The Germanic kingdoms that came into being in the wake of Roman rule were transformed by Christianization. The Low Countries, unified and divided as parts of larger kingdoms, provided the powerbase for the emergence first of the Merovingian dynasty and later of the Carolingians. Under the Carolingian and the Ottonian Empires the Low Countries became centres of trade and learning for wide areas of northern Europe By the middle of the fifth century the Salian Franks dominated all of what had been the Roman Low Countries. Shortly after Valentinian III’s death (in 455), the Frankish war-leader Childeric obtained imperial recognition as ruler of Belgica Secunda. The federated Germanic warriors may not have fully understood the principles of Roman government, but they whole-heartedly desired its continuation. According to Gregory of Tours, writing a century later, Childeric was soon forced out into exile, but eight years later he was able to re-establish his leadership of the Franks in northern Gaul. Once he had done so, he had little interest in his initial powerbase in the Low Countries, pressing south to Paris and Orleans.
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