Louis the Pious

Louis the Pious (778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire,[1] was the King of the Franks and co-emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813. He was also King of Aquitaine from 781.

As the only surviving adult son of Charlemagne and Hildegard, he became the sole ruler of the Franks after his father's death in 814, a position which he held until his death, save for the period 833–34, during which he was deposed.

During his reign in Aquitaine, Louis was charged with the defence of the empire's southwestern frontier. He conquered Barcelona from the Muslims in 801 and asserted Frankish authority over Pamplona and the Basques south of the Pyrenees in 812. As emperor he included his adult sons, Lothair, Pepin, and Louis, in the government and sought to establish a suitable division of the realm among them. The first decade of his reign was characterised by several tragedies and embarrassments, notably the brutal treatment of his nephew Bernard of Italy, for which Louis atoned in a public act of self-debasement.

In the 830s his empire was torn by civil war between his sons, only exacerbated by Louis's attempts to include his son Charles by his second wife in the succession plans. Though his reign ended on a high note, with order largely restored to his empire, it was followed by three years of civil war. Louis is generally compared unfavourably to his father, though the problems he faced were of a distinctly different sort.

Louis the Pious
Ludwik I Pobożny
Louis the Pious, contemporary depiction from 826 as a miles Christi (soldier of Christ), with a poem of Rabanus Maurus overlaid. Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Codex Reg. lat 124, f.4v.
Holy Roman Emperor
Reign813–840
Coronation5 October 816
by Pope Stephen IV in Reims
PredecessorCharlemagne
SuccessorLothair I
King of the Franks
Reign814–840
Coronation13 September 813
Aachen, Francia
PredecessorCharles I
Successor
King of Aquitaine
Reign781–814
PredecessorCharles I as King of the Franks
SuccessorPepin I
Born778
Cassinogilum
Died20 June 840 (aged 61–62)
Ingelheim
Burial
SpouseErmengarde of Hesbaye
Judith of Bavaria
Issue
HouseCarolingian
FatherCharlemagne
MotherHildegarde

Birth and rule in Aquitaine

Louis was born while his father Charlemagne was on campaign in Spain, at the Carolingian villa of Cassinogilum, according to Einhard and the anonymous chronicler called Astronomus; the place is usually identified with Chasseneuil, near Poitiers.[2] He was the third son of Charlemagne by his wife Hildegard. His grandfather was King Pepin the Younger.

Louis was crowned King of Aquitaine as a child in 781[3] and sent there with regents and a court. Charlemagne constituted the sub-kingdom in order to secure the border of his kingdom after the destructive war against the Aquitanians and Basques under Waifer (capitulated c. 768) and later Hunald II, which culminated in the disastrous Battle of Roncesvalles (778). Charlemagne wanted his son Louis to grow up in the area where he was to reign. However, in 785, wary of the customs his son may have been taking in Aquitaine, Charlemagne sent for him to Aquitaine and Louis presented himself at the Royal Council of Paderborn dressed up in Basque costumes along with other youths in the same garment, which may have made a good impression in Toulouse, since the Basques of Vasconia were a mainstay of the Aquitanian army.

In 794, Charlemagne settled four former Gallo-Roman villas on Louis, in the thought that he would take in each in turn as winter residence: Doué-la-Fontaine in today's Anjou, Ebreuil in Allier, Angeac-Charente, and the disputed Cassinogilum. Charlemagne's intention was to see all his sons brought up as natives of their given territories, wearing the national costume of the region and ruling by the local customs. Thus were the children sent to their respective realms at so young an age. Each kingdom had its importance in keeping some frontier, Louis's was the Spanish March. In 797, Barcelona, the greatest city of the Marca, fell to the Franks when Zeid, its governor, rebelled against Córdoba and, failing, handed it to them. The Umayyad authority recaptured it in 799. However, Louis marched the entire army of his kingdom, including Gascons with their duke Sancho I of Gascony, Provençals under Leibulf, and Goths under Bera, over the Pyrenees and besieged it for two years, wintering there from 800 to 801, when it capitulated.[4] The sons were not given independence from central authority, however, and Charlemagne ingrained in them the concepts of empire and unity by sending them on military expeditions far from their home bases. Louis campaigned in the Italian Mezzogiorno against the Beneventans at least once.

Charlemagne et Louis le Pieux
Charlemagne crowns Louis the Pious

Louis was one of Charlemagne's three legitimate sons to survive infancy. He had a twin brother, Lothair who died during infancy. According to Frankish custom, Louis had expected to share his inheritance with his brothers, Charles the Younger, King of Neustria, and Pepin, King of Italy. In the Divisio Regnorum of 806, Charlemagne had slated Charles the Younger as his successor as emperor and chief king, ruling over the Frankish heartland of Neustria and Austrasia, while giving Pepin the Iron Crown of Lombardy, which Charlemagne possessed by conquest. To Louis's kingdom of Aquitaine, he added Septimania, Provence, and part of Burgundy. However, Charlemagne's other legitimate sons died – Pepin in 810 and Charles in 811 – and Louis alone remained to be crowned co-emperor with Charlemagne in 813. On his father's death in 814, he inherited the entire Frankish kingdom and all its possessions (with the sole exception of Italy, which remained within Louis's empire, but under the direct rule of Bernard, Pepin's son).

