The practice of crowning Kings and Queens is a relatively recent tradition that did not exist prior to 751 CE, when Childeric III, last of the Merovingian rulers of France died. The Merovingians are thought to be descended from a tribe of Germanic people known as the Sicambrian Franks, although they are said to have claimed descent from Noah, and also from Troy.
In 1969, Henry Lincoln, co-author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, uncovered some documents in the National Library of France known as the Dossiers Secrets. The documents state that the Merovingians are descended from the Benjamites, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Book of Judges, chapters 19-21, tells the story of a battle between the Benjamites and the other 11 tribes. It seems that the Benjamites had refused to hand over some men who had raped and murdered the concubine of a Levite travelling through their territory. According to legend, the Benjamites lost the battle, and then migrated to Greece to the area known as Arcadia. According to Homer, a large contingent of Arcadians were present at the siege of Troy, while early Greek historians state that Troy was founded by settlers from Arcadia. The Benjamites left Arcadia, following the Danube westwards into Europe, intermarrying with non-Jewish tribes along the way, including the Sicambrians and the Franks.
The National Library of France also houses a copy of a document known as Fredegar’s Chronicle, written by a seventh-century Burgundian scribe. The Chronicle covers the period of history from the days of the ancient Hebrew patriarchs through to the Merovingian Kings, cross-referenced with many other sources of information, including those of Saint Jerome, who translated the Old Testament into Latin and Bishop Gregory of Tours, author of The History of the Franks. The Franks, after whom France is named, were named after their chief Francio, who died around 11 BCE.
The document states that during the fourth century, the Sicambrian Franks settled in Germany, establishing their base at Cologne under their chiefs Genobaud, Mercomer and Sunno. During the next 100 years, their Armies invaded areas of northern France and Belgium. It was around this time that Genobaud’s daughter Argotta married Faramund, who according to Laurence Gardner, was a descendant of Joseph of Arimathea.
Faramund and Argotta’s son, Clodion, became King of the Franks in 488 CE. It was from their son, Merovee that the Merovingians took their name. According to tradition, when Merovee’s mother, Basina of Thuringia was pregnant, she went swimming and was seduced by a mysterious sea creature that was said to be a Beast of Neptune, similar to a Quinotaur. When Merovee was born, he was said to carry the blood of both his human father and this sea creature. He was also said to possess supernatural powers.
The Merovingian monarchs were referred to as the long haired sorcerer Kings, due to the length of their hair. They were said to have been able to heal by the laying on of hands, and communicate clairvoyantly and telepathically with animals. It is rumoured that they each carried a distinctive birthmark in the form of a red cross either over the heart, or between the shoulder blades. Their powers were said to emanate from their long hair and extended to everything they possessed, even down to the tassels on their robes.
The Merovingians did not reign by coronation, but rather by tradition, automatically assuming the rite of succession when they reached their twelfth birthday. In this respect, the day to day Government and administration were placed in the hands of the Chancellors, or Mayors of the Palace, ultimately leaving them wide open to manipulation. It was this that eventually led to their downfall.
The best known of the Merovingian monarchs is Clovis I, who was responsible for converting much of Western Europe to Christianity. In 496 CE, Clovis was locked in battle against the Alamanni tribe from Cologne. In a moment of desperation, Clovis is said to have called the name of Jesus, and it was at that precise moment that the Alaman King fell. His wife, Clothilde, an ardent Catholic, claimed that Jesus had caused the victory, and although Clovis himself was not convinced, she sent for the Bishop of Rome, to arrange her husband’s baptism. A wave of conversions soon followed firmly establishing Catholicism as the dominant religion within the Merovingian Kingdom, and saving the Church from almost certain collapse.
In return for his baptism, the Church agreed to pledge their allegiance to Clovis and promised that a new Holy Empire would be established under the auspices of the Merovingians. When they granted this title, Clovis had no reason to doubt the sincerity of the Church, but unbeknown to him, he had unwittingly become a pawn in a conspiracy for the Church to eventually seize control of his Kingdom, thereby establishing the Pope as the supreme ruler.
After Clovis died, his Kingdom was divided between his four sons. Lothar was the last of the four to die, and was succeeded by his two sons, Sigebert and Chilperic. By this time, the Bishops had conspired to extend their own authority and power, at the same time reducing the powers of the administrators within the Royal Palaces. Certain key provinces came under the direct control of the Mayors of the Palace, who were closely allied to the Bishops. The Mayors thus began to assume more and more power.
When Sigebert died in 656 CE, his son Dagobert was just five years old. The Mayor of the Palace, Grimoald, kidnapped the boy, placing him in the care of the Bishop of Poitiers, who then had him smuggled to Ireland. As no trace of the young King was ever found, it was easy to convince his mother that he was dead. Dagobert though was not dead. He was educated at Slane Monastery near Dublin, and in 666 CE, married Mathilde, a Celtic Princess.
When Mathilde died in 670 CE, Dagobert returned to France, and married Giselle de Razes, niece of the King of the Visigoths. During his absence, Grimoald had placed his own son on the throne, but when word of the duplicity got out, it was not long before Dagobert was reinstated as the rightful Monarch.
Dagobert wasted no time in bringing his Kingdom to order, and in so doing, appears to have made some formidable enemies, including his own Mayor, Pepin the Fat. As a result of his marriage to Giselle, the King became strongly influenced by Visigothic beliefs and thwarted the Church’s attempts at further expansion within the Empire. This was seen as a direct threat to their existence and they conspired to have him killed.
On December 23, 679 CE, Dagobert was hunting near the Royal Palace at Stenays, when he stopped to sleep beneath a tree and was lanced in the eye. The murderers then returned to Stenay where they attempted to murder the rest of the family. The Merovingians though continued to reign, at least in name, for a further 75 years. Many of these Kings were however very young and easily manipulated by the Church and the Mayors, being little more than puppets.
After Pepin the Fat died, his illegitimate son, Charles Martel, succeeded him as Mayor. When he died in 741 CE, he was succeeded by his son Pepin the Short. In 751 CE, with the help of Pope Zachary, Pepin set about deposing the King, Childeric III, in order to claim the throne for himself. This was achieved by means of a forged document known as the Donation of Constantine, purported to date from 312 CE and signed by none other than Constantine the Great himself. This stated that the Pope, as Vicar of Christ, had similar status to the Emperor, and was therefore entitled to decree Kingship on whomever he saw fit.
Meanwhile, Childeric III was deposed and taken to a monastery, where his hair was ritually shorn. Four years later, he died. Pepin the Short was installed as King, giving rise to a new dynasty that became known as the Carolingians. Shortly before his coronation, Pepin married a Merovingian Princess in order to legitimize his offspring’s claim to the throne.
Despite the Church and Pepin’s efforts, the Merovingian bloodline did not die out, but continued with Dagobert II’s son, Sigebert III, who became the Count of Razes, the village that later became known as Rennes le Chateau. In time, the line came to include Godfroi de Bouillon, founder of the Knights Templar.