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The term Merovingian refers to a line of Frankish kings who ruled central Europe in the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries. They occupy almost a transitional role from earlier Germanic tribal rule to the feudal system and Roman-influenced medieval law. The dynasty derives its name from Merovech, a Frankish chief who helped beat back Attila the Hun on behalf of the Roman Empire.

The Merovingian kings declined in power, with gradually more control passing into the hands of the major domus, or mayor. By the end of the Merovingian reign kingship was merely titular, and with the aid of the pope the major domus was to become recognised as king, and kingship passed to the Carolingians.

Famous Merovingian kings include:

  • Clovis - founder of the Merovingian dynasty
  • Dagobert I - one of the last powerful Merovingian kings, and the first king buried in the royal tombs at St. Denis.