(476–750) Frankish dynasty considered the first French royal house. It was named for Merovech (fl. c. 450), whose son Childeric I (d. 482?) ruled a tribe of Salian Franks from his capital at Tournai. His son, Clovis I, united nearly all of Gaul in the late 5th century except Burgundy and present-day Provence. On his death the realm was divided among his sons, but by 558 it was united under his last surviving son, Chlotar I. The pattern of dividing and then reuniting the realm continued for generations. After the reign of Dagobert I (623–639), the authority of the Merovingian kings declined, and real power gradually came to rest in the hands of the mayors of the palace. In 751 the last Merovingian king, Childeric III, was deposed by Pippin III, the first of the Carolingian dynasty. See also Brunhild; Childebert II; Chilperic I; Fredegund; Sigebert I.
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