Clovis (Latin: Chlodovechus; reconstructed Frankish: *Hlōdowig; c. 466 – 27 November 511) was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs. He is considered to have been the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Frankish kingdom for the next two centuries.
Clovis was the son of Childeric I, a Merovingian king of the Salian Franks, and Basina, a Thuringian princess. In 481, at the age of fifteen, Clovis succeeded his father. In what is now northern France, then northern Gaul, he took control of a rump state of the Western Roman Empire controlled by Syagrius at the Battle of Soissons (486), and by the time of his death in either 511 or 513, he had also conquered smaller Frankish kingdoms towards the northeast, the Alemanni to the east, and Visigothic kingdom of Aquitania to the south.
Clovis is important in the historiography of France as "the first king of what would become France".
Clovis is also significant due to his conversion to Catholicism in 496, largely at the behest of his wife, Clotilde, who would later be venerated as a saint for this act, celebrated today in both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. Clovis was baptized on Christmas Day in 508. The adoption by Clovis of Catholicism (as opposed to the Arianism of most other Germanic tribes) led to widespread conversion among the Frankish peoples, to religious unification across what is now modern-day France, Belgium and Germany, and three centuries later to Charlemagne's alliance with the Bishop of Rome and in the middle of the 10th century under Otto I the Great to the consequent birth of the early Holy Roman Empire.
His name is Germanic, composed of the elements hlod ("fame") and wig ("combat"), and is the origin of the later French given name Louis, borne by 18 kings of France. In Dutch, the most closely related modern language to Frankish, the name is currently rendered as Lodewijk, in Middle Dutch the form was Lodewijch. In modern German the name became Ludwig (although the emperor himself is named Chlodwig in German); in Spanish, Luis; in Italian, Luigi; and in English, Lewis.