The Franks were originally led by dukes (military leaders) and reguli (petty kings). The Salian Merovingians rose to dominance among the Franks and conquered most of Roman Gaul. They also conquered the Visigoths in 507. The sons of Clovis conquered the Burgundians and Alamanni. They acquired the Provence and made the Bavarii and Thuringii their clients. The Merovingians were later replaced by a new dynasty called the Carolingians in the 8th century. By the end of the 9th century, the Carolingians themselves were replaced throughout much of their realm by other dynasties. The idea of a "King of the Franks" or Rex Francorum gradually disappeared over the 12th and 13th centuries.

A timeline of Frankish rulers is difficult since the realm was, according to old Germanic practice, frequently divided among the sons of a leader upon his death and then eventually reunited.

Dukes and reguli[]

Early rulers[]

This list of early rulers is incomplete, as our sources leave open many gaps.

  • Ascaric
  • Merogais
  • Mallobaudes
  • Genobaud
  • Sunno
  • Marcomer
  • Pharamond, son of Marcomer, semi-legendary king
  • Theudemeres, son of Richomeres, King circa 422
  • Aegidius
  • Sigobert the Lame, King 483 – 507, killed by his son Chloderic the Parricide
  • Chlodoric the Parricide, son of Sigebert, King 507, dethroned by Clovis

Rulers of the Salians[]

  • Clodio, possible son of Pharamond, King at Dispargum and later Tournai (426 – 447)
  • Merovech, possible son of Chlodio, King at Tournai (447 – 458)
  • Childeric I, son of Merovech, King at Tournai (458 – 481)
  • Clovis I, son of Childeric I, King at Tournai (481 – 511), later united most of the Franks and Roman Gaul

All of the following may have been related to Clovis in some degree and eventually removed by before 509:

  • Chararic
  • Ragnachar, probably king at Cambrai from before 486, killed by Clovis
  • Ricchar, brother of Ragnachar, killed by Clovis at Cambrai
  • Rign, brother of Ragnachar, killed by Clovis at Mans

Merovingian kings of the Franks[]

All the Franks

Image Name Date of Birth Date of Death Reign Relationship with predecessor
Clovis 1er.jpg
Clovis I c. 466 27 November 511 509–511 N/A

Clovis I united all the Frankish petty kingdoms as well as most of Roman Gaul under his rule, conquering the Domain of Soissons of the Roman general Syagrius as well as the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse. He took his seat at Paris, which along with Soissons, Reims, Metz, and Orléans became the chief residences. Upon his death, the kingdom was split among his four sons:

Soissons Paris Orléans Reims
Picture Name Picture Name Picture Name Picture Name
Denar koenig chlotar i.png Chlothar I
Tiers de sou d'or de Childebert Ier.png Childebert I
Clodomir supervise l'execution de Sigismond.jpg Chlodomer
Portrait Roi de france Thierri Ier.jpg Theuderic I
Theodebert I 534 548 king of Metz.jpg Theudebert I
Passed to Paris then to Soissons Theudebald
Passed to Soissons in 558 Passed to Soissons in 555

Chlothar I eventually inherited all of the Frankish kingdoms after the deaths of his brothers or their successors. After his own death, the kingdom was once again split among his four sons:

(eventually Neustria)
Paris Orléans
(eventually Burgundy)
Reims and Metz
(eventually Austrasia)
Picture Name Picture Name Picture Name Picture Name
Portrait Roi de france Chilpéric roy de France.jpg Chilperic I
Jean-Joseph Dassy (1796-1865) - Caribert, roi franc de Paris et de l'ouest de Gaule (mort en 567).jpg Charibert I
Statue de saint Gontran.jpg Guntram
Sigebert 1.jpg Sigebert I
Partitioned in 567, eventually
falling in the hands of Soissons
Childebert II
Clothaire II 584 628.jpg Chlothar II
Portrait Roi de france Thierri II (i.e. IV).jpg Theuderic II
- Theudebert II
- Sigebert II
Passed to Orléans in 612
Passed to Soissons in 613

Chlothar II defeated Brunhilda and her grandson, reunifying the kingdom. However, in 623, in order to appease particularistic forces and also to secure the borders, he gave the Austrasians his young son as their own king. His son and successor, Dagobert I, emulated this move by appointing a sub-king for Aquitaine, with a seat at Toulouse, in 629 and Austrasia in 634.

