OF all the Teutons who came to live on Roman territory, the most important were the Franks, or free men. They had no
wish to wander over the world when they had once found a country that pleased them, and so, since they liked the land
about the mouth of the Rhine, they settled there and held on to it, adding more and more wherever a little fighting
would win it for them. Each tribe had its chief; but Clo'vis, one of these chiefs, came at last to rule them all.
The country west of the Rhine, then called Gaul, was still partly held by the Romans, but Clovis meant to drive them
away and keep
 the land for the Franks. When he was only twenty-one, he led his men against the Roman governor at Sois-sons' and
took the place. From here he sent out expeditions to conquer one bit of land after another and to bring back rich booty.
The most valuable treasures were usually kept in the churches, and the heathen Franks took great delight in seizing
these. Among the church treasures captured at Rheims' was a marvelously beautiful vase. Now the bishop of Rheims
was on good terms with Clovis, and he sent a messenger to the young chief to beg that, even if the soldiers would not
return all the holy vessels of the church, this one at least might be given back. Clovis bade the messenger follow on to
Soissons, where the booty would be divided. At Soissons, when all the warriors were assembled, the king pointed to the
vase and said, "I ask you, O most valiant warriors, not to refuse to me the vase in addition to my rightful part." Most
of the soldiers were wise enough not to object to the wishes of so powerful a chief; but one foolish, envious man swung
his battle-axe and crushed the vase, crying, "Thou shalt receive nothing of this unless a just lot gives it to thee." It
is no wonder that the whole army were amazed at such audacity. Clovis said nothing, but quietly handed the crushed vase
to the bishop's messenger. He did not forget the insult, however, and a year later, when he was reviewing his troops, he
declared that this man's weapons were not in fit con-
 dition, and with one blow of his axe he struck the soldier dead, saying, "Thus thou didst to the vase at Soissons."
BRONZE HELMET OF A FRANKISH WARRIOR
(FOUND NEAR THE RIVER SIENE; NOW IN THE LOUVRE, PARIS.)
Clovis showed himself so much stronger than the other chiefs of the Franks that at length they all accepted him as their
king. Soon after this, he began to think about taking a wife. The story of his wooing is almost like a fairy tale. In
the land of Burgundy lived a fair young girl named Clo-til'da, whose wicked uncle had slain her father, mother,
and brothers that he might get the kingdom. Clovis had heard how beautiful and good she was, and he sent an envoy to ask
for her hand in marriage. The wicked uncle was afraid to have her marry so powerful a ruler, lest she should avenge the
slaughter of her family; but he did not dare to refuse Clovis or to murder the girl after Clovis had asked that she
might become his queen. There was nothing to do but to send her to the king of the Franks. Clovis was delighted with
her, and they were married with all festivities.
FRANKISH COSTUME OF THE TIME OF CLOVIS.
Clotilda was a Christian, and she was much grieved that her husband should remain a heathen. She told him many times
about her God, but nothing moved him. When their first child was born, Clotilda had the baby baptized. Not long
afterwards, the little boy grew ill and died. "That is because he was baptized in the name of your God," declared Clovis
bitterly. "If he had been consecrated in the name of my gods, he would be alive still." Nevertheless, when a second son
was born, Clotilda had him baptized. He, too, fell ill, and the king said, "He was baptized in the name of Christ, and
he will soon die." But the mother prayed to God, and by God's will the boy recovered. Still Clovis would not give up the
gods of his fathers. It came to pass, however, that he was engaged in a fierce battle near where Co-logne' now
 stands. His enemies were fast getting the better of him, and he was almost in despair, when suddenly he thought of the
God of his queen, and he cried, "Jesus Christ, whom Clotilda declares to be the Son of the living God, if Thou wilt
grant me victory over these enemies, I will believe in Thee and be baptized in Thy name." Soon the enemy fled, and
Clovis did not doubt that his prayer had been answered.
BAPTISM OF CLOVIS.
When he told Clotilda of this, she was delighted. She sent for the bishop and asked him to teach her husband the true
religion. After a little, Clovis said to him, "I am glad to listen to you, but my people will not leave their gods." He
thought a while and then he declared, "I will go forth and tell them what you have told me." He went out among his
people, and, as the legend says, even before he had spoken a word, the people cried out all together, "We are ready to
follow the immortal God." Then the bishop ordered the font to be prepared for the baptism of the king. The procession
set out from the palace and passed through streets made gorgeous with embroidered hangings. First came the clergy,
chanting hymns as they marched, and bearing the Gospels and a golden cross. After them walked the bishop, leading the
king by the hand. Behind them came the queen, and after her the people. They passed through the door and into the
church. The candles gleamed, the house was hung with tapestries of the purest white and was fragrant with incense; and
there the king of the Franks, his sisters, and more than three thousand of his warriors, besides a throng of women and
children, were baptized and marked with the sign of the cross.
The times were harsh and rude, and even a king who was looked upon as a Christian ruler never dreamed of hesitating to
 cruel deeds. Clovis wished to enlarge his kingdom, and he could always find some excuse for attacking any tribe living
on land next his own. He cared nothing for his word, and to get what he wanted, he was ready to lie or steal or murder.
Clovis died in 511, but before that time all the lands between the lower Rhine and the Pyr'e-nees Mountains had
been obliged to acknowledge his rule. He took Par'is as his capital, and went there to live. This was the
beginning of France. The descendants of Clovis held the throne for nearly two centuries and a half. They were called
Mer-o-vin'gi-ans from Mer-o-vae'us, the grandfather of Clovis.
Settlement of the Franks. — Clovis and the vase of Soissons. — His marriage. — The death of his son. — He becomes a
Christian. — His baptism. — His cruel deeds. — The Merovingians.