Lotharingia (Latin: Lotharii regnum) (French: Lorraine) was a medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire, comprising the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), Saarland (Germany), and Lorraine (France). It was named after King Lothair II who received this territory after the kingdom of Middle Francia of his father Lothair I was divided among his sons in 855.[1]

Lotharingia was born out of the tripartite division in 855 of the kingdom of Middle Francia, which itself was formed after the threefold division of the Carolingian Empire by the Treaty of Verdun of 843. Conflict between East and West Francia over Lotharingia was based on the fact that these were the old Frankish homelands of Austrasia, so possession of them was of great prestige.

The Kingdom of Lotharingia (  purple) and other Carolingian kingdoms following the Treaty of Prüm, 855
The Kingdom of Lotharingia (  purple) and other Carolingian kingdoms following the Treaty of Prüm, 855
Common languagesOld Frisian, Old Dutch, Old High German, Old Saxon, Old French, Medieval Latin
Western Christianity
King or Duke 
• 866–869
Lothair II
• 953–965
Bruno the Great
Historical eraMedieval
• Division
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Middle Francia
Lower Lorraine
Duchy of Lorraine
Duchy of Swabia


Because Lotharingia lacked a single historic or ethnic identity, contemporaries were unsure what to call it and so it became regnum quondam Lotharii or Lotharii regnum ("kingdom [once] Lothair's") and its inhabitants Lotharii (from Lotharius), Lotharienses (from Lothariensis), or Lotharingi (which gives the modern Dutch name for the province Lotharingen). The latter term, formed with the Germanic suffix -ing, indicating ancestral or familial relationships, gave rise to the Latin term Lotharingia (from the Latin suffix -ia, indicating a country) in the tenth century. Later French terms like "Lorraine" and "Lothier" are derived from this Latin term.

Middle Francia, 843–855

In 817, emperor Louis the Pious made plans for division of the Carolingian Empire among his three sons after his death. Unforeseen in 817 was a further heir besides Louis's three grown sons. A fourth son, Charles the Bald, was born to Louis's second wife Judith of Bavaria in 823. When Louis tried in 833 to re-divide the empire for the benefit of Charles, he met with opposition of his adult sons, Lothair, Pepin, and Louis. A decade of civil war and fluctuating alliances followed, punctuated by brief periods of peace.

Pepin died in 838, and Louis the Pious in 840. The remaining three brothers made peace and divided the Empire with the 843 Treaty of Verdun. Lothair, as the eldest, kept the imperial title and received a long strip of territories stretching from the North Sea to southern Italy. The logic of the division was that Lothair had the crown of Kingdom of Italy, which had been his subkingdom under Louis the Pious, and that as emperor he should rule in Aachen, the capital of the first Carolingian emperor, Charlemagne, and in Rome, the ancient capital of emperors. Middle Francia (Latin Francia media) thus included all the land between Aachen and Rome and it has sometimes been called by historians the "Lotharingian axis".

Kingdom of Lotharingia, 855–900

Lotharingia's division in 959
Blue: Alsace, ceded to Duchy of Swabia in 925
Orange: Upper Lorraine after 928
Green: Lower Lorraine after 977

In 855, when Lothair I was dying in Prüm Abbey, he divided his kingdom between his three sons with the Treaty of Prüm. To the eldest son, Louis II, went Italy, with the imperial title. To the youngest, Charles, still a minor, went Provence. To the middle son, Lothair II, went the remaining territories to the north of Provence, a kingdom which lacked ethnic or linguistic unity.

Lothair II ruled from Aachen and did not venture outside his kingdom. When he died in 869 Lothair II left no legitimate children, but one illegitimate son - Hugh, Duke of Alsace. His uncles, king of East Francia Louis the German and West Francia Charles the Bald (who wanted to rule the whole of Lotharingia) with the 870 Treaty of Meerssen agreed to divide Lotharingia between them - the western half went to West Francia and the eastern half to East Francia. Thus Lotharingia, as a united kingdom, ceased to exist for some years. In 876 Charles the Bald invaded eastern Lotharingia with the intent to capture it, but was defeated near Andernach by Louis the German.

