Sunday 11 March 2018

Timeline Middle Frankish 496 – 639 AD

Most of the events recorded here come from two primary sources for the Merovingian period, ‘The History of the Franks’ by Gregory of Tours and the ‘Chronicles of Fredegar by Fredegar of Burgundy. The former can be found online in English, however, The Chronicles of Fredegar I found only a French versions or brief citations in English by modern authors. The work of Gregory ends in 591 and that of Fredegar in 642 which cover the Merovingian period well enough to produce a timeline and to improve its clarity, especially regarding dates, I found The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 – 751 by Ian Wood and The Dark Ages 476 – 918 by Sir Charles Oman useful . The Merovingian government is well covered in Oman, pages 121 - 127.  

The timeline is by no means complete, but it does fulfil this wargamer’s need. The civil wars of the Merovingian period are too numerous to duplicate on the game table, but the incursions by the Avars, Saxons, Visigoths and Byzantines will add spice to the campaign game. 

After the death of Clovis I, the Frankish kingdoms are named after their ruling city; Paris, Soissons, Reims and Metz with Burgundy becoming included in 532 AD. The territories take on a stable form after the unification of Francia by Chlothar II and are renamed Neustria, Austrasia, Aquitania, Provence and Burgundy (632).

Map: The Division of Gaul in 511AD

Death of Clovis, kingdom is divided among his sons. Childebert I rules from Paris, Chlothar I rules from Soissons, Chlodomer from Orleans, and Theuderic from Reims.
Theuderic begins expanding toward inner Germany which begins a long struggle against the Thuringians while Childebert I and Chlodomer bring their attention to Burgundy. Operations in Germany were delayed by piratical raids led by King Hygelac of the Danes. 
Death of Gundobad, king of Burgundy and rule is passed to Sigismund. He is later replaced by Godomar.
With his brothers, Childebert wages war against Godomar of Burgundy.
Chlodomer dies in the Battle of Vezeronce. His three sons inherit the realm, but Childebert I and Chlothar I conspire to oust them. The Franks eventually leave Burgundy, Godomar resumes rule until 534.
Hermanafrid, king of the Thuringian offers part of his kingdom for Frankish assistance to depose his brother, Baderic. Theuderic accepts. Chlothar continues the campaign as Theuderic sustains injuries in an early battle. With the death of Hermanafrid, the campaign continues as a conquest of Thuringia. Southern Thuringia comes under the rule of Theuderic while Northern Thuringia is overrun by the Saxons. 
Second Burgundian war, Childebert I and Chlothar I seize Autun (Burgundy). The death of Althalaric (successor to Theodoric the Great) of the Ostrogoths was followed by a crisis of succession. Lacking Ostrogoth support, Burgundy fell in 534.
First Visigothic War was meant to recover lost territory from the Spanish Visigoths. Chlothar I sent his eldest sons to reclaim the lost territories. The strongholds of Dio-et-Valquières and Cabrières are taken.
Civil war erupts between Chlothar I and Theuderic. Theuderic dies and Theudebert (eldest son) continues the struggle and with the aid of Childebert I a peace is made.
To secure a neutral Francia in the upcoming war with the East Roman Empire, Witiges the Ostrogoth cedes Provence to the Frankish kings and secures the help of 10,000 Franks to assist with the seizure of Milan.
Conquest of Thuringia and marriage between Chlothar I and Radegund (princess of Thuringia).
With the forces of Witiges and Belisarius locked in their struggle, Theudebert brings a large army to sack Genoa and plunder the Po Valley reaching Venetia. The Frankish army is struck by disease forcing their return to Francia. 
Theudebert campaigns against Duke Garibald of Bavaria and in four years successfully adds the southern realm to his kingdom. 
Childebert I leads an expedition against the Visigoths in northern Spain, seizes Pamplona and besieges Zaragoza. He is defeated before the walls of Zaragoza by King Theudis and forced to retreat over the Pyrenees. 
A Frankish army led by Alemmani generals, Buccelin and Chlothar, invaded Italy while King Baduila was engaged with the Byzantines under Narses
Having dealt with Baduila, Narses confronts Buccelin and defeats him at Casilinum. Chlothar and his army perish possibly through the plague in Apulia. 
Acquisition of Metz gains an alliance with the Lombard. A Saxon rebellion is suppressed by Chlothar I. Auvergne submits to Frankish rule. Chlothar I sends his son Chram to take possession of the area. Chram declares independence from his father leading to war. Chlothar I sends his Charibert and Guntram to seize Chram, but a rumour announcing the death of Chlothar I in the Saxon war sends both sons marching back to Burgundy.
A second Saxon revolt, perhaps instigated by Childebert I lead to a brutal confrontation. Peace is made between the Saxon and Franks.
Childebert I dies childless giving Chlothar I the opportunity to unite the Frankish kingdoms. Chram flees to the Bretons and with their help wages war against Chlothar I. Chram is captured and executed in 560.
Chlothar I dies and succession is divided among his four surviving sons; Charibert (the former kingdom of Childebert I - Neustria), Guntram (Burgundy), Sigebert I (kingdom of Metz - Austrasia), and Chilperic I (kingdom of Soissons).
Chilperic I waged war against Sigebert I over the division. Defeated, Theudebert, the eldest son of Chilperic is imprisoned.
Following the death of Charibert, Chilperic I invaded Sigebert’s new lands, but is defeated.  Marriage of Sigebert I to Brunhilda, daughter of the Visigothic king Athanagild.
Chilperic I marries Galswintha, the sister of Brunhilda. The suspicious death of Galswintha instigates more wars between Sigebert I and Chilperic I. Brunhilda and Fredegund continue the feud long after the death of their kings.
The Lombard invasion of Gaul prompt Chilperic I and Sigebert I to cease their feud and assist Guntram. The conflict lasts four years with Mummolus, a Gallo-Roman patrician serving Guntram, finally defeating the Lombards.
Chilperic I allies with Guntram against Sigebert I, but Guntram changes sides ensuring another defeat for Chilperic.
Following the assassination of Sigebert I Brunhilda rules the kingdom (Austrasia). Chilperic I wages war against her protector, Guntram of Burgundy while seizing Tours and Poitiers from Austrasia.
Chilperic I attacks the Breton ruler, Waroch II. The army of Chilperic came from Touraine, Anjou, Maine and Bayeux; the latter are Saxons. Following a three day battle, Waroch submits giving his son as hostage and agrees to pay an annual tribute.
A plague sweeps through Gaul claiming two sons of Chilperic I.
Two campaigns in northern Italy by the Austrasian army are beaten back by the Lombards. Following a major setback against King Autauri, Austrasia signs a peace treaty.
Chilperic I is murdered following a hunting expedition.
Following the death of Guntram, his nephew, Childebert is now ruler of Burgundy and Aquitaine. Freed from Guntram’s restraints, Brunhilda coerces Childebert to invade Neustria. Despite their loss at Droisy, the war continues.  
Childebert suppresses a rebellion beyond the Rhine in Swabia (Warni).
The death of Childebert (26 years) suspends military operations. His young sons, Theuderic II and Theudebert II now become heirs under the regency of Brunhilda. 
Following the death of Fredegund, Chlothar II becomes king of Neustria and continues the feud with Queen Brunhilda of Austrasia.

