Week 6: Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The Franks

From Wikipedia: The Franks or Frankish people (Latin: Franci or gens Francorum) were a West Germanic tribal confederation first attested in the third century as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a kingdom on Roman-held soil that was acknowledged by the Romans after 357. In the climate of the collapse of imperial authority in the West, the Frankish tribes were united under the Merovingians and conquered all of Gaul in the 6th century. The Salian political elite would be one of the most active forces in spreading Christianity over western Europe. The Merovingian dynasty, descended from the Salians, founded one of the Germanic monarchies which replaced the Western Roman Empire from the fifth century. The Frankish state consolidated its hold over large parts of western Europe by the end of the eighth century, developing into the Carolingian Empire which dominated most of Western Europe. This empire would gradually evolve into France and the Holy Roman Empire.

The story of this new dynasty and its evolution is told by an eyewitness: Gregory of Tours. Tours remained one of the most important centers of French culture in the fifth and sixth centuries and Gregory continued the work of his famous predecessor Saint Martin. Gregory was Bishop of Tours from 573 until his death in 594. His book History of the Franks is our most important document for the story of the Franks.


Gregory of Tours,

A History of the Franks,

Lewis Thorpe (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140442952