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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

(old Ger. Chlodwig, i.e. "famous warrior;" modern Ger. Ludwig, Fr. Louis), the first Christian king of the Franks, was born A.D. 465, and by the death of his father, Childeric, became king of the Salian Franks, whose capital was Tournay. After having overthrown the Gallo-Romans under Syagrius, near Soissons, he took possession of the whole country between the Somme and the Loire, and established himself in Soissons. In 493 he married Clotilda, daughter of a Burgundian prince. His wife was a Christian, and earnestly desired the conversion of her husband, who, like most of the Franks, was still a heathen. In a great battle with the Alemanni at Tolbiac [Zulpich], near Cologne, Clovis was hard pressed, and, as a last resource, invoked the God of Clotilda, offering to become a Christian on condition of obtaining the victory. The Alemanni were routed, and on Christmas day of the same year Clovis and several thousands of his army were christened by Remigius, bishop of Rheims. The reception of Clovis into the Church by a bishop in connection with Rome tended greatly to secure the, supremacy of orthodoxy over Arianism, to which, at that time, most of the Western Christian princes belonged. Pope Anastasius, who fully appreciated the importance of this gain, saluted Clovis as the "most Christian king." In 507, love of conquest concurring with zeal for the orthodox faith, Clovis marched to the south-west of Gaul against the heretic Visigoth, Alaric II, whom he defeated and slew at Vougle, near Poitiers, taking possession of the whole country as far as Bordeaux and Toulouse; but he was checked at Arles, in 507, by Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. Clovis now took up his residence in Paris, where he died in 511. Clovis, in several instances, used the Arianism of other Christian princes as a pretext for war and conquest, and he stained his name by cruelly murdering a number of his relations whom he looked upon as dangerous rivals; but the writers of the Romish Church assert that he was chaste, and just toward his subjects. See Chambers, Encycl. s.v.; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 2, 490.