The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolings, or Karlings) was a Frankish noble family with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The name "Carolingian" (Medieval Latin karolingi, an altered form of an unattested Old High German *karling, kerling, meaning "descendant of Charles", cf. MHG kerlinc) derives from the Latinised name of Charles Martel: Carolus. The family consolidated its power in the late 8th century, eventually making the offices of mayor of the palace and dux et princeps Francorum hereditary and becoming the de facto rulers of the Franks as the real powers behind the throne.
By 751, the Merovingian dynasty, which until then had ruled the Franks by right, was deprived of this right with the consent of the Papacy and the aristocracy, and a Carolingian, Pepin the Short, was crowned King of the Franks. The Carolingian dynasty reached its peak with the crowning of Charlemagne as the first emperor in the west in over three centuries. His death in 814 began an extended period of fragmentation and decline that would eventually lead to the evolution of the territories of France and Germany.
The area that was eventually to become known as France, however, grew in prosperity under the Carolingian Period due to economic activity brought on by greater international trade.