Why Was the Conversion of Clovis I Important?

The 496 A.D. conversion of the Frankish King, Clovis I, to Roman Catholicism was an important factor in continuing the influence of the Church of Rome in the regions of Western Europe that would later become the modern-day countries of France and Germany. Clovis' conversion helped pave the way for the Frankish leader Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, to be crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III a little more than 300 years later. Clovis' conversion to Roman Catholicism was the first step toward the unification of several Frankish tribes under the rule of one leader allied with the Church of Rome.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire in Western Europe, Clovis I conquered what was left of its western holdings by defeating the last Roman commander of the region in 486 at the Battle of Soissons. Clovis' conversion to Roman Catholicism 10 years later effectively made him an ally of Rome rather than a threat. His conversion also lent support to the Church of Rome in its struggle against Arianism, which is an alternate and non-trinitarian form of Christianity.

According to the history of the Frankish kings written by Gregory of Tours, a 6th-century historian, Clovis' decision to convert to Roman Catholicism was a result of the urging of his wife. Clovis' wife Clothild, also known as Clothilda of Burgundy, Clotilde or Saint Clotilde, was a devout Roman Catholic despite being part of what was then a religious minority in the Frankish Kingdom.