All illustrations were made by Eddy Krahenbuhl and Veronique Ageorges when they participated to the publication of books written by Patrick Perin, the former director of French Merovingian Antiquities and now retired curator of St Germain en Laye museum of National Antiquities.
One is called The Franks: in the heart of the Barbarian kingdoms (‘here as not Roman’); the other one simply From Clovis to Charlemagne’.
Photo 1: Childeric. Clovis father. A bit of a womanizer, exiled in Thuringia, he was noticed by the queen. After being called back from exile to reign as king, said lady literally dumped her husband and married him. The armour is pretty accurate: lamellate design. It is very important as this design is pretty resistant to arrows! Aachen Charlemagne exhibition showed different types of chain mail: after watching it, you learn to respect this craftsmanship. The fibula was found in his grave and is now in Paris. As for his francisca https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcCbL_y3zTM: here some interesting advice on their usefulness.
And yes, long hair. The right to wear long hair was limited to the royal family. Childeric was buried like a Roman general… because he was one; well, an ally of what was remaining Roman in Gaul between 451 and 481 when he passed away.
Photo 2 is how a real horse was saddled at the time of Clovis birth. Spurs but no stirrups.
Photo 3 is the accepted reconstruction of historical Childeric. Sorry, not as dashing as pic #1 (mind you, he may have been a stunner to turn a queen into a groupie.
Photo 4 shows his son now king of the Franks after the battle of Vouille. This battle confirmed the leadership of the Franks over Gaul. The Visigoths lost an area larger than Aquitaine, retreating to Spain. Emperor Anastasias the First awards him some sort of consulship. Clovis wore a chlamyde and distributed gold coins to the good citizens of Tours like any good Roman consul. Rome and Byzantium were the Gold standard. Barbarian means ‘not Roman’; these people were not barbaric!
Photo 5 shows a traveling blacksmith while on pic 6, princess Brunhildis of the Visigoths is welcomed by Venantius Fortunatus a poet (yes, we still have the panegyric he wrote for her wedding with Clovis grandson. Just like nowadays, weddings were a peaceful way to end up lingering wars…
Photo 7 shows what happened to bishops if they fell on the wrong side of the local governor or as here count Leudaste versus Bishop Gregory whose memoirs (he died about 594 AD) have given France a pretty good idea of what was happening to it during the #notso Dark Ages. Gregory mentions a man of Kent and we know this would be Aethelbert. Britain was back on the Continental European radar (if it had ever left it, which I doubt).
Everything goes fine if the king is old enough to rule by himself when his father dies like Clovis king aged 15 and already able to lead his warriors. But for some unlucky boys, the crown was theirs at a much younger age. Dowager queens would become regents. Quite efficiently like above Brunhildis, some would become saints! And much to our Anglo-Saxon friends surprise, the first Frankish dowager queen to make it to sainthood leaving her name to French royal ladies up to the French revolution… it will be Balthildis (nowadays Bathilde) an English maid.
Proof if it was needed France does not hate England. Here she stands up for her diminutive lord. As you may expect, the vacuum of power was to open the door to the leadership of the mayors of the palace. In 100 years, the relative of this man will be known as Pippin the Short: Charlemagne’s father.
Finally, enjoy the entrance in Lyons of Prince Richomer (yes, wearing long hair) a cousin of Childeric as Frank tribes were Salian and Rhenish (as in east of the river Rhine)
I regret these books were not translated in English as they give a very good impression of the real life of the Franks when the tectonic plaques of conversion were going full swing moving Germanic tribes worshiping Woden/Wotan/Odin to Rome’s orbit
It will take a century or so to stop Franks to bring food and offerings to their dearly departed. No glorious Sutton Hoo style burial, no cremation; but humble stone markers as can be found in Male cemetery in Champagne. Or recently Evrecy.
I like these pictures as they do not show heroic Beowulfs but real people and importantly all above have been vetted by real historians.