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The Conversion of Clovis

In the following account of Clovis' conversion, provided by the Christian church historian Gregory of Tours (c.539-594) in his History of the Franks, the Frankish king is said to have turned Christian because he believed that the Christian God had given him a military victory over a rival German tribe, the Alemanni.

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Clovis took to wife Clotilde, daughter of the king of the Burgundians and a Christian. The queen unceasingly urged the king to acknowledge the true God, and forsake idols. But he could not in any wise be brought to believe until war broke out with the Alemanni. . . . The two armies were in battle and there was great slaughter. Clovis' army was near to utter destruction. He saw the danger . . . and raised his eyes to heaven, saying: Jesus Christ, whom Clotilde declares to be the son of the living God, who it is said givest aid to the oppressed and victory to those who put their hopes in thee, I beseech thy . . . aid. If thou shalt grant me victory over these enemies . . . I will believe in thee and be baptized in thy name. For I have called upon my gods, but . . . they are far removed from my aid. So I believe that they have no power, for they do not succor those who serve them. Now I call upon thee, and I long to believe in thee. . . . When he had said these things, the Alemanni turned their backs and began to flee. When they saw that their king was killed, they submitted to the sway of Clovis, saying . . . Now we are thine.

After Clovis had forbidden further war and praised his soldiers, he told the queen how he had won the victory by calling on the name of Christ. Then the queen sent for the blessed Remigius, bishop of the city of Rheims, praying him to bring the gospel of salvation to the king. The priest, little by little and secretly, led him to believe in the true God . . . and to forsake idols, which could not help him nor anybody else.

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copyright 2000 Steven Kreis
Last Revised -- February 28, 2006
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