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IT was at his winter home at Doué, early in February 814, that Louis of Aquitaine received the news of his father’s death, which had been immediately sent to him by his sisters and the magnates who had espoused his cause. It is a difficult matter to discern through the self-interested encomiums of biographers and the calumnies set afloat by political opponents, the real character of the man who had now taken over the burdensome heritage left by the Emperor Charles. Louis, who was at this time thirty-six years old, was, in form and manners, a tall, handsome man, broad-shouldered, with a strong voice, skilled in bodily exercises, fond, as his ancestors were, of the chase, but less easily led away by the seductions of passion and good cheer. With regard to his mental qualities, he was a learned man, well acquainted with Latin, and able even to compose verses in that language, having some knowledge of Greek, and in particular, well versed in moral theology. He was modest and unassuming, of a usually gentle temper, and he constantly showed himself capable of generosity and compassion even towards his enemies. His piety, to which he owes the surname by which history has known him from his own century to ours, appears to have been deep and genuine. It was shown not only by his zealous observance of fast and festival and his prayerful habits, but by his sustained interest in the affairs of the Church. During the time he spent in Aquitaine the reform of the Septimanian monasteries by Benedict of Aniane had engaged a large share of his attention. Throughout his reign his capitularies are filled with measures dealing with the churches and monasteries. It must not be forgotten, however, that in that age Church and State were so closely connected that provisions of this description were absolutely necessary to good administration, and that it would thus be a mistake to look upon Louis as a mere “crowned monk”. A king in Aquitaine from 781, and associated in the Empire in 813, he had become accustomed to the prospect of his eventual succession. Though the news of Charles’s death took him by surprise, the new sovereign seems promptly to have made such arrangements as the circumstances required, for after having shown all the signs of the deepest grief and ordered fitting prayer to be made for the repose of the soul of the dead, he set out on his journey for Aix-la-Chapelle in company with his wife and children and the chief lords of his party. He was doubtless uneasy as to what measures were being taken there by his father's former ministers, among them Wala, the grandson of Charles Martel, who had wielded so great an influence at the late Emperor's court. Such fears, however, were groundless, for hardly had Louis reached the banks of the Loire than the lords of France, hastening to meet him and take the oath of fealty to him, gave him an enthusiastic welcome. The famous Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans, having received timely notice, had even found leisure to compose certain poems for the occasion, hailing the dawn of the new reign. Wala himself came to meet his cousin at Herstall, before the Emperor, who was going by Paris in order to visit the celebrated sanctuaries of Saint-Denis and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, had entered France. Most of the magnates hastened to follow his example.

At Herstall the new Emperor made some stay. There was at the palace of Aix a clique of the discontented who relied, perhaps, on the support of Charles’s daughters, and whose chief offence in the eyes of Louis seems to have been their disposition to pursue the dissolute way of life which had been customary at the court of the late Emperor. Wala, Lambert, Count of Nantes, and Count Gamier were sent on in advance to secure order in the palace and to seize upon any from whom resistance was to be feared. They were obliged to use force in carrying out their mission, and some lives were lost.

After Louis, on 27 February, had made his solemn entry into Aix-la-Chapelle amidst the shouts of the people, and had taken over the government, he continued the same course, taking measures to put an end to the scandals, real or alleged, which for the last few years had dishonored the court. His sisters, whose lapses from virtue, however, dated many years back, were the first to be assailed. After dividing among them the property due to them under Charles’s will, he sent them into banishment at various convents. Nothing is known of the fate of Gisela and Bertha, but Theodrada was obliged to retire to her abbey of Argenteuil, and Rothaid to Faremoutier. The Jewish and Christian merchants also, who were found established in the palace, were summoned to depart from it, as well as the superfluous women not required for the service of the court. At the same time Louis kept with him his illegitimate brothers, Hugh, Drogo and Theodoric. But the arrangements made in the name of good morals were followed up at once by measures directed against the descendants of Charles Martel. In spite of the loyalty just shown by Wala, his brother Adalard, Abbot of Corbie, was exiled to the island of Noirmoutier, while another brother, Bernier, was confined at Lerins, and their sister, Gundrada, at St Radegund of Poitiers. Wala himself, fearing a like fate, chose to retire to Corbie.

