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  • Born in 823 - Frankfort, Allemagne
  • Deceased in 877 - Brides-les-Bain, France,aged 54 years old


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Individual Note

CHARLES THE BALD (numbered Charles II of France and the Holy Roman Emperor) (French: Charles le Chauve, German: Karl der Kahle) (13 June 823-6 October 877), Holy Roman Emperor (875-877) and king of West Francia (840-877), was the youngest son of Emperor Louis the Pious, by his second wife Judith.

STRUGGLE AGAINST HIS BROTHERS He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder brothers were already adults and had been assigned their own regna, or subkingdoms, by their father. The attempts made by Louis the Pious to assign Charles a subkingdom, first Alemannia and then the country between the Meuse and the Pyrenees (in 832, after the rising of Pepin I of Aquitaine) were unsuccessful. The numerous reconciliations with the rebellious Lothair and Pepin, as well as their brother Louis the German, King of Bavaria, made Charles's share in Aquitaine and Italy only temporary, but his father did not give up and made Charles the heir of the entire land which was once Gaul and would someday be France. At a diet near Crémieux in 837, Louis the Pious bade the nobles do homage to Charles as his heir. This led to the final rising of his sons against him and Pepin of Aquitaine died in 838, whereupon Charles received that kingdom, finally once and for all. Pepin's son Pepin II would be a perpetual thorn in his side.

The death of the emperor in 840 led to the outbreak of war between his sons. Charles allied himself with his brother Louis the German to resist the pretensions of the new emperor Lothair I, and the two allies defeated Lothair at the Battle of Fontenay-en-Puisaye on June 25, 841. In the following year, the two brothers confirmed their alliance by the celebrated Oaths of Strasbourg. The war was brought to an end by the Treaty of Verdun in August 843. The settlement gave Charles the Bald the kingdom of the West Franks, which he had been up till then governing and which practically corresponded with what is now France, as far as the Meuse, the Saône, and the Rhône, with the addition of the Spanish March as far as the Ebro. Louis received the eastern part of the Carolingian Empire, known as the East Francia and later Germany. Lothair retained the imperial title and the Iron Crown of Lombardy. He also received the central regions from Flanders through the Rhineland and Burgundy as king of Middle Francia.

REIGN IN THE WEST The first years of Charles's reign, up to the death of Lothair I in 855, were comparatively peaceful. During these years the three brothers continued the system of "confraternal government", meeting repeatedly with one another, at Koblenz (848), at Meerssen (851), and at Attigny (854). In 858, Louis the German, invited by disaffected nobles eager to oust Charles, invaded the West Frankish kingdom. Charles was so unpopular that he was unable to summon an army, and he fled to Burgundy. He was saved only by the support of the bishops, who refused to crown Louis king, and by the fidelity of the Welfs, who were related to his mother, Judith. In 860, he in his turn tried to seize the kingdom of his nephew, Charles of Provence, but was repulsed. On the death of his nephew Lothair II in 869, Charles tried to seize Lothair's dominions, but by the Treaty of Mersen (870) was compelled to share them with Louis the German.

Besides these family disputes, Charles had to struggle against repeated rebellions in Aquitaine and against the Bretons. Led by their chiefs Nomenoë and Erispoë, who defeated the king at Ballon (845) and Juvardeil (851), the Bretons were successful in obtaining a de facto independence. Charles also fought against the Vikings, who devastated the country of the north, the valleys of the Seine and Loire, and even up to the borders of Aquitaine. Several times Charles was forced to purchase their retreat at a heavy price. Charles led various expeditions against the invaders and, by the Edict of Pistres of 864, made the army more mobile by providing for a cavalry element, the predecessor of the French chivalry so famous during the next 600 years. By the same edict, he ordered fortified bridges to be put up at all rivers to block the Viking incursions. Two of these bridges at Paris saved the city during its siege of 885-886.

EMPEROR In 875, after the death of the Emperor Louis II (son of his half-brother Lothair), Charles the Bald, supported by Pope John VIII, traveled to Italy, receiving the royal crown at Pavia and the imperial insignia in Rome on December 29. Louis the German, also a candidate for the succession of Louis II, revenged himself by invading and devastating Charles' dominions, and Charles had to return hastily to Francia. After the death of Louis the German (28 August 876), Charles in his turn attempted to seize Louis's kingdom, but was decisively beaten at Andernach on October 8, 876. In the meantime, John VIII, menaced by the Saracens, was urging Charles to come to his defence in Italy. Charles again crossed the Alps, but this expedition was received with little enthusiasm by the nobles, and even by his regent in Lombardy, Boso, and they refused to join his army. At the same time Carloman, son of Louis the German, entered northern Italy. Charles, ill and in great distress, started on his way back to Gaul, but died while crossing the pass of Mont Cenis at Brides-les-Bain, on 6 October 877.

LEGACY Charles was succeeded by his son, Louis. Charles seems to have been a prince of education and letters, a friend of the church, and conscious of the support he could find in the episcopate against his unruly nobles, for he chose his councillors from among the higher clergy, as in the case of Guenelon of Sens, who betrayed him, and of Hincmar of Reims.

Finally, it is unlikely that Charles was actually bald. Rather, the epithet the Bald is thought to be early medieval humour and historians generally agree that he was probably quite hirsute, with a full head of hair and a beard.

Charles married Ermentrude, daughter of Odo I, Count of Orléans, in 842. She died in 869. In 870, Charles married Richilde of Provence, who was descended from a noble family of Lorraine, but none of the children he had with her played a part of any importance.


  • Individual: Encyclopedia Britannica CD

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                                                                             _____|16_sosa CHARLES "MARTEL" FOUNDING CAROLINGIAN DE FRANCE, RULER DE FRANCE ca 689-741
                                                   _____|8_sosa PEPIN "THE SHORT" CAROLINGIAN DE FRANCE, ROI DE FRANCE ca 714-768
                                                  /                         ¯¯¯¯¯|17_sosa ROTRUDE = CHROTRUDE = CHROTHAIS DE TREVES 695-724
                         _____|4_sosa CHARLES "CHARLEMAGNE" CAROLINGIAN DE FRANCE, HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR ca 742-814
                        /                        \                          _____|18_sosa CHARIBERT = HERIBERT DE LAON, COMTE DE LAON 700-
                       /                          ¯¯¯¯¯|9_sosa BERTRADE "BROADFOOT" DE LAON 720-783
                      /                                                     ¯¯¯¯¯|19_sosa ? ?
|                    \
|                     \                           _____|10_sosa GEROLD DE VINTZGAU, COMTE DE VINTZGAU ca 730-
|                      \                         /
|                       ¯¯¯¯¯|5_sosa HILDEGARDE DE VINTZGAU, COMTES DE VINTZGAU 757-783
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|                                                 ¯¯¯¯¯|11_sosa EMMA D'ALEMANIA ca 730-
|                                                  _____|12_sosa ROTHARD OF METZ BAVARIA, GRAF VON METZ ca 740-ca 805
|                                                 /
|                       _____|6_sosa WELF BAVARIA, GRAF VON ALTDORF 770-824
|                      /                        \
|                     /                          ¯¯¯¯¯|13_sosa ? ?
|3_sosa JUDITH WELF BAVARIA 806-843
                       \                           _____|14_sosa ISANBART WITTEKIND SAXONY, COUNT OF SAXONY ca 750-ca 810
                        \                         /
                         ¯¯¯¯¯|7_sosa HEDWIGE [EDITH] [HEILWIG] [HELVIDE] SAXONY, ABBESS OF CHELLES 780-835/
                                                   ¯¯¯¯¯|15_sosa SVATANA VON SAXE 750-