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Franks

Guided by their faith and strengthened by their codes of honor, the Franks aim to restore imperial power and leave their mark on the world.

A Germanic people living between the Meuse and Seine rivers in the third century, the Salian Franks conquered northern Gaul and eastern Germany in the fifth century. They are the forefathers of dynasties and principalities that encompassed an immense Western Empire, which later became concentrated between the Rhine and the Pyrenees.

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The Frankish principalities were a federation of states established after the crowning of Clovis in 481. Their sovereigns, the forebears of the Merovingian, Carolingian, and then Capetian dynasties, would each claim the title of King of the Franks. Originally referred to a ruling class of warriors, the term gradually shifted to mean all of the Frankish kingdoms under the term Francia. When Charlemagne’s great empire was broken up in 815, each kingdom in Francia began to develop along its own path. Therefore, when the Capetians arrived on the throne in Western Francia in 987, the monarchy began to assert greater control over the kingdom’s territories and populations. Later, during the successive long reigns of Philip II, Louis IX, and Philip IV (1180–1314), the monarchy was able to expand the crown lands and gained new privileges over its subjects and vassals. Monarchical power became increasingly anchored in a delimited territory and less dependent on its vassals. Ultimately this would bind the monarchs descended from Frankish aristocracy to the space they governed. After 1205, the title King of the Franks would gradually be replaced by King of France. At the same time, Old French systematically became the written language.

Did you know?

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124–1204), a strong and powerful political figure, was Queen of France and Queen of England through her marriages to Louis VII in 1137 and Henry II from 1154 respectively. Yet her son, crowned Richard I of England in 1189, also known as “Richard the Lionheart,” remained a vassal to the King of France through the titles Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers inherited from his mother.