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Kingdom of Neustria
Francia 714.png
Neustria (northwest) in 714, surrounded by Austrasia, Aquitaine and Burgundy
StatusPart of Kingdom of the Franks
Capital Soissons
Common languages Old Frankish, Vulgar Latin (Gallo-Roman), Latin
Demonym(s) Neustrian
Government Feudal hereditary monarchy
Chlothar I (first)
Childeric III (last)
Mayor of the Palace  
Aega (first)
Pepin III (last)
Historical era Early Middle Ages
Currency Denier
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Sin escudo.svg Francia
Francia Sin escudo.svg
Today part of France

Neustria was the western part of the Kingdom of the Franks. [1]


Neustria included the land between the Loire and the Silva Carbonaria, approximately the north of present-day France, with Paris, Orléans, Tours, Soissons as its main cities. It later referred to the region between the Seine and the Loire rivers known as the regnum Neustriae, a constituent subkingdom of the Carolingian Empire and then West Francia. The Carolingian kings also created a March of Neustria which was a frontier duchy against the Bretons and Vikings that lasted until the Capetian monarchy in the late 10th century, when the term was eclipsed as a European political or geographical term.


The name Neustria is mostly explained as "new western land", [2] although Taylor (1848) suggested the interpretation of "northeastern land". [3] Nordisk familjebok (1913) even suggested "not the eastern land" (icke östland). [4] Augustin Thierry (1825) assumed Neustria is simply a corruption of Westria, from West-rike "western realm". [5] In any case, Neustria contrasts with the name Austrasia "eastern realm". The analogy to Austrasia is even more explicit in the variant Neustrasia. [6]

Neustria was also employed as a term for northwestern Italy during the period of Lombard domination. It was contrasted with the northeast, which was called Austrasia, the same term as given to eastern Francia.

Merovingian kingdom

The predecessor to Neustria was a Roman rump state, the Kingdom of Soissons. In 486 its ruler, Syagrius, lost the Battle of Soissons to the Frankish king Clovis I and the domain was thereafter under the control of the Franks. Constant re-divisions of territories by Clovis's descendants resulted in many rivalries that, for more than two hundred years, kept Neustria in almost constant warfare with Austrasia, the eastern portion of the Frankish Kingdom.

Despite the wars, Neustria and Austrasia re-united briefly on several occasions. The first was under Clotaire I during his reign from 558 to 562. The struggle for power continued with Queen Fredegund of Neustria, the widow of King Chilperic I (reigned 566–584) and the mother of the new king Clotaire II (reigned 584–628), unleashing a bitter war.

After his mother's death and burial in Saint Denis Basilica near Paris in 597, Clotaire II continued the struggle against Queen Brunhilda, and finally triumphed in 613 when Brunhilda's followers betrayed the old queen into his hands. Clotaire had Brunhilda put to the rack and stretched for three days, then chained between four horses and eventually ripped limb from limb. Clotaire now ruled a united realm, but only for a short time as he made his son Dagobert I king of Austrasia. Dagobert's accession in Neustria resulted in another temporary unification.

In Austrasia under the Arnulfing mayor Grimoald the Elder attempted a coup against his liege, Clovis II had him removed and again reunited the kingdom from Neustria, but again temporarily. During or soon after the reign of Clovis's son Chlothar III, the dynasty of Neustria, like that of Austrasia before it, ceded authority to its own mayor of the palace.

In 678, Neustria, under Mayor Ebroin, subdued the Austrasians for the last time. Ebroin was murdered in 680. In 687, Pippin of Herstal, mayor of the palace of the King of Austrasia, defeated the Neustrians at Tertry. Neustria's mayor Berchar was assassinated shortly afterwards and following a marriage alliance between Pippin's son Drogo and Berthal's widow, Pippin became mayor of the Neustrian palace. [7]

Pippin's descendants, the Carolingians, continued to rule the two realms as mayors. With Pope Stephen II's blessing, after 751 the Carolingian Pippin the Short, formally deposed the Merovingians and took control of the empire, he and his descendants ruling as kings.

Neustria, Austrasia, and Burgundy then became united under one authority and, although it would split once again into various eastern and western divisions, the names "Neustria" and "Austrasia" gradually disappeared.

Carolingian subkingdom

In 748, the brothers Pepin the Short and Carloman gave their younger brother Grifo twelve counties in Neustria centred on that of Le Mans. This polity was termed the ducatus Cenomannicus, or Duchy of Maine, and this was an alternative name for the regnum of Neustria well into the 9th century.

The term "Neustria" took on the meaning of "land between the Seine and Loire" when it was given as a regnum (kingdom) by Charlemagne to his second son, Charles the Younger, in 790. At this time, the chief city of the kingdom appears to be Le Mans, where the royal court of Charles was established. Under the Carolingian dynasty, the chief duty of the Neustrian king was to defend the sovereignty of the Franks over the Bretons.

