Hooman Golshan asked a very pertinent question "Given the Arabs invaded Iran 1400 years ago, why do we continue to follow their religion and use their script?"
MeyBokhor_Manbarbesuzan responded with a super answer 'Given the Romans invaded rest of Europe some 1900 years ago and forced Christianity down their throats, why do Europeans continue to follow the religion and Latin? They have their pagan and Nordic gods to choose from.'
A grand original question and similarly an enormous response provoked me to run for the entire record of history to compile and sew up a story with the assistance of weighty references from Wikipedia.com that may help to answer the second question. Interestingly enough the Romans contrary to popular belief when they invaded Europe were pagans; it was only after the sack of Rome and Germanic tribes like Visigoths coming in contact with Constantine and Aquitaine; post Rome 410 AD that in next 150 years they lost their brand of practices of Arianism and converted to Christianity.
First let's try to investigate and formulate a general sense of why Europeans of today continue to follow the religion and Latin? France, Italy and Germany form the core of the today's western Europe and this 'core region' historical espousal of Christianity incubated and nurtured the doctrine.
I will take you back to the Battle of the Teutoburg with Germanic tribes to describe the origins of the Roman Empire and try to respond to this question though a circuitous route of the entire expanse of history but well worth it, without a birds eye views one cannot understand why Christianity won Arian books and Roman Paganism? Honestly it was ruthlessness of warlords, depravity of thought, hallucinations and dreams that changed the course of history.
It could be said that without the Roman Empire Christianity would not have spread so quickly, perhaps not spread at all! The Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire and continues in the form of Roman Catholic Church that has its heart in Rome’s Vatican City and a Holy Roman Emperor in the form of the Pope which comes from the Latin PAPA for Father. Catholic masses are still performed in Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. I will start the story with the sons of Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's grandsons, fought a civil war after Louis' death over their inheritance, which only ended in exhaustion when the Frankish lands were divided between them.
Roots of The Holy Roman Empire that existed from 962–1806(Otto I was crowned King of Germany in 962, first emperor of the realm who was not a member of the earlier Carolingian dynasty -the last Holy Roman Emperor was Francis II, who abdicated and dissolved the Empire in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars) in Central Europe were laid when "Frankish lands were divided between them. Charles the Bald was given the western lands, "West Francia", that would later become France. Louis the German received the eastern lands, which would become Germany. Lothair I was given the lands between the two, "Middle Francia" which consisted of Lotharingia, Provence, and northern Italy. Middle Francia was not united in any way, and in the next generation disintegrated into smaller lordships, with West Francia and East Francia fighting for control over them. Arguably, France and Germany continued to fight over these lands up until World War II."
Now that we have determined the core of Europe the Holy Roman Empire 962–1806 tied to 2nd World War Europe, lets trace backward to find the cultural and ideological origins of this region tied to legitimacy from Charlemagne meaning Charles the Great; possibly 742 – 28 January 814 King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800. In 799, Pope Leo III had been mistreated by the Romans, who tried to put out his eyes and tear out his tongue. Leo escaped and fled to Charlemagne at Paderborn, asking him to intervene in Rome and restore him. Charlemagne, advised by Alcuin of York, agreed to travel to Rome, doing so in November 800 and holding a council on 1 December. On 23 December Leo swore an oath of innocence.
At Mass, on Christmas Day (25 December), when Charlemagne knelt at the altar to pray, the Pope crowned him "Emperor of the Romans" in Saint Peter's Basilica. As an Emperor of the Romans 800–814 he filled the Vacant Title last held by Romulus Augustulus (as Western Roman Emperor). In so doing, the Pope was effectively revived the Western Roman Empire and nullified the legitimacy of Empress Irene of Constantinople.* Pope Leo III did not consider her a legitimate claimant to the Byzantine throne because she was a woman. Charlemagne rule is also associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church, Frank King Charles the Martel was his grandfather. Charlemagne helped define both Western Europe and the European Middle Ages. He is numbered as Charles I in the regnal lists of Germany, the Holy Roman Empire, and France. The last Carolingian imperial Emperor was Berengar I of Italy who died in 924.*
This is the umbilical cord that unites the core of Europe to the line of Roman Emperors i.e. from Holy Roman Empire Otto I 962–1806 Francis II to Charlemagne 25 December 800 to Berengar I of Italy in 924.
