothar's older half-brother, Theuderic I.

In 523, at the instigation of their mother, Clotilde, Chlothar, Childebert, and Chlodomer joined forces in an expedition against the Burgundians. The Burgundian army was defeated, and Sigismund was captured and executed. Sigismund's brother Godomar replaced him on the throne, with the support of the aristocracy, and the Franks were forced to leave.

In 524 Chlothar and his brothers, including Theuderic, began a new campaign, advancing to the Isère Valley. But on 25 June 524, they suffered a serious defeat at the Battle of Vézeronce, and Chlodomer was killed. The Franks left Burgundy, and Godomar resumed his rule until 534.[4]

Marriage with Guntheuc

Radegonde's wedding, depiction of her praying, and prostrate in the marital bed
Radegonde's wedding, depiction of her praying, and prostrate in the marital bed

Chlothar married Guntheuc, Queen of Orléans and widow of Chlodomer, his brother. This union gave Chlothar access to Chlodomer's treasury and ensured Guntheuc's position as sole heiress to King Godégisile's lands; Frankish law allowed a woman to inherit land if she had no sons.[5]

Marriage with Aregund

Chlothar's wife Ingund requested that he find a husband worthy of her sister, Aregund. Finding no one suitable, Chlothar took Aregund as one of his own wives. The year was c. 533-538. She remained his wife until the death of her sister, Ingund, in 546, after which she fell out of favor with Chlothar.[6]

Thuringian conquest

In 531 Hermanafrid, king of the Thuringians, promised to give Chlothar's half-brother, Theuderic, part of the Kingdom of Thuringia if he would help to depose Baderic, Hermanafrid's rival and brother. Theuderic accepted. However, having been injured after a victory, he appealed to Chlothar to continue the war. Hermanafrid died around this time, and the goal became simply to conquer Thuringia.

The alliance, along with the aid of his nephew Theudebert I, conquered Thuringia, and it became a part of the Frankish domain. During the division of the spoils, Chlothar and Theuderic argued fiercely over the hand of Princess Radegund, but eventually Chlothar won the dispute on the grounds that it had been his men who had captured her.[7]

Princess Radegund

Radegund is brought before Chlothar
Radegund is brought before Chlothar

In 538, Radegund was brought to Soissons to marry Chlothar, as "not illegitimate but legitimate queen," who could help consolidate his dominance over Thuringia.

While her title and status were necessary for Chlothar to attain authority over Thuringia, Radegund remained in simple clothing and was not treated in the customary manner of a queen. This was largely due to her Christian faith; she did not want to appear luxurious.

Radegund did not eat to excess. She insisted that much of her food be given to the poor. She spent most of her time praying and singing psalms but spent very little time with the king. Her allegiance was to God first and to Chlothar second. Chlothar became irritated and had many disputes with her.[8]

She retired to a convent and went on to found the abbey in Poitiers St. Croix, the first nunnery in Europe. She was canonized Saint Radegund.[9]

Acquisition of the kingdom of Orléans

Chlothar was the chief instigator in the murder of his brother Chlodomer's children in 524, and his share of the spoils consisted of the cities of Tours and Poitiers.

Chlothar's brother, Chlodomer was killed on 25 June 524 during an expedition against the Burgundians at the Battle of Vezeronce. Upon Chlodomer's death, his three sons, Theodebald, Gunther, and Clodoald, were entrusted to care of their grandmother, hence the young princes were raised in Paris by Chlodomer's mother, Chlotilde.

To prevent the kingdom of Orleans from returning to his nephews, Chlothar joined with his brother Childebert in 532 to threaten the young heirs with death unless they agreed to join a monastery. They sent Arcadius, grandson of Sidonius Apollinaris, to their mother, Clotilde, with a pair of scissors and a sword. He gave the queen an ultimatum: the boys could either live as monks or die.

Germanic traditions gave Queen Clotilde, as the mother, the right as head of her household. However, among kings the lineage passed to younger brothers before it passed to the next generation. Due to tribal politics, shearing of the boys' hair could lead to a civil war; long hair was a symbol of Frankish royalty, and to remove it was considered a grave insult. But Theodebald, Gunthar, and Clodoald could someday lay claim to the throne, and it was Chlothar and Childebert's duty to pass authority on to them.