Emperor

While at his villa of Doué-la-Fontaine, Anjou, Louis received news of his father's death.[5] He rushed to Aachen and crowned himself emperor to shouts of Vivat Imperator Ludovicus by the attending nobles.[5]

Upon arriving at the imperial court in Aachen, one of Louis' first acts was to purge the palace of its "filth". He destroyed the old Germanic pagan tokens and texts which had been collected by Charlemagne. He further exiled members of the court he deemed morally "dissolute", including some of his own relatives.[6]

From the start of his reign, his coinage imitated his father Charlemagne's portrait, which gave it an image of imperial authority and prestige.[5] He quickly sent all of his unmarried sisters to nunneries, to avoid any possible entanglements from overly powerful brothers-in-law.[5] Sparing his illegitimate half-brothers, he forced his father's cousins, Adalard and Wala to be tonsured, placing them in Noirmoutier and Corbie, respectively, despite the latter's initial loyalty.[7]

His chief counsellors were Bernard, margrave of Septimania, and Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims. The latter, born a serf, was raised by Louis to that office, but betrayed him later. He retained some of his father's ministers, such as Elisachar, abbot of St. Maximin near Trier, and Hildebold, Archbishop of Cologne. Later he replaced Elisachar with Hildwin, abbot of many monasteries.

He also employed Benedict of Aniane (the Second Benedict), a Septimanian Visigoth and monastic founder, to help him reform the Frankish church. One of Benedict's primary reforms was to ensure that all religious houses in Louis' realm adhered to the Rule of Saint Benedict, named for its creator, Benedict of Nursia (480–550), the First Benedict.

In 816, Pope Stephen IV, who had succeeded Leo III, visited Reims and again crowned Louis (Sunday 5 October).

Denier Louis le Pieux
Denarius of Louis.

Ordinatio imperii

On Maundy Thursday 817 (9 April), Louis and his court were crossing a wooden gallery from the cathedral to the palace in Aachen when the gallery collapsed, killing many. Louis, having barely survived and feeling the imminent danger of death, began planning for his succession; three months later he issued an Ordinatio Imperii, an imperial decree that laid out plans for an orderly succession. In 815, he had already given his two eldest sons a share in the government, when he had sent his elder sons Lothair and Pepin to govern Bavaria and Aquitaine respectively, though without the royal titles. Now, he proceeded to divide the empire among his three sons:

  • Lothair was proclaimed and crowned co-emperor in Aachen by his father. He was promised the succession to most of the Frankish dominions (excluding the exceptions below), and would be the overlord of his brothers and cousin.
  • Pepin was proclaimed King of Aquitaine, his territory including Gascony, the march around Toulouse, and the counties of Carcassonne, Autun, Avallon and Nevers.
  • Louis, the youngest son, was proclaimed King of Bavaria and the neighbouring marches.

If one of the subordinate kings died, he was to be succeeded by his sons. If he died childless, Lothair would inherit his kingdom. In the event of Lothair dying without sons, one of Louis the Pious' younger sons would be chosen to replace him by "the people". Above all, the Empire would not be divided: the Emperor would rule supreme over the subordinate kings, whose obedience to him was mandatory.

With this settlement, Louis tried to combine his sense for the Empire's unity, supported by the clergy, while at the same time providing positions for all of his sons. Instead of treating his sons equally in status and land, he elevated his first-born son Lothair above his younger brothers and gave him the largest part of the Empire as his share.

Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious doing penance at Attigny in 822

Bernard's rebellion and Louis's penance

The ordinatio imperii of Aachen left Bernard of Italy in an uncertain and subordinate position as king of Italy, and he began plotting to declare independence upon hearing of it. Louis immediately directed his army towards Italy, and betook himself to Chalon-sur-Saône. Intimidated by the emperor's swift action, Bernard met his uncle at Chalon, under invitation, and surrendered. He was taken to Aachen by Louis, who there had him tried and condemned to death for treason. Louis had the sentence commuted to blinding, which was duly carried out; Bernard did not survive the ordeal, however, dying after two days of agony. Others also suffered: Theodulf of Orléans, in eclipse since the death of Charlemagne, was accused of having supported the rebellion, and was thrown into a monastic prison, dying soon afterwards; it was rumored that he had been poisoned.[8] The fate of his nephew deeply marked Louis's conscience for the rest of his life.

In 822, as a deeply religious man, Louis performed penance for causing Bernard's death, at his palace of Attigny near Vouziers in the Ardennes, before Pope Paschal I, and a council of ecclesiastics and nobles of the realm that had been convened for the reconciliation of Louis with his three younger half-brothers, Hugo whom he soon made abbot of St-Quentin, Drogo whom he soon made Bishop of Metz, and Theodoric. This act of contrition, partly in emulation of Theodosius I, had the effect of greatly reducing his prestige as a Frankish ruler, for he also recited a list of minor offences about which no secular ruler of the time would have taken any notice. He also made the egregious error of releasing Wala and Adalard from their monastic confinements, placing the former in a position of power in the court of Lothair and the latter in a position in his own house.

