Genealogy of Clovis, King of the Franks 482-511

Answering the question: Are there living descendants of Clovis?, by Will Johnson

I explore the question of whether there are any documented, living descendants from Clovis who was King of the Franks from 482 to his death in 511.


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This Knol written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson,, Professional Genealogist.
This Knol is part of my series "Celebrity Family Trees"

There are many online family trees which show Clovis, King of the Franks in their ancestry.  But are any of these properly documented connections?  Or are they just fanciful thinking?

Our main source for the life and times of Clovis, is Gregory of Tours book "The History of the Franks".  Gregory of Tours was a writer contemporary to some of the events he describes.  He was born in 539 and became Bishop of Tours in 573, and so he personally knew many of the actors in his book.  However he did not know Clovis, but took his information from the sources available to him at the time.

Gregory tells us that Clovis was born from the union of Childeric (King of the Franks), and his wife Basina who had left her previous husband the King of Thuringia, in order to be with Childeric.  We are not told what year this occurred, but later when Gregory tells us that Clovis died in 511, he states that Clovis was then "age 45" and so we can state that Clovis was born in 465/6.

Clovis had just two known unions.  His first was with an unnamed concubine, and his second was with the princess Chrotchildis, daughter of Chilperic, King of the Burgundians at Lyons.



Clovis had an elder son, named Theuderic, by an unnamed concubine.  We don't exactly know when Theuderic was born, but we do know that Clovis married his legitimate wife, Chrotchildis (aka Clothilde), the daughter of Chilperic the King of Burgundy by 495.  We also know that Theuderic his father Clovis' senior heir, was King of the Franks from 511 to his death in 534.  We know that he died in 534, and Gregory of Tours tells us that this was in the "23rd year of his reign".  Theuderic had a son named Theudebert who was a "capable young man" already at the time his grandfather Clovis died, which we know was in 511.  Therefore we can say from this that Theuderic, his father, must have been born by the latest in 488, and at the earliest in 482.

Theuderic is only given one wife in Gregory of Tours account, she is the daughter of Sigusmund the King of the Burgundians.  Other sources tell us her name was Suavegotho (The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, page 1009).  Some modern authors have declared that Theuderic must have had another previous wife who was the mother of his known son Theudebert, but this theory appears to be an unsound reading of Gregory, designed only to address chronological difficulties.  Part of the basis of this theory is the idea that Theuderic married this princess around the time that her father was murdered (which occurred about 523/4).  But Gregory does not state that these things happened at the same time.  He only states that they both occurred, and he states this all in the same paragraph.  Some readers take this to mean they occurred at the same time, but that is a forced reading.

Theudebert is the only stated child of Theuderic.  He was his father's heir, becoming senior King of the Franks from 534 to his own death in 548.  He was first betrothed to Wisigard, a princess of the Longobards, but while he was waiting for her to come of age, he took a concubine named Deuteria of Cabrieres.  By Deuteria, he had a daughter, whom Deuteria murdered or had murdered, before the girl was an adult.  They also had a son named Theudebald who became the senior heir of the kingdom of the Franks from 548 to his death in 555.

Although Theudebald married Walderalda of the Longobards, daughter of Waccho and Austrigusa, they had no known children.  Walderalda afterward became for a short while the mistress of  Chlothar, King of the Franks 511-561, and finally the wife of Garibald, King of the Bavarians.

After putting aside this mistress Deuteria, Theudebert then married his betrothed Wisigard, but had no known children by her.  And thus ended the line from Clovis through his eldest son Theuderic.



With his wife Chrotchildis, Clovis had one known daughter named Clotilda.  She was sent to Spain to marry Amalaric, King of the Visigoths.  They married 511/3 but had no known children.  Amalaric was slain in battle in Barcelona by his brother-in-law Childebert (Gregory of Tours III.10 wj)  Clotilda started on a journey to return to the Frankish lands, but died on the way.



