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James' scenario, making the alleged Rex Romanorum Syagrius into a count of Soissons a , accords well with the outline given above. Certainly the Moselle valley had come under Frankish influence by the later fifth century, whether through the medium of Frankish counts such as Arbogast of Trier Sidonius Apollinaris Ep. By the Merovingian kings of the Salian Franks had acquired control of the region, which became part of the Teilreich of Clovis' eldest son Theuderic I.

The idea that the Teilreiche resulted from the Merovingians treating their kingdom as partible family inheritance was challenged by Ian Wood , who argued persuasively that the division was brought about by the political circumstances pertaining at Clovis' death. Theuderic had possibly been given a kingdom to rule during his father's lifetime. If the original promulgation of Salic Law is associated with Clovis, and there is no decisive reason to reject this traditional view, it may be that it was first issued in association with the Council of Orleans , just as the promulgation of Ripuarian Law is possibly to be associated with the Council of Clichy However, if we associate the earliest version of Salic Law with the Council of Orleans, the geographical provisions of clause 47 are less surprising.

The bishops of what was to be Austrasia are not to be found among its signatories Pontal and map 1 ; on the other hand, twenty out of thirty-two signatories are bishops of sees between the Loire and the Ardennes. The lack of religious provisions in the Pactus would be explained by the promulgation, on the same occasion, of a series of canons from the council. If correct, this reading might suggest that the north-east including the former rival Frankish kingdoms was already ruled by Theuderic this would be suggested by the signatories of the Council of Orleans in any case.

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If Theuderic did become sub-king in Austrasia by , Chlotild's political achievements on behalf of her sons, suggested by Wood , were all the more remarkable. Whatever the case, by the settlement of north-eastern Gaul by the Franks was long under way. Tracking the progress of Frankish colonization is extremely difficult James remains essential.

In the absence of written sources, archaeological cemetery evidence and toponymic data have been used. The archaeology of burials has given rise to two means of distinguishing Germanic settlers from indigenous Gallo-Romans. The first, physical anthropology, need not detain us long. Although, alarmingly, still recommended by the Director of the DAHL in Burnouf , and still popular in Merovingian archaeology, the scientific foundations of the approach are utterly invalid.

The measurement of skulls, with longskulled, dolichocephalic individuals being Germans and round-skulled, brachycephalic persons being Gallo-Romans, still features in Merovingian cemetery reports Simmer but has long been shown to be unjustifiable. The use of palaeopathological traits within cemetery-using populations to identify migrants and natives is similarly flawed, even in the rare instances where the results are statistically significant.

Like many other aspects of Merovingian archaeology, it suffers from an inability to consider its premises. It is unlikely that there were two separate and physically distinct ethnic let alone racial groups within Merovingian north-eastern Gaul. Clearly 6 The most recent opinions of the date of Lex Ribvaria have rejected the early belief in a Carolingian, ninth-century date in favour of one in the reign of Dagobert Rivers trans. This could be placed in , when Dagobert was established as king in Austrasia, or in , when he placed his son, Sigibert III, on the throne at Metz.


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However, the events at Clichy, which established formal frontiers between Austrasia and Neustria and averted the threat of war, would seem to be a more plausible context. In Lorraine, native Gallo-Romans were already adopting Germanic names and language below, pp.

Similarly flawed, though even more widespread, is the use of burial customs to sketch out areas of Frankish settlement. Burial with lavish gravegoods has been assumed to be a 'Germanic' custom, whilst burial in a sarcophagus or with few or no grave-goods has been interpreted as Roman Stein James rejected this interpretation, arguing instead that the spread of the custom represented the growth of Frankish lordship rather than the movement of Frankish people.

Eight years later this article finally made an impression on archaeology in Lorraine, but was used to argue that there had been no Frankish settlement around Metz Simmer ff; Simmer agreed that Trankish' customs cannot be assumed to indicate Trankish' people but assumed that 'Roman' practices did reveal 'Roman' inhabitants; therefore there was no evidence of Franks in northern Lorraine! Even leaving aside the point that distribution maps of 'Frankish' and 'Roman' cemeteries, as has long been pointed out, reveal sixth- and seventh-century cemeteries respectively rather than different ethnic groups, the whole premise of the argument can be challenged.

It can be shown that the introduction, around , of lavishly furnished burial into northern Gaul was not the result of the introduction of an incoming people's native funeral rites, but rather the product of social and political instability Halsall a; forthcoming:chs. The second general approach to the study of Frankish settlement has been through linguistic evidence, above all toponymic but also via the use of German words in documents. Place-names have been used in Lorraine, as elsewhere, to indicate the ethnicity of the local inhabitants.

