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The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...

Frankish
-dominated empire in western and central
Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both and , and is bordered by the to the ...

Europe
during the early
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of w ...
. It was ruled by the
Carolingian dynasty The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historica ...
, which had ruled as
kings of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman authors. They are also ...
since 751 and as
kings of the Lombards The Cathedral_of_Monza.html"_;"title="Iron_Crown_of_Lombardy,_displayed_in_the_Cathedral_of_Monza">Iron_Crown_of_Lombardy,_displayed_in_the_Cathedral_of_Monza_ The_Kings_of_the_Lombards_or_''reges_Langobardorum''_(singular_''rex_Langobardorum'') ...
in Italy from 774. In 800, the Frankish king
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (fro ...

Charlemagne
was crowned emperor in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , fo ...

Rome
by
Pope Leo III Leo III (died 12 June 816) was the 96th pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of th ...

Pope Leo III
in an effort to
transfer
transfer
the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
from
east
east
to west. The Carolingian Empire is considered the first phase in the history of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Age ...
, which lasted until 1806. After a civil war (840–843) following the death of Emperor
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Ro ...

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. In 884,
Charles the Fat Charles III (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles the Fat, was the emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, Charles was the youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, and a great- ...

Charles the Fat
reunited all the Carolingian kingdoms 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 , with a population of between 10 and 20 million people. Its heartland was
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest in . It was ruled by the during and the . After the in 843, became the predecessor of France, and b ...

Francia
, the land between the
Loire The Loire (, also ; ; oc, Léger, ; la, Liger) is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of , it drains , more than a fifth of France's land while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône ...

Loire
and the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
, where its symbolic capital,
Aachen Aachen ( ; : ''Oche'' ; and traditional : Aix-la-Chapelle ; : ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of , and the 28th-largest city of . The city is the westernmost city in ...

Aachen
, was located. In the south it crossed the
Pyrenees The Pyrenees (; es, Pirineos ; french: Pyrénées ; ca, Pirineus ; eu, Pirinioak ; oc, Pirenèus ; an, Pirineus) is a mountain range straddling the border of and . It extends nearly from its union with the to on the coast. It reaches a ma ...

Pyrenees
and bordered the
Emirate of Córdoba An emirate is a territory ruled by an emir, a title used by monarchs or high officeholders in the Muslim world. There are three emirates that are independent states (Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar); and the unrecognized Islamic Emirate ...
and, after 824, the
Kingdom of Pamplona ) , religion = , common_languages = , title_leader = Monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or u ...
; to the north it bordered the
kingdom of the Danes
kingdom of the Danes
; to the west it had a short land border with
Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part of what was known as Armorica during the period of Roman occup ...
, which was later reduced to a tributary; and to the east it had a long border with the
Slavs Slavs are an ethno-linguistic group An ethnolinguistic group (or ethno-linguistic group) is a group that is unified by both a common ethnicity and language. Most ethnic groups share a first language. However, the term is often used to emphasise ...

Slavs
and the
Avars Avar(s) or AVAR may refer to: Peoples and states * Avars (Caucasus), a modern Northeast Caucasian-speaking people in the North Caucasus, Dagestan, Russia **Avar language, the modern Northeast Caucasian language spoken by the Avars of the North Ca ...
, who were eventually defeated and their land incorporated into the empire. In southern Italy, the Carolingians' claims to authority were disputed by the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surviv ...

Byzantine
s (eastern Romans) and the vestiges of the
Lombard kingdom The term Lombard refers to people or things related to Lombardy Lombardy ( ; it, Lombardia ; lmo, Lombardia, , ) is one of the twenty administrative , in the of the country, with an area of . About 10 million people live in Lombardy, forming mo ...
in the
Principality of Benevento The Duchy of Benevento (after 774, Principality of Benevento) was the southernmost Lombards, Lombard duchy in the Italian Peninsula that was centred on Benevento, a city in Southern Italy. Lombard dukes ruled Benevento from 571 to 1077, when it wa ...
. The term "Carolingian Empire" is a modern convention and was not used by its contemporaries. The language of official acts in the empire was
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...
. 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").


History


Rise of the Carolingians (c. 732–768)

Though
Charles Martel Charles Martel (c. 688 – 22 October 741) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient n ...

Charles Martel
chose not to take the title of king (as his son
Pepin III Pepin the Short, also called the Younger (german: Pippin der Jüngere, french: Pépin le Bref, c. 714 – 24 September 768) was King of the Franks from 751 until his death in 768. He was the first Carolingian to become king. The younger son of the ...
would) or emperor (as his grandson
Charlemagne Charlemagne ( , ) or Charles the Great ( la, Carolus Magnus; 2 April 748 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (fro ...

Charlemagne
), he was the absolute ruler of virtually all of today's continental
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. Beginning with foreign exploration during the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept of ''Europe'' as "the W ...

Western Europe
north of the
Pyrenees The Pyrenees (; es, Pirineos ; french: Pyrénées ; ca, Pirineus ; eu, Pirinioak ; oc, Pirenèus ; an, Pirineus) is a mountain range straddling the border of and . It extends nearly from its union with the to on the coast. It reaches a ma ...

Pyrenees
. Only the remaining Saxon realms, which he partly conquered,
Lombardy Lombardy ( ; it, Lombardia ; lmo, Lombardia, , ) is one of the twenty administrative , in the of the country, with an area of . About 10 million people live in Lombardy, forming more than one-sixth of Italy's population, and more than a fifth of ...
, and the
Marca Hispanica The Hispanic March or Spanish March ( es, Marca Hispánica, ca, Marca Hispànica, Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an autonomous community and former kingdom in Spain * the Aragonese people, those or ...
south of the Pyrenees were significant additions to the Frankish realms after his death. Martel cemented his place in history with his defense of Christian Europe against a Muslim army at the
Battle of Tours The Battle of Tours, also called the Battle of Poitiers and, by Arab sources, the Battle of the Highway of the Martyrs ( ar, معركة بلاط الشهداء, Ma'arakat Balāṭ ash-Shuhadā'), was fought on 10 October 732, and was an importa ...
in 732. The Iberian
Saracen Saracens () were primarily , but also , or other Muslims as referred to by Christian writers in Europe during the . The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries of the , Greek and Latin writings used the term to refer to ...
s had incorporated Berber light horse cavalry with the heavy Arab cavalry to create a formidable army that had almost never been defeated. Christian European forces, meanwhile, lacked the powerful tool of the
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
. In this victory, Charles earned the surname ''Martel'' ("the Hammer").
Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon (; 8 May 173716 January 1794) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Eng ...

