Merovingian magic?

I don't have access to the Normandy Tribunal (I think that is the one) book at this time.

Could someone remind me what sort of magic the Merovingian Sorcerer Kings practiced? Was it a variant of Runic Magic?

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From the book: "The early Merovingian kings were sorcerers whose magical powers were said to be vested in their long hair, which they never cut. As a consequence of their ancestry, most of the descendants of Merovech have a Supernatural Virtue. This is most commonly the Major Supernatural
Virtue Greater Immunity: Drowning, and quite often goes undetected. All of the Merovingians bear a curious birthmark in the form of a red cross. Philip II, like many of the former kings of the Franks, has the Royal Touch, which cures the King’s Evil (scrofula, see text). Many believe this is a Purifying Touch Virtue inherited from Merovech despite the fact that Philip’s blood links to Merovech are apparently
very tenuous. Another popular theory is that the Royal Touch was a gift from Saint RĂ©mi to Clovis and his descendents. It is a gift from God bestowed on all Frankish kings by the anointing with the holy oil.

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Immunity to Drowning makes them considered to be sorcerers ?

Surely there must be more.

PS when did floating make you considered to be a witch?

The day king Arthur and his entourage realised that wood was both flammable and floated.


I believe the immunity to drowning thing is based on Fredegar's (or pseudo-Fredegar's?) account of the birth of Merovech, the dynastic founder, who may or may not have been fathered by a "Quinotaur" that rose from the ocean and molested his mother.

As far as I know this incident only appears in that one account and it's also the only appearance of a "Quinotaur" whatever that might be. Something aquatic and bull-like, evidently. In reality this was probably a pun on Merovech's name, a reverse etymology of the dynastic name, or maybe just a joke. It might also have been a veiled political statement, as the Merovingian dynasty had at least one crisis relating to legitimacy of descent.

I don't think there's any specific magic powers that were attributed to the Merovingians in period sources, excepting healing touch - but that's more an aspect of kingship than a specifically Merovingian trait. I've seen modern sources claim "clairvoyance, telepathy, speaking to animals" but I've never seen that claim backed up by any historical sources.

The closest I'm aware of is a bit in History of the Franks where Gregory of Tours attributes a vision to king Guntram which corroborated a vision Gregory himself received (both were about the king's brother, who had been murdered). So I guess you could interpret that loosely as some form of clairvoyance. It seems more like Gregory is implying that the king is so virtuous as to receive visions as if he was a holy man (like Gregory himself), but with a bit of artistic license you could make it a magical trait instead.

The "sorceror-king" thing is based on modern(ish) theories as to the Merovingian hair. The long hair as a dynastic trait and it's symbolic importance are well attested, but there's much debate and speculation surrounding why that was the case. It embodying some kind of sacral or supernatural kingship is one theory.

There's also the crackpot theory (popularized by Dan Brown, although, IIRC, I much, much prefer the version in Stormwatch: Team Achilles) that merovingian were blood descendants of jesus christ \o/

If you want a useful king, look into Gambrinus. The king of Flanders who invented beer.


Make him a recurring villain. If you annoy the players enough, you can get them to say "Stupid Flanders". Obviously he needs to be left handed.


The same vulgar late post-Vulgate grail tale that I derived a Mythic Bloodline from, that of Tim the Enchanter


What mMF and magical power did it grant? Was the personality flaw a fear of rabbits?

I don't have my notes with me, but IIRC it was either:

  1. a mMF in self-teleportation, and a power to make a burst of flame, or
  2. a mMF in creating flame (in burst?), and the power of short range teleportation (~15/50 paces from memory)

Since Tim dropped everything to follow King Arthur, I think his Personality Flaw was either Generous or Higher Purpose

Though offered to the troupe when asked about Mythic Blood, that one wasn't selected.


This won't stop bugging me.
Perhaps I should explore the possibilities of the Major Virtue - Immunity to Drowning.
How does this affect Deprivation due to lack of air while immersed under water?

If the Merovingians could conduct prolonged underwater activities during battles, I might consider this a basis for a sorcerous reputation.

Back in the day on in the late 90s, I believe someone had done a Merovingian write up. Though it could be somewhere else, maybe still findable via project redcap. I was 12-14 when I read it and thought it was kind of weird and didn't understand why the author had such a fascination with them. It was some kind of weird mer-man water magic write up if I'm not mistaken.

It occurs to me that if you're willing to be a little flexible with Merovech's supernatural ancestry you could model the Quinotaur as an exiled Atlantean. It makes a certain amount of sense, I think.

So then the less common powers of the bloodline could include:

  • Command of aquatic creatures
  • Clairvoyance by means of water
  • Water based divination
  • Weather magic (Atlantean powers can make use of Duration: Storm)
  • Ability to speak with aquatic creatures, plants, and/or spirits
  • Other assorted watery powers

I imagine the write up @Heaven_s_Thunder_Ham mentioned might have been vaguely in this direction, possibly.


Seriously: While trial by water for witches is, strictly-speaking, more of an early modern practice, trial by water in a more general sense goes back to early medieval times. They tie a rope around you and drop you in a big barrel of water or river. If you're innocent, you sink, and hope they pull you out before you drown. If you're guilty, you float. See, for example, the 12th-century account here (middle of the page):

Needless to say, when witch-hunting started to become popular starting in the 14th century, this usage was easily extended to accused witches too. :frowning:

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What really kick started witch hunts was first the black plague but even more so the reformation and the transformations of the feudal order that resulted from the social upheaval that followed. Iirc the german peak witch hunting period was the immediate aftermath of the 30 yrs war.

