Charles the Simple

Charles III (17 September 879 – 7 October 929), called the Simple or the Straightforward (from the Latin Carolus Simplex),[a] was the King of West Francia from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919–23. He was a member of the Carolingian dynasty.

Charles the Simple
King of West Francia
Charles the Simple 02
14th century depiction of the imprisonment of Charles III
Born17 September 879
Died7 October 929 (aged 50)
(m. 907; d. 917)
Eadgifu of Wessex
(m. 919)
IssueBy Frederuna:

By Eadgifu:
Louis IV of France
FatherLouis the Stammerer
MotherAdelaide of Paris

Early life

Charles was the third and posthumous son of king Louis the Stammerer by his second wife Adelaide of Paris.[3] As a child, Charles was prevented from succeeding to the throne at the time of the death in 884 of his half-brother, king Carloman II.[4] Instead, Frankish nobles of the realm asked his cousin, Emperor Charles the Fat to assume the crown.[5] He was also prevented from succeeding the unpopular Charles the Fat, who was deposed in November 887 and died in January 888, although it is unknown if his overthrow was accepted or even made known in West Francia before his death. The nobility then elected Odo, the hero of the Siege of Paris (885–886) as the new king, although there was a faction that supported claims of Guy III of Spoleto. The young Charles was put under the protection of Ranulf II, the Duke of Aquitaine, who may have tried to claim the throne for him and in the end used the royal title himself until making peace with Odo.

King of West Francia

In 893, Charles was crowned by a faction opposed to the rule of Odo at the Reims Cathedral, becoming monarch of West Francia only after the death of Odo in 898.[6]

Denier sous Charles III le Simple
Denier of Charles III

In 911, a group of Vikings led by Rollo besieged Paris and Chartres. After a victory near Chartres on 26 August, Charles decided to negotiate with Rollo, resulting in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte which created the Duchy of Normandy. In return for the Vikings' loyalty, they were granted all the land between the river Epte and the sea, as well as Duchy of Brittany, which at the time was an independent country which West Francia had unsuccessfully tried to conquer. Rollo also agreed to be baptised and to marry Charles' daughter Gisela.

King of Lotharingia

Also in 911, Louis the Child, the last Carolingian king of East Francia died, and nobles of Lotharingia, who had been loyal to him, under the leadership of Reginar, Duke of Lorraine declared Charles their new king, breaking from East Francia which had elected non-Carolingian Conrad I as the new king.[6] Charles had tried to win Lotharingian support for years, for instance, by marrying in April 907 a Lotharingian woman named Frederuna,[7] and in 909 his niece Cunigunda married Wigeric of Lotharingia. Charles defended Lotharingia against two attacks by Conrad I.[8] In 925, Lotharingia was once again seized by East Francia.

Revolt of the nobles

Carolingian empire 915
Realms ruled by Charles the Simple in 915 (red)

Queen Frederuna died on 10 February 917 leaving six daughters and no sons,[9] leaving the succession uncertain. On 7 October 919 Charles married Eadgifu, the daughter of Edward the Elder, King of England, who bore him a son, the future King Louis IV of France.

By this time, Charles' excessive favouritism towards a certain Hagano had turned the aristocracy against him. He endowed Hagano with monasteries that were already the benefices of other barons, alienating them. In Lotharingia, he earned the enmity of the new duke Gilbert, who in 919 declared loyalty to the new king of East Francia Henry the Fowler.[6] Opposition to Charles in Lotharingia was not universal, however; he retained support of Wigeric.

The nobles, completely exasperated with Charles' policies and especially his favoritism of count Hagano, seized Charles in 920.[10] After negotiations by Archbishop Herveus of Reims the king was released.[10]

In 922, the Frankish nobles revolted again led by Robert of Neustria.[10] Robert, who was Odo's brother, was elected king by the rebels and crowned, while Charles had to flee to Lotharingia. On 2 July 922, Charles lost his most faithful supporter, Herveus of Reims, who had succeeded Fulk in 900. Charles returned with a Norman army in 923 but was defeated on 15 June at the Battle of Soissons by Robert, who died in the battle.[6] Charles was captured and imprisoned in a castle at Péronne under the guard of Herbert II of Vermandois.[11] Robert's son-in-law Rudolph of Burgundy was then elected to succeed him as king.[12]

