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About Austrasia

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Like the other German confederations born from ancient German tribes, the Franks came to live like a confederation of ancien tribes on the right shore of the Rhine river, from Mainz to the sea. The confederation of the Franks was under the rule of the Salian Franks, with the rex Francorum chosen among the tribe of the 'Merovingi.' The other chieftains of the tribes which were called 'subreguli,' 'regales,' or 'principes' were lying under his rule. The Frankish confederation was composed with such Germanic peoples like the Salians, the Attuarii, the Bructeri, Chamavi, Ampsivarii and Chatti as that lasted until in the 4th century A.D. The confederation of Franks was first mentioned by Romans, as the latters were confronted to them in the middle of the 3rd century, wrestling troubles in Gaul. Some of them eventually settled across the Rhine in Belgic Gaul, on the banks of the Meuse and the Scheldt. Albeit most of the Roman emperors endeavoured to expel them from there and that Julian the Apostate severely defeated them in 359, Rome, finally, just was satisfied to make them more or less faithful 'foederati', that is tribes allied to Rome, usually settled on lands at the borders, and used to defend Rome against other Barbarians. Attuarii eventually merged into the Salians as Chatti formed a autonomous people, which settled in Hesse, current Germany, which was their land of origin. By about the same time, Bructeri (one of the tribe part of the alliance which had defeated Varus at Teutoburg), Chamavi and Ampsivarii united into a sub-federation, with their lands along the Rhine river, which was termed the Ripuarian Franks (from Latin 'ripa', for 'bank' (of the Rhine river). Bructeri were a Germanic people originally found on both banks of the upper Emps and Lippe rivers as they parted between the lesser (between the Frisians and the Rhine river, or the delta of the Yssel), and the greater Bructeri (between the Ems and the Weser rivers, by the end of the Ems). By 392 A.D., they eventually were foundnear the bank of the Rhine, near Cologne. The Chamavi were a Germanic people at first found North of the Lower Rhine, West of the Bructeri, to whom they were neighbours. They turned dependents of the Salian Franks by the late 3rd century A.D. as they kept being a tribe of themselves until in the 9th century A.D. as the Lex Chamavorum Francorum ('the law of the Chamavian Franks') proves. Ampsivarii, as far as they were concerned, were a Germanic people originally found around the mid-Ems river as they refused to support Arminius in his fight against Augustus' legions, closing the status of traitor. They eventually found refuge among the Chatti as they held a tribal identity

On the other hand, since the beginnings of the relations of Romans with Germans, the chaos of the Barbarian world -- a reality of tribes or 'super-tribes' -- was molded by Romans into forms that the latter could understand as the evolution of German tribes also is accounted by the will of Barbarians to achieve structures which made sense within the seductive orbit of Roman civilization. The Franks, most romanized, remained faithful to Rome during the great invasion of 406, when Vandals, Burgundians, Alamans, and others swept into Gaul, putting to profit the invasions of Goths in the midst of the empire. Franks, then, couldn't forbid the invasion, as Belgium, where they dwelled, came under their sole rule. Their chief town was maybe 'Dispargum', with kings -of the family of the Merovingians- distinguished by their long hair, and the other warriors having the back of their head shaved. Clodion, the first king of this dynasty, began a series of conquests in northern Gaul by 430 A.D. as Aetius, the Roman representative then in Gaul, manage to check that and keep Clodion in friendly terms with Rome however. Merovaeus, the king's son, fought with the Romans against the Huns of Attila in this famed battle where the Huns were defeated by an army made of Romans, Gallo-Romans and various German tribesmen. This faithfulness to Rome kept on under king Childeric, son of Merovaeus. Childeric's heir was Clovis, in 481. Those romanized, Salian Franks had provided Rome too with generals, as their knowledge of the Roman military tactics was of importance to the conquests move of Clovis, who will have his Franks marching according to those. After the time of Clodion however, for the less, a division had occurred among the Frankish tribes like we described it above, bringing to a separation between the Salian, and the Ripuarian Franks. Between 400 and 450 A.D., Ripuarian Franks kept marauders operating from the Rhine river's right bank as, beginning in 450, their tribes as isolated through Salian King Chlodio rallying to what was remaining of Rome, and also due to other Germanic people like the Alamans and Burgundians not taking in account the passage of the Huns, formed into a kingdom. That in any case, occurred before 469 A.D. Ripuarian Franks might not have been engaged in the 'foederati' process like the Salians had, and they participated into the Germanic push of 407 A.D. By 480 A.D. at last, Ricimer, a Barbarian turned Patrice in Rome, authorized them to settle too into the Rhine's left bank, a time, on the other hand, when the Ripuarians, allieds of King Gondioc of Burgundians, then magister militum and allied to Ricimer, opposed to Salian Franks to who the other magister militum in Gauls Aegidius had allied. Ripuarians then took Köln, a ancient capital of Ubii a Germanic people which had been deeply allied to Rome. By about 480 A.D. Ripuarians' territory stretched from the midst of current Belgium to their former land about the Rhine et from nearly the mouths of the Rhine river into North Sea down to Metz, current France. By about 500 A.D., geographs of the time knew a 'Francia Rinensis.' West, the kingdom of Salian Franks extended down to the current French province of Picardy. Clodion and the Merovingian family, as far as they were concerned, further didn't reign over all the Salian Franks, which, outside the Merovingian kingdom in Tournai, had others, centered on Cambrai and Tongres, the kings of which were Salians or Ripuarians, belonging to the Merovingian family in any case however, and descending from Clodion. Thence, as Clovis moved South against Syagrius, the ultimate remains of Rome and Arian Germanic people established in Gauls, Ripuarian Franks guarded the rear of Salians or take part into fights as eventually, they accepted the dissolution of their own kingdom and to be incorporated into the Frankish kingdom amidst struggles between Sigobert the Lame, their king and long time fellow campaigner to Clovis, and his treacherous son, Chloderic

