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18th century depiction of Theuderic I by Jean Dassier

Theuderic I[1] (c.485 – 533/4) was the Merovingian king of Metz, Rheims, or Austrasia—as it is variously called—from 511 to 533 or 534.

He was the son of Clovis I and one of his earlier wives or concubines. He inherited Metz in 511 at his father's death. In accordance with Salian tradition, the kingdom was divided between Clovis' four surviving sons: Childebert I in Paris, Chlodomer in Orléans, and Clotaire I in Soissons. Early in his reign, he sent his son Theudebert to battle the Scandinavian King Chlochilaich (Hygelac of Beowulf fame) who had invaded his realm. Theudebert defeated and killed Chlochilaich.

Division of Gaul on Clovis' death, showing Theuderic's kingdom beside his brothers'

Theuderic got involved in the war between the Thuringian King Hermanfrid and Hermanfrid's only living brother: Baderic. In exchange for his help, Theuderic would receive half of the kingdom. Baderic was defeated, but the land promised Theuderic was not given up.

The four sons of Clovis then all fought Sigismund of Burgundy and Godomar, kings of the Burgundians. Godomar fled and Sigismund was taken prisoner by Chlodomer. Theuderic married Sigismund's daughter. Godomar rallied the Burgundian army and won back his kingdom. Chlodomer, aided by Theuderic, defeated Godomar, but died in the fighting at Vézeronce.

Theuderic then, with his brother Clotaire and his son, attacked Thuringia to revenge himself on Hermanfrid. Thuringia was conquered, and Clotaire received Radegund, daughter of King Berthar (Hermanfrid's late brother). After making a treaty with his brother Childebert, Theuderic died in 534. Upon his death the throne of Metz, though seemingly up for grabs, passed unhindered to Theudebert. Theuderic also left a daughter, Theodechild, by his wife Suavegotha, daughter of Sigismund of Burgundy.

Further reading

  • Bachrach, Bernard S. (1972). Merovingian Military Organization, 481–751. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0 81660 621 8.
  • Geary, Patrick J. (1988). Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19504 458 4.
  • James, Edward (1991). The Franks. London: Blackwell, ISBN 0 63114 872 8.
  • Oman, Charles (1914). The Dark Ages, 476–918. London: Rivingtons.
  • Wallace-Hadrill, J. M. (1962). The Long-Haired Kings, and Other Studies in Frankish History. London: Methuen.
  • Wood, Ian N. (1994). The Merovingian Kingdoms, 450–751. London: Longman, ISBN 0 58221 878 0.


  1. ^ Also spelled Theuderich, Theoderic, or Theodoric; in French, Thierry
Theuderic I
Born: 490s Died: 534
Preceded by
Clovis I
King of Rheims
Succeeded by
Theudebert I


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