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Middle Ages

The Franks

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

Example of the Franks and how they dressed
The Franks by Albert Kretschmer


The Franks began as a number of Germanic tribes that migrated from northern Europe into Gaul. This is where the country of France is today and the name for France comes from the Franks. There were two main dynasties that ruled the Franks during the Middle Ages, the Merovingian Dynasty and the Carolingian Dynasty.

Merovingian Kingdom

The Franks were first united under the leadership of King Clovis in 509 AD. He founded the Merovingian Dynasty which would rule the Franks for the next 200 years. Clovis led the Franks in victories over the Visigoths, forcing them from Gaul and into Spain. He also converted to Christianity and was the first king of the Franks to be recognized as king by the Pope.

Carolingian Empire

The Merovingian Dynasty came to an end when Pepin the Short took power with the support of the Frankish nobles. He began the Carolingian Dynasty which would rule the Franks from 751 to 843.


The greatest ruler of the Carolingian Empire and the Franks was Charlemagne who ruled from 742 to 814. Charlemagne expanded the Frankish Empire to rule a large portion of Europe. He brought many reforms to the Franks including a strong government, written laws, education, a monetary standard, and support for the arts.

Holy Roman Empire

On December 25, 800 AD, the Pope crowned Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor. This began the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Emperor was considered the protector of the Catholic Church. He also had the backing of the church and was considered the leader of the monarchs in Europe.

An Empire Divided

After Charlemagne died, his son Louis the Pious ruled as sole emperor. However, Louis had three sons. According to Frankish tradition, the empire was divided up between the king's sons. When King Louis died in 843, the Frankish Empire was divided into three separate states which would later become countries in Western Europe such as Germany and France.


In many ways the Franks were at the heart of the culture of the Middle Ages. It was the Franks who developed the concept of the knight and the feudal system.

Frankish Knight

One of the most powerful units of the Frankish army was the heavily armored cavalry. These soldiers became known as knights. Because metal armor and war horses were so expensive, only the very wealthy could afford to become knights. Knights were often awarded land for their services at war. This helped to develop the feudal system.

Feudal System

Under the feudal system, the land was divided up among knights or lords. In return for the land, the knights pledged to fight for the king. This land was known as a fief and both the land and the title of knight were often inherited by the oldest son.

Interesting Facts about the Franks Activities

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Feudal System
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

Alfred the Great
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens

Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

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