Apparently it was also a zeal for reform which inspired Louis at the first general placitum held at Aix in August 814 to decide on sending out to all parts of the kingdom missi charged with the duty of making inquiry into “the slightest actions of the counts and judges and even of the missi previously dispatched from the palace, in order to reform what they found to have been unjustly done, and bring it into conformity with justice, to restore their patrimony to the oppressed, and freedom to those who had been unjustly reduced to servitude”. It was a like anxiety which impelled him next year for the protection of the native inhabitants of the Spanish March, molested as they were by the Frankish Counts, to take those measures which are to be found among the provisions of certain of his capitularies.

At this placitum of Aix appeared the young king of Italy, Bernard, who came to make oath of loyalty to his uncle. The Emperor received him kindly, bestowed rich gifts on him, and sent him back to Italy, having confirmed him in his title of king while reserving to himself the imperial sovereignty, as is shown by the fact that even in Italy all legislative acts emanate exclusively from the Emperor. He it is also who, during Bernard’s life, grants the confirmation of the privileges of the great Italian abbeys. At the same time Louis assigned as kingdoms to his two elder sons with much the same terms of dependence on himself two portions of the Frankish Empire which still retained a certain degree of autonomy, Bavaria to Lothar and Aquitaine to Pepin. Both were, however, too young to exercise real power. Louis therefore placed about each of them Frankish officials entrusted with the duty of governing the country in their names. As to the Emperor’s latest-born son, Louis, he was too young to be put in even nominal charge of a kingdom so that he remained under his fathe’s care.

In spite, however, of the “cleansing” of the imperial palace, Louis retained around him a certain number of his father’s old servants and advisers, such as Adalard the Count Palatine, and Hildebold, Archbishop of Cologne. Some also who had been among his most faithful counselors in Aquitaine followed him to France. Bego, the husband of his daughter Alpaïs, one of the companions of his youth, seems to have become Count of Paris. Louis also retained as Chancellor Elisachar, the chief of his Aquitanian clerks, a learned man and a patron of letters, to whom perhaps may be owing the remarkable improvement traceable at this time in the drawing up of the imperial diplomas. But the man who seems to have played the chief part during the early years of the reign was the Goth Witiza, St Benedict of Aniane (c.750-821), the reformer of the Aquitanian monasteries. The Emperor had lost no time in summoning him to his side at Aix, and a large number of the diplomas issued at this time from the imperial chancery were granted at his request. Benedict had at first been installed as Abbot at Maursmanster in Alsace, but the Emperor, evidently feeling that he was still too far away, had hastened to build the monastery of Inden in the woods around Aix-la-Chapelle and to set him at its head.

It was, no doubt, to the influence of the Abbot of Inden that the measures were due which were taken a few years later (817) to establish one uniform rule, that of St Benedict of Nursia, in all monasteries throughout the Frankish Empire. Other regulations were to be applied to the canons of cathedral churches, in order to complete the work formerly begun by St Chrodegang; and in a long capitulary, de rebus ecclesiasticis, the rights and duties of bishops and clerks were defined with the special object of preserving them from the secularization of their property which had too often befallen them at the hands of the lay power, since the days of Charles Martel.

The Emperor’s care for the interests of the Church, and the importance he attached to its good administration, were in harmony both with the traditions set up by Charles and also with the universal conception of an empire in which the civil and ecclesiastical powers were intimately connected, although the imperial authority could not be said to be subjected to that of the Church. As early as the first year of his reign, Louis had had occasion to show that he intended in this matter to maintain his rights inviolate even against the Pope himself. A conspiracy among the Roman nobility against Leo III had been discovered and punished by that Pope. The culprits had been put to death without consulting the Emperor or his representative. Louis, conceiving that his rights had been infringed by these indications of independence, directed Bernard of Italy and Gerold, Count of the Eastern March, to hold an inquiry into the affair. Two envoys from the Holy See were obliged to accompany them to the Emperor bearing the excuses and explanations of the Pope (815). In the same year a revolt of the inhabitants of the Campagna against the papal authority was by order of Bernard suppressed by Winichis, the Duke of Spoleto. Leo III died on 12 June 816 and the Romans chose as his successor in the Chair of Peter Stephen IV, a man of noble family who seems to have been as much devoted to the Frankish monarchy as his predecessor had been hostile to it. His first care was to exact from the Romans an oath of fealty to the Emperor. At the same time he sent an embassy to Louis with orders to announce the election to him, but also to request an interview at a place suited to the Emperor's convenience. Louis gladly consented and sent an invitation to Stephen to come to meet him in France escorted by Bernard of Italy.