In 817, Louis the Pious granted Neustria to his eldest son Lothair I, but following his rebellion in 831, he gave it to Pepin I of Aquitaine, and following the latter's death in 838, to Charles the Bald. Neustria, along with Aquitaine, formed the major part of Charles West Frankish kingdom carved out of the Empire by the Treaty of Verdun (843). Charles continued the tradition of appointing an elder son to reign in Neustria with his own court at Le Mans when he made Louis the Stammerer king in 856. Louis married the daughter of the King of Brittany, Erispoe, and received the regnum from the Breton monarch with the consent of the Frankish magnates. This unique relationship for Neustria stressed how it had shrunk in size to definitely exclude the Île de France and Paris by this time, as it was distanced from the central authority of Charles the Bald and closer to that of Erispoe. Louis was the last Frankish monarch to be appointed to Neustria by his father and the practice of creating subkingdoms for sons waned among the later Carolingians.

Carolingian march

In 861, the Carolingian king Charles the Bald created the Marches of Neustria that were ruled by officials appointed by the crown, known as wardens, prefects or margraves. Originally, there were two marches, one against the Bretons and one against the Norsemen, often called the Breton March and Norman March respectively.

In 911, Robert I of France became margrave of both Marches and took the title demarchus. His family, the later Capetians, ruled the whole of Neustria until 987, when Hugh Capet was elected to the kingship. The subsidiary counts of Neustria had exceeded the margrave in power by that time and the peak of Viking and Breton raiding had passed. After the Capetian Miracle, no further margraves were appointed and "Neustria" was eclipsed as a European political term (present, however, in some Anglo-Norman chronicles and revived as synonymous with English possession of Normandy under Henry V by the St. Albans chronicler Thomas Walsingham in his Ypodigma Neustriae).


Merovingian kings

Mayors of the palace

Carolingian sub-kings

Louis was chased from Le Mans in 858 following the assassination of Erispoe in November 857.



The chief contemporary chronicles written from a Neustrian perspective are the History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours, the Book of the History of the Franks , the Annals of St-Bertin , the Annals of St-Vaast , the Annals by Flodoard of Reims, and the History of the conflicts of the Gauls by Richer of Reims . [8]

Related Research Articles

Merovingian dynasty Frankish aristocratic family that ruled from the 5th century to 751

The Merovingian dynasty was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as "Kings of the Franks" in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gaulish Romans under their rule. They conquered most of Gaul, defeating the Visigoths (507) and the Burgundians (534), and also extended their rule into Raetia (537). In Germania, the Alemanni, Bavarii and Saxons accepted their lordship. The Merovingian realm was the largest and most powerful of the states of western Europe following the breaking up of the empire of Theodoric the Great.

Austrasia Medieval European territory

Austrasia was a territory which formed the north-eastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks during the 6th to 8th centuries. It was centred on the Meuse, Middle Rhine and the Moselle rivers, and was the original territory of the Franks, including both the so-called Salians and Rhineland Franks, which Clovis I conquered after first taking control of the bordering part of Roman Gaul, now northern France, which is sometimes described in this period as Neustria.

Chlothar II King of Neustria (584-613); King of the Franks (613-629)

Chlothar II, called the Great or the Younger , was king of Neustria and king of the Franks, and the son of Chilperic I and his third wife, Fredegund. He started his reign as an infant under the regency of his mother, who was in an uneasy alliance with Chlothar's uncle King Guntram of Burgundy, who died in 592. Chlothar took power upon the death of his mother in 597; though rich, Neustria was one of the smallest portions of Francia. He continued his mother's feud with Queen Brunhilda with equal viciousness and bloodshed, finally achieving her execution in an especially brutal manner in 613, after winning the battle that enabled Chlothar to unite Francia under his rule. Like his father, he built up his territories by seizing lands after the deaths of other kings.

Carolingian dynasty Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel

The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family named after Charlemagne, grandson of mayor Charles Martel and descendant of the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The dynasty consolidated its power in the 8th century, eventually making the offices of mayor of the palace and dux et princeps Francorum hereditary, and becoming the de facto rulers of the Franks as the real powers behind the Merovingian throne. In 751 the Merovingian dynasty which had ruled the Germanic Franks was overthrown with the consent of the Papacy and the aristocracy, and Pepin the Short, son of Martel, was crowned King of the Franks. The Carolingian dynasty reached its peak in 800 with the crowning of Charlemagne as the first Emperor of the Romans in the West in over three centuries. His death in 814 began an extended period of fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and decline that would eventually lead to the evolution of the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire.

Chlothar III

Chlothar III was the eldest son of Clovis II, king of Neustria and Burgundy, and his queen Balthild. When Clovis died in 657, Chlothar succeeded him under the regency of his mother. Only a month beforehand, according to the near-contemporary Life of Eligius by the courtier Audoin (bishop) of Rouen, Saint Eligius had prophesied the death of Clovis, Balthild's downfall, and Chlothar's short reign.

Childeric II

Childeric II was the king of Austrasia from 662 and of Neustria and Burgundy from 673 until his death, making him sole King of the Franks for the final two years of his life.