Louis le Pieu denier Sens 818 823
Louis on a denarius from Sens, 818–823

Frontier wars

At the start of Louis's reign, the many tribes – Danes, Obotrites, Slovenes, Bretons, Basques – which inhabited his frontierlands were still in awe of the Frankish emperor's power and dared not stir up any trouble. In 816, however, the Sorbs rebelled and were quickly followed by Slavomir, chief of the Obotrites, who was captured and abandoned by his own people, being replaced by Ceadrag in 818. Soon, Ceadrag too had turned against the Franks and allied with the Danes, who were to become the greatest menace of the Franks in a short time.

A greater Slavic menace was gathering on the southeast. There, Ljudevit, duke of Pannonia, was harassing the border at the Drava and Sava rivers. The margrave of Friuli, Cadolah, was sent out against him, but he died on campaign and, in 820, his margarvate was invaded by Slovenes. In 821, an alliance was made with Borna, duke of the Dalmatia, and Liudewit was brought to heel. In 824 several Slav tribes in the north-western parts of Bulgaria acknowledged Louis's suzerainty and after he was reluctant to settle the matter peacefully with the Bulgarian ruler Omurtag, in 827 the Bulgarians attacked the Franks in Pannonia and regained their lands.

On the far southern edge of his great realm, Louis had to control the Lombard princes of Benevento whom Charlemagne had never subjugated. He extracted promises from Princes Grimoald IV and Sico, but to no effect.

On the southwestern frontier, problems commenced early when c. 812, Louis the Pious crossed the western Pyrenees 'to settle matters' in Pamplona. The expedition made its way back north, where it narrowly escaped an ambush attempt arranged by the Basques in the pass of Roncevaux thanks to the precautions he took, i.e. hostages. Séguin, duke of Gascony, was then deposed by Louis in 816, possibly for failing to suppress or collaborating with the Basque revolt south of the western Pyrenees, so sparking off a Basque uprising that was duly put down by the Frankish emperor in Dax. Seguin was replaced by Lupus III, who was dispossessed in 818 by the emperor. In 820 an assembly at Quierzy-sur-Oise decided to send an expedition against the Cordoban caliphate (827). The counts in charge of the army, Hugh, count of Tours, and Matfrid, count of Orléans, were slow in acting and the expedition came to naught.

First civil war

In 818, as Louis was returning from a campaign to Brittany, he was greeted by news of the death of his wife, Ermengarde. Ermengarde was the daughter of Ingerman, the duke of Hesbaye. Louis had been close to his wife, who had been involved in policymaking. It was rumoured that she had played a part in her nephew's death and Louis himself believed her own death was divine retribution for that event. It took many months for his courtiers and advisors to convince him to remarry, but eventually he did, in 820, to Judith, daughter of Welf, count of Altdorf. In 823 Judith gave birth to a son, who was named Charles.

The birth of this son damaged the Partition of Aachen, as Louis's attempts to provide for his fourth son met with stiff resistance from his older sons, and the last two decades of his reign were marked by civil war.

At Worms in 829, Louis gave Alemannia to Charles, with the title of king or duke (historians differ on this), thus enraging his son and co-emperor Lothair,[9] whose promised share was thereby diminished. An insurrection was soon at hand.

With the urging of the vengeful Wala and the cooperation of his brothers, Lothair accused Judith of having committed adultery with Bernard of Septimania, even suggesting Bernard to be the true father of Charles. Ebbo and Hildwin abandoned the emperor at that point, Bernard having risen to greater heights than either of them. Agobard, Archbishop of Lyon, and Jesse, bishop of Amiens, too, opposed the redivision of the empire and lent their episcopal prestige to the rebels.

In 830, at Wala's insistence that Bernard of Septimania was plotting against him, Pepin of Aquitaine led an army of Gascons, with the support of the Neustrian magnates, all the way to Paris. At Verberie, Louis the German joined him. At that time, the emperor returned from another campaign in Brittany to find his empire at war with itself. He marched as far as Compiègne, an ancient royal town, before being surrounded by Pepin's forces and captured. Judith was incarcerated at Poitiers and Bernard fled to Barcelona.

Then Lothair finally set out with a large Lombard army, but Louis had promised his sons Louis the German and Pepin of Aquitaine greater shares of the inheritance, prompting them to shift loyalties in favour of their father. When Lothair tried to call a general council of the realm in Nijmegen, in the heart of Austrasia, the Austrasians and Rhinelanders came with a following of armed retainers, and the disloyal sons were forced to free their father and bow at his feet (831). Lothair was pardoned, but disgraced and banished to Italy.

Pepin returned to Aquitaine and Judith – after being forced to humiliate herself with a solemn oath of innocence – to Louis's court. Only Wala was severely dealt with, making his way to a secluded monastery on the shores of Lake Geneva. Although Hilduin, abbot of Saint Denis, was exiled to Paderborn and Elisachar and Matfrid were deprived of their honours north of the Alps; they did not lose their freedom.

Second civil war

The next revolt occurred a mere two years later, in 832. The disaffected Pepin was summoned to his father's court, where he was so poorly received he left against his father's orders. Immediately, fearing that Pepin would be stirred up to revolt by his nobles and desiring to reform his morals, Louis the Pious summoned all his forces to meet in Aquitaine in preparation of an uprising, but Louis the German garnered an army of Slav allies and conquered Swabia before the emperor could react. Once again the elder Louis divided his vast realm. At Jonac, he declared Charles king of Aquitaine and deprived Pepin (he was less harsh with the younger Louis), restoring the whole rest of the empire to Lothair, not yet involved in the civil war. Lothair was, however, interested in usurping his father's authority. His ministers had been in contact with Pepin and may have convinced him and Louis the German to rebel, promising him Alemannia, the kingdom of Charles.