It was at Rheims, where Charlemagne had formerly had a meeting with Leo III, that the Emperor awaited the Sovereign Pontiff. When Stephen drew near, Louis went a mile out of the city to meet him, in his robes of state, helped him to dismount from his horse, and led him in great pomp as far as the Abbey of Saint-Remi a little beyond the city. On the morrow he gave him a solemn reception in Rheims itself, and after several days spent in conferring about the interests of the Church, the ceremony of the imperial coronation took place in the cathedral of Notre-Dame. The Pope significantly set on Louis’s head a diadem which he had brought with him from Rome and anointed him with the holy oil. The Empress Ermengarde was also crowned and anointed, and a few days later Stephen, accompanied by the imperial missi, again turned towards Rome, perhaps bearing with him the diplomas by which Louis confirmed the Roman Church in its privileges and possessions. Thus once more a seal was set upon the alliance between the Papacy and the Empire. At the same time, the subsequent relations of Louis the Pious with the Holy See showed the Emperor’s constant anxiety for the observance of the twofold principle that the Emperor is the protector of the Pope, but that in return for his protection he has the right to exercise his sovereign authority throughout Italy, even in Rome itself, and, in particular, to give his assent to the election of a new pontiff.

On the death of Stephen IV (24 January 817) Paschal I hastened to inform Louis of his election and to renew with him the agreement arrived at with his predecessors. The sending of Lothar to Italy as king with the special mission of governing the country, and his coronation in 823 at the hands of Paschal I, were a further guarantee of the imperial authority. Hence, no doubt, arose a certain discontent among the Roman nobles and even among the Pope’s entourage which showed itself in the execution of the primicerius Theodore and his son-in-law, the nomenclator Leo, who were first blinded and then beheaded in the Lateran palace, as guilty of having shown themselves in all things too faithful to the party of the young Emperor Lothar. Paschal was accused of having allowed or even ordered this double execution, and two missi were sent to Rome to hold an inquiry into the matter, an inquest which, however, led to no result, for the Pope sent ambassadors of his own to Louis, with instructions to clear their master by oath from the accusations leveled against him.

On the death of Paschal I (824), as soon as the election of his successor, Eugenius II, had been announced to Louis, then at Compiègne, he sent Lothar to Italy to settle with the new Pope measures securing the right exercise of the imperial jurisdiction in the papal state. This mission of Lothar’s led to the promulgation of the Constitutio Romana of 824, intended to safeguard the rights “of all living under the protection of the Emperor and the Pope”. Missi sent by both authorities were to superintend the administration of true justice. The Roman judges were to continue their functions, but were to be subject to imperial control. The Roman people were given leave to choose under what law they would live, but were required to take an oath of fealty to the Emperor. The measures thus taken and the settlement agreed upon were confirmed in writing by the Pope, who pledged himself to observe them. On his death, and after the brief pontificate of Valentine, Gregory IV was not, in fact, consecrated until the Emperor had signified his approval of the election.

Outside his own dominions, if Louis appears to have made no attempt to extend his power beyond the limits fixed by Charlemagne, he did at least exert himself to maintain his supremacy over the semi-vassal nations dwelling on all the frontiers of the Empire. For the most part, however, these races seem to have sought to preserve good relations with their powerful neighbor. The respect which, for the first few years of the reign, they entertained for the successor of Charlemagne is proved by the presence at all the great assemblies of ambassadors from different nations bearing pacific messages. At Compiègne, in 816, Slovenes and Obotrites appeared, and again at Herstall (818) and at Frankfort (823); Bulgarian envoys on several occasions; and in 823 two leaders who, among the Wiltzi, were contending for power, begged the Emperor to act as arbitrator. Danes were present at Paderborn (815), at Aix-la-Chapelle (817), at Compiègne (823) and at Thionville (831). Louis even received Sardinians in 815 and Arabs in 816. As to the Eastern Empire, the Basileis seem always to have shown anxiety to keep on good terms with Louis. On various occasions their ambassadors appeared at the great assemblies held by him; at Aix (817) to settle a question concerning frontiers in Dalmatia; at Rouen in 824 to discuss what measures should be taken in the matter of the controversy concerning images; at Compiègne in 827 to renew their professions of amity. It may be added that it was a Greek, the priest George, who built for Louis the Pious the first hydraulic organ ever used in Gaul.