Edward Gibbon
, the historian of Rome and its aftermath, called Charles Martel "the paramount prince of his age".
Pepin III Pepin the Short, also called the Younger (german: Pippin der Jüngere, french: Pépin le Bref, c. 714 – 24 September 768) was King of the Franks from 751 until his death in 768. He was the first Carolingian to become king. The younger son of the ...
accepted the nomination as king by
Pope Zachary Pope Zachary ( la, Zacharias; 679 – March 752) was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversigh ...

Pope Zachary
in about 741. Charlemagne's rule began in 768 at Pepin's death. He proceeded to take control of the kingdom following his brother Carloman's death, as the two brothers co-inherited their father's kingdom. Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor in the year 800.


During the reign of Charlemagne (768–814)

The Carolingian Empire during the reign of Charlemagne covered most of
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. Beginning with foreign exploration during the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept of ''Europe'' as "the W ...

Western Europe
, as the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
once had. Unlike the Romans, whose imperial ventures between the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
and the
Elbe The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or ...

Elbe
lasted fewer than twenty years before being cut short by the disaster at
Teutoburg Forest The Teutoburg Forest ( ; german: Teutoburger Wald ) is a range of low, forested hills in the Germany, German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. Until the 19th century, the official name of the hill ridge was Osning. It was renamed ...

Teutoburg Forest
(9 AD), Charlemagne defeated the
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
resistance and extended his realm to the Elbe more lastingly, influencing events almost to the Russian Steppes. Charlemagne's reign was one of near-constant warfare, participating in annual campaigns, many led personally. He defeated the
Lombard Kingdom The term Lombard refers to people or things related to Lombardy Lombardy ( ; it, Lombardia ; lmo, Lombardia, , ) is one of the twenty administrative , in the of the country, with an area of . About 10 million people live in Lombardy, forming mo ...
in 774 and annexed it into his own domain by declaring himself 'King of the Lombards'. He later led a failed campaign into Spain in 778, ending with the
Battle of Roncevaux Pass The Battle of Roncevaux Pass ( French and English spelling, '' Roncesvalles'' in Spanish, ''Orreaga'' in Basque) in 778 saw a large force of Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern Europea ...

Battle of Roncevaux Pass
, which is considered Charlemagne's greatest defeat. He then extended his domain into Bavaria after forcing
Tassilo III, Duke of Bavaria Tassilo III ( 741 – c. 796) was the duke of Bavaria The following is a list of rulers during the history of Bavaria The history of Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Fr ...
, to renounce any claim to his title in 794. His son, Pepin, was ordered to campaign against the
Avars Avar(s) or AVAR may refer to: Peoples and states * Avars (Caucasus), a modern Northeast Caucasian-speaking people in the North Caucasus, Dagestan, Russia **Avar language, the modern Northeast Caucasian language spoken by the Avars of the North Ca ...
in 795 since Charlemagne was occupied with Saxon revolts. Eventually, the Avar confederation ended in 803 after Charlemagne sent a Bavarian army into Pannonia. He also conquered Saxon territories in wars and rebellions fought from 772 to 804, with such events as the
Massacre of Verden The Massacre of Verden was an event during the Saxon Wars where the Frankish king Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Große''). T ...
in 782 and the codification of the
Lex Saxonum The ''Lex Saxonum'' are a series of laws issued by Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Große''). The French form and the Italian ...
in 802. Prior to the death of Charlemagne, the Empire was divided among various members of the
Carolingian dynasty The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historica ...
. These included King
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, wife of Charlemagne, Hildegard of Swabia and brother of Loui ...
, son of Charlemagne, who received
Neustria Neustria was the western part of the Francia, Kingdom of the Franks. Neustria included the land between the Loire and the Silva Carbonaria, approximately the north of present-day France, with Paris, Orléans, Tours, Soissons as its main cities. ...
; King
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Ro ...

Louis the Pious
, who received
Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=n ...

Aquitaine
; and King Pepin, who received
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...

Italy
. Pepin died with an illegitimate son,
Bernard Bernard ('' Bernhard'') is a French and West Germanic masculine given name. The name is attested from at least the 9th century. West Germanic ''Bernhard'' is composed from the two elements ''bern'' "bear" and ''hard'' "brave, hardy". Its native ...
, in 810, and Charles died without heirs in 811. Although Bernard succeeded Pepin as King of Italy, Louis was made co-Emperor in 813, and the entire Empire passed to him with Charlemagne's death in the winter of 814.


Reign of Louis the Pious and the civil war (814–843)

