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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the political, military, and religious relations of the Merovingian kingdoms with the Byzantine Empire from the time of Clovis to the late seventh century. For Byzantium, there were most often two or three Merovingian kingdoms, relations to which were part of multilayered contacts and could to some extent be seen as “Kingdoms of the Empire.” While the Merovingian kingdoms valued the legitimacy of recognition by Constantinople through treaties and titles, these, in turn, became important for Byzantium in military terms with regard to Italy under Ostrogothic and later Lombard rule. Following the baptism of Clovis, the Catholic faith of Frankish Gaul appears to have been an important precondition for closer relations to Constantinople. The major theological controversies centered around the Three Chapters and monothelitism, propagated as part of imperial Byzantine religious policy, also had many repercussions in Gaul. Relations between the Byzantine Empire and the Merovingian kingdoms were complex, having been developed dynamically in periods of intense contact and often in reaction to rapid changes that took place outside of Gaul.

Keywords: Byzantium, diplomacy, Kingdoms of the Empire, monothelitism, relics, Roman Empire, Three Chapters, treaties

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