Now the journey that needs knowing is from Frank Kings i.e. Charles Martel (Charlemagne Grandfather) to the origin of pagan Germanic tribes who through wars, migrations and invasions destroyed the Roman Empire and later converted to Christianity. Let's reverse our course and instead of going backward start our journey from 9 BC to advent of Charlemagne.
"Quintili Vare, legiones redde! The miracles that helped Christianity grow.
While there was a tendency for the Romans to regard the Rhine River as a natural frontier, incursions by the Germanic tribes into Gaul and the Low Countries caused them to periodically cross the river on punitive expeditions. These generally had a limited success, however in 9 CE an entire Roman army under Varus was ambushed in dense woods at Teutobergerwald and wiped out. 9 BC. Three Roman legions were annihilated by barbarians. Scholars have long believed that defeat--known as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest--was enough to make the Romans stay out of Germany for good. Upon hearing of the defeat, the Emperor Augustus, according to the Roman historian Suetonius in his work De vita Caesarum ("On the Life of the Caesars"), was so shaken by the news that he stood butting his head against the walls of his palace, repeatedly shouting:
"Quintili Vare, legiones redde!“ ('Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!')
The battle abruptly ended the period of triumphant Roman expansion that had followed the end of the Civil Wars 40 years earlier. Augustus' stepson Tiberius took effective control, and prepared for the continuation of the war. Legio II Augusta, XX Valeria Victrix, and XIII Gemina were sent to the Rhine to replace the lost legions.
* The three legion numbers were never used again by the Romans after this defeat, unlike other legions that were restructured – a case unique in Roman history except for the XXII Deiotariana legion, which may have been disbanded after heavy losses against the Jewish rebels in the Bar Kokba revolt (132–136) in Israel.
Though Germany was invaded again several times, one recapturing Varus' lost eagles. It was never fully subdued, nor did the Romans really intend to occupy Germania permanently, as it would have left them with an open indefensible frontier with eastern Europe and tied down too many legions for no real gain as it was not a rich country.
* Romans under 'Germanicus' campaign took the revenge of Teutoburg slaughter and also partially in reaction to indications of mutinous intent amongst his troops. In addition, Arminius, who had been instrumental in the Teutoburg ambush, and who had been considered a very real threat to stability by Rome, was now defeated. Once his allied Germanic coalition had been broken and honour avenged, the huge cost and risk of keeping the Roman army operating beyond the Rhine was simply not worth any likely benefit to be gained the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest has been seen as a pivotal clash which ended Roman expansion into northern Europe. This notion became especially prevalent in the 19th century, where it formed an integral part of the mythology of German nationalism.
You are right Roman Paganism was the religion of Rome: The Roman was by nature a very superstitious person. Emperors would tremble and even legions refuse to march if the omens were bad ones If anything, the Romans had a practical attitude to religion, as to most things, which perhaps explains why they themselves had difficulty in taking to the idea of a single, all-seeing, all-powerful god. In so far as the Romans had a religion of their own, it was not based on any central belief, but on a mixture of fragmented rituals, taboos, superstitions, and traditions which they collected over the years from a number of sources. *
To the Romans, religion was less a spiritual experience than a contractual relationship between mankind and the forces which were believed to control people's existence and well-being. The result of such religious attitudes were two things: a state cult, the significant influence on political and military events of which outlasted the republic, and a private concern, in which the head of the family oversaw the domestic rituals and prayers in the same way as the representatives of the people performed the public ceremonials. However, as circumstances and people's view of the world changed, individuals whose personal religious needs remained unsatisfied turned increasingly during the first century AD to the mysteries, which were of Greek origin, and to the cults of the east.
Most of the Roman gods and goddesses were a blend of several religious influences. Many were introduced via the Greek colonies of southern Italy. Many also had their roots in old religions of the Etruscans or Latin tribes. As the Roman Empire got bigger and new lands and people were taken into it, the conquered people added their Gods or religion to the Roman Pantheon (the name for the multitude of Roman gods).
One such new religion was Christianity. Unlike many other religions at the time the Christians talked about “Peace” and “Forgiveness”, not the usual “Anger” and “Punishment” of the Roman Gods. The ideas of Christianity spread and the organisation of the Roman Empire helped this in several ways.
1. It was relatively easy to move around the Empire. The Romans built
excellent roads with were safe from robbers.
2. There were common languages in the Empire, Latin and Greek. This
made the spread of the new ideas quick and easy.
3. The Roman army never had units of soldiers based in their home country, so as not to call the loyalty of the men into question, many of the units based in Britain were from the Middle East and so Christianity spread to Britain quite quickly.