Louis the Pious’ reign as Emperor was unexpected, to say the least; as the third son of Charlemagne, he was originally crowned King of Aquitaine at three years old. With the deaths of his older siblings, he went from ‘a boy who became a king to a man who would be emperor’. Although his reign was mostly overshadowed by the dynastic struggle and resultant civil war, as his epithet states, he was highly interested in matters of religion. One of the first things he did was ‘ruling the people by law and with the wealth of his piety’, namely by restoring churches. The Astronomer stated that, during his kingship of Aquitaine, he ‘built up the study of reading and singing, and also the understanding of divine and worldly letters, more quickly than one would believe.’ He also made significant effort to restore many monasteries that had disappeared prior to his reign, as well as sponsoring new ones. Louis the Pious’ reign lacked security; he often had to struggle to maintain control of the Empire. As soon as he heard of the death of Charlemagne, he hurried to Aachen, where he exiled many of Charlemagne's trusted advisors, such as Wala. Wala and his siblings were children of the youngest son of Charles Martel, and so were a threat as a potential alternative ruling family. Monastic exile was a tactic Louis used heavily in his early reign to strengthen his position and remove potential rivals. In 817 his nephew, King Bernard of Italy, rebelled against him due to discontent with being the vassal of Lothar, Louis’ eldest son. The rebellion was quickly put down by Louis, and by 818 Bernard of Italy was captured and punished - the punishment of death was commuted to blinding. However, the trauma of the procedure ending up killing him two days later. Italy was brought back into Imperial control. In 822 Louis' show of penance for Bernard's death greatly reduced his prestige as Emperor to the nobility – some suggest it opened him up to ‘clerical domination’. Nonetheless, in 817 Louis had established three new Carolingian kingships for his sons from his first marriage:
Lothar Lothar is Danish language, Danish, Finnish language, Finnish, German language, German, Norwegian language, Norwegian, and Swedish language, Swedish masculine given name, while Lotár is Hungarian language, Hungarian masculine given name. Both names ...
was made King of Italy and co-Emperor, Pepin was made King of Aquitaine, and
Louis the German Louis the German (c. 806/810 – 28 August 876), also known as Louis II of Germany and Louis II of East Francia , was the first king of East Francia, and ruled from 843 to 876 AD. Grandson of emperor Charlemagne and the third son of Louis the Pi ...
was made King of
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...

Bavaria
. His attempts in 823 to bring his fourth son (from his second marriage),
Charles the Bald Charles the Bald (13 June 823 – 6 October 877) was a 9th-century king of West Francia (843–877), king of Italy (875–877) and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (875–877). After a series of civil wars during the reign of his father, Loui ...

Charles the Bald
into the will was marked by the resistance of his eldest sons. Whilst this was part of the reason for strife amongst Louis’ sons, some suggest that it was the appointment of Bernard of Septimania as chamberlain which caused discontent with Lothar, as he was stripped of his co-Emperorship in 829 and was banished to Italy (although it is not known why; The Astronomer simply states that Louis 'dismissed his son Lothar to go back to Italy') and Bernard assumed his place as second in command to the emperor. With Bernard's influence over not only the emperor, but the empress as well, further discord was sowed amongst prominent nobility. Pepin, Louis’ second son, too, was disgruntled; he had been implicated in a failed military campaign in 827, and he was tired of his father's overbearing involvement in the ruling of Aquitaine. As such, the angry nobility supported Pepin, civil war broke out during Lent in 830, and the last years of his reign were plagued by civil war. Shortly after Easter, his sons attacked Louis' empire and dethroned him in favour of Lothar. The Astronomer stated Louis spent the summer in the custody of his son, ‘an emperor in name only’. The following year Louis attacked his sons' kingdoms by drafting new plans for succession. Louis gave Neustria to Pepin, stripped Lothar of his Imperial title and granted the Kingdom of Italy to Charles. Another partition in 832 completely excluded Pepin and Louis the German, making Lothar and Charles the sole benefactors of the kingdom, which precipitated Pepin and Louis the German revolting in the same year, followed by Lothar in 833, and together they imprisoned Louis the Pious and Charles. Lothar brought Pope Gregory IV from Rome under the guise of mediation, but his true role was to legitimise Lothar and his brothers’ rule by deposing and excommunicating Louis. By 835, peace was made within the family, and Louis was restored to the Imperial throne at the church of St. Stephen in Metz. When Pepin died in 838, Louis crowned Charles king of Aquitaine, whilst the nobility elected Pepin's son
Pepin II Pepin II (c. 635 – 16 December 714), commonly known as Pepin of Herstal, was a Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germa ...
, a conflict which was not resolved until 860 with Pepin's death. When Louis the Pious finally died in 840, Lothar claimed the entire empire irrespective of the partitions. As a result, Charles and Louis the German went to war against Lothar. After losing the Battle of Fontenay, Lothar fled to his capital at
Aachen Aachen ( ; : ''Oche'' ; and traditional : Aix-la-Chapelle ; : ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of , and the 28th-largest city of . The city is the westernmost city in ...

Aachen
and raised a new army, which was inferior to that of the younger brothers. In the
Oaths of Strasbourg The Oaths of Strasbourg were a military pact made on the 14th of February, A.D. 842 by Charles the Bald and Louis the German against their older brother Lothair I, the designated heir of Louis the Pious, the successor of Charlemagne. One year late ...
, in 842, Charles and Louis agreed to declare Lothar unfit for the imperial throne. This marked the east–west division of the Empire between Louis and Charles until the Verdun Treaty. Considered a milestone in European history, the Oaths of Strasbourg symbolize the birth of both France and Germany. The partition of Carolingian Empire was finally settled in 843 by and between Louis the Pious' three sons in the
Treaty of Verdun The Treaty of Verdun, signed on 10 August 843, was the first of the treaties that divided the Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe during the early Mi ...

Treaty of Verdun
.


After the Treaty of Verdun (843–877)

Lothar received the Imperial title, the Kingship of Italy, and the territory between the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many si ...

