Dagobert I, King of the Franks (c. 603–639 AD), was the last influential monarch of the Merovingian dynasty. Initially ruling Austrasia, he later inherited Neustria and Burgundy. Dagobert, the eldest son of Chlothar II, became king of Austrasia at a young age, strategically appointed by his father to secure alliances. Chlothar’s attempts to manage alliances were challenging, and eventually, Alsace and other regions were conceded to Dagobert by Austrasian nobility.
Dagobert established the Duchy of Alsace to defend against Burgundian and Alemannic threats, appointing Gundoin as its first duke. After his father’s death in 629, Dagobert inherited Neustria and Burgundy, facing opposition from his half-brother Charibert. In a bid to consolidate power, Dagobert assassinated rivals and made strategic alliances, including a treaty with the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, enforcing the compulsory baptism of Jews.
Under Dagobert’s rule, Frankish society experienced integration, economic improvement, and religious dominance of the Catholic faith. Despite cooperative policies, Dagobert engaged in plunder-raids, accumulating wealth, such as a 200,000 gold solidi raid in Spain. After the assassination of Charibert and Chilperic in 632, Dagobert became a powerful and respected Merovingian king. He led campaigns against the Slavic Wends, facing defeat at Wogastisburg but succeeding through Alemannic and Lombard allies. Despite accepting a Saxon agreement to rescind tribute, the Wends continued attacks, reflecting the complex geopolitical challenges of Dagobert’s reign.
Contemporary effigy of Dagobert from a gold triens