Soon Lothair, with the support of Pope Gregory IV, whom he had confirmed in office without his father's support, joined the revolt in 833. While Louis was at Worms gathering a new force, Lothair marched north. Louis marched south. The armies met on the plains of the Rothfeld. There, Gregory met the emperor and may have tried to sow dissension amongst his ranks. Soon much of Louis's army had evaporated before his eyes, and he ordered his few remaining followers to go, because "it would be a pity if any man lost his life or limb on my account." The resigned emperor was taken to Saint-Médard de Soissons, his son Charles to Prüm, and the queen to Tortona. The despicable show of disloyalty and disingenuousness earned the site the name Field of Lies, or Lügenfeld, or Campus Mendacii, ubi plurimorum fidelitas exstincta est.[10]

Louis le Pieux sesquisolidus 814 840
Louis on a sesquisolidus, essentially Roman in design.[11]

On 13 November 833, Ebbo, with Agobard of Lyon, presided over a synod at the Church of Saint Medard in Soissons which saw Louis undertake public penance for the second time in his reign. The penitential ritual that was undertaken began when Louis arrived at the church and confessed multiple times to the crimes levied against him. The crimes had been historic and recent, with accusations of oath breaking, violation of the public peace and inability to control his adulterous wife, Judith of Bavaria.[12] Afterwards, he threw his sword belt at the base of the altar and received judgement through the imposition of the hands of the bishops.[13] Louis was to live the rest of his life as a penitent, never to hold office again.[14] The penance divided the aristocracy. The anonymous biographer of the Vita Hludovici criticized the whole affair on the basis that God does not judge twice for sins committed and confessed.[15] Lothair's allies were generously compensated. Ebbo himself received the monastery of St Vaast whilst Pepin was allowed to keep the lands reclaimed from his father.

Men like Rabanus Maurus, Louis' younger half-brothers Drogo and Hugh, and Emma, Judith's sister and Louis the German's new wife, worked on the younger Louis to make peace with his father, for the sake of unity of the empire. The humiliation to which Louis was then subjected at Notre Dame in Compiègne turned the loyal barons of Austrasia and Saxony against Lothair, and the usurper fled to Burgundy, skirmishing with loyalists near Chalon-sur-Saône. Louis was restored the next year, on 1 March 834.

On Lothair's return to Italy, Wala, Jesse, and Matfrid, formerly count of Orléans, died of a pestilence. On 2 February 835 at the palace Thionville, Louis presided over a general council to deal with the events of the previous year. Known as the Synod of Thionville, Louis himself was reinvested with his ancestral garb and the crown, symbols of Carolingian rulership. Furthermore, the penance of 833 was officially reversed and Archbishop Ebbo officially resigned after confessing to a capital crime, whilst Agobard of Lyon and Bartholmew, Archbishop of Narbonne were also deposed.[16] Later that year Lothair fell ill; once again the events turned in Louis favour.

In 836, however, the family made peace and Louis restored Pepin and Louis, deprived Lothair of all save Italy, and gave it to Charles in a new division, given at the diet of Crémieu. At about that time, the Vikings terrorized and sacked Utrecht and Antwerp. In 837, they went up the Rhine as far as Nijmegen, and their king, Rorik, demanded the wergild of some of his followers killed on previous expeditions before Louis the Pious mustered a massive force and marched against them. They fled, but it would not be the last time they harried the northern coasts. In 838, they even claimed sovereignty over Frisia, but a treaty was confirmed between them and the Franks in 839. Louis the Pious ordered the construction of a North Sea fleet and the sending of missi dominici into Frisia to establish Frankish sovereignty there.

Third civil war

In 837, Louis crowned Charles king over all of Alemannia and Burgundy and gave him a portion of his brother Louis' land. Louis the German promptly rose in revolt, and the emperor redivided his realm again at Quierzy-sur-Oise, giving all of the young king of Bavaria's lands, save Bavaria itself, to Charles. Emperor Louis did not stop there, however. His devotion to Charles knew no bounds. When Pepin died in 838, Louis declared Charles the new king of Aquitaine. The nobles, however, elected Pepin's son Pepin II. When Louis threatened invasion, the third great civil war of his reign broke out. In the spring of 839, Louis the German invaded Swabia, Pepin II and his Gascon subjects fought all the way to the Loire, and the Danes returned to ravage the Frisian coast (sacking Dorestad for a second time).

Lothair, for the first time in a long time, allied with his father and pledged support at Worms in exchange for a redivision of the inheritance. At a final placitum held at Worms on 20 May, Louis gave Bavaria to Louis the German and disinherited Pepin II, leaving the entire remainder of the empire to be divided roughly into an eastern part and a western. Lothair was given the choice of which partition he would inherit and he chose the eastern, including Italy, leaving the western for Charles. The emperor quickly subjugated Aquitaine and had Charles recognised by the nobles and clergy at Clermont-en-Auvergne in 840. Louis then, in a final flash of glory, rushed into Bavaria and forced the younger Louis into the Ostmark. The empire now settled as he had declared it at Worms, he returned in July to Frankfurt am Main, where he disbanded the army. The final civil war of his reign was over.