Rhine
and Rhone Rivers, collectively called the Central Frankish Realm. Louis was guaranteed the Kingship of all lands to the east of the Rhine and to the north and east of Italy, which was called the Eastern Frankish Realm which was the precursor to modern
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
. Charles received all lands west of the Rhone, which was called the Western Frankish Realm. Lothar retired Italy to his eldest son in 844, making him co-Emperor in 850. Lothar died in 855, dividing his kingdom into three parts: the territory already held by Louis remained his, the territory of the former Kingdom of
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organizati ...
was granted to his third son Charles of Burgundy, and the remaining territory for which there was no traditional name was granted to his second son
Lothar II Lothair II (835 – ) was the king of Lotharingia Lotharingia (Latin: ''regnum Lotharii, regnum Lothariense, Lotharingia'', French: ''Lotharingie'', German: ''Reich des Lothar'', ''Lotharingien'', ''Mittelreich'') was a short-lived medieval su ...
, whose realm was named
Lotharingia Lotharingia (Latin: ''regnum Lotharii, regnum Lothariense, Lotharingia'', French: ''Lotharingie'', German: ''Reich des Lothar'', ''Lotharingien'', ''Mittelreich'') was a short-lived medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire The Caro ...
. Louis II, dissatisfied with having received no additional territory upon his father's death, allied with his uncle
Louis the German Louis the German (c. 806/810 – 28 August 876), also known as Louis II of Germany and Louis II of East Francia , was the first king of East Francia, and ruled from 843 to 876 AD. Grandson of emperor Charlemagne and the third son of Louis the Pi ...
against his brother Lothar and his uncle Charles the Bald in 858. Lothar reconciled with his brother and uncle shortly after. Charles was so unpopular that he could not raise an army to fight the invasion and instead fled to Burgundy. He was only saved when the bishops refused to crown Louis the German King. In 860, Charles the Bald invaded Charles of Burgundy's Kingdom but was repulsed. Lothar II ceded lands to Louis II in 862 for support of a divorce from his wife, which caused repeated conflicts with the Pope and his uncles. Charles of Burgundy died in 863, and his Kingdom was inherited by Louis II. Lothar II died in 869 with no legitimate heirs, and his Kingdom was divided between Charles the Bald and Louis the German in 870 by the
Treaty of Meerssen The Treaty of Mersen or Meerssen Meerssen () ( li, Meersje) is a place and a Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in southeastern Netherlands. History The Treaty of Meerssen was signed in Meerssen in 870. The Treaty of Meerssen was ...
. Meanwhile, Louis the German was involved in disputes with his three sons. Louis II died in 875, and named
Carloman Carloman may refer to: * Carloman (fl. late 6th century), father of Pepin of Landen * Carloman (mayor of the palace) (ruled 741–47) * Carloman I, king of the Franks (768–71) * Carloman, birth name of Pepin of Italy (781–810) * Carloman, son of ...

Carloman
, the eldest son of Louis the German, his heir. Charles the Bald, supported by the Pope, was crowned both King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor. The following year, Louis the German died. Charles tried to annex his realm too, but was defeated decisively at
Andernach Andernach () is a town in the district of Mayen-Koblenz, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Officia ...

Andernach
, and the Kingdom of the eastern Franks was divided between
Louis the YoungerLouis may refer to: * Louis (given name) Louis is the French language, French form of the Old Frankish language, Old Frankish given name Clovis (given name), Chlodowig and one of two English language, English forms, the other being Lewis (given nam ...
,
Carloman of Bavaria Carloman may refer to: * Carloman (fl. late 6th century), father of Pepin of Landen * Carloman (mayor of the palace) (ruled 741–47) * Carloman I, king of the Franks (768–71) * Carloman, birth name of Pepin of Italy (781–810) * Carloman, son o ...

Carloman of Bavaria
and
Charles the Fat Charles III (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles the Fat, was the emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, Charles was the youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, and a great- ...

Charles the Fat
.


Decline (877–888)

The Empire, after the death of Charles the Bald, was under attack in the north and west by the Vikings and was facing internal struggles from Italy to the Baltic, from Hungary in the east to Aquitaine in the west.
Charles the Bald Charles the Bald (13 June 823 – 6 October 877) was a 9th-century king of West Francia (843–877), king of Italy (875–877) and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (875–877). After a series of civil wars during the reign of his father, Loui ...

Charles the Bald
died in 877 crossing the Pass of
Mont Cenis , photo = Col du Mont Cenis.jpg , photo_caption = Lake at the pass , elevation_m = 2085 , elevation_ref = , traversed = Route nationale 6 , map = Alps , map_caption = Location of Col de Mont Cenis , map_size = , label = Col de Mont Cen ...

Mont Cenis
, and was succeeded by his son,
Louis the Stammerer Louis II, known as Louis the Stammerer (french: Louis le Bègue; 1 November 846 – 10 April 879), was the king of Aquitaine The Duchy of Aquitaine ( oc, Ducat d'Aquitània, ; french: Duché d'Aquitaine, ) was a historical fiefdom in western, ce ...
as King of the Western Franks, but the title of Holy Roman Emperor lapsed. Louis the Stammerer was physically weak and died two years later, his realm being divided between his eldest two sons: Louis III gaining
Neustria Neustria was the western part of the Francia, Kingdom of the Franks. Neustria included the land between the Loire and the Silva Carbonaria, approximately the north of present-day France, with Paris, Orléans, Tours, Soissons as its main cities. ...
and
Francia Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest in . It was ruled by the during and the . After the in 843, became the predecessor of France, and b ...

Francia
, and
Carloman Carloman may refer to: * Carloman (fl. late 6th century), father of Pepin of Landen * Carloman (mayor of the palace) (ruled 741–47) * Carloman I, king of the Franks (768–71) * Carloman, birth name of Pepin of Italy (781–810) * Carloman, son of ...
gaining
Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=n ...

Aquitaine
and
Burgundy Burgundy (; french: link=no, Bourgogne ) is a historical territory and a former administrative region Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organizati ...
. The
Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Kingdom of Sardinia, Sardinia was proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946, when civil discontent l ...
was finally granted to King Carloman of Bavaria, but a stroke forced him to abdicate Italy to his brother
Charles the Fat Charles III (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles the Fat, was the emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, Charles was the youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, and a great- ...

Charles the Fat
and Bavaria to Louis of Saxony. Also in 879,
Boso of VienneBoso may refer to: People *Boso of Provence (850–887), Frankish nobleman and king *Boso the Elder (c. 800–855), a Frank from the Bosonid dynasty *Boso, Margrave of Tuscany (885–936), Italian nobleman *Boso II of Arles (d. 967), Frankish count ...
founded the Kingdom of
Lower Burgundy The Kingdom of Lower Burgundy, or Cisjurane Burgundy, was a historical kingdom in what is now southeastern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Weste ...
in
Provence Provence (, , , , ; oc, Provença or ''Prouvènço'' , ) is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône The Rhône ( , ; german: Rhone ; wae, Rotten ; it, R ...

