The History of the Merovingian and the Carolingian Kingdoms
As the Western Roman Empire was losing its powers around 476, a small tribe of the barbarians called the Franks from the North of Italy was growing (Wood 1). This expansion is related to the fact they were located near their homes where they could easily replenish. This helped them to win over much of the Roman Empire. This tribe forms the basic background and history of the Merovingian as portrayed by Bishop Gregory of Tours, who documented most of the historical practices of the Franks (Geiter 8). Remarkably, this community has features which were aligned with the Latin communities. Unlike other Kings who carried out administrative roles, the Merovingian kings delegated their tasks to leaders such as the mayors who had similar roles and authority like the kings. This lifestyle and attributes are closely linked to the Carolingians.
Pepin the Short was considered as the first king of the Carolingian empire, but his rise to power was associated with conspiracies and social challenges. First, he inherited his father's position as the mayor of the palace and maintained his beliefs against the empire. His rule and leadership style were inherited by his son, Charlemagne, who used various unique policies to gain acceptance from both Christians and individuals from the profane world. He offered them opportunities to work together, but these practices created room for more disagreements. He also gave the impression he was working under the pope, which then created a rift between the two since this attribute led to a power struggle as the two wanted to lead the country without the help of the other.
After Pepin the Short’s death, his kingdom was taken over by his son known as Charles Markel. Charles continued to implement his grandfather's responsibilities and rules, but also introduced newer policies. For example, he drove out Saracens who had trespassed their land and brought back of Frankish kingdoms, thus strengthening his kingdom. Years after his reign, the Carolingian kingdoms were then expanded later uniting all kingdoms under one rule. The Merovingian Empire achieved several milestones but also faced several challenges which limited its accomplishments. First, it failed to maintain its line of succession despite its conquest of territory. The presence of a strong line of succession played a critical role in achieving long term goals and ambitions across all other kingdoms. However, the failure of the Merovingian kingdom to achieve this goal contributed to the decline of this kingdom despite its strong start. The Merovingian kingdom was expected to make a strong impact on its people.
The lack of a clear succession system contributed to the lack of respect and planning among the successors. For example, this kingdom experienced rivalry among its offspring as they sought to dominate one another. This conflict prevented the right persons from accessing power since different criteria were used to achieve this goal. Although they had sufficient resources which could be divided amongst the potential successors, they failed to come up with a system that could have helped to achieve this goal. Similarly, the presence of strict social rules such as monogamy contributed to the conflict between legitimate and illegitimate children.
The Carolingian Kingdom was more organized than the Merovingian rule due to the existence of strong interpersonal relationships between heirs. This relationship ensured that each kingdom was divided properly. This strict observance of the rules is closely linked to the relationship between the kingdom and papacy. Unlike the Merovingian, which failed to observe a strong relationship with the Catholic Church, the Carolingian kingdom respected the role of the church to their leadership (Broome 161). However, this association faced several challenges that affected the Carolingian kingdom.
Since the kingdom was prompted to safeguard the papacy it was then facing attacks from different enemies, and the church did not have any army. This practice meant that the kingdom had to suffer extra costs and face new challenges. Lastly, several figures played a critical role in both kingdoms, whereas some of them contributed to the success of individual kingdoms and others to their decline. Clovis played a crucial role during the exchange of leadership during the two exemptions, Merovingian, and Carolingian. Clovis later created a suitable environment for the succession of his son because he killed all individuals who appeared as a threat to the succession plans. Second, Gregory of Tours advised Clovis to make certain decisions that changed the orientation of leadership in Merovingian. For instance, he suggested to Clovis that he should subdivide his kingdom among all sons, and this created a fertile ground to fight one another. Altogether, the pope played a critical role in the Carolingian kingdom. Notably, the pope advised the king on different issues and provided him with legitimacy among the people.
Broome, Ricky. "Pagans, Rebels and Merovingians: otherness in the early Carolingian world."
The Resources of the Past in Early Medieval Europe (2015): 155-171.
Geiter, Steffan James. "The Church, State, and Literature of Carolingian France." (2016).
Wood, Ian. The Merovingian Kingdoms 450-751. Routledge, 2014.