First King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler. He succeeded his father Childeric I in 481 as King of the Salian Franks, one of the Frankish tribes who were then occupying the area west of the lower Rhine, with their centre around Tournai and Cambrai along the modern frontier between France and Belgium, in an area known as Toxandria. Clovis conquered the neighbouring Frankish tribes and established himself as sole king before his death.
He converted to Roman Catholicism, as opposed to the Arianism common among the Germanic peoples at the time, at the instigation of his wife, the Burgundian Clotilda, a Catholic. He was baptized in the Cathedral of Rheims, as most future French kings would be. This act was of immense importance in the subsequent history of France and Western Europe in general, for Clovis expanded his dominion over almost all of the old Roman province of Gaul (roughly modern France). He is considered the founder both of France (which his state closely resembled geographically at his death) and the Merovingian dynasty which ruled the Franks for the next two centuries.
Clovis I died in 511 and is interred in Saint Denis Basilica, Paris, where his father had been buried with the older Merovingian kings in Tournai. Upon his death his realm was divided among his four sons: Theuderic, Chlodomer, Childebert, and Clotaire. This partitioning created the new political units of the Kingdoms of Rheims, Orléans, Paris and Soissons and inaugurated a period of disunity which was to last, with brief interruptions, until the end (751) of his Merovingian dynasty.
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