Provence
. In 881,
Charles the Fat Charles III (13 June 839 – 13 January 888), also known as Charles the Fat, was the emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888. A member of the Carolingian dynasty, Charles was the youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, and a great- ...

Charles the Fat
was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor while Louis III of Saxony and Louis III of Francia died the following year. Saxony and Bavaria were united with Charles the Fat's Kingdom, and Francia and Neustria were granted to Carloman of Aquitaine who also conquered Lower Burgundy. Carloman died in a hunting accident in 884 after a tumultuous and ineffective reign, and his lands were inherited by Charles the Fat, effectively recreating the Empire of Charlemagne. Charles, suffering what is believed to be epilepsy, could not secure the kingdom against
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Viking
raiders, and after buying their withdrawal from
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
in 886 was perceived by the court as being cowardly and incompetent. The following year his nephew
Arnulf of Carinthia Arnulf of Carinthia ( 850 – December 8, 899) was the duke of Carinthia who overthrew his uncle, Emperor Charles the Fat, became the Carolingian king of East Francia East Francia (Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin La ...
, the illegitimate son of King Carloman of Bavaria, raised the standard of rebellion. Instead of fighting the insurrection, Charles fled to
Neidingen Neidingen is a Germany, German village with approximately 100 inhabitants and part of the municipality of Beuron, in Baden-Württemberg. The village is historically important as health retreat and place of death of Emperor Charles the Fat (d. 888) ...
and died the following year in 888, leaving a divided entity and a succession mess.


Divisions of the Empire

File:Carolingian empire 843.pdf, The division of Charlemagne's empire in three kingdoms ruled by his grandsons. File:Carolingian empire 855.pdf, The Carolingian successor state of
Middle Francia Middle Francia or the first state of Lotharingia ( la, Francia media, links=no) was a short-lived Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (f ...
was divided into three kingdoms in 855. File:Carolingian empire 863.pdf, When
Charles of Provence Charles of Provence or Charles II (845 – 25 January 863) was the Carolingian The Carolingian dynasty (known variously as the Carlovingians, Carolingus, Carolings, Karolinger or Karlings) was a Franks, Frankish noble family founded by Cha ...
died in 863, his kingdom was partitioned between
Lotharingia Lotharingia (Latin: ''regnum Lotharii, regnum Lothariense, Lotharingia'', French: ''Lotharingie'', German: ''Reich des Lothar'', ''Lotharingien'', ''Mittelreich'') was a short-lived medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire The Caro ...
and 's Empire. File:Carolingian empire 870.pdf, The Carolingian successor states in 870 after the
Treaty of Mersen The Treaty of Mersen or Meerssen Meerssen () ( li, Meersje) is a place and a Municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality in southeastern Netherlands. History The Treaty of Meerssen was signed in Meerssen in 870. The Treaty of Meerssen was an ...
, which divided
Lotharingia Lotharingia (Latin: ''regnum Lotharii, regnum Lothariense, Lotharingia'', French: ''Lotharingie'', German: ''Reich des Lothar'', ''Lotharingien'', ''Mittelreich'') was a short-lived medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire The Caro ...
between
East Francia East Francia (Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Ro ...
and
West Francia In medieval history In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe ...
.


Divisions in 887–88

The Empire of the Carolingians was divided: Arnulf maintained
Carinthia Carinthia (german: Kärnten ; sl, Koroška ) is the southernmost Austrian state or ''Land''. Situated within the Eastern Alps Eastern Alps is the name given to the eastern half of the Alps, usually defined as the area east of a line from L ...
, Bavaria, Lorraine and modern
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
; Count Odo of Paris was elected King of Western Francia (France), Ranulf II of Aquitaine, Ranulf II became King of
Aquitaine Aquitaine ( , , ; oc, Aquitània ; eu, Akitania; Poitevin-Saintongeais: ''Aguiéne''), archaic Guyenne or Guienne ( oc, Guiana), is a historical region of southwestern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=n ...

Aquitaine
, Italy went to Count Berengar of Friuli, Upper Burgundy to Rudolph I, King of Burgundy, Rudolph I, and Lower Burgundy to Louis the Blind, the son of Boso of Arles, King of Lower Burgundy and maternal grandson of Louis II Holy Roman Emperor, Emperor Louis II. The other part of Lotharingia became the duchy of Burgundy.


Demographics

The study of demographics in the early Middle Ages is a notably difficult task. In his comprehensive ''Framing the Early Middle Ages,'' Chris Wickham suggests that there are currently no reliable calculations for the period regarding the populations of early medieval towns. What is likely, however, is that most cities of the empire did not exceed the 20–25,000 speculated for Rome during this period. On an empire-wide level, populations expanded steadily from 750 to 850 AD. Figures ranging from 10 to 20 million have been offered, with estimates being devised based on calculations of empire size and theoretical densities. Recently, however, Timothy Newfield challenges the idea of demographic expansion, criticising scholars for relying on the impact of recurring pandemics in the preceding period of 541-750 AD and ignoring the frequency of famines in Carolingian Europe. A study using climate proxies such as the Greenland Ice core sample 'GISP2' has indicated that there may have been relatively favourable conditions for the empire's early years, although several harsh winters appear afterwards. Whilst demographic implications are observable in contemporary sources, the extent of the impact these findings on the empire's populations is difficult to discern.


Ethnicity

Studies of ethnicity in the Carolingian Empire have been largely limited. However, it is accepted that the empire was inhabited by major ethnic groups such as Franks, Alemanni, Bavarians, Thuringians, Frisians, Lombards, Goths, Romans and Slavs. Ethnicity was just one of many systems of identification in this period and was a way to show social status and political agency. Many regional and ethnic identities were maintained and would later become significant in a political role. Regarding laws, ethnic identity helped decide which codes applied to which populations, however these systems were not definitive representations of ethnicity as these systems were somewhat fluid.