After marrying Chrotchildis (Princess) of Burgundy, Clovis had a son by her named Ingomar who died as an infant.  Their next son was Chlodomer, who when his father Clovis died in 511, became one of the Kings of the Franks, heir to his father's kingdom.  At Clovis' death, the Frankish kingdom was divided among his four surviving sons, and Chlodomer was the second-eldest of these.

Chlodomer married a woman named Guntheuca and had three known children:
  1. Theudobald was born 514/521 and was murdered at age 10 by his uncle Chlothar.
  2. Gunthar was born 517/524 and was murdered at age 7 by his uncle Chlothar.
  3. Chlodovald was born 518/525 and entered a cloister at Saint Cloud near Paris.
Chlodomer himself was slain at the Battle of Vezeronce in 524.

And so ends the line of descent from Clovis through his second son Chlodomer.



Clovis' next son by Chrotchildis was named Childebert.  Upon his father Clovis' death in 511, the Frankish kingdom was divided and Childebert got a share as his father's third surviving son.  Childebert married a woman named Ultragotha and they had two daughters, although their names are not known from any source.  When Childebert died in 558, his wife and daughters were "sent into exile" by his brother, King Chlothar and that is the last we hear of any of these women.

And so ends the line of descent from Clovis through his third-son Childebert.



Clovis' last surviving son was named Chlothar.  He got a share of his father Clovis' kingdom upon Clovis death in 511, but being the villain of this piece, it wasn't sufficient.  When his brother Chlodomer was slain in 524, Chlothar took his sister-in-law Guntheuca as wife, and killed two of her sons and made the third go into a cloister, eliminating Chlodomer's line.

As his second wife, Chlothar married Radegund, (Princess) of the Thuringians, daughter of Berthar, but they had no known children, and she died in 587 as a nun.

Chlothar had children by a concubine named Ingund, and also by her sister Aregund and by another woman named Chusina.  Finally Chlothar briefly took Walderada of the Longobards, his half-great-nephew's widow, as his mistress, but then put her aside after some bishops raised religious complaints.



By Chusina, Chlothar had a son Chramn.  When this son came of age, he married Chalda, the daughter of Wilichar, they had "daughters" and Chramn revolted against his father.  Chlothar caught the rebellious Chramn and had him strangled.  He then had the wife Chalda and the daughters slain.

And thus ends the line of Chramn.



By Ingund, Chlothar had a son named Charibert, who became King of Neustria 561-567.  Charibert had three wives Ingoberg, Merofled and Theudechild, but only had one known daughter Aethelberg by his first wife Ingoberg.  This daughter, also known as Bertha married, according to Gregory of Tours "a man from Kent, and went to live there". (HF IV.26)  Other sources identify this man as Aethelbert who was King of Kent from 560/565 to his death in 616.

Charles Cawley, citing D.P. Kirby's "The Earliest English Kings" (citation), suggests that this marriage took place in or about 580.  If we accept this above as true, then Aethelberg was Aethelbert's first wife.  We can know this, because Aethelberg's son Eadbald, married his father's widow.  He certainly didn't marry his own mother, so Bertha must have died and Aethelbert married a second time.  Bede also records this second marriage obliquely and William of Malmesbury cite's it specifically.

The situation with Bertha is so complex that I've created a new article just to discuss it called "Bertha of the Franks".  Without this connection, the line of Charibert ends quickly.  With it, it can extend to modern-day descents.



By Ingund, Chlothar had a son Guntram who became King of Burgundy from 561 to his death in 592.  By his first wife Veneranda, he had a son Gundobad.  But this son, while still a young man was poisoned by his step-mother, Guntram's next wife Marcatrude.  Guntram dismissed this wife, with whom he had no issue, and married thirdly Austrechild also called "Bobilla".  With this last wife, Guntram had two sons Lothar and Chlodomer.



The only known daughter of Clothar, was named Clothsind.  She married Alboin, King of the Longobards, but apparently died without issue.  Alboin was poisoned by his second wife Rosamund, because Alboin had killed her father Cunimund, King of the Gepids.  She was then executed.



