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Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751

Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751

BERNARD S. BACHRACH
Copyright Date: 1972
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 172
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttt41d
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  • Book Info
    Merovingian Military Organization, 481-751
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6127-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. CHAPTER I Clovis: 481–511
    (pp. 3-17)

    After the death of Aetius in 454, imperial power in Gaul rapidly disintegrated and the wealth of this Roman province was controlled by those who were able to muster the armed force necessary to keep it. By 481 the two peoples competing for predominance in this territory were the Visigoths in southwestern Gaul and the Burgundians in the southeast. Among the lesser groups contending for power were theArmorici(a loose confederation of Gallo-Romans, Britons, Alans, and erstwhile imperial soldiers with their families), who lived in the area between the Seine and the Loire. To the north, between the Seine...

  4. CHAPTER II The Sons of Clovis: 511–561
    (pp. 18-35)

    When Clovis died in 511, his kingdom was divided among his four sons, Theuderic, Childebert, Chlodomer, and Chlotar. The first military encounter in which the Merovingian kings engaged after their father’s death (at least the first of which some record has survived) was against a force of Danish raiders who invaded northern Gaul about 515. The Danes had come by sea and had carried out a successful raid in which they acquired a good deal of loot. The main force had returned to the ships and only their king, Chlochiliach, remained on land, presumably with a small group of his...

  5. CHAPTER III Clovis’s Grandsons: 561–593
    (pp. 36-73)

    When Chlotar died in 561, Merovingian military activity continued under the leadership of his sons Chilperic, Sigibert, Guntram, and Charibert, each of whom received a share of Chlotar’s kingdom. Although the period of their reigns was plagued by internal fighting, the military organization begun by Clovis increased in power and complexity with the introduction of a new fighting force — the local levy.

    The year after Chlotar’s death, when Sigibert was called upon to defend his eastern border against the Avars, Chilperic invaded the western part of his kingdom, taking possession of Rheims, Soissons, and several other cities which Gregory does...

  6. CHAPTER IV The Last of the Ruling Merovingians: 593–638
    (pp. 74-91)

    The period of the last ruling Merovingians witnessed internal fighting similar to that which had characterized the reigns of Clevis’s grandsons. Soon after the death of King Guntram in 593, some of the magnates of Childebert II’s kingdom attempted to despoil Chlotar II’s holdings since the young king no longer had the strong hand of Guntram to protect him and his lands. The first phase of this effort — undertaken by Duke Wintrio of Champagne and magnates(superiores) from Austrasia and Burgundy — was directed against Soissons. The force was neither a general levy nor the territorial levy of Champagne.¹

    When Queen...

  7. CHAPTER V The Rois Fainéants and the Mayors of the Palace: 638–751
    (pp. 92-112)

    Not long after the death of King Dagobert in 638, his son Clovis II succeeded him as ruler of Neustria; Sigibert II, his elder son, had been king in Austrasia since 632. Because both monarchs were children, their reigns were supported and controlled by the magnates of their kingdoms. In Austrasia, Peppin of Landen, the mayor of the palace, and Bishop Chunibert of Cologne, who were the leaders among the magnates, assisted Sigibert in his political and military duties as king. According to Fredegar, the bishop and the mayor “skillfully and with suitable inducements drew the Austrasian magnates to their...

  8. CHAPTER VI Conclusion
    (pp. 113-128)

    Although previous studies dealing with Merovingian military organization have been limited to a small selection of the available evidence, the methods and conclusions of the more influential scholarly works are worth discussing if only to indicate how they might have benefited from a use of the entire corpus of evidence.

    In hisInstitutions militaires de la Francewhich appeared in 1863, Edgard Boutaric devoted some nineteen pages to the military of “la première race.”¹ He argued that the Franks as an ethnic group in the Merovingian kingdoms were only a minority of the population and had to rely heavily upon...

  9. APPENDIX The Byzantines’ View of the Franks
    (pp. 131-138)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-148)
  11. Index
    (pp. 151-157)