The beginning of Frankish and Anglian Christianities

The conversions of Clovis, king of the Franks, in the late fifth century, and of the Kentish king ^thelberht, in the last years of the sixth century, came to assume fundamental significance for the further development of Christianities in the West.

The Franks, a confederation of Germanic tribes, had emerged east of the lower Rhine in the third century. Following the fall of the Roman Rhine border at the beginning of the fifth century, they settled on Roman territory. Around the mid-fifth century, the Frankish settlement reached the river Somme, and in its course new political units with their own kings replaced the old tribes. Clovis initially ruled one such small kingdom, with its centre in Tournai, from 481/2. Only a few years later he had conquered the last remaining region still under Roman rule in northern Gaul. In this way, he extended his rule beyond the area of continuous Frankish settlements as far south as the river Loire, that is, into a zone in which the continuity of Roman Christianity had never been disrupted. He transferred his centre of power into this zone, first to Soissons and later to Paris.

Upon Clovis' accession to power, the metropolitan bishop Remigius of Reims had already attempted to impress on the king the virtues and duties of a Christian ruler and had offered him the co-operation ofthe Catholic episcopate. A more direct influence on Clovis was that of his wife Chrotechildis, who was Catholic despite being a niece of the Arian king of the Burgundians, Gundobad.

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