“Their executions became sporting entertainment… they were covered in wild animal skins and torn apart by dogs”
*In the summer of 64 A.D. there was a very large fire in Rome that burnt uncontrollably for weeks. At this time there was a lot of bad feeling towards the Christians. The Romans were angry at the fact that the Christians said that only they would go to heaven. The Christians upset many others with “depressing” talk of the world and all non-believers being evil and should change their bad ways. The Christians refused to worship the Emperor as a god and this was against the law. The Christians were tortured to make them worship the Roman gods and the books of scripture were burned. The Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome and began to persecute them.
Many were sent to the games to be torn apart by wild animals for the entertainment of the people of Rome. 600 of them were even arranged around the top of the colosseum in Rome to be set fire to and act as floodlights!! Attacks on the Christians went on for a very long time with them taking the blame every now and then when it was convenient to blame them for some problem. The leaders were crucified and the Christians driven to worship underground, in Catacombs so as to avoid persecution.
Christians did gain some toleration in the later Empire but it was not until the Emperor Constantine (who was crowned in York) that Christianity was truly accepted. Just before a crucial battle in A.D. 312 Constantine said that he had a dream where he was told to paint the Christian symbol on the shields of his soldiers. He did this and won the battle! He later in A.D 337 decided that in thanks he would allow the whole Empire to worship any religion freely, including Christianity. The future of Christianity was assured when Constantine converted to Christianity the Temples of the old Roman Gods were left to decline or began to be converted to new Christian Constantine did not always behave like a Christian. For example in A.D. 326 he killed his wife by having her boiled alive in a bath and then killed his son too.
Constantine did not patronize Christianity alone, however. After gaining victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312), a triumphal arch—the Arch of Constantine—was built (315) to celebrate it; the arch is decorated with images of Victoria and sacrifices to gods like Apollo, Diana, or Hercules, but contains no Christian symbolism.
* In February 313, Constantine met with Licinius in Milan where they developed the Edict of Milan. The edict stated that Christians should be allowed to follow the faith of their choosing. This removed penalties for professing Christianity (under which many had been martyred in previous persecutions of Christians) and returned confiscated Church property. The edict did not only protect Christians from religious persecution, but all religions, allowing anyone to worship whichever deity they chose. A similar edict had been issued in 311 by Galerius, then senior emperor of the Tetrarchy; Galerius' edict granted Christians the right to practice their religion but did not restore any property to them. The Edict of Milan included several clauses which stated that all confiscated churches would be returned as well as other provisions for previously persecuted Christians.
Scholars debate whether Constantine adopted his mother St. Helena's Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life. Constantine would retain the title of pontifex maximus until his death, a title emperors bore as heads of the pagan priesthood, as would his Christian successors on to Gratian (r. 375–83). His most famous building projects include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Old Saint Peter's Basilica.
* In 321, Constantine instructed that Christians and non-Christians should be united in observing the venerable day of the sun, referencing the esoteric eastern sun-worship which Aurelian had helped introduce, and his coinage still carried the symbols of the sun cult until 324. Even after the pagan gods had disappeared from the coinage, Christian symbols appeared only as Constantine's personal attributes: the chi rho between his hands or on his labarum, but never on the coin itself. Even when Constantine dedicated the new capital of Constantinople, which became the seat of Byzantine Christianity for a millennium, he did so wearing the Apollonian sun-rayed Diadem.
The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the emperor as having some influence within the religious discussions going on within the Catholic Church of that time, e.g., the dispute over Arianism. Constantine himself disliked the risks to societal stability that religious disputes and controversies brought with them, preferring where possible to establish an orthodoxy. The emperor saw it as his duty to ensure that God was properly worshiped in his empire, and that what proper worship consisted would be determined by the Church. In 316, Constantine acted as a judge in a North African dispute concerning the validity of Donatism.*
After deciding against the Donatists, Constantine led an army of Christians against the Donatist Christians. More significantly, in 325 he summoned the Council of Nicaea, effectively the first Ecumenical Council (unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classified). Nicaea was dealt mostly with Arianism. Constantine also enforced the prohibition of the First Council of Nicaea against celebrating the Lord's Supper on the day before the Jewish Passover.
