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Clovis and the Franks: From Roman Gaul to the Creation of France

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, April 18, 2024 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0354
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Materials for this program

Clovis at the Battle of Tolbiac by Ary Scheffer, 1836 (Galerie des Batailles)

When the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century, Germanic kingdoms dominated Italy, Gaul, and Spain. Yet only one of those kingdoms laid a foundation from which a modern country would arise. This was the achievement of the Franks, who crossed the Rhine River to conquer the lands that came to be known as France. The king who inspired their original conquests was Clovis, who reigned from approximately 481 to 511. Under his leadership, the Franks converted to catholic Christianity and drove the rival Visigoths out of Gaul, while after Clovis’ death his descendants ruled for more than 200 years over Merovingian Francia.

David Gwynn, associate professor in ancient and late antique history at Royal Holloway, University of London, draws on the extensive writings and archaeology which the Frankish kingdom left behind to re-examine Clovis’ career and the factors that explain his remarkable success. With this background, he explains the survival of the Franks from the post-Roman West into medieval Europe and traces Clovis’ legacy through the centuries to the greatest Frankish ruler: the emperor Charlemagne.

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