Charles died in prison on 7 October 929 and was buried at the nearby abbey of Saint-Fursy. His son by Eadgifu would eventually be crowned in 936 as Louis IV of France.[13] In the initial aftermath of Charles's defeat, Queen Eadgifu and children had fled to England.[13]

Deposition of Charles the Simple

On 6 December 884, King Carloman II of West Francia died without a male heir and his half-brother, the future Charles the Simple, was just a five-year-old boy. Because of this, their cousin Charles the Fat, already Holy Roman Emperor and King of East Francia, was invited by the nobles of the Kingdom to assume the throne. Since the beginning, the new monarch was forced to deal with constant Viking raids, with little success. After three years of incompetent government, Charles the Fat was finally deposed by the Diet of Tribur in 887.[14]

Faced with the growing threat of northern invaders, the local nobles again rejected the succession of Charles the Simple because he was too young, and Odo, Count of Paris (member of the Robertian dynasty) was chosen as the new King of West Francia, after successfully defending Paris against the Vikings, led by Rollo. In 893, aided by Archbishop Fulk of Reims, Charles the Simple attempted to reclaim the throne, but in vain. By 897, the young prince ruled only the city of Laon before Odo on his deathbed designated him as his successor.

Following the death of Odo in January 898, Charles the Simple finally assumed the title of king of West Francia. Soon the new monarch showed his ambition to conquer Lotharingia, the main objective of all the monarchs of West Francia since Charles the Bald. Lotharingia was the cradle of the Carolingian dynasty. Charlemagne's ancestors, the Pippinids were from Lotharingia (Herstal, Jupille...). After the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the Lotharingia was part of Middle Francia for a short time and both West and East Francia tried to gain control over it. Arnulf of Carinthia, King of East Francia prevented this by entrusting the land to his son Zwentibold in 895. Zwentibold was hated by his subjects, so Charles the Simple decided to invade in 898 after being called by Count Reginar of Hainaut. After seizing Aachen and capturing Charlemagne's Palace at Nijmegen, he returned to France at the request of the German bishops. A few years later, in September 911, the Lotharingian aristocracy again called on Charles the Simple after the death of Louis the Child, the last Carolingian ruler in East Francia.

Charles the Simple was crowned King of Lotharingia in early November 911. However, the constant absences of the new monarch (who preferred to stay in Aachen or Thionville), quickly irritated the Lotharingian nobility (who feared for their own independence) and nobles of France, who saw this inclination as an affront.[15] The situation was even more complicated because, according to Flodoard, Charles the Simple refused to march against the Hungarians who threatened Lotharingia (only Archbishop Hervé de Reims was present there) and finally caused an open rebellion when he attempt to dispossess his own aunt, Abbess Rothilde (also mother-in-law of Hugh the Great), from Chelles Abbey in order to give it to his favourite, Hagano (a relative of his first wife Frederuna).[16]

From 920 to 922, Charles the Simple was in trouble. Although he signed the Treaty of Bonn with king Henry the Fowler of East Francia on 7 November 921, he had to fight on two fronts: one against Duke Giselbert of Lotharingia and the other against Hugh the Great, irritated by the treatment of his mother-in-law. Defeated, in June 922 Charles the Simple took refuge in Lotharingia, and the nobles of the West Francia declared him deposed from the throne, choosing as the new King Robert, Count of Paris, brother of the late King Odo and father of Hugh the Great.[17]

Charles the Simple returned to France to regain the throne. His army, supported by a Lotharingian army and a group of soldiers, faced King Robert's army at Soissons in June 923. According to Richerus, Robert was killed in battle by Count Fulbert[18] or according to other historians, by Charles the Simple. Despite the death of Robert, his army won the battle and Charles the Simple had to escape from the battlefield. The French nobles elected Raoul of Burgundy (Robert's son-in-law) as their new King, with his coronation taking place on 13 July 923 at St Médard, Soissons.

During the summer, Charles the Simple was captured by Herbert II, Count of Vermandois (another son-in-law of King Robert) at Château-Thierry; meanwhile, King Henry I of Germany took advantage of the situation to seize and add Lotharingia to his domains, after giving his daughter Gerberga of Saxony in marriage to Duke Giselbert.[19]

After some time at Château-Thierry, the humiliated Charles the Simple was transferred in 924 to Péronne, where he died on 7 October 929 and was immediately buried in the local Monastery of Saint-Fursy. The legitimate Carolingian heir was now Louis, but King Rudolph retained the throne and ruled until his death from illness on 15 January 936 at Auxerre, being buried in the Abbey of Sainte-Colombe of Sens.[20] The nobility then discussed who could be the next King, because Rudolph had died without surviving male heirs. Finally, the nobles unanimously summoned back Louis, thanks to the decisive support of Hugh the Great to France to become their new King.


