Jump to navigation Jump to search
A King of the Franks
Portrait Roi de france Clodion.jpg
Reign20 years[1]
Diedprobably after 450[2]
IssueMerovech (uncertain, but probable relative)
Full name
FatherTheudemeres or Pharamond (uncertain)

Chlodio (d. approx. 450) also Clodio, Clodius, Clodion, Cloio or Chlogio, was a king of the Franks who attacked and apparently then held Roman-inhabited lands and cities in the Silva Carbonaria and as far south as the river Somme, apparently starting from a Frankish base which was also technically within the Roman empire. He is known from very few records, but it is thought that he might be an ancestor of the Merovingian dynasty, and possibly a descendant of the Salian Franks reported by Roman sources in the 4th century.

Gregory of Tours (II,9) reported that he attacked from a fort (castrum) named "Dispargum" on the edge of the "Thoringian" land. This is a place which has been interpreted many ways, for example possibly as Duisburg on the Rhine, or Duisburg near Brussels, or Diest in Belgium.[3] The latter two proposals would fit the geography well, because they are within striking distance of the Silva Carbonaria, and close to Toxandria, which is known to have been settled by the Salians. It requires "Thoringorum" (genitive case) to be an error for something like "Tungrorum", but this matches Gregory's previous mention in the same passage of how the Franks had earlier settled on the banks of the Rhine and then moved into "Thoringia" on the left side of the Rhine. This does not match the medieval and modern "Thuringia" which is far inland from the Rhine.[2][3] Gregory wrote:

It is commonly said that the Franks came originally from Pannonia and first colonized the banks of the Rhine. Then they crossed the river, marched through Thuringia, and set up in each country district and each city long-haired kings chosen from the foremost and most noble family of their race. [...] They also say that Clodio, a man of high birth and marked ability among his people, was King of the Franks and that he lived in the castle of Duisberg in Thuringian territory. In those parts, that is towards the south, the Romans occupied the territory as far as the River Loire. [...] Clodio sent spies to the town of Cambrai. When they discovered all that they needed to know, he himself followed and crushed the Romans and captured the town. He lived there only a short time and then occupied the country up to the Somme. Some say that Merovech, the father of Childeric, was descended from Clodio.[4]

According to this account, he held power in the northernmost part of still-Romanized Northern Gaul, together with an area further northeast apparently already Frankish.

Two works written after Gregory of Tours, added details which are mostly not considered reliable, but which may contain some facts derived from other sources. These are the Liber Historiae Francorum and the Chronicle of Fredegar. It is the first of these which specifies that Chlodio first pushed west through Roman-inhabited territories of the Silva Carbonaria, a region running roughly from Brussels to the Sambre, and took the city of Tournai, before moving south to Cambrai.

Concerning Chlodio's ancestry, the non-contemporary Liber Historiae Francorum says his father was Pharamond, a Frankish King only known from such later records, but reputedly the son of the real Frankish King who fought the Romans, Marcomer. The Chronicle of Fredegar makes Chlodio son of Theudemeres, another real Frankish king who Gregory reported to have been executed with his mother by the Romans. In both cases, legendary pedigrees were attached to people known from real Roman history, and so the pedigrees are considered unreliable.

In about 428 AD, a marriage party of the Franks of Chlodio was attacked and defeated at a village named Vicus Helena in Artois by Flavius Aëtius, the commander of the Roman army in Gaul.[5] This is known because the future emperor Majorian was present, and this incident was therefore celebrated in the panegyric written by Sidonius Apollinaris for him. The passage describes "Cloio" as having overrun the land of the Atrebates (Artois, a province north of the Somme, and partly between Tournai and Cambrai).[6]

As explained above Gregory of Tours mentions that "some people said" that Merovech, the ancestor of the 'Merovingian' dynasty, was in the line of Chlodio, although Merovech's son Childeric I is known only from records associating him with Romanized northern Gaul. Only once his son Clovis I took power in that area did he turn to Kings still ruling in more traditionally Frankish areas. According to Gregory's understanding, the Frankish regions had many kings, but they were all part of one specific noble family, including Chlodio. However, according to the Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium, Clovis and his noble-blooded competitor King Ragnachar of Cambrai (the town Chlodio had put under Frankish control) were related not through the male line, but through Clovis's mother, Basina, a "Thuringian" princess whom his father met when exiled from Gaul. (Gregory reports that Clovis asked Ragnachar: "Why have you humiliated our family in permitting yourself to be bound? It would have been better for you to die." He then killed him with an axe and told Ricchar, "If you had aided your brother, he would not have been bound", before killing Ricchar in the same way.)

A contemporary Roman historian, Priscus writes of having witnessed in Rome, a "lad without down on his cheeks as yet and with fair hair so long that it poured down his shoulders, Aetius had made him his adopted son". Priscus writes that the excuse Attila used for waging war on the Franks was the death of their king and the disagreement of his children over the succession, the elder being allied with Attila and the younger with Aetius. It has been speculated that this Frankish succession dispute may involve the family of Chlodio and Merovech.[7] On the other hand, it has also been concluded that the Franks in this story must be Rhineland Franks, with whom Aëtius had various interactions.[8]


  1. ^ Liber Historiae Francorum
  2. ^ a b Ulrich Nonn, Die Franken, pp.79-83
  3. ^ a b Freiherren von Richthofen, "Review of "Der lex Salica und der lex Anglorum et Werinorum Alter und Heimat, von Hermann Müller, ordentlichem Professor der Rechte zu Würzburg" Würzburg, 1840", Kritische Jahrbücher für deutsche Rechtswissenschaft, 5, p. 1000 (useful because includes quotations of early references)
  4. ^ Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, Lewis Thorpe translation, Penguin. Section II.9. p.125
  5. ^ Wood, Ian (23 June 2014). The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751. Routledge. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-1-317-87116-3.
  6. ^ Sidonius [1]
  7. ^ MacDowall, Simon (20 September 2015). Catalaunian Fields AD 451: Rome's Last Great Battle. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-1-4728-0744-1.
  8. ^ Ulrich Nonn, Die Franken, p.86


External links[edit]

Born: c.390 Died: 450
Preceded by
Faramund or Theodemer
King of the Salian Franks
Succeeded by