In fact, if Clovis (481-511), the founder of the Frankish power, extended his dominions above all in Gaul, on the other hand, with the overthrow of the kingdom of the Alamanni (battle of Tolbiacum, 496), he took a step of the greatest importance. The kingdom of the Alamanni extended from the Main to the Alps, from the Vosges to the Lech. Exterminated the residents, or reduced in the southern part of the country, between the upper Rhine and the Lech, under the protection of the finite Italic kingdom of the Ostrogoth Theodoric, this alone still retained the name of Alamannia. In the northern part, between the middle Rhine, the Main and the Neckar, the conquering Franks transplanted, bringing language, law and customs, who eventually gave it their name, Franconia. For the first time in centuries, a Germanic population showed signs of reversing the direction of its movement, and was preparing to retrace the path that had led its ancestors to abandon the ancient seats to the Slavs.
New advances were made under Clovis’s first successors. The kingdom of the Thuringians, which stretched between the Fulda and the Werra and the Elbe, and in the south extended as far as the high basin of the Main, was demolished (531), and the region between the Main and the Thuringian Forest colonized by the Franks. The northern part, however, in the mountainous region of the Harz, was occupied by the Saxons, while the eastern part, between the Saale and the Elbe, was invaded by the Sorbians. A few years later (around 536-538), the crisis of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy allowed the Franks to complete the subjugation of Alamannia also south of the Neckar, up to the Lech, while their influence was also affirming on the Dukes of the Baiuvari. In this way, as for the Germanic peoples he had remained east of the Rhine and on the two banks of the Danube as far as the Alps and the Inn, it had fallen, or was in the process of falling, under the direct or indirect control of the Franks. From the Elbe to the Danube, they were now in contact with the Slavic peoples, and from the beginning of the century. VII had to begin to face the raids. Meanwhile, to the south-east the threat of the Avars arose (see), who from Pannonia, where they had settled in the wake of the Lombards, pushed devastating peaks several times (562, 566, 597) into the heart of Germany, up to Thuringia. Thus the historical task reserved to the Franks in Germany was outlined: to make themselves first, against the Slavs and other barbarians, who still flowed back from the inexhaustible East, a bulwark of the new Western civilization being formed under the auspices of the Church of Rome and the non imperial traditions never extinguished; then move on to the counter-offensive,
Meanwhile, the Frankish conquest continued in Gaul, which in the course of the century. VI could be said to be complete. As an effect and in correspondence with this double directive followed by the expansion movement, two major centers of gravity were being constituted in the Frankish kingdom, around which two more important political organisms, with their own physiognomy and with their own interests, were becoming more specific. The country of the Western Franks, or Neustria, gravitating over the Seine basin, where, due to the process of fusion between Franks and Latins in full swing, their language and institutions were changing under the influence of the latter. The land of the East Franks, or Austrasia, gravitating on the basins of the Moselle and the Main, and therefore on the two banks of the Middle Rhine, where the Latin element decreased more and more with the approach of the Rhine, and beyond it the Franks and the other Germanic peoples constituted the totality of the population, and still maintained almost intact language, customs and laws. The historical conditions for the detachment of the Eastern Franks from the Western Franks were thus posed until then. But if the progressive weakening of the monarchical power under the Merovingians facilitated the affirmation of autonomist tendencies, these were in a certain way balanced and held in check by the ambitions of the Austrasian butler towards the throne, hence they did not lead here as well, as it did. in Thuringia, Alamannia and Bavaria, to the constitution of an independent duchy. Thus for two centuries the history of Germany would remain intertwined with that of France. With the decline of the Merovingian kings, the sphere of influence of the Frankish kingdom in Germany was very narrow: it was up to the Pepinides to resume the policy of conquests east of the Rhine. of victorious campaigns against the Frisî, the Thuringians and the Alamanni; his successors continued. Carlo Martello (who died in 741) reprimanded the Frisî, who had dared to run the lands of the lower Rhine as far as Cologne (719), and devastated the country, destroying the pagan temples (733-734); led repeated expeditions against the Saxons, invaders in 715 of the region between the Rhine and the Meuse, and went as far as the Weser (718, 720, 738); s’ imposed with arms on the Alamanni (730) and on the Bavarians (725 and 728). Charlemagne and Pepin the Short (died 768) first, Pepin alone, after his brother became a monk (747), gave no respite to the Saxons (742, 744, 751, 758), to the Alamanni (742-744, 746, 749), to the Bavarians (742-743, 749); over these last two peoples the high Frankish sovereignty was reaffirmed. Also against the Slavs there were, thanks to them, new signs of the Germanic recovery. But the decisive moment for the history of Germany was the dominion of Charlemagne, who not only carried out the conquest of the Pepinides, but gave the conquered country the regulations that were the basis of its further developments.