After assimilating with the Romans in the imperial province of Gaul, the Franks established a unified dominion under King Clovis in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.
Under Clovis’s successors, the Frankish kingdom fractured. Warring factions of Franks, under the leadership of the royal descendants of Clovis, imprisoned or more often killed each other. They forced the luckiest of their rivals into monasteries and removed potential royal wives by exiling them to convents.
The several kings of France not only fought each other but also fought off barbarian and Christian invaders. Their various domains were under continuous threat from warlike ethnic groups who pushed into Frankish territories from the west and south. It was not until the rise of a military genius by the name of Charles Martel in the 8th century that the Franks were able to recreate the unified country that Clovis had established.
This history of the Franks is peppered with assassinations, marriages for political alliance, deception, and intrigue. Battles fought between contending Frankish royal families and against foreign invaders involved strategies and tactics that would form the basis of subsequent knightly militarism in the Middle Ages.
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