THE RISE OF THE
• After the Western Roman Empire collapsed, many
Germanic tribes (Visigoths, Vandals, Burgundians,
and Ostrogoths) plundered Europe and established
• Of these tribes, the Franks will become the most
influential and significant.
• The Franks entered the Roman Empire near the
mouth of the Rhine in 250 BCE.
• They settled in the area of Northern Gaul that
corresponds to present day Belgium and the
• In AD 481 ( 481 CE), an able
ruler by the name of Clovis
became king of one of the
• Hi lineage is known as the
Merovingians. (Because it is
traced back to their ancestor
• Clovis was an impressive military
commander and the Franks
would dominate all of Northern
• The legend says that Clovis
had vowed to his christian wife
(Princess Clotilde) that he
would become a christian
himself if he won a victory at
Tolbiac, which he did. He also
ordered 3,000 of is soldiers to
convert to Christianity.
• This gave Clovis the support of
the Catholic church.
• Clovis later seized western
Gaul from the Visigoths.
• Clovis' sons divided the
• The Merovingian line would
become increasingly weak.
• Eventually, the real power
will be held not by the
Merovingian kings, but by
the officials known as the
Mayor of the Palace became
the real power.
• Pepin II, a mayor of the palace,
ruled from 687 to 714 and
eventually his line unified the
• His son, Charles Martel (The
• in 732, the Muslims of Spain
(The Moors) invaded France
and were defeated by Martel
in the Battle of Tours.
• In 741, Martel died and left
his sons Pepin and Carloman
a strong kingdom to rule.
• Carloman entered monastic
life and his brother, Pepin III,
also known as Pepin The
Short, became the sole ruler.
• In 751, the pope traveled to
France and crowned Pepin 'King
by the Grace of God'.
• With this coronation we have the
• The blessing of the church will
become extremely important
through the middle ages and
beyond, to the point that church,
nation and king will be closely
• The Pope in turn, asked Pepin for help against the
Lombards, a Germanic tribe in the outskirts of Rome
that was threatening them.
• Pepin defeated the Lombards and gave the lands to
the Catholic Church, increasing its power and
creating what would be known for centuries as 'The
• Pepin's on,
Magnus, Charles the
Great) ascended the
throne in AD 768 and
ruled until 814.
• He is known as one of
• Charlemagne defeated the Lombards in Italy, the
Saxons in Germany and the Avars in central Europe.
• He could not conquer the Moors of Spain, but he
pushed them back across the Pyrenees.
• By the end of his rule, he controlled much of western
• His motto was 'Renovatio imperi romani' (Renewal of
the Roman Empire).
• Charlemagne had united much of Europe for
the first time since the fall of Western Rome,
and when Pope Leo III placed a crown on his
head and declared him 'Emperor of the
Romans' in Saint Peter's church in Rome, it
had nothing to do with the actual old Roman
Empire, but with his standing in the eyes of
the people as successor of the emperors of
• Charlemagne's rule levied no taxes on land or people,
because his estates produced more than enough revenue to
sustain the Empire. (WOW!)
• His Empire was made of several hundred regions, each run
by a Count. Each region had its own army and
administered its own laws.
• He had officials called missi dominici (The Lord's
Messengers), who traveled all around the empire listening
to complaints and evaluating the laws and rulers, keeping
an eye on the counts and reporting to Charlemagne.
• Charlemagne was greatly interested in education and
he created a school at his palace for his children and
• He invited scholars (mostly monks) from all over
Europe to teach at his school.
• He had commissioned a readable bible, the
Carolingian Bible. It became the standardized bible
for Charlemagne's empire.
• He ordered Bishops to salvage and copy ancient
Latin Manuscripts and to organize schools for the
children of nobles and promising children from
• Charlemagne never learned to write, but he knew how
to read, his favorite book was Saint Augustine's City
• After Charlemagne's death, his
son Louis The Pious took power.
• After Louis's death, his sons
Lothair, Louis the German and
Charles the Bald divided the
kingdom into eastern, western
• This was done with the Treaty of
• The empire of
collapsed, not only
because of internal
disputes, but through