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Chlodwig I. (auch Chlodowech)

Clovis I (or Chlodovech, 466-511 or 513 CE), king of the Franks, is considered the founding father of the Merovingian dynasty, which would continue for over 200 years. Clovis became king at the age of 15, and by the time of his death 30 years later, he had become the first king to rule over all the Frankish tribes, a firm ally of the Byzantine Empire, and a Christian king. Clovis’s policies, and military brilliance, consolidated the regions of Gaul under his rule and, today, he is considered the founder of France.

Clovis was the son of Childeric I, a Merovingian king of the Salian Franks, and Basina, a Thuringian princess.
In 481, Clovis succeeded conquered the remaining rump state of the Western Roman Empire at the Battle of Soissons (486), and by the time of his death in 511 he had conquered much of the northern and western parts of what had formerly been Roman Gaul.

Clovis is important in the historiography of France as “the first king of what would become France”. His name is Germanic, composed of the elements hlod (“fame”) and wig (“combat”), and is the origin of the later French given name Louis, borne by 18 kings of France. Dutch, the most closely related modern language to Frankish, re-borrowed the name as Lodewijk from German in the 12th century.

Clovis is also significant due to his conversion to Christianity in 496, largely at the behest of his wife, Clotilde, who would later be venerated as a saint for this act, celebrated today in both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. Clovis was baptized on Christmas Day in 508. The adoption by Clovis of Catholicism (as opposed to the Arianism of most other Germanic tribes) led to widespread conversion among the Frankish peoples, to religious unification across what is now modern-day France, Belgium and Germany, and three centuries later to Charlemagne’s alliance with the Bishop of Rome and in the middle of the 10th century under Otto I the Great to the consequent birth of the early Holy Roman Empire.