Death

Louis fell ill soon after his final victorious campaigns and went to his summer hunting lodge on an island in the Rhine, by his palace at Ingelheim. He died 20 June 840 in the presence of many bishops and clerics and in the arms of his half-brother Drogo, though Charles and Judith were absent in Poitiers. Soon dispute plunged the surviving brothers into a civil war that was only settled in 843 by the Treaty of Verdun, which split the Frankish realm into three parts, to become the kernels of France and Germany, with Burgundy and the Low Countries between them. The dispute over the kingship of Aquitaine was not fully settled until 860.

Louis was buried in the Abbey of Saint-Arnould in Metz.[17]

Marriage and issue

By his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye (married c. 794)[18], he had three sons and three daughters:

By his second wife, Judith of Bavaria, he had a daughter and a son:

By Theodelinde of Sens, he had two illegitimate children:

Notes

  1. ^ Latin: Ludovicus or Hludowicus Pius, German: Ludwig der Fromme, French: Louis le Pieux or Louis le Débonnaire, Italian: Luigi il Pio or Ludovico il Pio, Spanish: Luis el Piadoso or Ludovico Pío.
  2. ^ Einhard gives the name of his birthplace as Cassanoilum. In addition to Chasseneuil near Poitiers, scholars have suggested that Louis may have been born at Casseneuil (Lot et Garonne) or at Casseuil on the Garonne near La Réole, where the Dropt flows into the Garonne.
  3. ^ Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: The Family who Forged Europe, transl. Michael Idomir Allen, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 116.
  4. ^ Pierre Riche, The Carolingians:The Family who Forged Europe, 94.
  5. ^ a b c d Church Architecture and Liturgy in the Carolingian Era, Michael S. Driscoll, A Companion to the Eucharist in the Middle Ages, ed. Ian Levy, Gary Macy, Kristen Van Ausdall, (Brill, 2012), 194.
  6. ^ Booker, Courtney M (2012). Past Convictions: The Penance of Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians. ISBN 978-0-8122-0138-3. Retrieved 28 May 2017. – via Questia (subscription required)
  7. ^ Church Architecture and Liturgy in the Carolingian Era, Michael S. Driscoll, A Companion to the Eucharist in the Middle Ages, 195.
  8. ^ The Frankish Kingdoms, 814-898:the West, Janet L. Nelson, The New Cambridge Medieval History, 700–900, Vol. II, ed. Rosamond McKitterick, (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 114.
  9. ^ Paired gold medallions of father and son had been struck on the occasion of the synod of Paris (825) that asserted Frankish claims as emperor, recently denigrated by the Byzantines; see Karl F. Morrison, "The Gold Medallions of Louis the Pious and Lothaire I and the Synod of Paris (825)" Speculum 36.4 (October 1961:592–599).
  10. ^ [1].
  11. ^ Medieval European Coinage by Philip Grierson, Mark Blackburn, Lucia Travaini, p.329 [2]
  12. ^ Mayke De Jong, "Power and Humility in Carolingian society: the Public Penance of Louis the Pious", Early Medieval Europe 1 (1992). p. 29.
  13. ^ Agobard, "Personal Attestation to the Penance of Louis the Pious" in Lievan Van Acker (ed.) Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medievalis , trans. Courtney M. Booker (Turnhout, 1981). p. 324.
  14. ^ Mayke De Jong, The Penitential State: Authority and Atonement in the Age of Louis the Pious, 814-840 (Cambridge, 2009), pp. 1- 3.
  15. ^ The Astronomer, The Life of Emperor Louis, trans. Thomas F.X. Noble (Pennsylvania, 2009), p. 282.
  16. ^ The Annals of Saint Bertin, trans. Janet L. Nelson (Manchester, 1991), pp. 32- 33.
  17. ^ Metz, Steven Fanning, Medieval France:An Encyclopedia, Ed. William W. Kibler and Grover A. Zinn, (Routledge, 1995), p. 615.
  18. ^ McKitterick 2008, p. 93.

Sources

Further reading

  • Booker, Courtney M. Past Convictions: The Penance of Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8122-4168-6
  • De Jong, Mayke. The Penitential State: Authority and Atonement in the Age of Louis the Pious, 814–840. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Depreux, Philippe. Prosopographie de l'entourage de Louis le Pieux (781–840). Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1997. A useful prosopographical overview of Louis' household, court and other subordinates.
  • Eichler, Daniel. Fränkische Reichsversammlungen unter Ludwig dem Frommen. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2007 (Monumenta Germaniae Historica Studien und Texte, 45).
  • Ganshof, François-Louis The Carolingians and the Frankish Monarchy. 1971.
  • Godman, Peter, and Roger Collins (eds.). Charlemagne's Heir: New Perspectives on the Reign of Louis the Pious (814–840). Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press, 1990.
  • Oman, Charles. The Dark Ages 476–918. London, 1914.