Clotilde was disgusted and shocked at the demands relayed by Arcadius and stated that she would rather see her sons dead than see their hair shorn.[10]

Assassination of Thibaut and Gunthar
Assassination of Thibaut and Gunthar

The two uncles went through with their plan to murder the children. Chlothar stabbed Theodebald in the armpit. Gunthar threw himself at the feet of Childebert, who began to cry and almost gave in to the pleas of his nephew. Chlothar, however, demanded that Childebert carry through with the murder, stating that it was the only way to consolidate power. Childebert gave Gunthar up to Chlothar, who had him stabbed and strangled. Theodebald and Gunthar were ten and seven years old respectively.

Clodoald remained alive by managing to escape, hidden by loyal supporters. He renounced all claims and chose a monastic life. Childebert and Chlothar could then freely share their acquired territory. Meanwhile, Theuderic captured a parcel consisting of Auxerrois, Berry and Sens.

Second Burgundian war

In 532, Childebert and Chlothar seized Autun. They hunted for Godomar III, brother of Sigismund, with the help of his father and ally, the king of the Ostrogoths Theoderic the Great.

The death of Athalaric, the grandson and successor of Theodoric the Great, in 534 generated a succession crisis in the Ostrogothic kingdom, the Burgundian ally. Chlothar, Theudebert, and Childebert took the opportunity to invade the Burgundian kingdom, now devoid of Ostrogothic protection. The Burgundian kingdom was overtaken and divided between the three Frankish rulers. Chlothar received Grenoble, Die and many of the neighbouring cities.[11]

First Visigoth war

Imagined Bust of Chlothar on coin minted by Louis XVIII
Imagined Bust of Chlothar on coin minted by Louis XVIII

Over the years, the Spanish Visigoths had made many incursions into Frankish territories and had taken lands. Clovis had retrieved them and even made further conquests of Gothic territories. Chlothar sent his eldest sons to reclaim lost territories. Although there was some success, for some unknown reason Gunthar, his second eldest, ended his campaign and returned home. Theudebert, the eldest, continued the war and took the strongholds of Dio-et-Valquières and Cabrières. Most of the lost Frankish lands were recovered.[12]

Civil war

Chlothar attempted to take advantage of Theuderic's illness during this time, trying to attain his kingdom with the help of Childebert. However Theudebert, who was busy securing Arles, rushed back to his father Theuderic's aid. Theuderic died a few days later. And Theudebert, supported by his vassals, managed to keep his kingdom and restrained his uncles from taking over.

Childebert and Theudebert joined forces and declared war on Chlothar. They initially defeated him, forcing him to take refuge in a forest for protection against the alliance. While Chlothar was besieged, a storm ravaged equipment, roads, and horses and disorganized the allied army. Childebert and Theudebert were forced to abandon the siege and make peace with Chlothar.[13]

Ceding of Provence

In 537, a conflict broke out between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogothic kingdom. To ensure Frankish neutrality in the conflict, King Vitiges offered Provence, which the Frankish Kings shared between them, along with the northern Alps with sovereignty over the Alemanni, by grabbing the upper Rhine valley, Main, and high Danube.[14] When the Ostrogoths ceded Provence to the Franks, he received the cities of Orange, Carpentras, and Gap.

Second Visigoth war

In spring 542, Childebert and Chlothar, accompanied by three of his sons, led an army into Visigoth Hispania. They seized Pamplona and Zaragoza but were finally forced to abandon after conquering most of the country. Since most of the king's army was still with Theudis and there was still enough power to be shown, they were ceded some major lands beyond the Pyrénées, although not as much as they had occupied.[12]

Tuscan tribute

The murder of Amalasuntha, the daughter of Theodoric the Great, and of Audofleda, sister of Clovis I, at the hands of the king of Tuscany caused Chlothar to threaten invasion if he did not receive a payment. The agreement that averted the war was for the Tuscan king to send 50,000 gold coins. However, Childebert and Theudebert had it intercepted, and they stole the payment and split it between them before it reached Chlothar. But Chlothar's treasury was still much larger than either Childebert's or Theudebert's.