Charles first married in May 907 to Frederuna, daughter of Dietrich, Count in the Hamaland.[3] Together they had six daughters:

Charles married for the second time in 919 to Eadgifu of Wessex.[3] Together they had one son:

Charles also had several other offspring:

  • Arnulf[3]
  • Drogo[3]
  • Rorice ( 976), Bishop of Laon[3]
  • Alpais, who married Erlebold, count of Lommegau[3]


  1. ^ His nickname 'simplex' or the simple is misleading. The Latin 'Simplex' was given to him meaning straightforward as in loyal or without guile. The nickname 'the Simple' has stuck with him even though its meaning has been corrupted. He was not, however, generally complimented by the chroniclers. He was called Charles the Stupid by a later chronicler for an incident in 919 where he abandoned his men.[1] Besides this, he was called stultus (fatuous), hebes (stupid), insipiens (foolish), parvus (small) and minor (inferior).[2]


  1. ^ Jim Bradbury, The Capetians; Kings of France 987–1328 (New York; London: Hambledon Continuum, 2007), p. 33
  2. ^ John E. Morby, "The Sobriquets of Medieval European Princes", Canadian Journal of History, 13:1 (1978), p. 6.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 1
  4. ^ The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 9919–966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning; Bernard S. Bachrach (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. xv
  5. ^ Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 216
  6. ^ a b c d Michel Parisse, "Lotharingia", The New Cambridge Medieval History, III: c. 900–c. 1024, ed. Timothy Reuter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 313–15.
  7. ^ Bradbury, J. (2007). The Capetians: Kings of France 987-1328. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-8264-2491-4. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. III—Germany and the Western Empire, eds. H. M. Gwatking; J. P. Whitney, et al. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1922), p. 74
  9. ^ Genealogiæ Comitum Flandriæ, Witgeri Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis MGH SS IX, p. 303.
  10. ^ a b c Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), p. 250
  11. ^ Jean Dunbabin, "West Francia: The Kingdom", The New Cambridge Medieval History, III: c. 900–c. 1024, ed. Timothy Reuter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 378–79.
  12. ^ The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 9919–966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning; Bernard S. Bachrach (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. xvi
  13. ^ a b The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 9919–966, ed. & trans. Steven Fanning; Bernard S. Bachrach (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. xvii
  14. ^ Depreux 2002, pp. 128-129.
  15. ^ Isaïa 2009, p. 82.
  16. ^ Depreux 2002, pp. 131-132.
  17. ^ Depreux 2002, p. 129.
  18. ^ Richer de Reims: Gallica Histoire de son temps Book I, p. 87 Archived 19 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Isaïa 2009, p. 87.
  20. ^ Toussaint-Duplessis: Annales de Paris. Jusqu'au règne de Hugues Capet, 1753, p. 201.
  21. ^ Orderic Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, ed. Marjorie Chibnall, Volume II, Books III And IV (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1993), p. 9
Charles the Simple
Born: 17 September 879 Died: 7 October 929
Preceded by
King of West Francia
Succeeded by
Robert I
Preceded by
Louis the Child
King of Lotharingia
Succeeded by
Adelaide of Paris

Adélaïde of Paris (or Aélis) (c. 850/853 – 10 November 901) was a Frankish queen. She was the second wife of Louis the Stammerer, King of West Francia, and was the mother of Ermentrude and Charles the Simple.

Conrad I of Germany

Conrad I (German: Konrad; c. 881 – 23 December 918), called the Younger, was the king of East Francia from 911 to 918. He was the first king not of the Carolingian dynasty, the first to be elected by the nobility and the first to be anointed. He was chosen as the king by the rulers of the East Frankish stem duchies after the death of young king Louis the Child. Ethnically Frankish, prior to this election he had ruled the Duchy of Franconia from 906.