External links

Louis the Pious
Born: 16 April 778 Died: 20 June 840
Regnal titles
New title King of Aquitaine
781–814
Succeeded by
Pepin I
Preceded by
Charlemagne
Holy Roman Emperor
813–840
with Lothair I (817–840)
Succeeded by
Lothair I
King of the Franks
814–840
Succeeded by
Lothair I
as king of Middle Francia
Succeeded by
Louis II
as king of East Francia
Succeeded by
Charles II
as king of West Francia
Annales Fuldenses

The Annales Fuldenses or Annals of Fulda are East Frankish chronicles that cover independently the period from the last years of Louis the Pious (died 840) to shortly after the end of effective Carolingian rule in East Francia with the accession of the child-king, Louis III, in 900. Throughout this period they are a near contemporary record of the events they describe and a primary source for Carolingian historiography. They are usually read as a counterpart to the narrative found in the West Frankish Annales Bertiniani.

Arnulf of Sens

Arnulf of Sens (c.794 – April, 841) was a Frankish noble, an illegitimate son of the Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne. He had one sister, Alpaïs de Paris, abbess of St-Pierre de Reims.

Arnulf's grandfather Charlemagne died in 814 with his father Louis becoming Emperor. Three years later in 817, Arnulf, was appointed count of Sens in Burgundy. He was the first son of Louis the Pious, but he did not inherit land because his birth was illegitimate. In April 841, a year after his father had died, he died at Sens.

Bernard of Italy

Bernard (797 in Vermandois, Picardy – 17 April 818 in Milan, Lombardy) was the King of the Lombards from 810 to 818. He plotted against his uncle, Emperor Louis the Pious, when the latter's Ordinatio Imperii made Bernard a vassal of his cousin Lothair. When his plot was discovered, Louis had him blinded, a procedure which killed him.

Carolingian Empire

The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large empire in western and central Europe during the early Middle Ages. It was ruled by the Carolingian dynasty, which had ruled as kings of the Franks since 751 and as kings of the Lombards of Italy from 774. In 800, the Frankish king Charlemagne was crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III in an effort to revive the Roman Empire in the west during a vacancy in the throne of the eastern Roman Empire. After a civil war (840–43) following the death of Emperor Louis the Pious, the empire was divided into autonomous kingdoms, with one king still recognised as emperor, but with little authority outside his own kingdom. The unity of the empire and the hereditary right of the Carolingians continued to be acknowledged, preceding the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted until 1806.

In 884, Charles the Fat reunited all the kingdoms of Francia for the last time, but he died in 888 and the empire immediately split up. With the only remaining legitimate male of the dynasty a child, the nobility elected regional kings from outside the dynasty or, in the case of the eastern kingdom, an illegitimate Carolingian. The illegitimate line continued to rule in the east until 911, while in the western kingdom the legitimate Carolingian dynasty was restored in 898 and ruled until 987 with an interruption from 922 to 936.

The size of the empire at its inception was around 1,112,000 square kilometres (429,000 sq mi), with a population of between 10 and 20 million people. To the south it bordered the Emirate of Córdoba and, after 824, the Kingdom of Pamplona; to the north it bordered the kingdom of the Danes; to the west it had a short land border with Brittany, which was later reduced to a tributary; and to the east it had a long border with the Slavs and the Avars, who were defeated and their land incorporated into the empire. In southern Italy, the Carolingians' claims to authority were disputed by the Byzantines (eastern Romans) and the vestiges of the Lombard kingdom in the Principality of Benevento.

Use of the term "Carolingian Empire" is a modern convention. The language of official acts in the empire was Latin. The empire was referred to variously as universum regnum ("the whole kingdom", as opposed to the regional kingdoms), Romanorum sive Francorum imperium ("empire of the Romans and Franks"), Romanum imperium ("Roman empire") or even imperium christianum ("Christian empire").

Carolingian dynasty

The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings or Karlings) was a Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The dynasty consolidated its power in the 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 Merovingian throne. In 751 the Merovingian dynasty which had ruled the Germanic Franks was overthrown 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 in 800 with the crowning of Charlemagne as the first Emperor of Romans in the West in over three centuries. His death in 814 began an extended period of fragmentation of the Carolingian empire and decline that would eventually lead to the evolution of the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire.

Charles the Bald

Charles the Bald (13 June 823 – 6 October 877) was the king of West Francia (843–877), king of Italy (875–877) and emperor of the Carolingian Empire (875–877). After a series of civil wars during the reign of his father, Louis the Pious, Charles succeeded by the Treaty of Verdun (843) in acquiring the western third of the Carolingian Empire. He was a grandson of Charlemagne and the youngest son of Louis the Pious by his second wife, Judith.

Charles the Younger

Charles the Younger or Charles of Ingelheim (c. 772 – 4 December 811) was a member of the Carolingian dynasty, the second son of Charlemagne and the first by his second wife, Hildegard of Swabia and brother of Louis the Pious and Pepin Carloman. When Charlemagne divided his empire among his sons, his son Charles was designated King of the Franks.

Drogo of Metz

Drogo (17 June 801 – 8 December 855), also known as Dreux or Drogon, was an illegitimate son of Frankish emperor Charlemagne by the concubine Regina.

Ermengarde of Hesbaye

Ermengarde (or Irmingard) of Hesbaye (c. 778 – 3 October 818), probably a member of the Robertian dynasty, was Carolingian empress from 813 and Queen of the Franks from 814 until her death as the wife of the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious.

