Sunday 18 March 2018

The Merovingian Campaign

511 – 519 AD
According to the custom of the Frankish kings, upon their death their domains would be divided among his surviving sons. Following the death of Clovis, Childebert, Chlothar and Chlodomer were soon devising plans for a campaign in the south leaving Theuderic alone to face an immediate threat to his borders; the Saxon incursions on the lower Rhine and a possible threat to Metz in the south by the Bavarians.  

Before Bavaria could attack Francia, in 514, they needed to deal first with Thuringia, primarily to settle old scores and secondly, Thuringia had been paid to attack Bavaria. The battle between the armies of Thuringia and Bavaria took place near Hohenwald. Here, the Thuringian demonstrated superior tactical skill inflicting a crushing defeat on the Bavarian army with little loss to themselves.    

Receiving news of the Thuringian victory, Theuderic proceeded forward with his campaign against the Saxons. Crossing the lower Rhine, Theuderic found the Saxons encamped near Noviomagus. Their camp was well protected forcing the Franks to negotiate marsh land and lake before forming a battle line. The Saxons struck first, but the Frankish lines held and overcame the raiders killing their chieftain to secure a decisive victory with little loss to themselves. Seizing the plunder taken by the Saxons, Theuderic returned to his capital at Metz.

520 – 529 AD
For both Chlothar and Chlodomer, the planned invasion of Burgundy no longer carried any interest leaving Childebert fuming in disgust. Seeing an opportunity to expand his own lands, Theuderic expressed his willingness to share in the enterprise. In 522, both Childebert and Theuderic declared war on Godomar with the slimmest of pretext and marched southward to meet Gondomar near the former Roman town of Barbarensis. The battle was hard fought with Childebert facing a greater number of Burgundian tribesmen he finally succumbed to heavy losses prompting the rout of his command leaving Theuderic to cover the retreat. Childebert convinced that the defeat was due to treachery by Theuderic would seek revenge.

Taking advantage of the discord among the Frankish kings, the Visigoths invaded the Aquitaine in 523. Crossing the Garonne River threatening Argentomagus and the surrounding region, they met the army of Chlodomer which comprised mostly of Gallo-Roman and city militia. In the ensuing battle, the Franks were decisively defeated and sent retreating to Orleans.

Later that year, the Saxons landed near Bononia and began a period of destruction and plundering the lands held by Chlothar. The battle near Bononia was hard fought but the Saxons prevailed and won a conclusive victory leaving the lands of Chlothar with their plunder.

Each of the Frankish kings suffered setbacks during this period, the Visigoths occupied Aquitaine, Childebert had suffered a serious defeat in Burgundy and the domain of Chlothar was open to more raids by Saxons. Theuderic, who survived the Burgundian debacle with his army intact was pleased with the situation. News of the Bavarian victory over the army of Thuringia and the death of their king meant Thuringia would certainly seek revenge, thus keeping hostilities to the right bank of the Rhine. Anticipating a vengeful Childebert would seek the help of his brothers; Theuderic made his own plans and sent diplomatic missions to the Burgundian, Visigoth and Saxon kings.   

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