County of Holland

The County of Holland was a State of the Holy Roman Empire and from 1432 part of the Burgundian Netherlands, from 1482 part of the Habsburg Netherlands and from 1648 onward the leading province of the Dutch Republic, of which it remained a part until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. The territory of the County of Holland corresponds roughly with the current provinces of North Holland and South Holland in the Netherlands.

Fulk (archbishop of Reims)

Fulk the Venerable (died June 17, 900) was the Archbishop of Reims from 883 until his death. He was the chief opponent of the non-Carolingian king of France, Odo, in the last quarter of the 9th century. He was the brother of Anscar I, Margrave of Ivrea

Fulk born of a noble family and became a palace cleric of Charles the Bald, and by 877 had been made Abbot of the Abbey of Saint Bertin near Saint-Omer, France. He was consecrated Archbishop of Reims in March 883. As bishop, he corresponded with Alfred the Great regarding the needs of the English Church, and rebuked Queen Richilde for what he considered irregular behavior.Upon the deposition of Emperor Charles the Fat in 887, He tried to install his kinsman Guy II, Duke of Spoleto, on the throne and even crowned him at Langres (888), but to no avail: Odo was crowned at Paris. He then turned to the Emperor Arnulf, but also to no avail, Arnulf being preoccupied with other things and wishing to maintain peace with the French kingdom.

According to historian Georges Goyau, Fulk served as the chancellor of Charles the Simple, and maintained the rights of the Carlovingians against Odo, Count of Paris, ancestor of the House of Capet. Fulk finally crowned Louis the Stammerer's youngest son, Charles the Simple, in 893 while Odo was still king. This ploy was also unsuccessful, but when Odo died in 898, Charles succeeded him and restored the Carolingian dynasty in France, though it would be involved in numerous rivalrous wars with the relatives of Odo in the 10th century. Charles made him chancellor for the first two years of his reign.

According to Flodoard, the king granted Fulk the Abbey of St Vaast, which was held by Baldwin of Flanders, whom the king suspected of disloyalty. In 900, while traveling with a small escort to meet with Charles, Fulk was killed by men in the service of Baldwin. Pope Benedict IV would later excommunicate Baldwin for the murder.

Gerberga of Lorraine

Gerberga of Lorraine (c. 925–995) was a lady of the highest European nobility who became the wife of Megingoz of Guelders around 945.

She was a daughter of Godfrey, Count Palatine of Lotharingia and Ermentrude, possibly the eldest daughter of Charles the Simple. On her father's side she was a granddaughter of Gerhard I of Metz and Oda of Saxony, daughter of Otto I, Duke of Saxony.

She founded the abbey of Vilich, northeast of Bonn. She died in 995. Megingoz died shortly afterwards, after 998.

Gisela of France

Gisela (French: Gisèle; fl. 911) was a legendary French princess who was, according to legend, married to Rollo, duke of Normandy.According to tradition, Rollo was betrothed to Gisela, daughter to the king of West Francia, Charles the Simple, after his conversion to Christianity upon his ascension as ruler of Normandy in 911. The marriage and the existence of Gisela are not confirmed, supporting the mythical character of Gisela. Some suggested that, if she really did exist, she may have been an illegitimate daughter of Charles. A character named Gisla (presented as a daughter of Charles the Bald rather than his grandson Charles the Simple, and as the mother of Rollo's children) is portrayed in the TV series Vikings by Morgane Polanski.

Herbert III of Omois

Herbert III d'Omois, Herbert the old (or Herbert III of Vermandois, 910 – 980/985) was count of Omois from 943 to his death.

He was the son of Herbert II, Count of Vermandois and Adela of France, daughter of King Robert I of France. In 943 after his father died, he succeeded as count of Omois "and received the fortress of Château-Thierry as well as the abbey of Saint-Médard, Soissons." After the death of his brother Robert of Vermandois he succeeded as Count of Meaux and Troyes.

In 951, in his late years, he was married to Eadgifu of Wessex, daughter of Edward the Elder, King of England, and widow of Charles the Simple King of West Francia. He is not recorded as having any grandchildren, and after his son Stephen died (by 1020) his lands passed to his nephews, Eudes I, Count of Blois and Herbert IV, Count of Troyes and Meaux.

List of French royal mistresses

This page contains a listing of notable French royal mistresses.