Frankish Papacy

From 756 to 857, the papacy shifted from the orbit of the Byzantine Empire to that of the kings of the Franks. Pepin the Short (ruled 751–768), Charlemagne (r. 768–814) (co-ruler with his brother Carloman I until 771), and Louis the Pious (r. 814-840) had considerable influence in the selection and administration of popes. The "Donation of Pepin" (756) ratified a new period of papal rule in central Italy, which became known as the Papal States.

This shift was initiated by the Lombards conquering the Exarchate of Ravenna from the Byzantines, strengthened by the Frankish triumph over the Lombards, and ended by the fragmentation of the Frankish Kingdom into West Francia, Middle Francia, and East Francia. Lothair I continued to rule Middle Francia which included much of the Italian peninsula, from 843 to 855.

This period was "a critical time in Rome's transformation from ancient capital to powerful bishopric to new state capital." The period was characterized by "battles between Franks, Lombards and Romans for control of the Italian peninsula and of supreme authority within Christendom."

Gisela, daughter of Louis the Pious

Gisela (born c.821) was the youngest daughter of Louis the Pious and his second wife, Judith of Bavaria. She married the powerful and influential Eberhard, Duke of Friuli, later canonized as Saint Eberhard, with whom she had several children including King Berengar I of Italy, Margrave of Friuli. Gisela was renowned for her piety and virtue, much like her namesake, Gisela (the sister of Charlemagne), who had chosen the religious life from girlhood.

Her dowry consisted of many rich domains including the fisc of Cysoing; located at the center of the country of Pèvele, Cysoing was one of the most beautiful fiscs in the region and became one of her and Eberhard's regular residences. They founded a monastery there, which was not completed until after their deaths.

The nunnery San Salvatore was given to her after Ermengarde, wife of Lothair I. For a time she served as both abbess and rectrix.

She dedicated herself to the education of her and Eberhard's many children.

Lothair I

Lothair I or Lothar I (Dutch and Medieval Latin: Lotharius, German: Lothar, French: Lothaire, Italian: Lotario) (795 – 29 September 855) was the Holy Roman Emperor (817–855, co-ruling with his father until 840), and the governor of Bavaria (815–817), King of Italy (818–855) and Middle Francia (840–855).

Lothair was the eldest son of the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious and his wife Ermengarde of Hesbaye, daughter of Ingerman the duke of Hesbaye. On several occasions, Lothair led his full-brothers Pepin I of Aquitaine and Louis the German in revolt against their father to protest against attempts to make their half-brother Charles the Bald a co-heir to the Frankish domains. Upon the father's death, Charles and Louis joined forces against Lothair in a three-year civil war (840–843). The struggles between the brothers led directly to the breakup of the Frankish Empire assembled by their grandfather Charlemagne, and laid the foundation for the development of modern France and Germany.

Louis the German

Louis (also Ludwig or Lewis) "the German" (c. 806 – 876), also known as Louis II, was the first king of East Francia, and ruled from 843-876 AD. Grandson of emperor Charlemagne and the third son of emperor of Francia, Louis the Pious and his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye, he received the appellation Germanicus shortly after his death in recognition of Magna Germania of the Roman Empire, reflecting the Carolingian's assertions that they were the rightful descendants of the Roman Empire

After protracted clashes with his father and his brothers, Ludwig received the East Frankish Empire in the 843 Treaty of Verdun. His attempts to conquer the West Frankish Empire of his half-brother Charles the Bald in 858-59 were unsuccessful. The 860s were marked by a severe crisis, with the East Frankish rebellions of the sons, as well as struggles to maintain supremacy over his realm. In the Treaty of Meerssen he acquired Lotharingia for the East Frankish Empire in 870. On the other hand, he tried and failed to claim both the title of Emperor and Italy. In the East, Ludwig was able to reach a longer-term peace agreement in 874 after decades of conflict with the Moravians. Due to a decline in the written form in administration and government, Ludwig's reign predates Ottonian times.

Nominoe

Nominoe or Nomenoe (French: Nominoë; Breton: Nevenoe; b. c. 800, d. 7 March 851) was the first Duke of Brittany from 846 to his death. He is the Breton pater patriae and to Breton nationalists he is known as Tad ar Vro ("father of the country").

Pepin II of Aquitaine

Pepin II, called the Younger (823 – after 864 in Senlis), was King of Aquitaine from 838 as the successor upon the death of his father, Pepin I. Pepin II was eldest son of Pepin I and Ingeltrude, daughter of Theodobert, count of Madrie. He was a grandson of the Emperor Louis the Pious.

Pepin was elected king upon his father's death by the nobles of Aquitaine who were keen to establish their independence from the Empire. However, his grandfather Louis the Pious had appointed his son Charles the Bald, Pepin's uncle who was about the same age, as King of Aquitaine in 832 when he (nominally) dispossessed Pepin’s father Pepin I, and eventually contested the kingship on Pepin I’s death in 838. Pepin had thereafter been at war with his half-uncle Charles. Louis the Pious fully disinherited him at Crémieu and then at Worms in two subsequent divisions of the empire.

Louis demanded the Aquitainians send Pepin to Aachen to learn the ways of good governance, which they refused. Pepin was in total control of Aquitaine until 841 when he went to his uncle Lothair I's aid at the Battle of Fontenoy (a year after his aging grandfather died at age 62). Pepin defeated Charles the Bald, but Lothair was routed by Louis the German, another son of Emperor Louis. Pepin returned to Aquitaine and continued war with Charles the Bald.