Gender

Evidence from carolingian estate surveys and polyptychs appears to suggest that female life expectancy was lower than that of men in this period, with analyses recording high ratios of males to females. However, it is possible this is due to a recording bias.


Government

The government, administration, and organization of the Carolingian Empire were forged in the court of Charlemagne in the decades around the year 800. In this year, Charlemagne was crowned emperor and adapted his existing royal administration to live up to the expectations of his new title. The political reforms wrought in Aachen were to have an immense impact on the political definition of Western Europe for the rest of the Middle Ages. The Carolingian improvements on the old Merovingian mechanisms of governance have been lauded by historians for the increased Central government, central control, efficient bureaucracy, accountability, and Carolingian Renaissance, cultural renaissance. The Carolingian Empire was the largest western territory since the fall of Rome, but historians have come to suspect the depth of the emperor's influence and control. Legally, the Carolingian emperor exercised the ''bannum'', the right to rule and command, over all of his territories. Also, he had supreme jurisdiction in judicial matters, made legislation, led the army, and protected both the Catholic Church, Church and the poor. His administration was an attempt to organize the kingdom, church, and nobility around him, however, its efficacy was directly dependent upon the efficiency, loyalty and support of his subjects.


Military

Almost every year between the accession of Charles Martel and the conclusion of the wars with the Saxons Frankish forces went on campaign or expedition, often into enemy territory.Reuter, Timothy, Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities (Cambridge University Press, 2006), p.252. Charlemagne would, for many years, gather an assembly around Easter and launch a military effort that would typically take place through the summer as this would ensure there were enough supplies for the fighting force.Hooper, Nicholas / Bennett, Matthew
''The Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare: the Middle Ages''
Cambridge University Press, 1996, p.13 ,
Charlemagne passed regulations requiring all mustered fighting men to own and bring their own weapons; the wealthy cavalrymen had to bring their own armour, poor men had to bring spears and shields, and those driving the carts had to have bows and arrows in their possession. In regards to provisions, men were instructed not to eat food until a specific location was reached, and carts should carry three months worth of food and six months worth of weapons and clothing along with tools.Hooper, Nicholas / Bennett, Matthew
''The Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare: the Middle Ages''
Cambridge University Press, 1996, p.17 ,
Preference was shown towards mobility instead of defence-in-depth infrastructures; captured fortifications were often destroyed so they could not be used to resist Carolingian authority in the future.Bowlus, Charles R
''The Battle of Lechfeld and its Aftermath, August 955: The End of the Age of Migrations in the Latin West''
Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006, pg. 49 ,
After 800 and during the reign of Louis the Pious, efforts of expansion dwindled. Tim Reuter has shown that many military efforts during Louis' reign were largely defensive and in response to external threats. It had long been held that Carolingian military success was based on the use of a heavy cavalry, cavalry force created by Charles Martel in the 730s. However, it is clear that no such "cavalry revolution" took place in the Carolingian period leading up to and during the reign of Charlemagne. This is because the
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
was not known to the Franks until the late eighth century and soldiers on horseback would therefore have used swords and lances for striking and not charging. Carolingian military success rested primarily on siege technologies and excellent logistics. However, large numbers of horses were used by the Frankish military during the age of Charlemagne. This was because mounted infantry, horses provided a quick, long-distance method of transporting troops, which was critical to building and maintaining such a large empire. The importance of horses to the Carolingian military is revealed through the Revised version of the Royal Frankish Annals. The annals mention that whilst Charlemagne was on campaign in 791 "there broke out such a pestilence among the horses [...] that barely a tenth out of so many thousands are said to have survived." Shortage of horses played a role in preventing Carolingian forces from continuing a campaign against the Avars in Pannonia.


Palaces

No permanent capital city existed in the empire, the itinerant court being a typical characteristic of all Western European kingdoms at this time. Some palaces can, however, be distinguished as locations of central administration. In the first year of his reign, Charlemagne went to Aachen (french: Aix-la-Chapelle; it, Aquisgrana). He began to build a Charlemagne's Palace in Aachen, palace there in the 780s with original plans being thought up perhaps as soon as 768. The palace chapel, constructed in 796, later became Aachen Cathedral. During the 790s when construction picked up at Aachen Charlemagne's court became more centred compared with the 770s where court so often found itself located in tents during campaigning. Though Aachen was certainly not intended to be a sedentary capital it was built in the political heartland of Charlemagne's realm to act as a meeting place for aristocrats and churchmen so that patronage might be distributed, assemblies held, laws written, and even where scholarly churchmen gathered for the purposes of learning. Aachen was also a centre for information and gossip being pulled in from across the Empire by courtiers and churchmen alike. Of course, despite being the centre of Charlemagne's government, until his later years, his court moved often and made use of other palaces at Frankfurt, Ingelheim and Nijmegen. The use of such structures would signal the beginnings of the palace system of government used by the Carolingian court throughout reigns of many Carolingian rulers. Stuart Airlie has suggested that there were over 150 palaces throughout the Carolingian World which would provide the setting for court activity. Palaces were not merely locations of administrative government but also stood as important symbols. Under Charlemagne their excellence was a translation of the treasure built up from conquest into a symbolic permanence as well as exclaiming royal authority. Einhard suggested the construction of so-called 'public buildings' was a testament to Charlemagne's greatness and likeness to the emperors of antiquity and this connection was certainly capitalised upon by the imagery of palace decorations. Ingelheim am Rhein, Ingelheim is a particular example of such symbolism and thus the importance of the palace system in more than mere governance. The palace chapel is written to have been 'lined with images from the Bible' and the hall of the palace 'decorated with a picture cycle celebrating the deeds of great kings' including rulers of antiquity as well as Carolingian rulers such as Charles Martel and Pippin III. Louis the Pious used the palace system much to the same effect as Charlemagne during his reign as king of Aquitaine, rotating his court between four winter palaces throughout the region. During his reign as Emperor he used Aachen, Ingelheim, Frankfurt, and Mainz which were almost always the locations for general assemblies held 'two or three [times] a year in the period 896–28...' and while he was not an immobile ruler, his reign has certainly been described as more static. In this way the palace system can also been seen as a tool of continuity in governance. After the splintering of the Empire the palace system continued to be used by succeeding Carolingian rulers with Charles the Bald centring his power at Compiègne where the palace chapel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 877, something remarked on as a sign of continuity with Aachen's Mother of God chapel. For Louis the German, Frankfurt has been deemed his own 'neo-Aachen' and Charles the Fat's palace at Sélestat in Alsace was designed specifically to imitate Aachen.


