Merovingians, the name of the first Frank-ish dynasty in Gaul or France. It was so called from Meroveus, king of the Ripuarian Franks (448-'58), who aided in the defeat of Attila in 451. He was succeeded by Childeric I. (458-'81), whose son Clovis, the conqueror of Gaul, and the first Christian monarch of the Franks, left his possessions in 511 to his sons Thierry or Theodoric, Clodomir, Childebert, and Clotaire, the first receiving the east (Aus-trasia), the second the southwest (with Orleans), the third the centre (with Paris), and the fourth the north (with Soissons). The line of Thierry became extinct with his grandson Theodebald or Thibault, son of Theode-bert. The sons of Clodomir were murdered by their uncles, and Childebert left no male issue. Thus Clotaire, the youngest son of Clovis, reunited the empire of the Franks (558-'61). On his death it was again divided by his four sons. Charibert reigning in Paris, Gontran or Guntram in Orleans (to which Burgundy, a new conquest, was attached), Sigebert in Austrasia, and Chilperic in Soissons. This period was distracted by internecine wars, during which the two princesses Brunehaut and Fre-degonda, the wives of Sigebert and Chilperic, were the most conspicuous characters.

Sigebert was assassinated, and his son Childebert, who also inherited the possessions of Gontran, was succeeded by two sons, Theodebert and Thierry II., who died without legitimate male issue. Clotaire H., the son of Chilperic and Fredegonda, reunited the whole kingdom. It was again temporarily divided by his sons Dagobert and Charibert, the former of whom was the founder of a line of kings known as faineants (lazy), their mayors of the palace beinir the real rulers of France. They were as follows: Sigebert H., of Austrasia, 638-'56; Clovis H., of Neustria (the western kingdom) and Burgundy, 638-'56; Clotaire III, sole king. 656 - of Neustria and Burgundy, 660-'70; Childeric II., of Austrasia, 660-70 - sole king 670-73; Thierry III., of Neustria and Burgundy (deposed in 670 and restored), 673-91; Dagobert II., of Austrasia, 674-'9; Clovis III., of Neustria and Burgundy (like all tip- succeeding), 691-'5; Childebert III., 695-711: Dagobert III., 711-75; Chilperic H, 715-'20; Thierry IV., 720-'37; Childeric III., 742-52 - deposed by Pepin the Short, founder of the Carlovingian dynasty.