Louis IV of France

Louis IV (September 920 / September 921 – 10 September 954), called d'Outremer or Transmarinus (both meaning "from overseas"), reigned as king of West Francia from 936 to 954. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, he was the only son of king Charles the Simple and his second wife Eadgifu of Wessex, daughter of King Edward the Elder of Wessex. His reign is mostly known thanks to the Annals of Flodoard and the later Historiae of Richerus.

Louis the Child

Louis the Child (893 – 20/24 September 911), sometimes called Louis III or Louis IV, was the king of East Francia from 900 until his death in 911 and was the last ruler of Carolingian dynasty there. He succeeded his father, king Arnulf of Carinthia in 899, when he was only six. Louis also inherited the crown of Lotharingia with the death of his elder illegitimate half-brother Zwentibold in 900. During his reign the country was ravaged by Magyar raids.

Odo of France

Odo (or Eudes) (c. 857 – 1 January 898) was the elected King of Francia from 888 to 898 as the first king from the Robertian dynasty. Before assuming the kingship, Odo held the title of Count of Paris.

Reginar I Longneck

Reginar I Longneck (c. 850 – 915), Latin: Rainerus or Ragenerus Longicollus, was a leading nobleman in the kingdom of Lotharingia, variously described in contemporary sources with the titles of count, margrave, missus dominicus and duke. He stands at the head of a Lotharingian dynasty known to modern scholarship as the Reginarids, Reginars, Reiniers, or Regniers, because of their frequent use of the name "Raginar".

He was probably the son of Gilbert, Count of the Maasgau, and a daughter of Lothair I whose name is not known (Hiltrude, Bertha, Irmgard, and Gisela are candidate names). In an 877 charter in the Capitulary of Quierzy, he possibly already appears as "Rainerus", alongside his probable father as one of the regents of the kingdom during Charles the Bald's absence on campaign in Italy.He was Lay Abbot of important Abbeys stretching from the Maas to the Moselle through the Ardennes, Saint-Servais in Maastricht, Echternach, Stavelot-Malmedy, and Saint-Maximin in Triers. All these Abbeys lay on or near the boundary negotiated between the Eastern and Western Frankish Kingdoms in the Treaty of Meerssen in 870, during a period when the Western Kingdom controlled much of Lotharingia. In Echternach, he was referred to as "Rainerus iunior" because the lay abbot before him, a probable relative, had the same name.

His secular titles and activities are mainly only known from much later sources which are considered to be of uncertain reliability. Dudo of Saint-Quentin, in describing the great deeds of the early Normans, calls Reginar I (who, along with a prince of the Frisians named Radbod, was an opponent of Rollo, the founder of Normandy) a Duke of both Hainaut and Hesbaye. Centuries later William of Jumièges, and then later still, Alberic de Trois Fontaines followed Dudo using the same titles when describing the same events. He was variously referred to as Duke, Count, Marquis, missus dominicus, but historians doubt that these titles were connected to a particular territory. That he called himself a Duke is known from a charter at Stavelot 21 July 905, but this was during a period when Gebhard was Duke of Lotharingia.Reginar was originally a supporter of Zwentibold in 895, but he broke with the king in 898. He and some other magnates who had been key to Zwentibold's election three years earlier then took the opportunity provided by the death of Odo of West Francia to invite Charles the Simple to become king in Lotharingia. His lands were confiscated, but he refused to give them up and entrenched himself at Durfost, downstream from Maastricht. Representatives of Charles, Zwentibold, and the Emperor Arnulf met at Sankt Goar and determined that the succession should go to Louis the Child. Zwentibold was killed by Reginar in battle in August 900.

Louis appointed Gebhard as his Duke in Lotharingia. In 908, Reginar recuperated Hainaut after the death of Sigard. Then, after the death of Gebhard in 910, in battle with the Magyars, Reginar led the magnates in opposing Conrad I of Germany and electing Charles the Simple their king. He never appears as the Duke of Lorraine, but he was probably the military commander of the region under Charles. He was succeeded by his son Gilbert, Duke of Lorraine; however, the Reginarids did not succeed in establishing their supremacy in Lotharingia like the Liudolfings or Liutpoldings did in the duchies of Saxony and Bavaria.

Robert I of France

Robert I of France (c. 866 – June 15, 923) was the elected King of West Francia from 922 to 923. Before his election to the throne he was Count of Poitiers, Count of Paris and Marquis of Neustria and Orléans. He succeeded the overthrown Carolingian king Charles the Simple, who in 898 had succeeded Robert's brother, king Odo.