In 879 Louis's son, king Louis the Younger, was invited by a faction of the West Frankish nobility to succeed king Louis the Stammerer, Charles's son, on the throne of West Francia. After a brief war, Louis the Stammerer's young sons, Carloman II and Louis III, ceded western Lotharingia to Louis. The border between the two kingdoms was established at Saint-Quentin in 880 by the Treaty of Ribemont.

In November 887 Arnulf of Carinthia called a council of East Frankish nobility to depose emperor Charles the Fat, who by 884 had succeeded to the thrones of all the kingdoms of the Empire. The Lotharingian aristocracy, in an attempt to assert its right to elect a sovereign, joined the other East Frankish nobles in deposing Charles the Fat in 887 and elected Arnulf as their king. The rule of Arnulf in East Francia was initially opposed by Guy III of Spoleto, who became king of Italy, and by Rudolph I of Burgundy, who was elected king in the southern half of former Middle Francia - Upper Burgundy. Rudolph had intended to make himself king over the whole of Lothair II's former kingdom, but had to be content with Burgundia.

Arnulf in 891 defeated the Vikings and dislodged them from their settlements at Louvain. In 895 he appointed his illegitimate son Zwentibold as the king of Lotharingia who ruled semi-independently until he was overthrown and killed by Reginar on August 13, 900. The kingdom then ceased to exist and became a duchy.

Duchy of Lotharingia, 900–959

The young king of East Francia Louis the Child in 903 appointed Gebhard to be the duke of Lotharingia. His title was recorded in contemporary Latin as dux regni quod a multis Hlotharii dicitur: "duke of the kingdom that many call Lothair's". He died in 910 fighting Hungarian invaders.

When non-Carolingian Conrad I of Germany was elected king of East Francia in 911, Lotharingian nobles under the new duke Reginar voted to attach their duchy to West Francia, still ruled by Carolingian dynasty. In 915 Charles rewarded him by granting him the title of margrave. Reginar was succeeded by his son Gilbert who used the title dux Lotharingiae: "duke of Lotharingia".

When the West Franks deposed Charles the Simple in 922, he remained king in Lotharingia, from where he attempted to reconquer his kingdom in 923. He was captured and imprisoned until his death in 929. In 923 king Henry the Fowler of East Francia used this opportunity and invaded Lotharingia (including Alsace). In 925 Lotharingians under Gilbert elected Henry the Fowler to be their king. In 930 Gilbert's loyalty was rewarded and he received the prestigious hand of Henry's daughter Gerberga in marriage.

On Henry's death in 936 Gilbert rebelled and tried to swap Lotharingian allegiance to the West Franks, since their king Rudolph was weak and would interfere less in local affairs. In 939 Henry's son and successor, Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, invaded Lotharingia, at the Battle of Andernach defeated Gilbert who drowned trying to flee across the Rhine.

The dukes of Lotharingia were thereafter royal appointees. Henry I, Duke of Bavaria was duke for two years, followed in 941 by duke Otto, who in 944 was followed by Conrad. Lotharingia was turned into a junior stem duchy whose dukes had a vote in royal elections. While the other stem duchies had tribal or historic identities, Lotharingia's identity was solely political.

King Louis IV of West Francia tried maintain claim to Lotharingia by marrying Gilbert's widow and Otto's sister Gerberga. In his turn, Otto accepted homage from West France's Hugh the Great and Herbert II, Count of Vermandois at Attigny in 942. The weak Louis IV had no choice but to agree to Otto's continued suzerainty over Lotharingia.[2] In 944 West Francia invaded Lotharingia, but retreated after Otto I responded with mobilization of a large army under Herman I, Duke of Swabia.

Partition of 959 and later history

In 953 duke Conrad rebelled against Otto I, was removed from power and replaced by Otto's brother Bruno the Great who finally pacified Lotharingia in 959 by dividing it in Lotharingia superior (Upper Lorraine) under Frederick I and Lotharingia inferior (Lower Lorraine) under Godfrey I.

