The Franks were first recognized as an "auxiliary' people by the Romans during the reign of Merovech whom is best remembered for being the first leader of the Salian Franks and the original founder of the royal line. His triumph over the Huns to the west and their neighboring barbarians, the Ostrogoths at Chalons, Gaul in 451 CE recognized his great power, and also paved the way for his son Childeric l. Childeric established ajor territorial conquest during his reign, triumphing over the invading Visigoths to the south, and the Saxons to the southwest in aid to the Romans.
His role as a Barbarian ally to the Romans played an important role in The Franks further expanse into Gaul. Childeric continued to rein for twenty-four years until his death in 481 CE, at which time his son Clovis I took control. Clovis I was regarded as the most influential ruler of the Salians, and the "real" founder of the Merovingian Dynasty; the ame of which was derived from his grandfather Merovech.
Clovis was a Pagan like many Franks were at his time, but is allegedly known for having converted to Orthodox (Catholic) Christianity to gain the politic support of the Gallo-Romans (Christians), though it may be argued his wife was the reason for his conversion. Clovis was considered 'ruthless' in his tactics to gain complete control of Gaul by murdering every potential rival Frankish leader, even those in his own family.
This omination in bloodshed across Gaul is what gives the Frankish people their true identity reinventing them not as barbarians, but as The Franks. Gaul becomes known as Frankia, and later France, and the legacy of a people and their Dynasty which will last for nearly two-hundred years setting the framework for Western Europe.