Merovingian Button, 35 x 35 mm, Antique copper plated
The Merovingians (also Merovings) were a Salian Frankish dynasty that came to rule the Franks in a region (known as Francia in Latin) largely corresponding to ancient Gaul from the middle of the fifth century. Their politics involved frequent civil warfare among branches of the family. During the final century of the Merovingian rule, the dynasty was increasingly pushed into a ceremonial role. The Merovingian rule was ended in 751 when Pepin the Short formally deposed Childeric III, beginning the Carolingian monarchy. They were sometimes referred to as the "long-haired kings" (Latin reges criniti) by contemporaries, for their symbolically unshorn hair (traditionally the tribal leader of the Franks wore his hair long, as distinct from the Romans and the tonsured clergy). The term "Merovingian" comes from medieval Latin Merovingi or Merohingi ("sons of Merovech"), an alteration of an unattested Old West Low Franconian form, akin to their dynasty's Old English name Merewīowing,with the final -ing being a typical patronymic suffix.