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The Carolingian Dynasty (With Notes about the Queens and Empresses)

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As Charlemagne is the best known of the Carolingian rulers, as far as the Carolingian Revival is concerned, his predecessors, like Charles 'The Hammer' worked the basis of it, by developing the power of the Franks in Europe, and his heirs continued Charlemagne's work. The Carolingian dynasty, until the Treaty of Verdun, in 843, is mostly in a direct line, as, further, it parts into diverging branches

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Founders (c. 615-c. 662)
Carolingians Proper (c. 687-840)
The Treaty of Verdun (843)
West Francia Carolingians (843-987)
Middle Francia Carolingians (843-863)
East Francia Carolingians (843-911), and German Rulers (911-1002)
Notes about Aquitaine, Italy, etc.

flèche retour Founders (c. 615-c. 662)

flèche retour Carolingians Proper (c. 687-840)

flèche retour The Treaty of Verdun (843)

The quarrels between the first-born sons of Louis the Pious and Charles the Bald, son of Louis and Judith, started again as soon as Louis' death. Charles the Bald, as allied to Louis the German fight against Lothair, who intends to claim the Empire, as allied to his nephew Pepin II of Aquitaine. They win at the battle of Fontenay-en-Puisaye (June 841), as, through the Oaths of Strasbourg (February 14th, 842) they do reinforce their alliance, bringing Lothair to ask for peace. That peace transforms into the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Those struggle, further, had weakened the Carolingien Empire in the eyes of the Viking and Arab raiders who attacked the Seine river in 841, or Arles, in 842, respectively. Those fights, further, increased the weakening of the imperial unity as each brother had have to assure himself the trustfullness of his own counts and dignitaries by allotting them lands further, with tended to depress the own land wealth of the sovereigns. As each of the contenders was already settled unto some territories (Lothair was in Italy, Louis the German in Bavaria, and Charles the Bald in Aquitaine), this treaty tend to confirm that sharing and adds to that the concern of the clerics that each share gets the same resource, from the North Sea or the Baltic Sea down to the Mediterranean. Lothair is allotted with the territories belonging to the center of the Carolingian empire, from the current Netherlands to Italy, and with Burgundy and Provence. Louis the German is taking the eastern part of the empire, East of the Rhine River and North and East of Italy. Charles the Bald is allotted with the West, West of the Rhone River (what will become later France). And Pepin II takes the Aquitaine, albeit under the suzerainty of Charles the Bald. At that time, those three shares are officially given their names of Middle Francia ('Francia media', 'middle land of the Franks'), East Francia ('Francia orientalis'), and West Francia ('Francia occidentalis'). The Treaty of Verdun, even if it confers the imperial dignity to Lothair, is a setback compared to the previous trend through which the sharing of the Empire was upset with the real supremacy of the titular holder of the imperial title. Lothair, really, although the holder of the Empire, has in no case the means to exert his power over the two other sets of territories hold by Louis the German and Charles the Bald! In 847, in a meeting at Meerssen, Lothair endeavoured to quench any further potential for civil wars, as the Frankish warriors were now obliged to join the imperial armies in the case of a foreign war only, preventing that the army system be used for those brotherly wars. Any free man, on the other hand, was allowed to choose like his suzerain any other one than his king. The idea of a division of the empire opposed, eventually, to the endeavours of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious to maintain an united empire. The idea of the divide may be ascribed to Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims (806-882), as he supported that the dream of a united Christendom did not appear under the guise of an empire, however ideal, but under the concrete form of a number of unit States, each being a member of one mighty body, the great Republic of Christendom. Hincmar further was a strong proponent of Charles the Bald, after having been of Louis the Pious, wishing that Lorraine came under his rule too. The views of Hincmar might have been inspired too by Charles the Bald himself, as it might that a propension of Hincmar to take some independency from the papacy might hint to that Rome was not at the origin of such political conceptions. Church, on the other hand, as soon as the reign of Louis the Pious had regained strength and stated now that the Pope had the spiritual supremacy over lay rulers and the Kingdom of God, which had been defended like his role by Charlemagne, was now to be identified with the Church, and Church kept being the defensor of the idea of unity (and kept further, after that, even when passed under the influence of the struggles between Italian petty rulers). As Lothair is dying early, in 855, his lot, further is divided into his own sons, one of them Louis II is keeping to hold the imperial titulature. Louis the German and Charles the Bald allied themselves to spoil their nephew of his heritage, with the Treaty of Meerssen, in 870, making the sharing of the northern territories of Lothair between them both. It's to be noted that the term 'Lotharingia' came out at the death of Lothair only, when that part of his territories were allotted to his son Lothair). Louis II did only keep the southern territories of his father. Despite that Charles the Bald, when Louis II died, in 875, had himself made recognized like the emperor by the pope, in Rome, the Carolingian empire kept being more divided further, and even into the different parts which had been born from the Treaty of Verdun. The idea of the empire seems to have continued, however. The German sovereigns, for example, albeit they don't belong to the Carolingian lineage since 888, keep to claim the continuation of the heritage of Charlemagne! As far as the territorial logics of the divide of the Treaty of Verdun is concerned, one may see appear, between 829 and 839, for the West, that logics which encompasses Aquitaine as it evolves, above all, little by little, towards the Seine River (and taking in account, in the same time, Provence or Septimania). This is the way how, beginning with the treaty in Verdun, in 843 and through two meeting in the palace in Meerssen (in 847 and in 851), that the two political sets which were to become France, on the one hand, and Germany, on the other, are tending to appear. The move was mostly made however during the third, and last, meeting in Meerssen, when Charles the Bald and Louis the German put an end to the unity of those territories, which until then, were composing the Lotharingia. Lotharingia were, in fact, the real and old center of the Carolingian empire

flèche retour West Francia Carolingians (843-987)

flèche retour Middle Francia Carolingians (843-863)

flèche retour East Francia Carolingians (843-911) and German Rulers (911-1002)

