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11-03-2015, 02:10


. The northwestern part of Gaul during the Frankish period. There really were two Neustrias. Mero-vingian Neustria stretched from the Loire to the Meuse; Carolingian and post-Carolingian Neustria was smaller, comprising the area between the Loire and the Seine, excluding Brittany. The name appears ca. 642 and is of uncertain etymology, but it designated the western lands of the kingdom, whereas “Austrasia” designated the eastern lands. In contrast to Austrasia, Neustria was predominantly Gallo-Roman in population, and the form of Latin spoken there, affected by Celtic and Germanic influences, came to be called “Langue d’oil,” the ancestor of modern French. “Languedoil” also came to refer to the region of Neustria, distinguished from southern France (“Languedoc”) by its language and its use of unwritten, customary law influenced by Germanic practices. In France during the high and late Middle Ages, a “Frank” generally meant a Neustrian and “Francia” meant Neustria. As the region that gave birth to the French language and formed the power base of the Capetian dynasty, Neustria was in many ways the birthplace of France.

The first Neustria, with its chief royal residence at Paris, was the kingdom given to Chilperic I upon the death of Clotar I in 561, and it passed to his son Clotar II and grandson Dagobert I. It generally dominated Frankish politics from the mid-6th to the late 7th century. The rise of the Austrasian Carolingians ended this first Neustria.

The threat of attacks from Brittany led Charlemagne to recreate a second and smaller Neustria as a subkingdom for his son Charles, and this second Neustria maintained its existence as a kingdom or subkingdom through successive partitions of royal land in the 9th century. The need for an adequate defense against the Vikings led Charles the Bald to grant Neustria as a march to Robert le Fort, and the region continued to be held by his descendants, King Eudes, King Robert I, Hugues le Grand, and Hugh Capet, with their capital at Paris. From the 930s and 940s, the title of marquis of Neustria came to be overshadowed by that of duke of the Franks (dux Francorum), given to Hugues le Grand by Louis IV. Both titles were extinguished when Hugh Capet became king in 987 and Neustria ceased to form an administrative unity within the kingdom.

Steven Fanning


Boussard, Jacques. “Les destinees de la Neustrie du IXe au XIe siecle.” Cahiers de civilisation medievale 11 (1968):15-28.

--. “L’ouest du royaume franc aux VIIe et VIIIe siecles.” Journal des savants (January-March


Joris, Andre. “On the Edge of Two Worlds in the Heart of the New Empire: The Romance Regions of Northern Gaul During the Merovingian Period.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 3 (1966):3-52.

McKitterick, Rosamond. The Frankish Kingdoms Under the Carolingians, 751-987. London: Longman, 1983.

Werner, Karl-Ferdinand. “Les origines de la Neustrie.” In La Neustrie: les pays au nord de la Loire de Dagobert a Charles le Chauve (Vlle-IXe siecles), ed. Patrick Perin and Laure-Charlotte Feffer. Rouen: Les Musees et Monuments Depar-tementaux de Seine-Maritime, 1985, pp. 2938.