France under the Carolingians (Between 715 and 987) Part III

France under the Carolingians 3

It was the selfish triumph of three aristocratic groups who triumphed over imperial centralization, polarizing in different countries. The efforts of the Church against this tendency, to obtain the true reconciliation of the principles and to safeguard civilization from the barbarians, were of no avail. From the Treaty of Verdun to the death of Charles the Fat, just forty-five years pass, full of struggles between the three branches of the Carolingian dynasty to somehow rebuild the empire. The new Germanic peoples that the Franks have in the century appear on stage. VIII called to civilization and Christianity; the Italians, whose independent political organization was too easily removed, the Lombard kingdom, are agitated, replacing it with a fictitious Frankish-type kingdom, for the interest of the princes of the Carolingian house. Of course, for now it is only a matter of family interests: in 848 it is the emperor Lothair who makes an agreement with Ludovico king of Germany, against Charles of France; in 854 the same is understood with the second against the first. With the disappearance of the Carolingians of Lothair’s branch, the fight opens between Charles of France and Louis of Germany, both for the succession of the Italo-Lotharingi states and for the Empire. For a moment Charles the Bald is king of Italy and emperor (875), but with his rapid disappearance it is the Carolingians of Germany who seem destined to once again unify the empire of Charlemagne. Carlo il Grosso, the youngest son of Ludovico il Germanico, was lord of all the Frankish states in 885. But in 888 he already disappears and his death serves as a definitive recognition of the

During this period (843-888) the main representative of French political life is Charles the Bald. His kingdom had precise borders to the northwest, to the west, and to the south: the English Channel, the Ocean, the Ebro, the Mediterranean; to the east it was divided by the states of the relatives by an uncertain line. This region is called western France, like the other longitudinal strips (i.e. the states of Lothair and Louis), are middle France and eastern France. The territories over which Charles the Bald governs have nothing homogeneous. Carlo still has to deal with regions that have their own characters and autonomous traditions. Charlemagne had imposed his authority on the Bretons and sent his officials to that region; but under Louis the Pious, the count of Vannes is the Breton Noménoé, who calls himself Duke of the Bretons. Charles the Bald in 841 obtains his submission, but immediately afterwards he has to fight in Brittany, is defeated (845) and Noménoé does not hesitate to be proclaimed and consecrated king in Dol (849). Thus all the attempts subsequently made by Carlo fail; the new duke or king of the Bretons, Erispoé, is the undisputed lord of Rennes, Nantes, Retz. In Aquitaine, Charles the Bald was unable to restore order. There are still the partisans of the real lord Pepin II, in Settimania; and in the Hispanic brand an autonomous state was organized, under Bernardo conte. Charles the Bald at first contented himself with obtaining Pippin’s fidelity and abandoned all Aquitaine to him; but the Aquitans acclaim Charles himself as king, then, against him, the king of Germany, then they rally around the son of Charles the Bald, Charles the Younger, who claims independence.

Having made an agreement in Koblenz with Germany’s brother, Carlo works against the spreading disorder. In 863 he tries to subdue Aquitaine; when his son Carlo died, he placed his other son Ludovico as king (867). From the sea they threaten the bands of the Normans who in 859 are in Amiens, Noyon, Beauvais, while other bands infest the lower Rhone valley. The Bretons, under Solomon who killed and replaced Erispoé, continue in their claims of independence. To Bretons and Normans the king opposes an energetic official, Roberto known as the Fort, who has the duchy between the Loire and the Seine. But Carlo fails to impose a constant order. Burgundy and Aquitaine are in full anarchy. Then it seemed that western France acquired a bit of calm: on the death of his nephew Lothair II, the king of France, if it cannot have all of Lorraine, it has an important part of it with the treaty of Mersen (870): part of Holland and Belgium, of present-day Lorraine, of Burgundy, of Lyons. The border thus established (Zuiderzee, Utrecht, the Meuse up to Liège, the Omthe, the Meuse in Tusery, the Saone, the Rhone) remained for a long time the limit of royal France. Against the Normans there was a whole system of barriers with fortified castles and bridges; in 872 a series of laws is promulgated to organize the kingdom. But on the death of Ludwig II, Charles wants imperial dignity and goes to Italy, dreaming of it renovatio of the empire; and, not satisfied with the Italian triumph, he thinks about the conquest of all Lotharingia. Fortunately, Louis the German was unable to enter France: in 875 the subjects of Charles the Bald made more resistance than ten years earlier. After 877 Ludovico il Balbo (877-879), Ludovico III, Carlomanno (879-884) and Carlo il Grosso (885-887) pass the French throne. The Carolingians disappear as the Norman invasions worsen; in 881 the barbarians advance as far as Reims; in 885 they enter Rouen and besiege Paris. Charles the Fat called to help, instead of fighting, negotiates with the Normans and lets them plunder freely. France had nothing more to hope for from the empire.

According to, the new situation in France is represented by the proclamation as king of one of the major Carolingian feudatars, Odo, Count of Paris. Since in the bosom of the Carolingian empire it was born in the century. IX the new particularist, aristocratic, feudal France. Worried first by the need to secure the borders of the kingdom, then taken by imperialist dreams, the Carolingians never thought of an administrative organization of their vast state that was different from that of the Merovingian tradition that had brought them to the throne. The state continued to have the old personal basis: the prince in the center, the accounts in the provincial districts. Charlemagne’s only innovation was to regularize and extend the Merovingian system of missi, extraordinary delegates sent to the constituencies to supervise the work of the accounts and the execution of the orders of the central government. Instead, what is characteristic of the Frankish kingdom in the Carolingian age is the ever greater development of the patronage system. Ebroino, Carlo Martello, Pipino and Carlo Magno fight against feudal tendencies. But with the worsening of the weakness of state authority in the century. IX, the aristocracy gains power. The divisions, the civil wars, the wars of the Saracens and the Normans forced the kings to grant royal lands and state rights to the faithful and infidels. France, apparently monarchical, becomes during the century. IX a mosaic of great secular and ecclesiastical lordships. The central power is powerless to stop the collapse of the state; in France there is no longer the monarchy, but the lordship. Ludovico il Balbo is recognized as king only on condition that he makes new concessions to the great.

France under the Carolingians 3