The Merovingians () were a Salian Frankish dynasty that ruled the Franks for nearly 300 years in a region known as Francia in Latin, beginning in the middle of the 5th century. Their territory largely corresponded to ancient Gaul as well as the Roman provinces of Raetia, Germania Superior and the southern part of Germania. Childeric I (c. 457 – 481), the son of Merovech, leader of the Salian Franks, founded the Merovingian dynasty, but it was his famous son Clovis I (481–511) who united all of Gaul under Merovingian rule.
After the death of Clovis there were frequent clashes between different branches of the family, but when threatened by its neighbours the Merovingians presented a strong united front.
During the final century of Merovingian rule, the kings were increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. The Merovingian rule ended in March 752 when Pope Zachary formally deposed Childeric III. Zachary's successor, Pope Stephen II, confirmed and anointed Pepin the Short in 754, beginning the Carolingian monarchy.
The Merovingian ruling family were sometimes referred to as the "long-haired kings" (Latin reges criniti) by contemporaries, as their long hair distinguished them among the Franks, who commonly cut their hair short. The term "Merovingian" comes from medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingi ("sons of Merovech"), an alteration of an unattested Old Dutch form, akin to their dynasty's Old English name Merewīowing, with the final -ing being a typical patronymic suffix....LESS