In 844 Pepin made the fatal error of asking for help from Jarl Oscar, a Viking adventurer. He guided Oscar's forces up the Garonne to Toulouse, giving them an opportunity to scout the land for plundering. In 845 Pepin welcomed Seguin of Bordeaux who had defected from the Emperor's side. Pepin made him dux Wasconum, to help his fight against Sans II Sancion of Gascony, who had been at war with his father Pepin I.

Bordeaux, the largest city in Aquitaine and then controlled by Charles, was seized by Oscar in 847, with the aid of disaffected citizens. These were either Jews or partisans of Pepin. The loss of this city to a heathen pirate, coupled with Pepin's heavy drinking and loose living, eroded his support in the nobility until 848 he was left with no support. His younger brother, Charles then tried to claim the Aquitainian Kingdom for himself.

Pepin II's rule finally ended in 851 or 852 when he was captured by Sans II Sancion, and handed over to Charles. He was detained in the monastery of Saint Médard in Soissons. As reward Sans was awarded the status of Duke.

Louis the German, who was at war with Charles the Bald, sent his son Louis the Younger, to claim Aquitaine. He marched as far as Limoges in 855 before returning east.

Pepin escaped and recovered some of his old authority and lands in 854. The Vikings now established in the Loire Valley ravaged Poitiers, Angoulême, Périgueux, Limoges, Clermont, and Bourges while Charles the Bald was busy trying to subdue Pepin. In 864 Pepin joined the Vikings and is rumored to have turned from Christianity to worship Woden and "lived like one of them [the Vikings]". He joined the Vikings in an attack on Toulouse. He was captured again later in 864, deposed by the Edict of Pistres, and imprisoned in Senlis, where he would die.

Pepin I of Aquitaine

Pepin I or Pepin I of Aquitaine (French: Pépin; 797 – 13 December 838) was King of Aquitaine and Duke of Maine.

Pepin was the second son of Emperor Louis the Pious and his first wife, Ermengarde of Hesbaye. When his father assigned to each of his sons a kingdom (within the Empire) in August 817, he received Aquitaine, which had been Louis's own subkingdom during his father Charlemagne's reign. Ermoldus Nigellus was his court poet and accompanied him on a campaign into Brittany in 824.

Pepin rebelled in 830 at the insistence of his brother Lothair's advisor Wala. He took an army of Gascons with him and marched all the way to Paris, with the support of the Neustrians. His father marched back from a campaign in Brittany all the way to Compiègne, where Pepin surrounded his forces and captured him. The rebellion, however, broke up.

In 832, Pepin rebelled again and his brother Louis the German soon followed. Louis the Pious was in Aquitaine to subdue any revolt, but was drawn off by the Bavarian insurrection of the younger Louis. Pepin took Limoges and other Imperial territories. The next year, Lothair joined the rebellion and, with the assistance of Ebbo, archbishop of Reims, the rebel sons deposed their father in 833. Lothair's later behaviour alienated Pepin, and the latter was at his father's side when Louis the Pious was reinstated on 1 March 834. Pepin was restored to his former status.

Pepin died scarcely four years later and was buried in the Church of St. Radegonde in Poitiers.

In 822, Pepin had married Ingeltrude, daughter of Theodobert, count of Madrie, with whom he had two sons: Pepin (823-after 864), and Charles (825-830 - 4 June 863), who became Archbishop of Mainz.

Both were minors when Pepin died, so Louis the Pious awarded Aquitaine to his own youngest son, Pepin's half-brother Charles the Bald. The Aquitainians, however, elected Pepin's son as Pepin II. His brother Charles also briefly claimed the kingdom. Both died childless. Pepin also had two daughters, one of whom married Gerard, Count of Auvergne.

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.

Vita Hludovici

Vita Hludovici or Vita Hludovici Imperatoris (The Life of Louis or the Life of the Emperor Louis) is an anonymous biography of Louis the Pious, Holy Roman Emperor and King of the Franks from AD 814 to 840.

Wala of Corbie

Wala (c. 755 – 31 August 836) was a son of Bernard, son of Charles Martel, and one of the principal advisers of his cousin Charlemagne, of Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious, and of Louis's son Lothair I. He succeeded his brother Adalard as abbot of Corbie and its new daughter foundation, Corvey, in 826 or 827.

Originally a count (comes) attached to the palace under Charlemagne (811), Wala was forced to enter the monastery of Corbie in 814 as part of a purging of palace rivals and hangers-on by Louis the Pious. In 816 he and Adalard were given the responsibility of organising the government of the convent of Herford, recently passed into Louis's hands at the Council of Aachen. In the 820s Wala became a strong opponent of royal/imperial control of church benefices. He was back at court in 822 as a concillor (councillor). According to Paschasius Radbertus, Wala alleged on one occasion that the "army of clerics" (i.e. chaplains) resident at the Palace of Aachen (and perhaps itinerant with the emperor) served only for personal gain and did not form a legitimate ecclesiastical institution. In 831 Wala left Corbie; in 834 he was abbot of Bobbio. His feast day is Aug. 31.

Carolingian Empire
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