Perhaps some interesting things I compiled on this for the Chronology project (not only from Ars Magica sources, but not breaking canon):

450-458 Normandy: Reign of the sorcerer-king Merovech of the Franks, founder of the Merovingian dynasty. The early Merovingian kings were sorcerers whose magical powers were vested in their long hair, which they never cut. Merovech remains shrouded in mystery, but among his many feats, he helped to repel Attila the Hun at the Battle of Chalons.

Tracing his heritage to Duke Francio who fought alongside King Priam at Troy - Merovech was supposedly the offspring of the wife of King Clodio - descended from the Jewish House of David - and was already pregnant when she went swimming in the ocean and was seduced and impregnated a second time by the Quinotaur, the five-horned bull-beast of Neptune. Thus Merovech had two fathers, and his royal bloodline was mixed with magic.

All of the Merovingians bear a curious birthmark in the form of a red cross. Philip II, like many of the former kings of the Franks, has the Royal Touch, which cures the King’s Evil (scrofula). Many believe this is a Purifying Touch inherited from Merovech despite the fact that Philip’s blood links to Merovech are tenuous. Another popular theory is that the Royal Touch was a gift from Saint Rémi to Clovis and his descendents. It is a gift from God bestowed on all Frankish kings by the anointing with the holy oil.

450: St. Geneviève prays for the Huns to avoid Paris, and they ignore the city.

451: The Battle of Châlons — an alliance of Romans, Franks, and Visigoths led by the legendary Merovech defeat the Huns and Ostrogoths in Gaul, ending Attila’s westward conquests.

481-511 Normandy: Reign of Clovis, a descendant of Merovech. He fought and defeated the Roman Governor Syagrius in battle in 486 and, having made a peace treaty with the Ostrogoths, came to rule a great empire, freed from Roman rule. Clovis extended his kingdom by war, treachery, and marriage. His wife, Clotilde of Burgundy, was a Christian and changed the course of Clovis’s life. His first son died and the second fell gravely ill as a baby, but Clovis saw his wife’s prayers to her God cure the boy. He was further swayed when, at the tomb of Saint Martin of Tours, he was witness to a miracle when the bishop of Arras, Vedast, gave a blind man back his sight. In 496, when facing the Alemanni in battle, Clovis vowed that he would convert from his worship of Mercury and Jupiter if the victory was his. He defeated them soundly and was baptized by Saint Rémi, archbishop of Reims.

The Merovingian sorcerer-kings, with the blood of David and of the old gods, were blessed with kingly grace. Provided that they did not cut their hair, they were invincible in battle; they could heal by laying on of hands; they could make crops grow by walking across fields; they had divinatory powers and could interpret the calls of beasts. It is told that Clovis revealed the Holy Grail, which had been brought to Gaul by Mary Magdalene in the 1st century, to the Frankish kingdom.

Following the death of Clovis, the Frankish lands were divided among his four sons according to the “Salic law” Clovis had established. This inaugurated a tradition that would lead to disunity and frequent civil wars lasting until the end of the Merovingian dynasty.

496 Normandy: Clovis is baptized and becomes the first Christian Frankish king. His people follow suit.

Although paganism takes centuries to fade among the Franks. The Merovingian kings still kept their magical hair long, but now claiming their powers were descended from Christ.

507 Normandy: Clovis has by now defeated the Romans, the Burgundians, and the Visigoths, united the Franks, and established a capital in Paris.

737 Normandy: Charles Martel’s son, Pépin the Short (father of Charlemagne), becomes the first Carolingian king by completing the seizure of the throne from weak Merovingian heir Childeric III, whose hair was shaved off to strip him of his magical powers before he was forced into a monastery.

Legends persist, however, of other Merovingian heirs who carry the royal blood and escaped Pépin’s usurpation of the throne.
PĂ©pin made the Carolingians the ruling dynasty of the Franks and the foremost power of Europe. Known as a great conqueror, he was undefeated during his lifetime.
It is likely he had magical help to the throne, possibly from Flambeau, but there are no established records of this.

IIRC without reading it again, the Lion and the Lily supplement outlines that all kings of France can cure Scrofula (=The King's Evil) with "The King's touch".

I have been wanting to make Maugis/Maugris, from the Matter of France, be a mighty Merovingian sorcerer who was promoting his cousins' claim as rightful heir to the Merovingian throne in the tales of the 4 sons of Duke Aymon and their rebellion against Charlemagne. Around about the time the Order of Hermes formed.

Which is where I started this thead asking what magic system would Maugris follow.

In the Paladin RPG, Sir Maugis becomes a Magister teaching magic in Paris, but refuses to become Charlemagne’s court wizard. The king develops a hatred of Maugis when he makes the entire court dance naked against their will. Charlemagne imprisons him, but with the help of a conjured demon the wizard escapes from his royal prison. Later he joins Charlemagne as a wizard knight.
Much of his magic seems to be based around powders (sleep powder, summoning powder etc) and binding demons. He was also raised by faeries (even baptized by... lol).
I'm not sure what one would do with that in Ars Magica. Faerie Magic? Diabolism? Ex Misc?