In 978, king Lothair of West Francia invaded the region and captured Aachen, but Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor, counterattacked and reached the walls of Paris. In 980 Lothair renounced his rights to Lotharingia.

Except for one brief period (1033–44, under Gothelo I), the division was never reversed and the margraves soon raised their separate fiefs into dukedoms. In the twelfth century the ducal authority in Lower Lorraine became fragmented, causing the formation of the Duchy of Limburg and the Duchy of Brabant, whose rulers retained the title Duke of Lothier (derived from "Lotharingia"). With the disappearance of a "lower" Lorraine, the duchy of Upper Lorraine became the primary referent for "Lorraine" within the Holy Roman Empire.

After centuries of French invasions and occupations, Lorraine was finally ceded to France at the close of the War of the Polish Succession (1737). In 1766 the duchy was inherited by the French crown and became Lorraine. In 1871, after the Franco-Prussian War, the northern portions of Lorraine were merged with Alsace to become the province of Alsace-Lorraine in the German Empire. Today the greater part of the French side of the Franco-German border belongs to the Lorraine region of France.

See also


  1. ^ Bullough, D.A. (1975). "The Continental Background of the Reform". In Parsons, David (ed.). Tenth-Century Studies. Chichester, UK: Phillimore. p. 22. ISBN 0 85033 179 X.
  2. ^ The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe


Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Bartholomew, John, and Wakelyn Nightingale. Monasteries and Patrons in the Gorze Reform: Lotharingia C.850-1000 (2001)
  • Clark, Samuel. State and Status: The Rise of the State and Aristocratic Power in Western Europe (1995) pp 53–79 excerpt
  • MacLean, Simon. (2013). "Shadow Kingdom: Lotharingia and the Frankish World, c.850–c.1050". History Compass, 11: 443–457.
  • Timothy Reuter, ed. The New Cambridge Medieval History, III: c. 900–c. 1024, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. excerpts
Charles the Fat

Charles III (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles the Fat, was the Holy Roman Emperor from 881 to 888. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, Charles was the youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, and a great-grandson of Charlemagne. He was the last Carolingian emperor of legitimate birth and the last to rule over all the realms of the Franks.

Over his lifetime, Charles became ruler of the various kingdoms of Charlemagne's former empire. Granted lordship over Alamannia in 876, following the division of East Francia, he succeeded to the Italian throne upon the abdication of his older brother Carloman of Bavaria who had been incapacitated by a stroke. Crowned Emperor in 881 by Pope John VIII, his succession to the territories of his brother Louis the Younger (Saxony and Bavaria) the following year reunited the kingdom of East Francia. Upon the death of his cousin Carloman II in 884, he inherited all of West Francia, thus reuniting the entire Carolingian Empire.

Usually considered lethargic and inept—he is known to have had repeated illnesses and is believed to have suffered from epilepsy—he twice purchased peace with Viking raiders, including at the infamous Siege of Paris (885–886) which led to his downfall.

The reunited empire did not last. During a coup led by his nephew Arnulf of Carinthia in November 887, Charles was deposed in East Francia, Lotharingia, and Kingdom of Italy. Forced into quiet retirement he died of natural causes in January 888, just a few weeks after his deposition. The Empire quickly fell apart after his death, splintering into five separate successor kingdoms; the territory it had occupied was not entirely reunited under one ruler until the conquests of Napoleon.

Charles the Simple

Charles III (17 September 879 – 7 October 929), called the Simple or the Straightforward (from the Latin Carolus Simplex), 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.

Duchy of Lorraine

The Duchy of Lorraine (French: Lorraine [lɔʁɛn]; German: Lothringen), originally Upper Lorraine, was a duchy now included in the larger present-day region of Lorraine in northeastern France. Its capital was Nancy.