Death of Clotilde

Frankish Realm in 548
Frankish Realm in 548

On 3 June 548, Clotilde, Chlothar's mother, died in the city of Tours. Chlothar and his brother Childebert transported her body by funeral procession to the Basilica of St. Apostles to be buried alongside her husband, Clovis I, and St. Genevieve.

Acquisition of Metz

Theudebald, Chlothar's great-nephew and the grandson of the late Theuderic, died childless in 555. So Chlothar immediately went to Metz to take possession of the kingdom from his late nephew, but under Salic Law he had to share it with his brother. So he married Vuldetrade, Theudebald's widow and the daughter of the Lombard king Wacho. This ensured the smooth succession to the kingdom of Great Metz, as well as an alliance with the Lombards, established since the reign of Theudebert. But the bishops condemned this incestuous marriage and forced Chlothar to divorce her. They gave her in marriage to the Bavarian Duke Garibald. To compensate for the breakdown of the marriage with Vuldetrade (Waldrada), Chlothar gave Chlothsind, his daughter, to the Lombard prince and future king, Alboin. Condat the Domesticus, great administrator of the palace of King Theudebald, retained his position after the annexation of the kingdom of Metz.[15]

Saxon war

In 555, Chlothar attacked and conquered the Saxons, who had revolted, in the upper valley of the Weser, Elbe, and the coast of the North Sea. As a submission, Chlothar required them to pay a substantial annual tribute and for some time exacted from the Saxons an annual tribute of 500 cows.[16]

Between 555 and 556, the Saxons revolted again, perhaps instigated by Childebert. Faced with the Saxon revolt and threat of a massacre, Chlothar preferred peace talks. He offered to forego battle if they would accept his demand to continue to pay him tribute, despite a previous rejection. But his men, aggressive, eager for battle, contested the decision. Talks were cut short when the soldiers forced him, with insults and death threats, to take on the Saxons. After an incredibly bloody battle, the Saxons and Franks made peace.[17]

Submission of Auvergne

Auvergne, a once prosperous Roman province, which had resisted the Visigoths and Franks, had hoped they could avoid destruction by offering their loyalty. Theuderic had devastated much of the land, and Theudebert pacified the land by marrying a Gallo-Roman woman of Senatorial descent. In anticipation of the death of Theodebald, Chlothar sent his son Chram to take possession of the area. In time, Chram came to control a larger area and desired to break away from his father entirely. To achieve this, he joined politically with Childebert who encouraged his dissent. In time his influence was expanded over Poitiers, Tours, Limoges, Clermont, Bourges, Le Puy, Javols, Rodez, Cahors, Albi, and Toulouse.[18]

War with Chram

Chlothar again engaged in war with the Saxons. He sent his sons Charibert and Guntram to lead an army against Chram. They marched to Auvergne and Limoges and finally found Chram in Saint-Georges-Nigremont. Their armies met at the foot of a "black mountain" where they demanded that Chram relinquish land belonging to their father. He refused, but a storm prevented the battle. Chram sent a messenger to his half-brothers, falsely informing them of the death of Chlothar at the hand of the Saxons. Charibert and Guntram immediately marched to Burgundy. The rumor that Chlothar had died in Saxony spread throughout Gaul, even reaching the ears of Childebert. It is possible that Childebert was behind the rumor as well. Chram then took the opportunity to extend his influence to Chalon-sur-Saône. He besieged the city and won. Chram married Chalda, daughter of Wiliachaire (Willacharius), Count of Orléans, which was under Childebert's authority.[19]

Unification of all Francia

The Death of Chramn, in a 16th-century miniature
The Death of Chramn, in a 16th-century miniature

On 23 December 558, Childebert died childless after a long illness. This allowed Chlothar to reunite the Greater Frankish Kingdom, as his father Clovis had done, and seize the treasure of his brother.[20]

