In the area which is now France and was then Gaul, military institutions fundamentally influenced the successes and failures of the Merovingian dynasty, from 481 to 751. Professor Bachrach examines this period in detail, studying the forms of military organization and their relation to political power. Various aspects of the subject are controversial among scholars specializing in early medieval history, yet this is the first book-length study on the subject to be published. For a hundred years scholars have equated the military institutions of Merovingian Gaul with the customs of the Franks, a minority of the population who were rapidly acculturated. Professor Bachrach’s study shows the heterogeneous nature of Merovingian military organization, composed of many institutions drawn from non-Frankish people especially from the remains of the Roman Empire. By dealing with all of the significant sources he demonstrates that there was frequent change in the military insititutions rather than revolutionary change. The fluid nature of the military organization also is seen to have had profound effects upon the exercise of political power. Probably the most significant finding of the study is that Merovingian military organization, like much else in Merovingian Gaul, resembled Romania far more than Germania.
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