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The History of the Church 64 The Baptism of Clovis From his ascent to the throne at age 15, Clovis—a minor king of a Salian Frankish tribe occupying a small area of Belgium—proved to be a redoubtable strategist. By the age of 20 he had already extended his realm to the Loire River in France, and had grasped the fact that the church was the only standing structure in a Gaul that was falling apart. He also married Clotilde, a Catholic princess. At the battle of Tolbiac, against the Alemanni of Cologne, he proffered his famous prayer: “O God of Clotilde, should you give me the victory, I will be baptized.” Forthwith, the king of the Alemanni fell by the blow of an axe. Clovis kept his promise and was baptized shortly afterwards in Rheims by its bishop, Saint Remigius. At that time, the vast majority of barbarian tribes who had come into contact with the new faith had embraced Arianism, while the old lands of the empire were still faithful to the Roman Church. Thus, the clergy of Gaul became Clovis’s sure and decisive support. He invaded Armorica and Burgundy and in 507 conquered Aquitania from the Arian Visigoths under King Alaric II. Subsequently named a consul of the Romans, Clovis established his capital in Paris, at the center of an area that came to be known as “Little France” (Little or Luddle Francq in the Frankish language), whence came “Ile-de-France.” Henceforth, the Catholic Church and the French monarchy would be allied partners. Giuseppe Bezzuoli (1784–1855) The Baptism of Clovis Chiesa di San Remigio, Florence ...


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