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Frankish realm

The Merovingians

Chlodio is considered as the first king who started the conquest of Gaul by taking Camaracum (today Cambrai) and expanding the border down to the Somme. This probably took some time; Sidonius relates that the Franks were surprised by Aetius and driven back (probably around 431). This period marks the beginning of a situation that would endure for many centuries: the Germanic Franks became rulers over an increasing number of Gallo-Roman subjects.

In 451 Aetius called upon his Germanic allies on Roman soil to help fight off an invasion by the Huns. The Salian Franks answered the call, the Ripuarians fought on both sides as some of them lived outside the Empire. At this time Merovech was king of the Franks.

Clovis engaged in a campaign of consolidating the various Frankish kingdoms in Gaul and the Rhineland, which included defeating Syagrius in 486. This victory ended Roman control in the Paris region. The later conversion of Clovis to Roman Christianity, instead of the Arianism of the other Germanic peoples, may have helped to increase his standing in the eyes of the Pope and the other orthodox rulers.

In the Battle of Vouillé (507), Clovis, with the help of Burgundy, defeated the Visigoths, expanding his realm eastwards up to the Pyrenees mountains.

Because they were able to worship with their Catholic neighbors, the Franks found much easier acceptance from the local (Roman) population than did the Visigoths, Vandals, Burgundians). The Merovingians thus built the most stable of the successor-kingdoms in the west.

The Carolingians

TheCarolingian line is considered to have started with the deposition of the last Merovingian king and the accession in 751 of Pippin the Short, father of Charlemagne. Pippin had succeeded his own father, Charles Martel, as Mayor of the Palace of a reunited and reerected Frankish kingdom comprised of the formerly independent parts.

Charlemagne's only remaining son, Louis the Pious, followed his father as the ruler of a united Empire. After his death in 840, the Empire was eventually divided in three in the Treaty of Verdun in 843: