The Rise of the French in Medieval Europe, 400-1200

Essay by archaeogirl1University, Master'sA, December 2003

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Time, invaders, and the economies of the day put the evolution of great civilizations to the test. Their survival, however, depends on their leadership and how these leaders cope with a changing society. The French have a long and illustrious history that began to rise as the English and the Germans were forming their own, independent, societies. These peoples now make up today's great societies. Between the years of 400 and 1200 A.D., the French region saw a great many changes, both in leadership and society. Three families ruled the region within the Holy Roman Empire: the Merovingians, the Carolingians, and the Capetians. The most significant of these rulers were Clovis of the Merovingians, Charles Martel and Charlemagne of the Carolingians, and Hugh Capet of the Capetians. Likewise, the Battle of Tours and the Treaty of Verdun helped to shape the political and economic strata of the region.

Clovis, son of Childeric, ushered in a new era of Frankish history.

By breaking away from the traditional Roman ways, he allowed a new society to rise. Coming to power in 481 A.D., Clovis was one of several Frankish kings. He took it upon himself to eradicate his opponents, leaving himself as sole ruler and ensuring that his family would continue to rule (Tierney, 1999). Clovis significantly altered the religious structure of the Frankish territory as well. By converting to Catholicism, Clovis gained the respect of the Gauls and could then be seen as a liberator and by bringing his people to Catholic Christianity; he made the "Franks acceptable to the Gallo-Romans he wished to rule" (Holmes, 1992). This "Catholic" trend still exists as the dominant religion in today's modern France.

Charles Martel founded the Carolingian dynasty and reigned from 714-741 A.D. Originally, from Austrasia, Martel secured his place as head...