A Very Merovingian Muddle.

Popular Nonsense.

A brief search of the word ‘Merovingian’ on the Internet will provide one with an amusing array of farcical nonsense, largely inspired by ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or ‘The Matrix’. Conspiracy theorists and neo-mystical spiritualists seem to love the Merovingians almost as much as the Celts. These kings of the Franks have suddenly become the descendants of the House of David, the lost bloodline of Christ, benefactors of the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the Knights Templar, born of Atlantis, enemies of the papacy, and defenders of the common man. A truly astonishing feat. It’s almost unbelievable. Actually, no, it’s completely unbelievable.

Just the Facts.

The Merovingians are, more than likely, not the descendants of Christ, or any member of his family, friends, anyone who ever knew him personally, any of their friends, or probably anyone who was ever born in Israel. And by the phrase ‘more than likely’ I mean ‘almost incontrovertibly accepted by every serious scholar in the field, unless some new and previously unheard of fact comes to light (which, in fairness, could happen, however unlikely it may seem), and if anyone ever tells you otherwise, walk away slowly’.

Firstly, Atlantis? Really? Aren’t we over that? Wasn’t there a memo? If Bob Ballard hasn’t found it, no one will.

The majority of the fantasy circulating about the Merovingians appears to be due to their name. This great dynasty of the Franks was legendarily founded by a man named Merovech, hence Merovingian.  It has been proposed that the derivation of the name Merovech, or Merovius in Latin, means something like ‘from the sea’, which is clearly an invitation to suggest Atlantean origins. A more elaborate interpretation suggests it means ‘descended of the fish’, the fish being a symbol associated with Jesus. Very inventive. But that is all it is, invention. Since he would have been a Frank, his name would have been probably Frankish, not Latin, so the ‘mer-‘ part of his name may not mean ‘sea’ but ‘renown’ or ‘fame’. Some writers popularise the ‘sea’ aspect of the name to lend credence to their theories, but if they took a moment to check their sources they’d find evidence to the contrary. One of the earliest historians of the Merovingians, Gregory of Tours, writing in the 6th century, makes no mention of the fantastical origins of Merovech, beastly or messianic, which one would think would be something worthy of note. This little fabrication did not appear until much later in the 7th century, when the Merovingians were inventing a history to suit their political designs; it was to their benefit to be associated with the divine, it granted an other-worldly authority to their declining power. The earliest genealogies of the Merovingians include no gods, or their sons. The association with a pagan divinity appeared over two centuries after the death of Merovech, but we have to wait for over a millennium before the claim of Christ’s bloodline appears.

Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Wholly Crap.

The connection of the Merovingians to Christ appeared for the first time in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail in 1982, and gained popularity in 2003  (guess why), and is based on nothing other than the hypothesis of the authors that Merovech has some connection to ‘fish’, and the fish was an early symbol of Christ. Really. They just made it up. There is no reference in the annals of the Franks, the histories of the Franks, in the letters, documents, charters, or decrees of the Franks that their ruling dynasty was of the bloodline of the Messiah. Which you’d think would be something they’d trumpet from the rooftop of every palace and church, so they could install themselves as theocratic rulers of Christendom. Which they didn’t. Not one of them, for hundreds of years. So that theory sounds a bit fishy (see what I did there?). They also claim that the Merovingians were the enemies of the papacy, which is the villain of their tale, because the pope deposed them. Well, he didn’t. A man named Pippin, or Pepin, did. And he basically blackmailed the pope into agreeing with him.

The Merovingian Empire, and the dynasty that ruled it, was founded by a man, who was just a man. But not just any man, a man who was quite good at killing other men,Clovis and conquering places, a trait which many of his descendents inherited. This man was Clovis, since there is little evidence that Merovech existed. There is nothing mystical, magical, or messianic about the Merovingians. So if you ever meet anyone who says otherwise, just say “no, that is historical equivalent of a monkey flinging poo at you and pretending that it’s a sign of affection”.

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10 responses to “A Very Merovingian Muddle.

  1. Wondeer!! Thank for the post and you nice blog. I hope to
    link a good news by Vaite in reanaissance and expecially medieval on
    Federico
    II mediueval period. It’s in Italian words and video about his history in
    Italy . Goog vision Jacopo Here is the link:

    http://notitiae.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/palio-del-ducato-di-eggi-%E2%80%93-iii-edizione-3-ottobre-2010/

  2. The early French troubadours began their Poetics with the Legend of Troy. ‘Francion’ the First Duke of the Franks was considered to be the son of Priam the King of Troy. For this to be true, the Trojan War must be moved forward in time it to the era of the first Franks appearing in the Middle Ages. The Franks, just as the Latins, the Germans, the Slavs, the Russians all saw themselves as being descended from the Trojans, and refugees from the Fall of Troy, all the Middle Ages troubadours, poets and authors produced works almost identical to the Greek Homer’s epic poem.
    Troy of course could only be Constantinople, so the Fall of Troy becomes the fall of Constantiople – Tzargrad – City of Kings.
    As for Dan Brown, and other fiction writers, their fiction is merely an attempt to confuse history, which is already confused enough.