The imperial title was only episodically borne by kings of Germania (Arnoul, 896-899) or of Italy (Bérenger I, 915-924) and the last Carolingian to have prevailed over Germania was to be Louis IV the Child (died 911). The very last Carolingian emperor had been Charles the Fat by the end of the 9th century A.D. as German duchies rose to power, like Franconia, Saxony, Lorraine, Swabia, and Bavaria which thus again turned independent from the Frankish rule. Conrad I, duke of Franconia was elected the German king by 911, which marked the extinction of the Carolingian empire in the East and the will of ethnic dukes not to be ruled by a foreign king. The new, German king managed to subordinate the German duchies for a time. About 899 A.D. no Carolingian of the original line claimed the Empire anymore. Ethnic identities and reluctance to centralization had won over the ancient will of Charlemagne of making the restored Empire a unified one. Henry I the Fowler, a Saxon, appeared in Francia orientalis and he endeavoured to control State back and to fight against Magyars and Danes. He re-founded the Carolingian state, gave Church properties to his faithful and re-creating the Court and the intrication between state, administration and Church -which was to give under his successor Otto I the 'Reichskirche' system associating Church to the imperial administration. He added that with the 'Drang nach Osten,' that push of German civilization against Slavs with soldiers-peasants and new cities at the confines. Henry I was acknowledged king of Teutons by the Diet of Fritzlar as his son Otto I by 936 A.D. was elected in Aachen by the Great of the five Germanic ethnic entities, or Lorrains, Saxons, Franconians, Swabians and Bavarians and of the 'two peoples,' or the Franks and Saxons, with the support of both archbishops of Mainz and Köln. Above all however, the legitimacy of that Saxon dynasty mostly came with the victory over Magyar invaders at the battle of the Lechfeld in 955 and from that he obtained in 962 the imperial crown from pope Jean XII (955-964). Papacy albeit at the deepest of its decline, saw with the Ottonians the restoration of the Carolingian empire and the sole way to put a end to Italian disorders thus the threats against the papal independency. Germany had quickly gotten over the troubles of the turn of the century. Ottonians however swiftly met with the power of the Byzantines which then was in a phase of expansion as Otto II was to marry a Greek princess to have the relations pacified. That renewed encounter between a empire in the West and Byzantium eventually turned the harmful and syncretist utopia by Otto III (980-1002) who, with Gerbert -next pope Sylvester II- had the dream of a new, cosmopolitan, Christian empire which would extend to the East and of a eastern inspiration as the emperor would be a co-pope and the pope a kind of Patriarch of Constantinople. Universalist claims of the new empire were asserted trough imperial portraits. Provinces of the Empire, under Otto II, were Germania, Francia, Italia and Alemania as, under Otto III, they were Sclavonia, Germania, Gaul and Rome as the utopia of Otto III was expressed into a iconography which took up with Roman apotheosis. The rise of the Ottonians in Germany was contemporary to the development of Robertians in the Francia occidentalis as Ottonians, in a way, tended to support the legitimacy of the last Carolingians there. Otto III's dreams failure had eventually turned a renascent papacy into the one who attributed the Empire. It is under Henry II (1002-1024) that the Empire and the Reichskirche were to reach their apogee, which was to terminated by 1050 when the Ottonian dynasty passed away and the early papal theocratic demands with the Gregorian Reform by which the pope gave a new definition to this relations with State on the basis of the endeavours of the Cluniac reform in Germany. In terms, strictly, of power in Germany, the election in Fritzlar eventually had established the idea of State as opposed to the patrimonial view of it even if that State, which was to become the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation mostly, albeit a indication of the fundamental unity of peoples of Francia orientalis, was a balance between the power of the Greats and the one of the king. Ottonian plan's weaknesses were due to that it mostly was a ideological, political, or even religious one, and disputed. Dispute came from the Cluniac order which was leading to Church's refusal to accept temporal power's tutelage. The Ottonians were a interpenetration of the temporal and spiritual as people of the Empire however, long were nostalgic of such a greatness

The pope had given the translation of the Carolingian empire in 962 to Ottonians, which constituted the 'Second German Reich', to last until 1806 A.D. as it then turned the richest and most politically powerful part of Europe. The new empire began moving eastward, beginning a long process of colonization of slavic lands. Unlike France or England however, the Holy Roman Empire of The German Nation never really managed to institute a central power over a multitude of smaller entities. None of the emperors was strong enough to control the empire for a sustained period of time against German particularism as the Holy Roman Empire remained inheritable but elective instead, or was involved in Italy. German particularism was likely based upon territorial duchies which themselves referred to ancient tribal groups

flèche retour Notes about Aquitaine, Italy, etc.

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Learning and Knowledge In the Carolingian Times / Erudition et savoir à l'époque carolingienne, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 3/7/2016. contact us at
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