Constatine made new laws regarding the Jews. They were forbidden to own Christian slaves or to circumcise their slaves. Although he earned his honorific of "The Great" ("Μέγας") from Christian historians long after he had died, he could have claimed the title on his military achievements and victories alone. Besides reuniting the Empire under one emperor, Constantine won major victories over the Franks and Alamanni in 306–8, the Franks again in 313–14, the Visigoths in 332 and the Sarmatians in 334. By 336, Constantine had reoccupied most of the long-lost province of Dacia, which Aurelian had been forced to abandon in 271. At the time of his death, he was planning a great expedition to end raids on the eastern provinces from the Persian Empire. Paradoxically the descendents of these vanquished tribes Franks, Alamanni and the Visigoths will in less than 500 years shall bore the weight of the crown of Roman Emperor.
In the cultural sphere Constantine contributed to the revival of the clean shaven face fashion of the Roman emperors from Augustus to Trajan, which was originally introduced among the Romans by Scipio Africanus. This new roman imperial fashion lasted until the reign of Phocas.
The Byzantine Empire considered Constantine its founder and the Holy Roman Empire reckoned him among the venerable figures of its tradition.
Barbarian migrations and the Vandals who took over the Roman Empire and the roots of their conversion to Christianity and the Carolingian Renaissance:
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a paramount position as "the eternal city" and a spiritual center of the empire. The sack was to prove a major shock to contemporaries, friends and foes of the empire alike.
This was the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to an enemy. The previous sack of Rome had been accomplished by the Gauls under their leader Brennus in 387 BC. The sacking of 410 is seen as a major landmark in the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire. St. Jerome, living in Bethlehem at the time, wrote that "The City which had taken the whole world was itself taken."
On August 24, 410, slaves opened Rome's Salarian Gate and the Visigoths poured in and looted for three days. Many of the city's great buildings were ransacked, including the mausoleums of Augustus and Hadrian, in which many Roman Emperors of the past were buried; the ashes of the urns in both tombs were scattered. This was the first time the city had been sacked in 800 years, and its citizens were devastated. Many Romans were taken captive, including the Emperor's sister, Galla Placidia, who subsequently married Ataulf. Tens of thousands of Romans subsequently fled the economically ruined city into the countryside, with many of them seeking refuge in Africa.
The historian Procopius recorded the following satire: the feeble-minded Emperor Honorius was informed by a eunuch that "Rome was destroyed" and, thinking the reference was to his favorite hen named "Roma", cried out in great consternation: "How could it be? She just ate out of my hand." Upon being informed of his mistake, the hapless emperor was greatly relieved.
After the sack, Alaric and his forces journeyed south, where they expected to take ships to Africa. The ships were destroyed, however, in a storm and Alaric died around the same time. Ataulf took command of the Goths, leading them north into Gaul, where they settled in Aquitaine. Roman rule in many parts of Gaul and Spain remained merely nominal. Although Aetius had waged his own personal fight against the tide of the times, he had not been able to hold back the wave of invasions that had rolled over the West after Alaric and the Visigoths had sacked the city of Rome in 410.
The Western Roman Empire was ravaged by Visigoths, Vandals, Suebi, Alamanni, Burgundians and other Barbarian tribes. Visigoths had an independent kingdom in Aquitaine, and Vandals occupied North Africa with a capital at Carthage. Visigoth and Vandal had developed great adore for Graeco-Roman Christian civilization of the Late Empire. There was a religious gulf between the Visigoths, who had for a long time adhered to Arianism, and their Catholic subjects in Hispania. The Iberian Visigoths continued to be Arians until 589. For the role of Arianism in Visigothic kingship, see the entry for Liuvigild.
There were also deep sectarian splits among the Catholic population of the peninsula. The ascetic Priscillian of Avila was martyred by orthodox Catholic forces in 385, before the Visigothic period, and the persecution continued in subsequent generations as "Priscillianist" heretics were rooted out. At the very beginning of Leo I's pontificate, in the years 444–447, Turribius, bishop of Astorga in León, sent to Rome a memorandum warning that Priscillianism was by no means dead, reporting that it numbered even bishops among its supporters, and asking the aid of the Roman See. The distance was insurmountable in the 5th century. Nevertheless Leo intervened, by forwarding a set of propositions that each bishop was required to sign: all did. But if Priscillianist bishops hesitated to be barred from their sees, a passionately concerned segment of Christian communities in Iberia were disaffected from the more orthodox hierarchy and welcomed the tolerant Arian Visigoths. The Visigoths scorned to interfere among Catholics but were interested in decorum and public order.