Even from a military point of view, the reign of Louis the Pious bore at first the appearance of being in some sort a continuation of that of Charles, under a prince capable of repelling the attacks of his enemies. In the north, the Danish race were at this time fairly easily held in awe. One of the rivals then disputing for power, Harold, having been driven out by his cousins, the sons of Godefrid, came in 814 to take shelter at the court of Aix. In 815 the Saxon troops with the Obotrite “friendlies” made an attempt to restore this ally of the Franks to the throne, under the leadership of the missus Baldric. Promises of submission were made by the Danes, and hostages were handed over, but this was the only result obtained. It was not until about 819 that a revolution recalled Harold to the throne, whence his rivals had just been driven. He retained it until a fresh revulsion of feeling forced him again to take refuge at the court of Louis.

On the other hand, in concert with Pope Paschal, Louis had been endeavoring to convert the Danes to Christianity.  Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims, was sent on this mission. Setting out in company with Halitgar, Bishop of Cambrai, he united his labors with those of Anskar and his companions who were already at work spreading the Christian Faith in the district around the mouth of the Elbe, where Saxons and Scandinavians came into contact with one another. The monastery of Corvey or New Corbie (822) and the bishopric of Hamburg (831) were founded to safeguard Christianity in the country thus evangelized. When in 826 the Danish prince Harold came to be baptized at Mayence with several hundreds of his followers, the ceremony was made the opportunity for splendid entertainments at which the whole court was present, and was looked upon by the circle surrounding the Emperor as a triumph. But attacks by way of the sea were already beginning against the Frankish Empire. In 820 a band of pirates had attempted to land, first in Frisia, and then on the shores of the lower Seine, but being beaten off by the inhabitants they had been forced to content themselves with retiring to pillage the island of Bouin off the coast of La Vendée. In 829 a Scandinavian invasion of Saxony had momentarily alarmed Louis, but had led to nothing. In short, it may be said that for the first part of the reign Louis’s dominions had been exempt from the ravages of the Vikings, but the tempest which was to rage so furiously a few years later was already seen to be gathering.


Eastern Frontiers

The Slavonic populations which bordered Frankish Germany on the east were also kept within due bounds. In 816 the heorbann of the Saxons and East Franks, called out against the rebellious Servs, compelled them to renew their oaths of submission. Next year the Frankish counts in charge of the frontier successfully beat off an attack by Slavomir, the prince of the Obotrites, who, being made prisoner a little later and accused before the Emperor by his own subjects, was deposed, his place being given to his rival Ceadrag (818). The new prince, however, before long deserted his former allies, joined forces with the Danes, and unsuccessfully renewed the struggle with the Franks. The latter found a more formidable opponent in the person of Liudevit, a prince who had succeeded in reducing to his obedience part of the population of Pannonia and was menacing the Frankish frontier between the Drave and the Save. An expedition sent against him under the Marquess of Friuli, Cadolah, was not successful. Cadolah died during the campaign, and the Slovenes invaded the imperial territory (820). It was only through an alliance with one of Liudevit’s foes, Bozna, the Grand Zupan of the Croats, that the Franks in their turn were enabled to spread destruction through the enemy's country, and to force the tribes of Carniola and Carinthia, who had thrown off their allegiance, to submit afresh. Liudevit himself made his submission next year, and peace was maintained upon the eastern frontier till 827-8, when an irruption of the Bulgarians into Pannonia necessitated another Frankish expedition, headed this time by the Emperor’s son Louis the German. By way of compensation, unbroken peace reigned on the extreme southern frontier of the dominions of Louis. The Lombard populations of the south of Italy continued to be practically independent of Frankish rule. Louis made no attempt to exert any effective sovereignty over them. He contented himself with receiving from Prince Grimoald of Benevento in 814 a promise to pay tribute and assurances of submission, vague engagements which his successor Sico renewed more than once without causing any change in the actual situation.