It was founded in 959 following the division of Lotharingia into two separate duchies: Upper and Lower Lorraine, the westernmost parts of the Holy Roman Empire. The Lower duchy was quickly dismantled, while Upper Lorraine came to be known as simply the Duchy of Lorraine. The Duchy of Lorraine was coveted and briefly occupied by the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France.

In 1737, the Duchy was given to Stanisław Leszczyński, the former king of Poland, who had lost his throne as a result of the War of the Polish Succession, with the understanding that it would fall to the French crown on his death. When Stanisław died on 23 February 1766, Lorraine was annexed by France and reorganized as a province.

Electoral Palatinate

The County Palatine of the Rhine (German: Pfalzgrafschaft bei Rhein), later the Electorate of the Palatinate (German: Kurfürstentum von der Pfalz) or simply Electoral Palatinate (German: Kurpfalz), was a territory in the Holy Roman Empire (specifically, a palatinate) administered by the Count Palatine of the Rhine. Its rulers served as prince-electors (Kurfürsten) from time immemorial, were noted as such in a papal letter of 1261, and were confirmed as electors by the Golden Bull of 1356.

The fragmented territory stretched from the left bank of the Upper Rhine, from the Hunsrück mountain range in what is today the Palatinate region in the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the adjacent parts of the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine (bailiwick of Seltz from 1418 to 1766) to the opposite territory on the east bank of the Rhine in present-day Hesse and Baden-Württemberg up to the Odenwald range and the southern Kraichgau region, containing the capital cities of Heidelberg and Mannheim.

The Counts Palatine of the Rhine held the office of imperial vicars in the territories under Frankish law (in Franconia, Swabia and the Rhineland) and ranked among the most significant secular Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1541 elector Otto Henry converted to Lutheranism. Their climax and decline is marked by the rule of Elector Palatine Frederick V, whose coronation as King of Bohemia in 1619 sparked the Thirty Years' War. After the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, the ravaged lands were further afflicted by the "Reunion" campaigns launched by King Louis XIV of France, culminating in the Nine Years' War (1688–97). Ruled in personal union with the Electorate of Bavaria from 1777, the Electoral Palatinate was finally disestablished with the German mediatization in 1803.

Ezzo, Count Palatine of Lotharingia

Ezzo (c. 955 – 21 March 1034), sometimes called Ehrenfried, a member of the Ezzonid dynasty, was Count Palatine of Lotharingia from 1015 until his death. As brother-in-law of Emperor Otto III, father of Queen Richeza of Poland and several other illustrious children, he was one of the most important figures of the Rhenish history of his time.

Gilbert, Duke of Lorraine

Gilbert (or Giselbert) (c. 890 – 2 October 939) was son of Reginar, Duke of Lorraine, and possibly through his paternal grandmother was great-grandson of the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I. He was duke of Lotharingia (or Lorraine) until 939.

The beginning of the reign of Gilbert is not clear. A dux Lotharingiae is mentioned in 910 and this may have been Gilbert. Lotharingia sided with Charles III in 911, who was deposed in West Francia in 922 by Robert but remained king in Lotharingia, from where he tried to reconquer West Francia until being imprisoned in 923.

In 925, Gilbert swore fealty to King Henry the Fowler of Germany as duke of Lotharingia. Gilbert married Henry's daughter Gerberga of Saxony by 930. Gilbert rebelled when Henry died in 936 and changed allegiance to Louis IV of France, where the king had less authority. Gilbert managed to be practically independent for three years until he was defeated by the army of king Otto I of Germany in 939 at the Battle of Andernach. Gilbert was made prisoner, and succeeded in fleeing but drowned while trying to cross the Rhine. Lorraine was given to Henry I, Duke of Bavaria.

Godfrey I, Count of Louvain

Godfrey I (German: Gottfried, Dutch: Godfried), born c. 1060, died 25 January 1139, called the Bearded, the Courageous, or the Great, was the landgrave of Brabant, and count of Brussels and Leuven (Louvain) from 1095 to his death and duke of Lower Lorraine (as Godfrey VI – n.b. Godfrey of Bouillon, d. 1100, was Godfrey V, but numbering is uncertain) from 1106 to 1129. He was also margrave of Antwerp from 1106 to his death.