The news of Childebert's death had caused many kingdoms to unify under Chlothar. Paris, which had fought against him, submitted to his rule. Chram therefore called on the Bretons to allow him refuge. He had made such an agreement with his father-in-law Willacharius, Count of Orléans, although he was currently taking refuge himself in the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours. He was caught and subsequently burned "for the sins of the people and the scandals that were perpetrated by Wiliachaire and his wife." Chlothar then restored the Basilica.[20]

Between 1 September and 31 August 559, with the help of the Bretons, Chram plundered and destroyed a large number of places belonging to his father. Chlothar, accompanied by his son Chilperic, advanced to Domnonée and arrived there in November or December of 560. During the battle, located near the coast, Conomor was defeated and killed when he attempted to flee. Conomor owned land on both sides of the Channel, and Chram perhaps intended to flee from Chlothar to take refuge in England with the support of Conomor. Chram fled for the sea, but first attempted to rescue his wife and daughters. He was then captured and immediately sentenced to death. He and his wife and daughters were locked in a shack and were strangled and burned.[21] Overwhelmed with remorse, he went to Tours to implore forgiveness at the tomb of St Martinand died shortly afterwards at the royal palace at Compiègne.

Relations with the church

In 561 Chlothar attempted to raise taxes on churches, despite the exemption granted by Roman law which had been routinely confirmed by past kings. Indeed, Childeric I had granted immunities to ecclesiastics. The Bishop of Tours, Injuriosus refused, left his diocese, and abandoned Chlothar. At the death of the bishop, the king replaced him with a member of his household named Baudin. Similarly, he exiled the bishop of Trier, Nizier, because of its inflexibility on canon law. Thus the tax on churches held.

Ingund and Chlothar made many additions to churches, including the decorations of the tomb of Saint-Germain Auxerre; the basilica are preserved with a given royal chalice.


At the end of his reign, the Frankish kingdom was at its peak, covering the whole of Gaul (except Septimania) and part of present-day Germany. He died at the end of 561 of acute pneumonia at the age of 64, leaving his kingdom to his four sons. They went to bury him at Soissons in the Basilica of St. Marie, where he had started to build the tomb of St. Médard.[22]


  • Charibert received the ancient kingdom of Childebert I, between the Somme and Pyrénées, with Paris as its capital, and including the Paris Basin, Aquitaine and Provence.
  • Guntram received Burgundy with a part of the kingdom of Orléans, where he established his capital.
  • Sigebert received the kingdom of Metz with its capital Reims and Metz.
  • Chilperic received the territories north of the kingdom of Soissons.[23]

Female monasticism

Chlothar financed the construction of the monastery of Sainte-Croix in Poitiers, which folds Radegund. He transferred reliquaries that the queen had accumulated during her stay with the king to the monastery of St. Croix.


According to Gregory of Tours, "The King Chlothar had seven sons of various women, namely: with Ingund he had Gunthar, Childeric, Charibert, Guntram, Sigebert, and a daughter named Chlothsind; of Aregund, sister of Ingund he had Chilperic; and of Chunsine he had Chram."

Breakup of the Frankish Kingdoms upon Chlothar's death in 561
Breakup of the Frankish Kingdoms upon Chlothar's death in 561

Chlothar's first marriage was to Guntheuc, widow of his brother Chlodomer, sometime around 524. They had no children. His second marriage, which occurred around 532, was to Radegund, daughter of Bertachar, King of Thuringia, whom he and his brother Theuderic defeated.[24] She was later canonized. They also had no children. His third and most successful marriage was to Ingund,[25] by whom he had five sons and two daughters:

He likely had an illegitimate son named Gondovald with an unnamed woman, born sometime in the late 540s or early 550s. Since Chlothar had sown children all throughout Gaul this was not unlikely. The boy was given a literary education and allowed to grow his hair long, a symbol of belonging to royalty. Although Chlothar would offer no more aid or privilege to the boy, his mother took him to the court of Childebert, who recognized him as his nephew and agreed to keep him in court.

