November 27th 511: France's first and truly violent king dies
Clovis, the first French King, died in Paris today in 511. He was only 45 and was actually born in Belgium. He was a Prince of the Salian Franks and his language was Frankish German.
In his lifetime he enlarged his kingdom fourfold. It stretched West into much of France, to Toulouse in the South, almost as far as the Rhone in the East and all the way into Belgium and into modern Western Germany.
His first land grab was the Rhineland. He knew the father and son of the Kingdom did not get along, so persuaded the son to murder his father. One of Clovis’ men crept up on him and cleaved off his head, while he was searching through his father’s treasure. Clovis was welcomed as the Rhinelanders’ new king. He defeated his cousin, the King of Cambrai and when he was brought to him chained, hacked him down, saying how he should never have been captured alive, as it embarrassed the family.
He was the only French King to marry a Saint. His bride was Clothilde, the catholic daughter of the King of Burgundy. She tried to convert him, but it was only when facing imminent defeat at the hands of the Alemanni, that he did so. After snatching victory from defeat at the battle of Tolbiacum, he converted along with 3000 of his surviving army. He pushed many of his people to convert during his remaining years.
His violence was not tempered by his new faith, however. After one battle, one of his knights stole a vase from a church and when the Bishop pleaded for its return, the knight defied both him and his king, deciding instead to smash into pieces. A year later Clovis saw the same knight at a public event. He berated him for having a dirty axe and threw it to the floor. When the knight bent down to pick it up, Clovis hacked his head with his own axe killing him. Justice seemingly served.
Clovis established Paris as his capital and with his wife built the church of Sainte Genevieve, where the two were later buried.
Thanks for this item – very interesting. I’d never heard of this guy. It sounds like he was (to borrow an expression) “mad, bad and dangerous to know.”
Best part surely? I have always had a thing for axes: chop wood, throw them, circle themover my head… The list goes on! Even bought my 5 year old nephew an English Heritage plastic one to go with his Knight’s costume. I loved it. (He broke after a day.)
Who needs a shield when you can wield an axe, eh!
Always preferred the Saxon warrior over a Norman one.
I’ll keep my distance while you circle and throw axes, Wittmann! But it does remind me of one of my favorite movies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-MmIt2ogqc
It’s interesting to see that the historical significance of Clovis is perceived differently in different countries. I first learned about him in elementary school, so he was apparently considered a very important king because they typically didn’t spend too much time on history in general.
Nice. Been a while since I saw it. Definitely a young boys’ film.
Now all I need is an axe….
I have bought Maddy a bow an arrow for her 5th birthday in July. A decent one. She seems interested and they have archery clubs in Hereford, if she wants to progress. Her eyesight is good(like her mother’s). I am blind and have no hand and eye coordination.
Probably best to stand well back while I am swinging an axe, as you said!