Neustria & Burgundy Austrasia Aquitaine
Picture Name Picture Name Picture Name
Dagobert I effigy.jpg Dagobert I
Caribert II tiers de sou d'or (trémissis)-2.jpg Charibert II
Inherited by Dagobert I, but later repartioned in 634.
Neustria and Burgundy Austrasia
Picture Name Picture Name
Tiers de sous d'or de Clovis II.jpg Clovis II
Legenda aurea - baptême de Sigebert III.jpg Sigebert III
- Childebert the Adopted
Portrait Roi de france Clotaire III.jpg Chlothar III
655–673 (Neustria)
661–662 (Austrasia)
Theuderic III.jpg Theuderic III
675-691 (Neustria)
679-691 (Austrasia)
Childeric2.jpg Childeric II
662–675 (Austrasia)
673–675 (Neustria)
Portrait Roi de france Clovis III (sic).jpg Clovis III
662–675 (Austrasia)
673–675 (Neustria)
Portrait Roi de france Dagobert II (i.e III).jpg Dagobert II
Passed to Neustria and Burgundy

Theuderic III was recognized as king of all the Franks in 679. From then on, the kingdom of the Franks can be treated as a unity again for all but a very brief period of civil war.

Image Name Date of Birth Date of Death Reign Relationship with predecessor
Theuderic III.jpg
Theuderic III c. 654 12 April 691 679-691 N/A
Georges Rouget (1783-1869) - Clovis III roi d'Austrasie en 691 (682-695).jpg
Clovis IV c. 678 c. 695 691–695 son of
Childebert III 694 711.jpg
Childebert III c. 670/683 23 April 711 695–711 brother of
Dagobert III c. 699 31 December 715 711–715 brother of
Portrait Roy de france Chilperic II.jpg
Chilperic II c. 672 13 February 721 715–720 first cousin once removed of
Chlothar IV ? c. 719 717–718
rival puppet king in Austrasia
relative of
Theuderic IV.jpg
Theuderic IV c. 712 16 March/30 April 737 720-737 son of Dagobert III
interregnum 737 – 743
Jean Dassier (1676-1763) - Childéric III roy de France (754).jpg
Childeric III c. 717 c. 754 743–752 relative of


Mayors of the palace[]

The Carolingians were initially mayors of the palace under the Merovingian kings, first in Austrasia and later in Neustria and Burgundy. In 687, Pippin of Heristal took the title Duke and Prince of the Franks (dux et princeps Francorum) after his conquest of Neustria in at the Battle of Tertry. This was cited by contemporary chroniclers as the beginning of Pippin's "reign." Between 715 and 716, the descendants of Pippin disputed the succession.

  • Pippin I of Landen (Austrasia: 623 – 629 and 639 – 640)
  • Grimoald I (Austrasia: 643 – 656; died 662)
  • Pippin II of Herstal (Austrasia: 680 – 714, Neustria and Burgundy: 687 – 695)
  • Drogo (Burgundy: 695 – 708)
  • Grimoald II (Neustria: 695 – 714, Burgundy: 708 – 714)
  • Theudoald (Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy: 714 – 716)
  • Charles Martel (Austrasia: 715 – 741, Neustria and Burgundy: 718 – 741)
  • Carloman (Austrasia: 741 – 747; died 754 or 755)
  • Pippin III the Short (Neustria and Burgundy: 741 – 751, Austrasia: 747 – 751)

In March 752[3][4], Pippin III became the King of the Franks and the office of mayor disappeared. The Carolingians displaced the Merovingians as the ruling dynasty.

Kings of the Franks[]

  • Pepin le Bref ("the Short"), 752 – 768
  • Carloman I, 768 – 771 (Burgundy, Alemannia, southern Austrasia)
  • Charles I, called Charlemagne, 768 – 814 (at first only Neustria, Aquitaine, northern Austrasia), King of the Lombards 774, Emperor 800
    • Duke of Maine: Charles the Younger, 790 – 811
    • Italy: Pepin of Italy, 781 – 810; Bernard of Italy, 810 – 817
    • Aquitaine: Louis the Pious, 781 – 814
  • Louis I, called the Pious, Emperor and King of the Franks with Charlemagne 813 – 814, senior from 814-840

Louis the Pious made many divisions of his empire during his lifetime. The final division, pronounced at Crémieux in 838, made Charles the Bald heir to the west, including Aquitaine, and Lothair heir to the east, including Italy and excluding Bavaria, which was left for Louis the German. However, following the emperor's death in 840, the empire was plunged into a civil war that lasted three years. The Frankish kingdom was then divided by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Lothair was allowed to keep his imperial title and his kingdom of Italy, and granted the newly created Kingdom of Middle Francia, a corridor of land stretching from Italy to the North Sea, and including the Low Countries, the Rhineland (including Aachen), Burgundy, and Provence. Charles was confirmed in Aquitaine, where Pepin I's son Pepin II was opposing him, and granted West Francia (modern France), the lands west of Lothair's Kingdom. Louis the German was confirmed in Bavaria and granted East Francia (modern Germany), the lands east of Lothair's kingdom.