    “History is more or less bunk” – Henry Ford

    • Almost every medieval European people traced their lineage, as you quite rightly say, back to some quasi-historical point, which was either Biblical, or Hellenistic, the Tower of Babel, or the Trojan war. There is nothing unique about this, or factual; these ‘histories’ changed to suit the needs of the time, pagan, Christian, or neo-Classical. Constantinople fell in the 15th century, long after the national foundation-myths had begun to appear, so to conflate the fall of Constantinople (15th Cent. AD) with the fall of Troy (12th Cent. BC) seems a bit odd to me. There is no need to move the fall of Troy forward; the people who invented these tales had a very limited understanding of ancient history, or didn’t care to let the facts get in the way of a good story. If that line of reasoning, bringing Troy forward, were valid, the Roman Republic would be contemporaneous with, for example, the Frankish Kingdoms. And even if the fall of Troy was brought forward to the time that the Franks appeared, Constantinople was still standing, and would remain so for quite some time. Many Frankish kings sought legitimacy from Constantinople, as did the papcy, largely because it was the enduring Roman Empire. These pseudo-histories were simply an attempt by later peoples to integrate themselves into an already existing framework; the Roman Empire was regarded as the height of civilisation, and the Romans considered themselves to be descendants of Troy, so what better way to elevate your own peoples by saying that, essentially, you are the cousins of the greatest known empire of the time?

      The troubadours, poets, and authors of the Middle Ages merely emulated Homer because what was ancient was percieved as being better; the kings of Europe tried to be new Caesars or Alexanders, its writers new Homers or Ciceroes. These were the abiding stories and works of their time, how could poets not be influenced and inspired by them?

      As for Dan Brown, well, he’s writing fiction, nothing wrong with that. It’s his style I abhor more than anything. There are many other writers who write equally fantastical tales, yet portray them as fact, which is a crime. I doubt Dan Brown purposefully set out to confuse people. And yes, history can be confusing, a wonderful mystery worth untangling.

      “History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.”
      Edward Gibbon

  3. The “Trojan War” was the First Crusade in actual fact, Homers Illiad is decribing the same military event as the First Crusade. “Ancient” Greece and “Ancient” Rome and “Ancient” Egypt are all inventions of the 15th-16th Centuries. The first Fall is of Troy on the Bosphorus, this is before the First Crusade, Troy is the city Constantinople also known as Jerusalem, the Crusader maps all identify Constantinople as the ‘Holy Land’ and Jerusalem. The Bible just like the so called ‘Ancient’ writers whose works were all written in the Middle Ages are all based upon events that happened from 1000 AD – 1500 AD.

    This is all now proven by mathematics, statistics and astronomy computer programmes so the new chronology of Fomenko and Kasporov is impossible to deny. I mean some can try to deny it, but in the end, its beyond any doubt.


    • wow.

      I’m not sure how to respnd to this. I’m guessing you believe this chicanery, against the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, so I doubt there is anything to be gained from pointing out the various, multiple, and extensive flaws in the New Chronology ‘theory’… It’s equivalent to Creationism, AIDS denial, or Holocaust denial. It’s seriously stupid. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be debated, it should be mocked; debating grants it a level of credence that it should not have, and it wastes valubale time and energy which could be better spent on more useful endeavours, like watching paint dry. New Chronology is as ‘proven’ as New Earth Creationism.

      What I find really funny though is the fact that you derided Dan Brown in your previous post for confusing history. At least he admits he’s writing fiction, whereas these ‘New Chronologists’ are stating that their fantasy is truth.

      Let’s not turn this into a tedious post/counter-post arguement. My position is clear, as is yours, and they are irreconcilable.

  4. Well good luck with your frivolous endeavour, I guess the old saying; you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make drink, is apt.

    Imagine calling the greatest mathmetician and the greastest chess player of all time ‘seriously stupid’! Quite inconcievable, really. I think your way out of your depth here.

    HH.

    • A mathematician and a chess-player as opposed to the accumulated scientific and historical learning of several different cultures over many centuries. That is certainly a convincing argument. And I didn’t call them stupid, I called the idea stupid, a subtle difference, like that between fantastical nonsense and actual history.

      Good luck to you in all your endeavours, frivolous or otherwise.

  5. Who are you kidding with – “accumulated scientific and historical learning of several different cultures over many centuries”…What does that mean?
    When you are finished with egotistical and emotional verbalism. Well obviously we deny the current established Scaliger Biblical Chronology, the current Chronology begins 3949 BC, Scaliger was a Protestant Christian with a Biblical Chronology with a 6000 year old earth, and here you are, an atheist defending Bibilcal Chronology! Amazing.

    Now all I did was say that; Troy is Constantinople and the Franks considered themselves to be descended from the Trojans…That was according to the Franks themselves!!!And it’s all proven beyond any doubt, but if you want to believe like all the other fools, that a couple of medieval Christians, knew all about the ancient world even though they never left their desks, even before archeology was even known, and dated all events perfectly according to the Bible?????? Then go ahead…. maybe you might see that there is conflict in your position.

    • Your statements are like a bad Steven Segal movie…

      But, as I said, I have no desire to turn this into a tedious post/counter-post argument. To repeat, my position is clear, as is yours, and they are irreconcilable. Embrace the fundamentally democratic freedom of the internet and espouse your beliefs from your soap-box, or discuss your views with others of your temperament; they will no longer be displayed here, and they are not solicited. This is my soap-box, and I grow weary of your argument.

  6. I think it’s all a great big hoot. I’ve traced my genealogy back to this point, and think it’s all a wonderful “creation myth”, just like so many others in the world – but indeed, just that!

    However, should anyone accuse me of being “holier than thou”, I’m quite prepared to agree, and say “well, some nutjobs wrote a book, and a sensationalist, page-turning fiction writer wrote a book, from which I can ‘confidently assert that “yea, verily, I am indeed holier than thou!'”

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