The course of Western civilisation was changed by Pope Leo intervention:
When Attila the Hun crossed the Rhine with the Huns in 451, he threatened a tottering relic of power. Attila invaded Gaul (451) in alliance with Gaiseric, king of the Vandals. He was met by the Roman general Flavius Aetius and defeated that same year in the great Battle of Châlons, a great battle was fought, probably about June 20. The following year Attila invaded Italy and caused much suffering before he withdrew, but if he had launched a successful counterattack in Gaul the whole course of Western history might have been changed. Unlike most other Barbarians of the age, the Huns were not Christians, and their respect for the Graeco-Roman Christian civilization of the Late Empire was much more limited even than that of Visigoth and Vandal.
Twice in successive years, at Châlons and in Northern Italy, the menace of the Huns had proved incapable of bringing the Western Empire to its knees. Perhaps Rome's last great service to the West was to serve as a buffer between the Asiatic Huns and the Germanic Barbarians whose destiny was to lay the medieval foundations of the modern, western nations. Aetius had been blamed by many Italians for not having destroyed Attila and the Huns in Gaul, but "the last of the Romans" had contributed substantially to the ruin of the once proud Barbarian nation. Its place in the pages of history was over.
It is true that the threat of the Huns to Rome had not been entirely removed by Aetius' victory at Châlons. Though beaten and forced to retreat across the Rhine, Attila still had a powerful force, and he had not learned his lesson.
Partially recovered from the defeat at Gaul, Attila in the next year (452 AD), turned his attention to Italy. He crossed over the Alps and moved down into Italy, launching another great invasion that terrorized the inhabitants of the Western Roman Empire. In some ways this second invasion of the West was even more savage than the first.
The city of Aquileia at the tip of the Adriatic was wiped off the face of the earth. The fugitives from that pitiful city, the Veneti of northeastern Italy, took refuge among the islands, marshes, and lagoons at the head of the Adriatic Sea and there founded a state that afterward grew into the republic of Venice.
Much of the Po Valley - Milan, Verona, and Padua - was devastated and depopulated. The Hun had pillaged and destroyed Northern Italy! Aetius found it much more difficult to persuade Visigoths and Alans to help in the defense of Italy than he had a year earlier in organizing them to protect Gaul.
For awhile it appeared that Italy would be lost to the invaders, after he devastated Aquileia, Milan, Padua, and other cities, his armies advanced upon Rome.
On his march to Rome he was boasting as he advanced, that the total conquest of Italy was to be his crowning work of destruction. Rome was the dowry which he planned to present to his bride, Honoria, the granddaughter of the great Theodosius!
All Rome awaited the coming of the Mongol King in hopeless terror. They had no defense left against him. And then, in the darkest hour ¬ as would often be the case through the centuries ahead - the Eternal City was saved, not by its legions, its tribunes, its senators, or its suffering citizens. Rome was saved by its Bishop, the Holy Roman Pontiff, Pope Leo I.
Rome was saved from destruction, probably, by the mediation of Pope Leo I, who went out to meet Attila. He climbed steadily northward, over the mountains, and found the Mongolian chief below Mantua, at the point where the Mincio River, flowing down from its Alpine source - Lago di Garda ¬ emptied itself in the Po. Attila's troops, hardened veterans seasoned in plunder and sack and rape, were ready and waiting to cross the Po when Saint Leo, in his papal robes, entered the disordered camp and stood before the King of the Huns.
Pope Leo threatened Attila with the power from St Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, if he did not turn back and leave Italy unmolested. Attila the Hun yielded before Leo, and agreed to turn back. He gave up Rome. And Leo, absorbed in thanksgiving, returned to his See.
Attila's servants, so the story is told, asked him why he had reversed his custom and capitulated so easily to the Bishop of Rome. The brigand chief answered that all the while the Pope was speaking, he, Attila, the generator of terror in others, was himself consumed in fear, for there had appeared in the air above the Pope's head a figure in the dress of a priest, holding in his hand a drawn sword with which he made as if to kill him unless he consented to do as Leo asked. The figure was that of St Peter!
Attila's position was weaker than the Romans realized, undoubtedly because of the serious losses he had suffered the previous year at Châlons.
In an act that added immeasurably to the influence of the fledgling papacy, an obliging Attila led his army out of Italy. It was probably not so much the influence of Leo as the fact that his troops were short of supplies that motivated the great Barbarian leader. There had been a famine in Italy in 450-51, and logistical support had never been a strong point for Barbarian armies. Also a plague swept through the army of the Huns, and the Eastern Emperor Marcian sent an army across the Danube to strike into the heartland of the Huns' territory. When these factors are added to the disastrous loses the year earlier at Châlons, it is obvious why Attila was able to see merit in the humanitarian arguments of Pope Leo.