Clovis, King of Tournai, managed to extend his rule over much of Gauls, confronting with the last Roman ruler there, Syagrius, the Salian kingdoms of Cambrai and Tongres, the Alamans, the Burgundians, Aquitaine and the Ripuarian kingdom of Cologne. Clovis had the support of the bishops as he eventually converted to Catholicism in 496. Franks, until then, had remained pagan as the other Germans in Gaul had, before their invasions, been converted to arianism, a heresy to Catholicism. Clovis however had been unable to eradicate a German costum which led to share the territories and power between the sons of the king at the death of the latter, due to that the German kings were considered the far-fetched heirs to gods and each one thus being a king, by birth. The Vandals only, as a German people, under their king Genseric, in Africa, had tried to put an end to that custom. Albeit divided between Clovis' sons, the Frankish world kept increasing its dominions by the 530s, conquering Thuringia, or given Provence by the Ostrogoths, and completing the conquest of Burgundians. After that the dominions of Clovis had been reunited under Clotaire, his sole surviving son, they were again partitioned amongst the heirs of him, in 561. The Frankish dominions, like at the death of Clovis, were partitioned between parts respectively centered on Orléans, Paris, Soissons, and Reims (a shift, in this latter case, from the previous chief town, Metz). The state of the Frankish world embittered then due to two sons of Clotaire, Chilperic and Sigebert, quarelling for the sharing of the kingdom of their brother Charibert, in 567. That quarrel was hardened still due to that those brothers having married two Wisigothic princesses and sisters, Galeswintha and Brunehilde, respectively and that Chilperic had had his wife assassinated at the instigation of his mistress, Fredegonda. Brunehilde was pushing his own husband to take vengeance of the murder. That was the start, in 575, of a series of bloody conflicts, fortifying in strength due to further implications and which lasted until 613. The conflict, first, had seen, the emergence of two entities, the kingdom of Neustria, in the West, and the one of Austrasia, in the East, and, eventually queen Brunehilde eliminated by the greats of Austrasia due to her will to impose on the Franks some kind of monarchical absolutism. The fact she was a woman likely impacted also on the revolt. Brunehilde was executed in 613

The year 613 marked a form of defeat of the idea of Frankish monarchy, to the nobility, as by an edict of 614, king Clotaire II promised to withdraw the counts from the provinces, to accept that the 'mayor of the palace' be chosen by the greats, to respect the immunity of the clergy and to also continue Austrasia and Neustria like separate governments. Whence, the nobility of Austrasia grew to more independence, with a separate government, the mayor of the palace of which, Pippin of Landen -and with the influence of Arnulf, the bishop of Metz- eventually laid the fundations for the next Frankish dynasty, the one of the Pippinids, or Carolingians. Despite the efforts made by the following Merovingians to keep the Frankish realm united back, they failed and mostly were obliged to always recognize the autonomy of Austrasia, where the Pippinids, after a long period of troubles among the Franks (629-688), eventually came to be the sole rulers over the whole of the Frankish world. Hence Austrasia, which had come to be a kind of independent Frankish dominion -under the form of the 'kingdom of Cologne'- since about 376, then a dominion independent from the Romans, beginning in 461, likely developed during those time an independent personality which lasted despite the return of the region under the control of Clovis, then his heirs by the 6th century -not taking in account the fact that the Ripuarians might have been completely out of of the 'foederati' process to which the Salians were part of. It has to be noted that Arnulf, the bishop of Metz, one of the founders of the dynasty of the Carolingians, might have been a faraway descendant to one of the heirs of the last king of Cologne, Chloderic (480-509). This might of the Austrasian region and nobility might have been due too to that it fell, after Clovis' death to Thierry, his elder son and favorized in the share of the Merovingian dominions of Clovis. Austrasia, this former kingdom of Cologne, was populated, at the time of Clovis, by Gallo-Romans, Ripuarian Franks, Chatti and Alamans as it extended from Champagne to the Rhine and Alsace and Lorraine to the southern Netherlands, as its capital was transferred from Cologne to Reims and then Metz. The origins of the troubles, among the successors of Clovis, likely are due to the struggles of influence occurring in that part of the world at the time, with the Byzantines, the Wisigoths, and the Irish monks surely playing their part. The history of the raise of Austrasia, on the other hand, is heralding the fact that a German influence among the Franks is replacing the Roman one, as, overall, this transition between the Merovingians and the Carolingians is also the passage of a tendency to absolutism -and even, under Brunehilde, the dream of re-building the Western Roman Empire- to the share of power between the monarchy and the nobility. Interestingly, at last, once, with Pippin II, the rise of the Carolingians back to the track, it's the clergy which will assume the main part of the power in the region of the former kingdom of Cologne and Austrasia. As seen from the point of view of the nobility of Austrasia, it's likely that those are mostly large landowners in the region of forest running from about the mouth of the Rhine down to the Ardennes, with some of them -like one ancestor of Pippin of Landen- bearing Anglo-Saxon names. That forested country, the 'Carbon forest', North, and the forest of the Ardennes, at the time, was even known under the name of 'Saxony', likely hinting to a population augmented or renewed by some more Germanic elements at the time of the move of the Angles and the Saxons West and into England

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, http://schoolsempire.6te.net. Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 1/14/2019. contact us at ggwebsites@outlook.com
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