Religion has been a significant and inseparable part of the human world and has seen many changes and influences over the course of its existence. Christianity, in particular, has a long history of people who have contributed to the development and further support of its fundamentals and specific direction. King Clovis is an historical figure who has played a role in Christianity and the effects can be seen throughout history and details of religion.
There is somewhat of a disagreement between historians on the true influence that Clovis has had on Christianity and its further progression. There is no denial that the king has had great position and power over people. His fame and ability to make others believe his words were extraordinary, so it is possible to assume that however he explained his motives and wants in regards to religion were believed to their full extent.
In any case, Clovis could not have played such a great role in religion if it was not for the support of the Catholic Church. Since he was in a position of power, the church could give him the political authority that would be instrumental in making people believe and gaining the authority within religion itself.
At that time, the area of Europe was predominantly orthodox Christianity and people were converting in the belief that it was the right decision (Bainton, 136). But everything was not as simple as it looked from the first glance and there is some evidence that his wife, Clotilda was of great influence.
She was “a Christian Burgundian princess, had long reasoned with her husband, telling him that his gods were mere idols and the stories about them most indecent. Clotilda pointed him to the God who, out of nothing, created heaven and earth, who adorned the firmament with stars, who caused the air, the earth, and the waters to teem with life…” (Bainton, 136).
Even though these words have had some effect on him, his first son died soon after he was baptized and the second one fell ill but after Clotilda prayed, the son has recovered. The following events were even more important in the way Clovis was affected by religion and led a following in its name.
Clovis was in a battle and the odds were not on his side. He has become desperate and asked the God his wife told him about to help himself and his army. In the end, it seemed that his prayers have been heard and he has defeated Alamanni. He then told the people of his victory and was inclined to get baptized but they still praised their gods.
This was when he was baptized by the bishop “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost…” (Bainton, 138). Not only was his decision and actions exemplar to the people, three thousand men of the army he commanded were baptized as well and this served as the definite fact in belief for everyone.
Even though this was the aftermath of his victory and celebration, his inclinations were to unite the people and so, he must have been assertive to win over their minds and hearts. One of the reasons people were confused was because there was a belief that Jesus Christ was a separate entity from God and all other higher beings. So, when people were told that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were one, it was a hard concept for them to grasp (Bainton, 139).
An important influence that King Clovis has exhibited was in the unification of people. He has been able to unite all Frankish tribes into one and establish himself as their ruler. He has also affected the way leadership of people was seen and how it was influenced. Clovis has changed the previous order and made a new one where the king would be able to transfer his ruling to his heirs.
This greatly insured his position and ancestry in the line of rulers, and made him the first king who practiced Christian religion in the modern France, Gaul (Bainton, 142). Because he was able to unify a lot of people and made it possible for further generations of similar ruling, he became an important figure not only in the lives or people but in the belief system as well.
King Clovis’ influence and his authority have spread so far, that the Franks were able to overpower the neighboring people, thus making themselves a dominant force in the region. His fame and leadership was already a well established fact in the area but after his conversion he made even more followers.
Historically, Clovis has become a figure of much importance and this was accomplished through the writings of Gregory, the bishop who spoke of Clovis as “a great warlord who expanded Salian dominion in every direction and he was the first Christian king of the franks. Not only was he a convert to Christianity, he was a convert to catholic Christianity” (Fletcher, 103).
This makes apparent the reasons why King Clovis is considered to be such a significant figure in Christianity. A detail worth mentioning is that Gregory has been a man of his times and the way Christianity was developing was important to all who supported it. Gregory had many reasons to make Clovis a historical figure because he was a person who unified a lot of people under one belief.
Also, he was much opposed to the wars that were going on between tribes and wanted something done about it. It seems his wishes have been heard and so, Clovis was able to put an end to the conflict by becoming the leader of all people. Skeptics would add that Gregory was much affected by his own personality and skills of a historian, so he made Clovis such a significant figure in an overstatement of his abilities (Fletcher, 104).
A rather controversial but at the same time true assumption was made by the fact that King Clovis was advised to be in peace and cooperation with bishops. This leads to believe that from a long time ago, the rulers of the land were advised to support the local religion. This begs a question of how much influence religion has had on the rulers and the public masses.
The sort of example that King Clovis has set for the future generations can still be seen today, as the modern governments greatly participate in the matters of religion and practice its following (Schulman, 106). By summation of the gathered facts it can be said that not only Clovis has influenced the development of history and religion but he himself was largely influenced by religion.
It could be argued that he had to succumb to the pressure of the surrounding environment and people who had played significant role in his life. His wife and the bishops who were instrumental to the control of the masses have given him an example that he had no choice but to follow. He realized that there was no other way to unite and order people into a unit, except by giving them an example in the beliefs and social structure (Oliver, 1996).
Overall, there is somewhat of a division in the influence and reasons of Clovis’ actions and his role in Christianity. One side argues that it was a wise decision to unify people and establish peace, directed by conscience and pure motives, while others suppose that it was in support of the church.
If it was his own decision, then he was an important figure in the progression of the role of Christianity. In case it was influenced by the church and power of its authority, then it is also significant because the role religion plays in the development of civilization is instrumental. One thing for sure is that King Clovis was a part of the system that led to the life and conditions of the world today.
He became an inseparable part of history and the reasons are secondary to the end result. There is no denying that religion is still very dominant in any society. People need a belief system that promises more than material needs and opens a path to the wants of the heart and soul.
Bainton, Roland. Christianity. New York, United States: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000. Print.
Fletcher, Richard. The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity. Los Angeles, United States: University of California Press, 1999. Print.
Oliver, Jeanne. “Is France a Christian Nation – or Just Another Secular State?” Insight on the News, 12.48 (1996): n. pag. Web.
Schulman, Jana. The Rise of the Medieval World: 500 – 1300; a Biographical Dictionary. Westport, United States: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.