In any event, the great Hun spared Rome and withdrew from Italy. In 453 Attila prepared once more to invade Italy, but he died before the plan could be carried out.
It is told that he took a new, young, beautiful bride, a damsel named Ildico, though he already had a coterie of wives. The wedding day was spent in heavy drinking and partying, and the King of the Huns took his new bride to bed that night in drunken lust. The next morning it was discovered that he had died. In his drunkenness he had choked to death in his own nosebleed. The new bride was found quivering in fear in the great man's bedquarters. The empire of the Huns dissipated nearly as quickly as its most famous leader. In 454 the Ostrogoths and other Germanic tribes revolted against the Huns, and the sons of Attila, who had quarreled among themselves, could not deal with the crisis. In the words of Bury, the Huns were "scattered to the winds."
The Arian Visigoths were generally intolerant of Judaism and its adherents, a tradition that lingered in post-Visigothic Septimania, exemplified by the career of Ferreol, Bishop of Uzès (died 581). Jewish communities had prospered here under the Roman empire and to some extent under the later Christian Orthodox (Byzantine) rule. In 589, King Reccared converted his people to Catholicism. With the Catholicization of the Visigothic kings, the Catholic bishops increased in power, until, at the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633, they took upon themselves the nobles' right to select a king from among the royal family. Under the Visigoth kings a Roman Catholic church-state policy of systematic anti-Semitism was pursued.
A succession of royal ecclesiastical councils at Toledo, brushing aside Orthodox Christian policy, either decreed the forcible baptism of the Jews or forbade circumcision, Jewish rites and observance of the Sabbath and festivals. Throughout the seventh century, Jews were flogged, executed, had their property confiscated, were subjected to ruinous taxes, forbidden to trade and, at times, dragged to the baptismal font. Many were obliged to accept Christianity but continued privately to observe the Jewish laws Visigothic persecution of Jews began after the conversion to Catholicism of the Visigothic king Reccared. In 633 the same synod of Catholic bishops that usurped the Visigothic nobles' right to confirm the election of a king declared that all Jews must be baptised.*
Rise of the Franks:
Modern scholars of the Migration Period are in agreement that the Frankish identity emerged at the first half of the 3rd century out of various earlier, smaller Germanic groups, including the Salii, Sicambri, Chamavi, Bructeri, Chatti, Chattuarii, Ampsivarii, Tencteri, Ubii, Batavi and the Tungri. Clovis I became the first king of all Franks in 509, when he conquered the kingdom of Cologne. He had conquered the Kingdom of Soissons of the Roman general Syagrius and expelled the Visigoths from southern Gaul at the Battle of Vouillé, thus establishing Frankish hegemony over most of Gaul, excluding Burgundy, Provence, and Brittany, which he left to his successors, the Merovingians, to conquer.
In 751, with the approval of the papacy and the nobility, the mayor Pepin the Short deposed the last Merovingian king, Childeric III, and had himself crowned, inaugurating a new dynasty, the Carolingians.
The unification of most of what is now western and central Europe under one chief ruler provided a fertile ground for the continuation of what is known as the Carolingian Renaissance. Despite the almost constant internecine warfare that beset the Carolingian Empire, the extension of Frankish rule and Roman Christianity over such a large area ensured a fundamental unity throughout the Empire. Each part of the Carolingian Empire developed differently; Frankish government and culture depended very much upon individual rulers and their aims. Those aims shifted as easily as the changing political alliances within the Frankish leading families. However, those families, the Carolingians included, all shared the same basic beliefs and ideas of government. These ideas and beliefs had their roots in a background that drew from both Roman and Germanic tradition, a tradition that began before the Carolingian ascent and continued to some extent even after the deaths of Louis the Pious and his sons.
The sons of Louis the Pious, Charlemagne's grandsons, fought a civil war after Louis' death over their inheritance, which only ended in exhaustion. The Frankish lands were divided between them. Charles the Bald was given the western lands, "West Francia", that would later become France. Louis the German received the eastern lands, which would become Germany. Lothair I was given the lands between the two, "Middle Francia" which consisted of Lotharingia, Provence, and northern Italy. Middle Francia was not united in any way, and in the next generation disintegrated into smaller lordships, with West Francia and East Francia fighting for control over them. Arguably, France and Germany continued to fight over these lands up until World War II.
All historical niformation gleaned from www.wikipedia.com
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