Palace System in Historiography

The palace system as an idea for Carolingian central administration and governance has been challenged by historian F. L. Ganshof who argued that the palaces of the Carolingians 'contained nothing resembling the specialised services and departments available at the same period to the Byzantine emperor or the caliph of Baghdad.' However, further reading in the works of Carolingian historians such as Matthew Innes, Rosamond McKitterick, and Stuart Airlie suggest that the use of palaces were important in the evolution of Carolingian governance and Janet Nelson has argued that 'palaces are places from which power emanates and is exercised...' and the importance of palaces to Carolingian administration, learning, and legitimacy has been widely argued.


Household

The royal household was an itinerant body (until c. 802) which moved around the kingdom making sure good government was upheld in the localities. The most important positions were the chaplain (who was responsible for all ecclesiastical affairs in the kingdom), and the count of the palace (Count palatine) who had supreme control over the household. It also included more minor officials e.g. chamberlain, seneschal, and marshal. The household sometimes led the army (e.g. Seneschal Andorf against the Bretons in 786). Possibly associated with the chaplain and the royal chapel was the office of the chancellor, head of the chancery, a non-permanent writing office. The charters produced were rudimentary and mostly to do with land deeds. There are 262 surviving from Charles’ reign as opposed to 40 from Pepin the Short, Pepin’s and 350 from
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Ro ...

Louis the Pious
.


Officials

There are 3 main offices which enforced Carolingian authority in the localities: The Comes ( la, count). Appointed by Charles to administer a ''county''. The Carolingian Empire (except Bavaria) was divided up into between 110 and 600 counties, each divided into ''centenae'' which were under the control of a vicar. At first, they were royal agents sent out by Charles but after c. 802 they were important local magnates. They were responsible for justice, enforcing capitularies, levying soldiers, receiving tolls and dues and maintaining roads and bridges. They could technically be dismissed by the king but many offices became hereditary. They were also sometimes corrupt although many were exemplary e.g. Count Eric of Friuli. Provincial governors eventually evolved who supervised several counts. The Missus Dominicus, Missi Dominici ( la, dominical emissaries). Originally appointed ad hoc, a reform in 802 led to the office of ''missus dominicus'' becoming a permanent one. The ''Missi Dominici'' were sent out in pairs. One was an ecclesiastic and one secular. Their status as high officials was thought to safeguard them from the temptation of taking bribes. They made four journeys a year in their local ''missaticum,'' each lasting a month, and were responsible for making the royal will and capitularies known, judging cases and occasionally raising armies. The Vassi Dominici. These were the king’s vassals and were usually the sons of powerful men, holding ‘benefices’ and forming a contingent in the royal army. They also went on ad hoc missions.


Legal system

Around 780 Charlemagne reformed the local system of administering justice and created the scabini, professional experts on the law. Every count had the help of seven of these scabini, who were supposed to know every national law so that all men could be judged according to it. Judges were also banned from taking bribes and were supposed to use sworn inquests to establish facts. In 802, all law was written down and amended (the Salic law was also amended in both 798 and 802, although even Einhard admits in section 29 that this was imperfect). Judges were supposed to have a copy of both the Salic law code and the Ripuarian law code.


Coinage

Coinage had a strong association with the Roman Empire, and Charlemagne took up its regulation with his other imperial duties. The Carolingians exercised controls over the silver coinage of the realm, controlling its composition and value. The name of the emperor, not of the minter, appeared on the coins. Charlemagne worked to suppress mints in northern Germany on the Baltic sea.


Subdivision

The Frankish kingdom was subdivided by Charlemagne into three separate areas to make administration easier. These were the inner "core" of the kingdom (Austrasia,
Neustria Neustria was the western part of the Francia, Kingdom of the Franks. Neustria included the land between the Loire and the Silva Carbonaria, approximately the north of present-day France, with Paris, Orléans, Tours, Soissons as its main cities. ...
, and Kingdom of Burgundy, Burgundy) which were supervised directly by the missatica system and the itinerant household. Outside this was the ''regna'' where Frankish administration rested upon the counts, and outside this was the marcher areas where ruled powerful governors. These marcher lordships were present in Brittany, Spain, and
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...

Bavaria
. Charles also created two sub-kingdoms in Aquitaine and Italy, ruled by his sons Louis and Pepin respectively.
Bavaria Bavaria (; German language, German and Bavarian language, Bavarian: ''Bayern'' ), officially the Free State of Bavaria (German and Bavarian: ''Freistaat Bayern''; ), is a Landlocked country, landlocked Federated state, state (''States of Germany ...

Bavaria
was also under the command of an autonomous governor, Gerold, until his death in 796. While Charles still had overall authority in these areas they were fairly autonomous with their own chancery and minting facilities.


''Placitum generalis''

The annual meeting, the Placitum Generalis or Marchfield, was held every year (between March and May) at a place appointed by the king. It was called for three reasons: to gather the Frankish host to go on a campaign, to discuss political and ecclesiastical matters affecting the kingdom and to legislate for them, and to make judgments. All important men had to go the meeting and so it was an important way for Charles to make his will known. Originally the meeting worked effectively however later it merely became a forum for discussion and for nobles to express their dissatisfaction.


