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Early Medieval History of Paris

By this time, Paris was a typically crowded

The city's escape from Attila proved a short-lived reprieve, as it was attacked and overrun in 464 by Childeric I (Childeric the Frank). His son Clovis I made the city his capital in 506.

Clovis l commissioned both the first cathedral and the first abbey, which was dedicated to Sainte Genevieve and in the end he was buried in Paris on his death in 511, alongside St. Genevieve.

Paris Capital City

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Early Medieval History of Paris

The Frankish kingdom became divided after the death of Clovis l, and Paris became the capital city of a much smaller sovereign state, and by the time of the Carolingian dynasty in the 9th century, the city of Paris was little more than a feudal county stronghold.

By this time, Paris was a typically crowded early medieval city with timber buildings alongside surviving Roman remains. According to the chronicler Gregory of Tours, it suffered a disastrous fire in 585. The city grew beyond the boundaries of the Ile, with suburbs being established on both banks of the river Seine.

The Merovingian kings died out in 751, to be replaced by the Carolingians.

In 751, Pepin was proclaimed King of the Franks, then to be succeeded by Charlemagne, who moved the capital of his empire from Paris to Aachen.

The city was neglected by the Empire and suffered grievously from Viking raiders who repeatedly sailed upriver to attack it.

It was on 28 March 845 that Paris was attacked by Viking raiders, who in the end collected a huge ransom in exchange for leaving, and it was this weakness from the late Carolingian Kings that led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris.

The Counts of Paris gradually rose to prominence and eventually had far greater power than the Kings.

In 885 the city was faced with a massive Viking invasion force, which was believed to have numbered around 700 ships and 30,000 men.  Its inhabitants sought the assistance of Robert the Strong, Count of Anjou, and his son Odo, Count of Paris.

Count Odo led the defence of the city in opposition to a ten-month Viking siege in 885 and then after this became the co-ruler of the Empire with Charles the Simple.

And although the Cite island had survived the Viking attacks, most of the unprotected Left Bank city was destroyed, so rather than rebuilding in that area, after drying marshlands to the north of the island, Paris again began to expand but on the Right Bank.

The Grand-nephew of Count Odo, Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, was elected King of France in 987.  He again made Paris his capital and then founded the Capetian dynasty, which still exists today.

It is as early as the 12th century that the distinctive character of the Paris districts started emerging.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was built in 1163 in the ?le de la Cite area of Paris, which was the centre of government and religious life.

It was the Left Bank of the River Seine that was the centre for learning, with various Church run schools being established there and the Right Bank was the centre of commerce and finance.  A league of merchants, known as Hanse Parisienne, was established and quickly became a powerful force in all of the city's affairs.

Philippe Auguste became the king in 1180, and under his rule there were a number of major building works, which were carried out in Paris. He built a new city wall and began the construction of the Palais du Louvre, as well as paving streets and establishing a covered market at Les Halles.

His grandson Louis IX established the city as a major centre of pilgrimage in the 13th century with the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle on the Ile de la Cite, the completion of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral and the Saint Denis Basilica, which was one of the finest medieval Gothic religious buildings ever constructed.

Early Medieval History of Paris

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