The suffixes -y, -ey, -ic h or -ac h are used to map the areas where Romans remained the dominant population element; -ing or its derivative -ange , -ham and its derivatives, and other Germanic geographical names -bach or -berg for example have been used to plot areas of Frankish settlement. Places with the suffixes -ville or -court have usually been assumed to be hybrids or transitional names, resulting from the fusion of the two ethnic groups. James sounded warning notes about this approach, and the results of the study of early medieval place-names in England, where linguistic change was more significant, would rarely suggest that so straightforward an interpretation was justified.

In Lorraine the conclusions drawn from toponymic evidence have often been simplistic. Records of place-names are uncommon before the eighth century.

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Even then, it is difficult to draw any direct conclusions. We do not know how long it took to change the dominant language of a region or to alter the usually accepted place-name. As examples we need look no further than Koln and Trier, cities which have lain in the heart of Germanic-speaking regions since the Merovingian period but which, twelve to fifteen centuries on, retain names clearly deriving from their Roman names, Colonia Agrippina and Augusta Treverorum.


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  7. Even in the early modern period, place-names were still changing back and forth between German and Romance forms. Though the precise meanings of these suffixes were different, the extent to which they were interchangeable suggests that in practice they meant the same thing. The two languages coexisted happily, so that in Weroald, an influential landowner in the middle Sarre valley see ch. Place-name construction may be more complex than is often supposed.

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    Roman forms could be 'Germanized5 and vice versa. The process of toponymic change was a long one, as has been noted. By the eighth century, in the western foothills of the Vosges, Germanic words for topographical features, such as bach or berg, and for settlements e. Cilbociaga marca in and Rimenuillare in ; Wiss. Place-names may, as James suggested for burial rites, result more from the ethnicity of the landowner than from that of local inhabitants.

    The location of place-names ending in -ing, -ange, -y, -ville or -court begs questions about the distinct groupings of these names fig. The idea that -ville and -court names are hybrid is questioned by the fact that these do not lie between zones of 'Roman' and 'German' names but are rather separated from the latter by the former. Figure 1. The region's place-names reveal only the long-term end results of Frankish settlement.

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    Documentary studies do, however, show that Simmer's idea that 'Mosellan' dialect is pre-Roman and unrelated to Frankish settlement is simply untenable. The transition from Latin to German forms can, as mentioned, be revealed as still under way in the eighth century and later.

    The exact routes and chronology of Frankish settlement cannot then be examined, but the premise upon which such an image of migration is based may be mistaken. As will be argued ch. Ethnicities could be adopted and abandoned in the social confusion surrounding the western Empire's collapse, and important light can be shed upon the means by which the inhabitants of the region of Metz 'became' Frankish.

    What is certain is that the Frankish and Alamannic migrations contributed significantly to this social confusion. Metz becomes a 'capital' In the sixth century the Merovingian kings of Austrasia transferred their principal seat from Reims to Metz. The date of this needs fuller consideration. Fredegar Chron.

    By , however, he had moved to Metz, where he married Brunechildis Venantius, Carm. The Vita Goaris Confessoris Rhenani c. Sigibert may have wanted to identify himself with the first Austrasian royal dynasty by choosing as his principal urban residence a royal seat of the last representative of that line. When Bishop Cautinus of Clermont the successful claimant at the synod of died in , Sigibert had his successor, Avitus, brought to Metz and consecrated in the royal presence LH IV.

    In Venantius Carm. From then on, the civitas remained in the Teilreich of Austrasia and the town's importance grew rapidly. The survival of three comparatively unimportant letters to bishops of Metz in the Epistulae Austrasiacae, otherwise generally a diplomatic collection of letters between the Austrasian and east Roman courts, suggests that the collection originated in royal archives at Metz.

    In Dagobert collected his army for a Thuringian campaign at Metz ibid. On Dagobert's death, Sigibert's share of the royal treasure was presented to him and inventoried at Metz ibid.

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    Wettinus' Vita Galli c. Later tradition Sigibert of Gembloux's mid-eleventh-century Vita S. Sigibert of Gembloux would have us believe that the king built this church but, as Gauthier points out, the Vita Romarici also refers to a church of St Martin beyond the walls in The church must have been situated outside the town since, after praying there, Romaric returned to the city regressus ad civitatem; VRAH 3.

    The later Merovingian period The period between c. This impression may, however, result from the unevenness of our evidence. We have hardly any evidence for the narrative history of the town between the death of Sigibert III and the end of the Merovingian dynasty. In , after Sigibert Ill's death Gerberding 50ff for the date , Grimoald, the Austrasian mayor of the palace, put his son, Childebert 'the Adopted' on the throne. As Gerberding ch. In , after a disastrous attempt to rule with 'absolute powers' in the style of his sixth-century predecessors, the Austrasian king, Childeric II, was assassinated.

    Whether or not messengers were dispatched to Dagobert II in Ireland immediately after the murder, the Austrasians managed without a king for about six months between autumn and April , 'government' passing probably briefly to the mayor, Wulfoald, and then to the Arnulfings Pippin 'IF and Martin.