Ebroin was the Frankish mayor of the palace of Neustria on two occasions; firstly from 658 to his deposition in 673 and secondly from 675 to his death in 680 or 681. In a violent and despotic career, he strove to impose the authority of Neustria, which was under his control, over Burgundy and Austrasia.

Under the Merovingian dynasty, the mayor of the palace was the manager of the household of the Frankish king.

Chilperic II King of France from 718 to 721

Chilperic II, known as Daniel prior to his coronation, was the youngest son of Childeric II and his half-cousin, king of Neustria from 715 and sole king of the Franks from 718 until his death.

Clovis II

Clovis II was King of Neustria and Burgundy, having succeeded his father Dagobert I in 639. His brother Sigebert III had been King of Austrasia since 634. He was initially under the regency of his mother Nanthild until her death in her early thirties in 642. Nanthild's death allowed Clovis to fall under the influence of the secular magnates, who reduced the royal power in their own favour; first Aega and then Erchinoald. The Burgundian mayor of the palace Flaochad used him to lure his rival, Willebad, to a battle in Autun, where Willebad was killed.

Francia Frankish Kingdom from 481 to 843

Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks, Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. After the Treaty of Verdun in 843, West Francia became the predecessor of France, and East Francia became that of Germany. Francia was among the last surviving Germanic kingdoms from the Migration Period era before its partition in 843.

Dagobert II King of Austrasia

Dagobert II was a Merovingian king of the Franks, ruling in Austrasia from 675 or 676 until his death. He is one of the more obscure Merovingians. He has been considered a martyr since at least the ninth century.

Clovis IV

Clovis IV was the king of the Franks from 690 or 691 until his death. If the brief reign of Clovis III (675) is ignored as a usurpation, then Clovis IV may be numbered Clovis III.

Theuderic III

Theuderic III was the king of Neustria on two occasions and king of Austrasia from 679 to his death in 691. Thus, he was the king of all the Franks from 679. The son of Clovis II and Balthild, he has been described as a puppet – a roi fainéant – of Ebroin, the Mayor of the Palace, who may have even appointed him without the support of the nobles.

Liber Historiae Francorum is a chronicle written anonymously during the 8th century. The first sections served as a secondary source for early Franks in the time of Marcomer, giving a short breviarum of events until the time of the late Merovingians. The subsequent sections of the chronicle are important primary sources for the contemporaneous history. They provide an account of the Pippinid family in Austrasia before they became the most famous Carolingians.

Clovis III

Clovis III was the Frankish king of Austrasia in 675 and possibly into 676. A member of the Merovingian dynasty, he was a child and his reign so brief and contested that he may be considered only a pretender. He is sometimes even left unnumbered and Clovis IV is instead called Clovis III. The only source for his reign is the contemporary Suffering of Leudegar.

Chlothar IV

Chlothar IV was the king of Austrasia from 717 until his death. He was a member of the Merovingian dynasty, and was installed by Charles Martel, a contender for the office of mayor of the palace, in opposition to Chilperic II, whose rule was thereby restricted to Neustria. This marked the first time since 679 that the kingdom of the Franks was divided. Following Chlothar's death, it was reunited under Chilperic.

Ragenfrid was the mayor of the palace of Neustria and Burgundy from 715, when he filled the vacuum in Neustria caused by the death of Pepin of Heristal, until 718, when Charles Martel finally established himself over the whole Frankish kingdom.

Battle of Lucofao

The Battle of Lucofao was the decisive engagement of the civil war that afflicted the Frankish kingdoms during and after the reign of Dagobert II (676–79). In the battle, the Neustrian forces of Theuderic III and his majordomo Ebroin defeated the forces of Austrasia under the dukes Pippin and Martin.


  1. Pfister, Christian (1911). "Neustria"  . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 441.
  2. y J. B. Benkard, Historical Sketch of the German Emperors and Kings (1855), p.2 ; e.g. Will Slatyer, Ebbs and Flows of Ancient Imperial Power, 3000 BC - 900 AD (2012), p. 323; James, Edward (1988). The Franks. The Peoples of Europe. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell. p. 232. ISBN   0-631-17936-4.
  3. '"Ni-oster-rike" [That is, Northeastern kingdom.]'Taylor, William Cooke (1848). A Manual of Ancient and Modern History. New York Public Library: D. Appleton. p.  342. Oster-rike.
  4. Meijer et al. (eds.), Nordisk familjebok, Ny, rev. och rikt illustrerad upplaga (1913), p. 841.
  5. Augustin Thierry, History of the Conquest of England by the Normans (1825), p. 55.
  6. Neustrasia appears to be preferred by some authors writing in New Latin, e.g. by Caesar Baronius (d. 1607); Augustin Theiner (ed.) Caesaris S.R.E. Card. Baronii t. 11, (1867), p. 583.
  7. Marios., Costambeys (2011). The Carolingian world. Innes, Matthew., MacLean, Simon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN   9780521564946. OCLC   617425106.
  8. Hodgkin, vol. vii, p 25.

Further reading