MEROVINGIANS, the name given to the first dynasty which reigned over the kingdom of the Franks.
Worms was rebuilt by the Merovingians, and became an episcopal see, first mentioned in 614, although a bishop of the Vangiones had attended a council at Cologne as early as 347.
The Merovingians had no idea that they were abdicating the least part of their authority, nevertheless the deprivations acquiesced in by the feebler kings led of necessity to the diminution of their authority and their judicial powers, and to the abandonment of public taxation.
Under the Merovingians it was a hierarchy wherein grades were marked by the varied scale of the Disruption wergild, a man being worth anything from thirty to six of the hundred gold pieces.
The degeneration of the monarchy was clearly apparent on the death of Charles the Bald, when his son, Louis the Stammerer, was only assured of the throne, which had passed by Louis the right of birth under the Merovingians and been Stan,hereditary under the earlier Carolingians, through his election by nobles and bishops under the direction (877-879).
Feudalism had gained ground in the 8th century; feudalism it was which had raised the first Carohingian to the throne as being the richest and most powerful person in Austrasia; and Charlemagne with all his power had been as utterly unable as the Merovingians to revive the idea of an abstract and impersonal state.
The growing weakness of the Merovingians saved them from serious attack, though not from occasional invasion on the north.