Saturday, March 3, 2007

Catching up on some posts

The following (or in this case I suppose are preceding) are catch up posts:


The End of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse,
the Rise of the Franks, and the 'Beginning of France':
A Symposium on the Occasion of the
1500th Anniversary of the Battle of Vouille

APRIL 21, 2007

A plaque placed next to a Merovingian sarcophagus in the French town of
Vouillé reads
"The Battle of Vouillé: It is at this place where in 507 Clovis, king
of the Franks,
defeated the Visigoths. Then was the beginning of France."

This symposium will deal with a multitude of questions relating to the
significance of
the pivotal Battle of the Campus Vogladensis, as it is termed by
Gregory of Tours. There,
just outside the city of Poitiers, the Visigoths of Toulouse, hitherto
the principal
barbarian power of post-Roman Gaul, were defeated in 507 by the upstart
Franks, ruled by
their ambitious king Clovis, a member of the Merovingian dynasty.
Subsequently, the
Franks expanded their authority over Gaul and became the most
influential and significant
of the barbarian successor states. The history of western Europe became
largely the
history of the Franks. The Merovingians gave way to Charlemagne and the
Carolingians, who
proposed to reestablish the Roman Empire in the west. The Carolingian
Empire eventually
evolved into the modern nations of France, Germany, and Italy. And it
all started at the
Battle of Vouillé in 507.

Western Europe in the early sixth century was an age of ambitious
barbarian rulers,
including Alaric II the Visigoth, Clovis the Frank, Theoderic the
Ostrogoth, and Gundobad
the Burgundian, all of whom were jockeying among themselves for power
and authority. The
shakeout with regard to which of these peoples would write the
subsequent history of
western Europe began with the pivotal battle of Vouillé in 507. A
number of questions
relating to the battle and its attendant circumstances still lie in
need of further
discussion and elucidation. It is not even certain where the battle
took place. Gregory's
Campus Vogladensis is usually identified as Vouillé, just north of
Poitiers. But it
recently has been suggested that Vogladum ought to be identified as
Voulon, south of
Poitiers. Also deserving of discussion is the question of the role
played by religion in
the politics leading up to the battle: the Arian Visigothic king Alaric
II apparently
made a great effort to conciliate the Catholic, Roman, population of
his kingdom in order
to gain support against the Franks. These initiatives seem to have
succeeded --
Gallo-Roman contingents are attested as fighting on the Visigothic
side. Yet, the
Visigoths still lost the battle. Why was this? Did Clovis and the
Franks outmaneuver the
Visigoths by reaching a rapprochement of their own with the Christian
population of their
kingdom? And what about the aftermath of the battle? Why was there so
little continued
resistance by the Visigoths? What was the role played by the powerful
Ostrogothic king
Theoderic the Great? Or by the Burgundians and their equally ambitious
king Gundobad? And
just what were the distinctions, if any, among these barbarian peoples
and their
individual agendas? Questions such as these will be approached at this

Nor is there any more appropriate place in the western hemisphere for a
colloquium on the
significance of this battle than the University of Illinois campus,
where the Spurlock
Museum houses one of the premier collections of Merovingian artifacts,
a collection that
marked the beginning of Merovingian archaeology as a science.

We are looking for a few more contributions *directly* related to the
Battle of Vouille
and its immediate antecedents and results. Anyone interested in
presenting or attending,
please contact
Ralph Mathisen at or

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