On the south-western frontier of the Empire a state of war, or at least of perpetual skirmishing, went on between the Franks and either the Saracens of Spain or the half-subdued inhabitants of the Pyrenees. In 815 hostilities had broken out anew with the Emir Hakam I, whom the Frankish historians call Abulaz. The following year the recall of Séguin (Sigiwin), Duke of Gascony, led to a revolt of the Basques, but the native chief whom the rebels had placed at their head was defeated and killed by the counts in the service of Louis the Pious. Two years later (818) the Emperor felt himself strong enough to banish Lupus son of Centullus, the national Duke of the Gascons, and in 819 an expedition under Pepin of Aquitaine resulted in an apparent and temporary pacification of the province.

On the other hand, at the assembly at Quierzy in 820 it was decided to renew the war with the Saracens of Spain. But the Frankish annalists mention only a plundering raid beyond the Segre river (822), and in 824 the defeat of two Frankish counts in the valley of Roncesvalles, as they were returning from an expedition against Pampeluna. In 826 the revolt in the Spanish March of a chief of Gothic extraction gave Louis the Pious graver cause for disquiet. An army led by the Abbot Elisachar checked the rebels for the moment, but they appealed to the Emir Abd-ar-Rahman, and the Muslim troops sent under the command of Abu-Marwan penetrated as far as the walls of Saragossa.

At the Compiègne assembly held in the summer of 827, the Emperor decided on sending a new Frankish army beyond the Pyrenees, but its leaders, Matfrid, Count of Orleans, and Hugh, Count of Tours, showed such an entire lack of zeal and interposed so many delays, that Abu-Marwan was able to ravage the districts of Barcelona and Gerona with impunity. The progress of the invaders was only checked by the energetic resistance of Barcelona, under Count Bernard of Septimania, but they were able, nevertheless, to withdraw unhindered with their booty. In 828, in another quarter of the Frankish Empire, Boniface, Marquess of Tuscany, was taking the offensive. After having, at the head of his little flotilla, destroyed the pirate Muslim ships in theneighborhood of Corsica and Sardinia, he landed in Africa and ravaged the country round Carthage.


The Bretons

To the extreme west of the Empire, the Bretons, whom even the great Charles had never been able to subdue completely, continued from time to time to send out pillaging expeditions into Frankish territory, chiefly in the direction of Vannes. These were mere raids, up to the time when their union under the leadership of a chief named Morvan (Murmannus), to whom they gave the title of king, so far emboldened the Bretons that they refused to pay homage or the annual tribute to which they had heretofore been subject. Louis, having attempted in vain to negotiate with the rebels, made up his mind to act, and summoned the host of France, Burgundy, and even of Saxony and Alemannia, to gather at Vannes in August 818. The Frankish troops pushed their way into the enemy's territory without having to fight a regular battle, as the Bretons, following their customary tactics, preferred to disappear from sight and merely harass their enemy. The latter could do no more than ravage the country, but Morvan was killed in a skirmish. His countrymen then abandoned the struggle, and at the end of a month the Emperor reentered Angers having exacted promises of submission from the more powerful of the Breton chiefs. Their submission, however, did not last long.

In 822, a certain Wihomarch repeated Morvan’s attempt. The expeditions led against him by the Frankish counts of the march of Brittany or by the Emperor himself were marked only by the wasting of the country and produced no permanent results. Not until 826 did a new system ensure a measure of tranquility. Louis then recognized the authority over the Bretons of a chief of their own race, Nomenoe, to whom he gave the title of missus and who in return did homage to him and took the oath of fealty. But the union of Brittany under a single head was a dangerous measure. Louis was blind to its disadvantages, but they were destined to have disastrous results in the reign of his successor.