Oaths

The oath of fidelity was a way for Charles to ensure loyalty from all his subjects. As early as 779 he banned sworn guilds between other men so that everyone took an oath of loyalty only to him. In 789 (in response to the 786 rebellion) he began legislating that everyone should swear fidelity to him as king, however in 802 he expanded the oath greatly and made it so that all men over age 12 swore it to him.


Capitularies

Capitularies were the written records of decisions made by the Carolingian kings in consultation with assemblies during the 8th and 9th century. The name comes from the Latin '''Capitula''' for '''Chapters and refers to the way these records were taken and written up, in a chapter by chapter style. They are regarded as being 'amongst the most important sources for the governance of the Frankish Empire in the eight and ninth century' by Sören Kaschke. The use of capitularies represent a change in the pattern of contact between the king and his provinces in the Carolingian period. The contents of capitularies could include a wide range of topics, including royal orders, instructions for specific officials, deliberations of assemblies on both secular and ecclesiastical affairs as well as additions and alterations to the law. Primary evidence shows that capitularies were copied and disseminated all throughout Charlemagne's empire, however there is insufficient evidence to suggest the efficacy of the capitularies and whether they were actually put into practice throughout the realm. As Charlemagne became increasingly stationary, the amount of capitularies produced increased, this was particularly noticeable after the General Admonition of 789. There has been debates over the purpose of capitularies. Some historians argue that the capitularies were nothing more than a 'royal wish-list' while others argue for capitularies representing the basis of a centralised state. Capitularies were implemented through the use of the Missus dominicus, missi','' royal agents who would travel around the Carolingian kingdom, usually in pairs of a secular missi and ecclesiastical missi, reading out copied out versions of the latest capitularies to assemblies of people. The missi also had other roles such as handling complex local disputes and can be argued to have been crucial to the success of both capitularies and the expansion of Charlemagne's influence. Some notable capitularies from Charlemagne's reign are: * The Capitulary of Herstal of 779: Dealt with both ecclesiastical and secular topics, placing importance on the importance of paying Tithes, the role of the Bishop and outlining the intolerance of forming an armed following in Charlemagne's empire. * ''Admonitio Generalis'' of 789: One of the most influential Capitularies of Charlemagne's time. Consisted of over 80 chapters, including many laws on religion. * The Capitulary of Frankfurt of 794: Speaks out against adoptionism and iconoclasm. * The Programmatic Capitulary of 802. This shows an increasing sense of vision in society. * The Capitulary for the Jews of 814, delineating the prohibitions of Jews engaging in commerce or money-lending.


Religion and the Church

Charlemagne aimed to convert all those in the Frankish kingdom to Christianity and to expand both his empire and the reach of Christianity. The 789 ''Admonitio generalis, Admonitio Generalis'' pronounced Charlemagne responsible for the salvation of his subjects and set out standards of education for the clergy, who previously had been mostly illiterate. Intellectuals of the time began to be concerned with eschatology, believing 800 A.D. to be 6000 Anno Mundi, AM based on calculations from Eusebius and Jerome. Intellectuals such as Alcuin reckoned that the Charlemagne's coronation as emperor on Christmas Day 800 marked the beginning of the seventh and final age of the world. These concerns may explain why Charlemagne aimed to have everyone engage in acts of penance.


List of emperors

This table shows only those Carolingians who were crowned as emperor by the pope in Rome. For other Carolingian kings, see King of the Franks. For the later emperors, see Holy Roman Emperor.


Legacy


Carolingians in historiography

Despite the relatively short existence of the Carolingian Empire when compared to other European dynastic empires, its legacy far outlasts the state that had forged it. In historiographical terms, the Carolingian Empire is seen as the beginning of 'feudalism'; or rather, the notion of feudalism held in the modern era. Though most historians would be naturally hesitant to assign Carolingian dynasty, Charles Martel and his descendants as founders of feudalism, it is obvious that a Carolingian 'template' lends to the structure of central medieval political culture. Yet some argue against this assumption; Marc Bloch disdained this hunt for feudalism's birth as 'the idol of origins'. A concerted effort can be noted by Carolingian authors, such as Einhard, to establish a shift in continuity from the Merovingian dynasty, Merovingian to the Carolingian dynasty, Carolingian, likely where no such groundbreaking difference between the two ever existed.


Symbolism of the dynasty

The unifying power of Charlemagne and his descendants have been wielded by a succession of European rulers to bolster their own regimes; much in the same vein as Charlemagne echoed elements of Augustus in his rising years. The Ottonian dynasty which succeeded the title of Holy Roman Emperor magnified distant ties to the Carolingians to legitimise their dynastic ambitions as 'successors'. Four of the five Ottonian emperors to rule also crowned themselves in Charlemagne's palace in
Aachen Aachen ( ; : ''Oche'' ; and traditional : Aix-la-Chapelle ; : ''Aquae Granni'' or ''Aquisgranum''; nl, Aken) is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city of , and the 28th-largest city of . The city is the westernmost city in ...

Aachen
, likely to establish a continuity between the Carolingians and themselves. Even with their dynasty originating from Charlemagne's arch-foe Old Saxony, Saxony, Ottonians still linked their dynasty to the Carolingians, through direct and indirect means. Further iconography of Charlemagne himself was utilised in later medieval periods, where he is depicted as a model knight and paragon of chivalry.


See also

*Carolingian Renaissance **Carolingian architecture **Carolingian art *List of Carolingian monasteries


Notes


Citations


References

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External links


The Making of Charlemagne's Europe (768–814)
(freely available database of prosopographical and socio-economic data from Carolingian legal documents, produced and maintained by King's College London) {{Western culture Carolingian Empire, Carolingian period, . Former empires in Europe 8th century in Europe 9th century in Europe Medieval Austria Medieval Germany Medieval Switzerland History of the Low Countries Kingdom of Italy (Holy Roman Empire) States and territories established in the 800s States and territories disestablished in the 880s 800 establishments 9th-century disestablishments in Europe 888 disestablishments