Chlothar I.

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Denarius with the image of King Chlothar I.

Chlothar I. (also Chlotachar; * around 495; † December 561 in Compiègne ) was a Frankish king from the Merovingian family .


Chlothar I was the youngest son of the Frankish king Clovis I and Queen Chrodechild . Of his three older brothers, the oldest, Theuderich I , came from an illegitimate relationship, the other two - Chlodomer and Childebert I - came from his marriage to Chrodechild. When the empire was divided after Clovis's death in 511, Theuderich received by far the largest, and Chlothar the quantitatively smallest of the four parts of the empire, which, however, included the old Salian ancestral lands. This included Soissons , Laon , Noyon , Cambrai , Tournai , Thérouanne , Arras , Tongeren and Maastricht . Chlothar resided in Soissons. Like his brothers, he received part of Clovis' original territory between the Rhine and Loire and part of Aquitaine, which Clovis only later conquered .

Chlothar attacked together with his brothers Chlodomer and Childebert in 523 the empire of the Burgundy . After Chlodomer fell in the Burgundian War in 524 , the three surviving brothers divided up his empire , with Chlothar receiving Tours and Poitiers ; the definitive division, however, seems to have taken place around 532 a few years later. Chlothar married Guntheuca , the widow of Chlodomer. Guntheuca had three underage sons from her marriage to Chlodomer. Of these, Chlothar murdered the two older ones in agreement with Childebert in order to eliminate their inheritance claims; the youngest, Chlodoald , was appointed to the clergy and thus incapable of governing , whereby he escaped death.

In 531 Chlothar participated in the successful attack of his half-brother Theuderich I on the Thuringian Empire . After the Franconian victory on the Unstrut , there was a conflict between Chlothar and Theuderich about the captured Thuringian princess Radegunde , who brought Chlothar into his power and later married in order to secure inheritance claims. Radegundes brother, the only male survivor of the Thuringian royal family, had Chlothar murdered. After the destruction of the Thuringian Empire, Thuringia came under Theuderich's sphere of influence; Chlothar received only part of the booty. Theuderich's assassination attempt on Chlothar failed.

A year later, in 532, Chlothar again attacked the Burgundian Empire together with Childebert. The Burgundians were defeated at Autun and their empire destroyed in 532-534. In the final phase of this war, Chlothar's nephew Theudebert I , the son and successor of Theuderich, who died in 533, also took part in the fighting; in any case, it was taken into account in 534 when dividing the conquered territory. Chlothar received only the extreme south of the Burgundy Empire ( Valence , Embrun ).

After Theuderich's death, Childebert and Chlothar tried in vain to get Theudebert out of the way. When that failed, Childebert allied with Theudebert and adopted him. This isolated chlorine. A joint attack by Childebert and Theudebert on Chlothar was broken off and no decision was made.

In 541 Childebert and Chlothar jointly attacked the Visigoths . The Frankish army crossed the Pyrenees, but could not take Saragossa ; the campaign was a failure. After Theudebert's death (547/548), his son Theudebald (Theudowald) succeeded him. When Theudebald died childless in 555, Childebert was unable to take possession of the inheritance of the son of his adopted son; on the contrary, this time Chlothar came to the train, who managed to connect with Theudebald's widow, the Longobardess Walderada (whether a regular marriage took place is unclear). Chlothar was able to appropriate the entire kingdom of Reims, the largest of the Merovingian kingdoms, and Childebert received nothing. Saxony and Thuringia used this change of rulers for an uprising, but after changeable battles they were defeated by Chlothar in 556.

The rebellion of his son Chram , whom he had made sub-king in Aquitaine , was a great danger to Chlothar . Chram allied with Childebert against his father. However, Childebert died in 558, and since he had no sons, Chlothar was able to appropriate Childebert's kingdom. Chram then submitted. This enabled Chlothar to unite the entire Franconian Empire under his rule. In 560 Chram rose again, but was quickly defeated and killed. In 561 (according to other assumptions already 560) Chlothar died in Compiègne. He was buried in the church of the Saint-Médard monastery in Soissons , which he founded.

The most important source for his life are the histories of Gregory of Tours .


The order and chronology of the marriages of Chlothar is not certain, he had several wives or concubines at the same time. His first wife was Ingund (e), whom he married around 516. In 524 he married Guntheuca, the widow of his brother Chlodomer, after he had broken the connection with Ingund. He later returned to Ingund - perhaps after Guntheuca had died; in addition, when Ingund was still alive, he was married to her sister Arnegunde (also called Aregunde) (marriage around 533/534). Arnegunde is best known for her grave, which was found in 1959. Around 540 he married the Radegundis (Radegunde; † 587), a daughter of the Thuringian king Berthachar, who had been captured after the victory over the Thuringians in 531 . This marriage was later dissolved and Radegunde founded the Sainte-Croix monastery in Poitiers , which she entered. Another wife was named Chunsine . In addition, Chlothar married Walderada (Waldrada), a daughter of the Lombard king Wacho and widow of his grand-nephew Theudebald , who died in 555 , but he broke this connection under pressure from the clergy and gave Walderada to the Bavarian Duke Garibald I for marriage.

Most of his children come from his marriage to Ingund, namely the sons Gunthar (532 attested as capable of arms; † before 561), Childerich († before 561), Charibert I , Guntram I (Guntchramn) and Sigibert I as well as the daughter Chlodoswinth, who married the Longobard king Alboin around 560 . Another son came from his marriage with Arnegunde, Chilperich I. From Chunsine, Chlothar had the son Chram, who died in his revolt against his father. Another son - illegitimate or from an unknown wife - is said to have been Gundowald , who later appeared as the pretender to the throne, although Chlothar had not recognized him as a son.

After Chlothar's death, the four surviving sons Charibert I, Guntram I, Sigibert I and Chilperich I divided the empire among themselves.


Web links

Commons : Chlothar I  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Clovis I.
Childebert I.
King of Soissons
from 511
King of all Franks
Charibert I.
Sigibert I.
Chilperich I.
Guntram I.