Rollo or Gaange Rolf (Norman: Rou; Old Norse: Hrólfr; French: Rollon; c. 860 – c. 930 AD) was a Viking who became the first ruler of Normandy, a region of France. He is sometimes called the first Duke of Normandy. His son and grandson, William Longsword and Richard I, used the titles "count" (Latin comes or consul) and "prince" (princeps). His great-grandson Richard II was the first to officially use the title of Duke of Normandy. His Scandinavian name Rolf was extended to Gaange Rolf because he became too heavy as an adult for a horse to carry; therefore he had to walk ("gaa" in older Dano-Norwegian). Rollo emerged as the outstanding personality among the Norsemen who had secured a permanent foothold on Frankish soil in the valley of the lower Seine. Charles the Simple, the king of West Francia, ceded them lands between the mouth of the Seine and what is now Rouen in exchange for Rollo agreeing to end his brigandage, and provide the Franks with protection against future Viking raids.Rollo is first recorded as the leader of these Viking settlers in a charter of 918, and he continued to reign over the region of Normandy until at least 928. He was succeeded by his son William Longsword in the Duchy of Normandy that he had founded. The offspring of Rollo and his followers became known as the Normans. After the Norman conquest of England and their conquest of southern Italy and Sicily over the following two centuries, their descendants came to rule Norman England (the House of Normandy), the Kingdom of Sicily (the Kings of Sicily) as well as the Principality of Antioch from the 10th to 12th century, leaving behind an enduring legacy in the histories of Europe and the Near East.

Rudolph of France

Rudolph or Rudolf (Latin: Rodulfus, French: Rodolphe; c. 890 – 14/15 January 936) was the elected King of France from 923 until his death in 936. Prior to his election as king, he was Duke of Burgundy and Count of Troyes from 921. He was the son of Richard, Duke of Burgundy and Adelaide of Auxerre inheriting the Duchy of Burgundy from his father. He married Emma of France, daughter of king Robert I of France. He is frequently confused with his uncle Rudolph I of Burgundy.

Rudolph was elected king of West Francia in 923 by an assembly of Frankish nobles, to succeed his father-in-law Robert I who was killed at the Battle of Soissons against the deposed king Charles the Simple. He was crowned by Walter, Archbishop of Sens at St.Médard in Soissons on Sunday, 13 July 923. On assuming the crown he passed the Duchy of Burgundy to his younger brother Hugh the Black.

Siege of Chartres (911)

The Siege of Chartres was the part of Norman incursions. In 858 the Normans captured and burned Chartres. After that, in the time of relative peace, the town defenses were rebuilt and strengthened. It turned into a fortified, trapezoid-like city, going close to the river.

When Rollo led the Danes in a siege, they were formidable enough to persuade Charles the Simple that they might become valuable allies. Richard, Duke of Burgundy split his forces into three corps. The first was made up of Aquitanians, assisted by a group of French nobles. According to legend, Bishop Gantelme exposed the Virgin's tunic on the ramparts and led a mob of peasants to charge: the Normans fled as a result.Rollo attempted to flee from the Frankish cavalry led by Charles the Simple. Rollo was unable to board his army onto his ships due to the rapid approach of the horsemen. Rollo decided to make a defensive wall by slaughtering the livestock from his ships. The Frankish charge halted as their horses were intimidated by the sight and smell of the livestock corpses.

The Franks, unable to attack, decided to instead open negotiations with Rollo: thus the battle ended, as both sides began formulating the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte.

In 1618 the Italian painter Padovanino painted a version of the event which now hangs in the Pinacoteca di Brera.


Vermandois was a French county that appeared in the Merovingian period. Its name derives from that of an ancient tribe, the Viromandui. In the 10th century, it was organised around two castellan domains: St Quentin (Aisne) and Péronne (Somme). In today's times, the Vermandois county would fall in the Picardy region of northern France.

