Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Theodoricus I., king of the Franks

Theodoricus (5) I. (Thierry, Theuderich), king of the Franks (511–533), one of the four sons of Clovis, by a concubine. He was considerably older than his three half-brothers, the sons of Clotilda, and had a grown-up son, Theodebert, when his father died (Greg. Tur. Hist. Franc. ii. 28, iii. 1) in 511. The four sons divided the kingdom, nominally into equal portions, but really Theodoric, owing probably to his greater age and capacity, obtained the largest portion. His capital was Metz, and his kingdom comprised the Ripuarian Frankish territory, Champagne, the eastern portion of Aquitaine and the old Salian Frankish possessions to the Kohlenwald (Richter, Annalen, p. 46). Fauriel says that besides Frankish Germany he had so much of Gaul as lies between the Rhine and the Meuse and, as his share of Aquitaine, the Auvergne with the Velai and Gévaudan, its dependencies, the Limousin in part or whole, and certain other cantons of less importance (Hist. de la Gaule Mérid. ii. 92). Theodoric died in 533. He was a strong and capable king, but to the ferocity and lawlessness of his race he added an unscrupulous cunning of his own (ib. iii. 7). His attitude towards the church seems to have been one of indifference, influenced neither by fear nor superstition. Orthodoxy had been so useful a political weapon to his father that the son was presumably a professing Christian, though he is not mentioned among the members of Clovis's family baptized by St. Remigius. He did not shrink from involving churches in his army's pillage and destruction in the Auvergne (iii. 12), and though. he exalted St. Quintian, bp. of Clermont, it was not as a priest, but as a partisan who had suffered in his cause (iii. 2), while he bitterly persecuted Desiderius, bp. of Verdun (iii. 34). He has the credit of reducing to writing and amending the laws of the Franks, Alamanni, and Bavarians (Migne, Patr. Lat. lxxi. 1163).