Clovis - The First King: Taking Power (S1: E4)

Thugs and Miracles: A History of France

13-10-2019 • 30 mins

Clovis's rise to power began after the death and ornate burial of his father, Childéric, but it wasn't as simple as being the next in line for Clovis to take power. Clovis came to his position at the age of 15 or 16, an age which, nowadays, most people barely trust a kid with a car. He had to firmly seize his right to take power, then step on anyone who would dare challenge him. Clovis and his advisers were able to make sure the transition of power went smoothly by putting on one of the most ornate funerals seen in Gaul, before or since. And after that, Clovis started his campaign of crushing those who dared to stand against him by heading southwest into the Domain of Soissons, calling out and then crushing that area's would-be king in a single battle. He also stood against those in his own tribe that would stand against him, as we'll see when we get to the story of the Vase of Soissons. It may be needless to say, but Clovis embodied the saying, "If you come at the king, you'd best not miss."

In addition to Clovis, we introduce his wife, Clotilde, a woman who would ultimately lead Clovis to convert to Catholicism and who would then stage manage the succession of her children as Kings of Francia following the death of Clovis. Clotilde is an underreported and outsized figure from this time, and her story plays into the narrative just as much, and maybe even moreso, than her husband's.