List of Counts Palatine of the Rhine

The Elector of the Palatinate (German: Kurfürst von der Pfalz) ruled the Palatinate of the Rhine in the Kingdom of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire from 915 to 1803.

List of rulers of Lorraine

The rulers of Lorraine have held different posts under different governments over different regions. The first rulers of the region were kings of the Franks whose kingdom was called Lotharingia. The Latin construction "Lotharingia" evolved over time into "Lorraine" in French, "Lotharingen" in Dutch and "Lothringen" in German. After the Carolingian kingdom was absorbed into its neighbouring realms in the late ninth century, dukes were appointed over the territory. In the mid-tenth century, the duchy was divided into Lower Lorraine and Upper Lorraine, the first evolving into the historical Low Countries, the second became known as the Duchy of Lorraine and existed well into the modern era.

Lothair II

Lothair II (835 – August 8, 869) was the king of Lotharingia from 855 until his death. He was the second son of Emperor Lothair I and Ermengarde of Tours. He was married to Teutberga (died 875), daughter of Boso the Elder.

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 the Carolingian dynasty there. He succeeded his father, king Arnulf of Carinthia in 899, when he was 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.

Lower Lorraine

The Duchy of Lower Lorraine, or Lower Lotharingia (also referred to as Lothier or Lottier in titles), was a stem duchy established in 959, of the medieval Kingdom of Germany, which encompassed almost all of the modern Netherlands (including Friesland), central and eastern Belgium, Luxemburg, the northern part of the German Rhineland province and the eastern parts of France's Nord-Pas de Calais region.

Middle Francia

Middle Francia (Latin: Francia media) was a short-lived Frankish kingdom which was created in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun after an intermittent civil war between the grandsons of Charlemagne resulted in division of the united empire. Middle Francia was allocated to emperor Lothair I, the eldest son and successor of emperor Louis the Pious. His realm contained the imperial cities of Aachen, the residence of Charlemagne, as well as Pavia but lacked any geographic or ethnic cohesion which prevented it from surviving and forming a nucleus of a larger state, as was the case with West Francia and East Francia.

Middle Francia was situated between the realms of East and West Francia, and comprised the Frankish territory between the rivers Rhine and Scheldt, the Frisian coast of the North Sea, the former Kingdom of Burgundy (except for a western portion, later known as Bourgogne) and Provence, as well as parts of northern Italy. Following the 855 partition, Middle Francia became only a geographic term and the bulk of its territory was reorganized as Lotharingia, named after Lothair I's namesake son.

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 "Reginar".

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.

Richeza of Lotharingia

Richeza of Lotharingia (also called Richenza, Rixa, Ryksa; born about 995/1000 – 21 March 1063) was a German noblewoman by birth, a member of the Ezzonen dynasty. She married Duke Mieszko II Lambert, later King of Poland, becoming Queen of Poland. She returned to Germany following the deposition of her husband in 1031, later becoming a nun, and today is revered as Blessed Richeza of Lotharingia.

Richeza had three known children: Casimir I the Restorer, Ryksa, Queen of Hungary, and Gertruda, Grand Princess of Kiev. She was also noted in 2009 as the putative mother of Agatha, wife of Edward the Exile and mother of Margaret of Wessex. From her descended the eastern rulers of the Piast, Rurikid, and Árpád dynasties. Four of her Árpád descendants were canonized: Elizabeth, Landgravine of Thuringia, Kinga, Duchess of Kraków, and Margaret and Irene of Hungary. She was beatified with another one of her descendants, Yolanda, Duchess of Greater Poland.

Treaty of Verdun

The Treaty of Verdun, signed in August 843, was the first of the treaties that divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms among the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, who was the son of Charlemagne. The treaty, signed in Verdun-sur-Meuse, ended the three-year Carolingian Civil War.

Walter of Lorraine

Walter of Lorraine (or Walter of Lotharingia; died 1079) was a medieval Bishop of Hereford.


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.

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