Map: Kingdom of Chlothar II at start of reign.

Battle of Dormelles, Chlothar II is defeated by Theuderic II (Burgundy) and Theudebert II (Austrasia).
Theuderic II and Theudebert II took up arms against one another giving Chlothar II an opportunity to invade Burgundy. Unable to subdue Burgundy, the conflict lasted for nearly a decade.
War between Austrasia and Burgundy, Theudebert II won initial victory forcing Theuderic II to seek an alliance with Chlothar II. Together they defeat Theudebert II at the battles of Toul and Talbiac in 612, near Cologne.
Chlothar II reunites the Frankish realm.
War between Chlothar II and an Austrasian Burgundian alliance. Neustria is invaded but Theuderic II of Burgundy dies essentially ending the campaign. Charged with the murder of ten members often Neustrian royal family, Queen Brunhilda is put to death ending the long standing ‘royal feud’. Chlothar II unifies the Frankish kingdoms.
The Edict of Paris changes several aspects of appointments and administration of the kingdom.
The role of Mayor of the Palace becomes a life time appointment.
Dagobert I, son of Chlothar II, is made king of Austrasia at the behest of the nobles of that region.
Chlothar II dies and is buried the Saint Vincent Basilica in Paris. Dagobert I inherits the Neustrian and Burgundian kingdoms.
Eliminating potential rivals, Dagobert I strengthens his position to become a respected ruler of the west. Waged war against the Slavs, but is defeated at Wogastisburg.
Rebellion by the nobles of Austrasia led by the mayor of the palace force Dagobert I to place his son, Sigebert III, thereby ceding power to the eastern realm.
Dagobert I places a second son, Clovis II as king of Neustria and Burgundy.
Death of Dagobert I effectively ending Merovingian rule over the Frankish kingdoms.

Map: The Division of Gaul in 511AD
By Romain0 - Travail personnel sur un fond de carte de historicair : Image:Blank map of Gaul 1st century BC.svg. D'après Paul Vidal de La Blache, Gaule à la mort de Clotaire (561) Image:Division of Gaul - 561.jpg, Atlas général d'histoire et de géographie (1894), Frédéric Armand, Chilpéric Ier, La Louve éditions, 2008, p. 77 et Bruno Dumézil, La reine Brunehaut, éditions Fayard, 2008, p. 536., Public Domain,

Map: Kingdom of Chlothar II at start of reign.
By Paul Vidal de La Blache - Paul Vidal de La Blache, Atlas général d'histoire et de géographie (1894)., Public Domain,

Recommended reading.
Much information can be found on the internet by searching for the individual kings but the following books are recommended for readers wishing more detail.

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks
Fredegar, The Chronicle of Fredegar
Oman, C. W. C., The Dark Ages 476 – 918 AD
Wood, Ian, The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751 AD

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