Pepin I of Vermandois, the earliest of its hereditary counts, was descended in direct male line from the emperor Charlemagne. More famous was his grandson Herbert II (902–943), who considerably increased the territorial power of the house of Vermandois, and kept the lawful king of France, the unlucky Charles the Simple, prisoner for six years. Herbert II was son of Herbert I, lord of Péronne and St Quentin, who was killed in 902 by an assassin in the pay of Baldwin II, Count of Flanders. His successors, Albert I, Herbert III, Albert II, Otto and Herbert IV, were not as historically significant.In 1077, the last count of the first house of Vermandois, Herbert IV, received the county of Valois through his wife. His son Eudes (II) the Insane was disinherited by the council of the Barons of France. He was lord of Saint-Simon through his wife, and the county was given to his sister Adela, whose first husband was Hugh the Great, the brother of King Philip I of France. Hugh was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, and died in 1102 at Tarsus in Cilicia. The eldest son of Hugh and Adela was count Raoul I (c. 1120–1152), who married Petronilla of Aquitaine, sister of the queen, Eleanor, and had by her three children: Raoul (Rudolph) II, the Leper (count from 1152–1167); Isabelle, who possessed from 1167 to 1183 the counties of Vermandois, Valois and Amiens conjointly with her husband, Philip, Count of Flanders; and Eleanor. By the terms of a treaty concluded in 1186 with the king, Philip Augustus, the count of Flanders kept the county of Vermandois until his death, in 1191. At this date, a new arrangement gave Eleanor (d. 1213) a life interest in the eastern part of Vermandois, together with the title of countess of St Quentin, and the king entered immediately into possession of Péronne and its dependencies.

West Francia

In medieval historiography, West Francia (Latin: Francia occidentalis) or the Kingdom of the West Franks (regnum Francorum occidentalium) was the western part of Charlemagne's Empire, ruled by the Germanic Franks that forms the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting from about 840 until 987. West Francia was formed out of the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843 under the Treaty of Verdun after the death of Emperor Louis the Pious and the east–west division which "gradually hardened into the establishment of separate kingdoms (...) of what we can begin to call Germany and France."West Francia extended further south than modern France, but it did not extend as far east. West Francia did not include such future French holdings as Lorraine, Burgundy, Alsace and Provence in the east and southeast. In addition, by the 10th century the rule of its kings was greatly reduced even within the West Frankish realm by the increase in power of great territorial magnates over their large and usually territorially contiguous fiefs. This process was compounded by wars among those magnates, including against or alongside the Crown, and by foreign invasion. Notably, Normandy was given to the rule of Norse invaders under Rollo as a county and later duchy in return for their willingness to end their raids, and like other great fiefs became largely autonomous of, and more powerful than, the Crown. In Brittany and Catalonia the authority of the West Frankish king was barely felt. West Frankish kings were elected by the secular and ecclesiastic magnates, and for the half-century between 888 and 936 they chose alternately from the Carolingian and Robertian houses. By this time the power of king became weaker and more nominal, as the regional dukes and nobles became more powerful in their semi-independent regions. The Robertians, after becoming counts of Paris and dukes of France, became kings themselves and established the Capetian dynasty.


Zwentibold (Zventibold, Swentiboldo, Sventibaldo, Sanderbald; c. 870 – 13 August 900), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was the illegitimate son of Emperor Arnulf. In 895, his father, then king of East Francia, granted him the Kingdom of Lotharingia, which he ruled until his death. After his death he was declared a saint and martyr by the Catholic Church.

Merovingians (486–751)
Robertians and Bosonids (751–987)
House of Capet (987–1328)
House of Valois (1328–1589)
House of Lancaster (1422–1453)
House of Bourbon (1589–1792)
First Republic (1792–1804)
First Empire (1804–1815)
Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830)
July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Second Empire (1852–1870)
Government of National Defense (1870–1871)
Third Republic (1871–1940)
Vichy France (1940–1944)
Provisional Government (1944–1947)
Fourth Republic (1947–1958)
Fifth Republic (1958–present)
Merovingians (486–751)
Robertians and Bosonids (751–987)
House of Capet (987–1328)
House of Valois (1328–1589)
House of Lancaster (1422–1453)
House of Bourbon (1589–1792)
First Republic (1792–1804)
First Empire (1804–1815)
Bourbon Restoration (1815–1830)
July Monarchy (1830–1848)
Second Republic (1848–1852)
Second Empire (1852–1870)
Government of National Defense (1870–1871)
Third Republic (1871–1940)
Vichy France (1940–1944)
Provisional Government (1944–1947)
Fourth Republic (1947–1958)
Fifth Republic (1958–present)

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