His next marriage was to a sister of Ingund, Aregund, with whom he had a son, Chilperic, King of Soissons.[25] His last wife was Chunsina (or Chunsine), with whom he had one son, Chram,[26] who became his father's enemy and predeceased him. Chlothar may have married and repudiated Waldrada.

A false genealogy found in the Brabant trophies, made in the ninth century during the reign of Charles the Bald, invents a daughter of Chlothar's named Blithilde who supposedly married the saint and bishop Ansbert of Rouen, who was himself alleged to be son of Ironwood III. The Duke Arnoald, father of Arnulf of Metz, was said to have been born of this marriage, thus connecting the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties and creating the appearance that the Carolingian ruled by right of inheritance. It also linked them to the Romans by their affiliation with the senatorial family Ferreoli.


  1. ^ semi-legendary
  2. ^ putative


  1. ^ Also spelled Chlothachar, Chlotar, Clothar, Clotaire, Chlotochar, and Hlothar, giving rise to the name Lothair.


  1. ^ a b c d Michel Rouche, Aquitaine from the Visigoths to the Arabs, 418-781 : naissance d'une région, Paris, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Jean Touzot, 1979
  2. ^ Jean-Louis Fetjaine, The Purple Queens: The Robes of Fredegonde. Chap 1, Belfond, Paris, 2006, p. 14.
  3. ^ Godefroid Kurth, Clovis, the Founder, Éditions Tallandier, 1896, p.505 ; Patrick Périn, Clovis and the Birth of France, Éditions Denoël, collection « The History of France », 1990, p.117 ; Rouche (1996), p.345 ; Laurent Theis, Clovis, History and Myth, Bruxelles, Éditions Complexe, collection « Le Temps et les hommes », 1996, p.80.
  4. ^ Récit des campagnes burgondes : Lebecq, page 65.
  5. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 6.
  6. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre IV, 3.
  7. ^ Bernard Bachrach, Quelques observations sur la composition et les caractéristiques des armées de Clovis dans Rouche (1997) pp.689-703, p.700, n. 55.
  8. ^ Georges Duby, Le Moyen Âge 987-1460. Histoire de France Hachette, 1987, p.56.
  9. ^ Bernet (2007), p.143.
  10. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 18.
  11. ^ Marius d'Avenches, Chronique, a. 534.
  12. ^ a b Isidore de Séville, Historia Gothorum. Auctores antiquissimi, t. XI.
  13. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 28.
  14. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre III, 31.
  15. ^ Venance Fortunat, Carmina, VII, 16 ; PLRE, III, 1, pp. 331-332.
  16. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, (Longman Limited, 1994), 65.
  17. ^ Ferdinand Lot, Naissance de la France, éditions Fayard, 1948, pp. 59-61.
  18. ^ Rouche (1979), p. 494, n. 67.
  19. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre VII, 18.
  20. ^ a b Rouche (1979), p. 63.
  21. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre IV, 20.
  22. ^ Grégoire de Tours, Histoire, livre IV, 19, 21, 54.
  23. ^ Armand (2008), p. 34.
  24. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, 137.
  25. ^ a b Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, 59.
  26. ^ Ian Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms:450-751, 60.

Further reading

  • Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481–751. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0-8166-0621-8.
  • Geary, Patrick J. (1988). Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-504458-4.
  • James, Edward (1991). The Franks. London: Blackwell, ISBN 0-631-14872-8.
  • Oman, Charles (1908). The Dark Ages, 476–918. London: Rivingtons.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1962). The Long-Haired Kings, and Other Studies in Frankish History. London: Methuen.
  • Wood, Ian N. (1994). The Merovingian Kingdoms, 450–751. London: Longman, ISBN 0-582-21878-0.
Chlothar I
Born: 497 Died: 561
Preceded by
Clovis I
King of Soissons
Succeeded by
Chilperic I
Preceded by
King of Orléans
Succeeded by
Preceded by
King of Reims
Succeeded by
Sigebert I
Moved to Metz
Preceded by
Childebert I
King of Paris
Succeeded by
Charibert I
Title last held by
Clovis I
King of the Franks
Title next held by
Chlothar II
This page was last edited on 30 October 2018, at 07:43
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