The Merovingians from the French Revolution to the Third Republic



In the early twentieth century, French schoolchildren were taught almost nothing about the Merovingians: a great change from a century earlier. This article explores some of the reasons why the public image of the Merovingians and their Frankish subjects altered in the course of the great political changes which unrolled in France in the century after the Revolution. A crucial figure was Augustin Thierry, whose eloquent rewriting of what Gregory of Tours had to say about the Merovingians in the 560s and 570s was widely read, and contributed towards the widespread neglect of early Frankish history. The article ends by examining a few of the artists who were inspired (partly by Thierry himself) to take the Merovingians for their subject matter, above all Laurens and Luminais.