The following table does not provide a complete listing for some of the various regna of the empire, especially those which were subregna of the Western, Middle, or Eastern kingdom such as Italy, Provence, Neustria, and Aquitaine.

Western Kingdom (eventually France)

Middle Kingdom

Eastern Kingdom (eventually Germany)

Names marked with an asterisk (*) were not Carolingians, but Robertians.

  • Charles II, called the Bald, 843 – 877, King of Italy and Emperor 875
  • Louis II, called the Stammerer, 877 – 879
  • Louis III, 879 – 882, jointly with
  • Carloman II, 879 – 884
  • Charles the Fat, 884 – 888, Emperor 881
  • Odo,* 888 – 898
    • Aquitaine: Ranulf II, 888 – 889 (Ramnulfid, not Carolingian)
  • Charles III, called the Simple, 898 –
    922 (de facto)/923 (de jure)
  • Robert I,* 922 – 923
  • Rudolph,* 923 – 936
  • Louis IV, called Transmarinus, 936 – 954
  • Lothair, 954 – 986
    • Aquitaine: Louis the Sluggard, 980 – 986
  • Louis V, called the Sluggard, 986 – 987

After this, the House of Capet ruled France. For the continuation, see the list of French monarchs.

  • Lothair I, 843 – 855, Emperor from 824 (senior Emperor from 840)
    • Italy: Lothair I, 818-855; Louis II, with his father 839 – 855

After Lothair's death in 855, his realm was divided between his sons:

  • Louis II, 855 – 875, the eldest son, succeeded his father as Emperor and received Italy. For the continuation, see King of Italy.
  • Lothair II, 855 – 869, the second son, received the northern half of Middle Francia, which came to be named "Lotharingia" (Lorraine) from his name. For the continuation, see the list of rulers of Lorraine.
  • Charles, 855 – 863, the youngest son, received the southern half of Middle Francia, consisting of Provence and Burgundy. For the continuation, see King of Burgundy.
  • Louis II, called the German, 843 – 876
    • Bavaria: Carloman, with his father 864 – 876

Louis divided his lands between his three sons, but they all ended up in the hands of the youngest by 882:

  • Carloman, King of Bavaria 876-880. King of Italy 877
  • Louis III, called the Younger, King of Saxony, Franconia, and Thuringia 876 – 882, inherited Bavaria from his brother Carloman in 880
  • Charles III, called the Fat, King of Swabia, Alemannia and Rhaetia 876 – 887, inherited Italy from his brother Carloman in 879, and inherited the remainder of East Francia from his brother Louis in 882. Emperor 881

On the deposition of Charles the Fat, East Francia went to his nephew:

Louis the Child was the last East Frankish Carolingian ruler. He was succeeded by Conrad of Franconia and then the Saxon Ottonian dynasty. For the continuation, see the list of German monarchs.


  1. ^ Contested by Munderic, 533, rival king in the Auvergne
  2. ^ Contested by Gundoald, 584 – 585, rival king in Aquitaine
  3. ^ Charles Knight, The English Cyclopaedia: Volume IV, (London : 1867); pg 733 "We have no circumstantial account of this important event, except that Pepin was anointed at Soissons, in March 752, by Boniface, bishop of Mainz, called the Apostle of Germany, before the assembly of the nation."
  4. ^ Claudio Rendina & Paul McCusker, The Popes: Histories and Secrets, (New York : 2002), pg 145

Further reading[]

  • The history of France as recounted in the "Grandes Chroniques de France", and particularly in the personal copy produced for King Charles V between 1370 and 1380 that is the saga of the three great dynasties, the Merovingians, Carolingians, and the Capetians, that shaped the institutions and the frontiers of the realm. This document was produced and likely commissioned during the Hundred Years' War, a dynastic struggle between the rulers of France and England with rival claims to the French throne. It should therefore be read and considered carefully as a source, due to the inherent bias in the context of its origins.
  • The Cambridge Illustrated History of France - Cambridge University Press
  • The Origins of France: Clovis to the Capetians 500-1000 by Edward James ISBN 0-333-27052-5
  • Late Merovingian France: History and Hagiography, 640-720 (Manchester Medieval Sources); Paul Fouracre (Editor), Richard A. Gerberding (Editor) ISBN 0-7190-4791-9
  • Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: Merovingian Dynasty: [1].
  • Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, eds. W. Kibler and G. Zinn. New York: Garland Publishing, 1995.

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