By Ingund, Chlothar had a son Sigebert who became King of Austrasia from 561 to his death in 575.  Sigebert was slain at the order of his sister-in-law Fredegond.  Sigebert had married Brunhilda, daughter of Athanagild, King of the Visigoths.  By her he had a daughter Ingund who married Hermangild, son of Leuvigild, King of the Visigoths.  Hermangild was killed at the order of his own father, and Ingund died in Africa on her way to see the Emperor.  They had a son also called Athanagild, who was held in the city of Constantinople.  In 588, ambassadors were sent there to try to retrieve him (at which time we learn his name) but we hear nothing more about him, thus he was probably already dead. (Here we have the actual source for naming the child Athanagild, where Queen Brunichildis writes to her "grandson King Athanagild'" citing Troya's Codice Diplomatico Longo bardo iv 1 24 40)

Sigebert, by his wife Brunhilda also had a son Childebert who became King of Austrasia from 575 to his death in 595, and also King of Burgundy from 592 to 595.  Childebert had two sons: Theudebert, King of Austrasia had an only daughter Emma who married Eadbald, King of Kent and their only known issue Eorcenberht, King of Kent died without issue.

Childebert's other son was Thierry, King of Burgundy who died in 613 leaving the infant heir Sigebert, King of Burgundy who died later that same year as an infant.

And thus ends the line from Clovis through Sigebert.



By Aregund, Chlothar had a son Chilperic who was King of Neustria from 567 to his death in 584.  Chilperic had four wives or unions.  His first wife or union was with Audovera, by whom he had three sons: Theudebert, Merovech and Clovis.  Theudebert was his father's eldest son and was slain in battle in 575.  We hear nothing more of Merovech, but Clovis was murdered.  These sons had no known children.  Audovera was murdered by Chilperic.

I don't know anything about Chilperic's second wife or union, but it was certainly childless.

Chilperic by his fourth wife or union with Galswintha, daughter of Athanagild, King of the Visigoths, had no children, and she was strangled in her bed.

Chilperic by his third wife or union Fredegond, had a daughter Rigunth who was betrothed to Recared, son of Leuvigild, King of the Visigoths, but nothing more is known about her, she probably died young without issue.  By this same wife or union, he had a son Clothaire who eventually succeeded him, becoming King of Neustria 597-613 and King of all Franks from 613 to his death in 629.

Some people like Settipani would place under Chilperic, another daughter, making her that woman Emma known to be the wife of Eadbald, King of Kent.  Although there is a charter where Emma, wife of Eadbald, signs as "Francorum regis", the problem (in my mind) with any placement in the direct line of Clovis is that Gregory of Tours, who otherwise appears to name every descendant of Clovis, completely fails to mention any such female child here.

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Reliability of birth dates?

Even with writers as famous and literate as Gregory of Tours, do we know how reliable are the ages they quote for people?

Among common people, ages at death or even at marriage are often shown later on, when a birth certificate is found, to have been reported very inaccurately. Most people did not know their own age.

Among noblemen and -women, you would expect people to have better information, yet back in the 6th century, was the year of baptism recorded in any way that would lead someone who himself wasn't alive at the time to accurately know the age of the deceased? So when Clovis dies in 511, and Grégoire says he was 45, does that mean 45, or somewhere in his forties?

The implication, of course, is that if birthdates are approximate by a few years, then the question of who is the son or daughter of whom becomes a lot more complicated. In "modern" genealogy (17th and 18th century France) I have often encountered such confusion.

Claude Baudoin - 07 Jan 2010

What about Dagobert I => Clovis II => three sons => etc.

Hello Will, a most interesting Knol! But - according to Wikipedia, which certainly isn't a primary or completely reliable source, Clothaire's line continues at least for a few generations. It would be great if you could cover even them in your article.

In my pedigree, even I am one of the descendants of Clovis I, but there is a problem at Regintrude, a sister of Dagobert I, who married Theodo II of Bavaria, because she should have been born already around 630 to her parents, while several sources indicate that she was born between 660 and 670.

Thanks even for your other interesting genealogy Knols!

Eero Ignatius
Kuopio, Finland

Eero Ignatius - 29 Mar 2009