Events within the realm were to begin the disorganization of Louis’s government and ultimately bring about the disruption of the empire founded by Charlemagne. In July 817 at the assembly of Aix-la-Chapelle, the Emperor had decided to take measures to establish the succession, or rather to cause the arrangements already made by himself and a few of his confidential advisers to be ratified by the lay and ecclesiastical magnates jointly. (On Thursday, Louis and his court were crossing a wooden gallery from the cathedral the palace in Aachen when the gallery collapsed, killing many. Louis, having barely survived and feeling the imminent danger of death, began planning for his succession. Three months later he issued an Ordinatio Imperii, an imperial decree that laid out plans for an orderly succession. In 815, he had already given his two eldest sons a share in the government, when he had sent his elder sons Lothair and Pepin to govern Bavaria and Aquitaine respectively, though without the royal titles. Now, he proceeded to divide the empire among his three sons and his nephew Bernard of Italy). The Frankish principle by which the dominions of a deceased sovereign were divided among his sons, was still too living a thing (it lasted, indeed, as long as the Carolingian dynasty itself) to allow of the exclusion of any one of Louis’s sons from the succession. The principle had already been applied in 806, and Louis had in some sort recognized it afresh by entrusting two of his sons with the government of two of his kingdoms, while at the same time leaving a third in the hands of Bernard of Italy. But on the other hand, the Emperor and his chief advisers were no less firmly attached to the principle of the unity of the Empire, “by ignoring which we should introduce confusion into the Church and offend Him in Whose Hands are the rights of all kingdoms”. “Would God, the Almighty”, wrote one of the most illustrious of the thinkers upholding the system of the unity of the Empire, Archbishop Agobard of Lyons, “that all men, united under a single king, were governed by a single law. This would be the best method of maintaining peace in the City of God and equity among the nations”. And the wisest and most influential of the clergy in the kingdom thought and spoke with Agobard, because they realized the advantages which accrued to the Church from the government of a single emperor in a realm where Church and State were so intimately connected. Throughout these struggles, which disturbed the whole of the reign of Louis the Pious, the party in favor of unity counted in its ranks nearly all the political writers of the time, Agobard, Paschasius Radbertus, Florus of Lyons. They have been accused of defending their personal interests under cover of the principle, and it has been pointed out that often the so-called party of unity was nothing but the coterie which gathered round Lothar. It is probable enough that the conduct of the sons of Louis and of the principal counts who took part with each of them was dictated by motives purely personal, but if the more important leaders of the ecclesiastical aristocracy are found supporting Lothar, it must not be forgotten that Lothar stood for the unity of the Empire for which the Church was working.

However this may be, the arrangements made at Aix, after three days devoted to fasting and almsgiving in order to call down the blessing and inspiration of God upon the assembly about to be opened, might seem of a kind to reconcile diverse principles and interests. The title of emperor was conferred upon Lothar, who became his father's colleague in the general administration of the Frankish monarchy. His coronation took place before the assembly amid the loud applause of the crowd. The title of king was confirmed to his two brothers, and their dominions received some augmentation. With Aquitaine, Pepin received Gascony and the county of Toulouse, as well as the Burgundian counties of Autun, Avallon and Nevers.

Louis took Bavaria which Lothar had held, with suzerainty over the Carinthians, the Bohemians and the Slavs. The rest of the Empire was, on the death of Louis, to revert to Lothar, who alone was to enjoy the title of Emperor. It is somewhat difficult to say what was to be the position of the young kings with regard to Louis the Pious. It is probable that in practice it was modified with the lapse of time and the age of the princes. Indeed Louis, who may from this time be called Louis the German, the name by which history knows him, was not put in actual possession of his kingdom until 825. On the other hand, the act of 817 dealt minutely with the relation in which the brothers were to stand towards one another after the death of Louis the Pious. Each was to be sovereign ruler within his own dominions. To the king was to belong the proceeds of the revenue and taxes, and he was to have full right to dispose of the dignities of bishoprics and abbeys. At the same time the Emperor’s supremacy is ensured by a series of provisions. His two brothers are bound to consult him on all occasions of importance; they may not make war or conclude treaties without his consent. His sanction is also required for their marriage, and they are forbidden to marry foreigners. They are to attend at the Emperor’s court every year to offer their gift, to confer with him on public affairs, and to receive his instructions. Disputes between them are to be determined by the general assembly of the Empire. This body is also to pronounce in case of their being guilty of acts of violence or oppression and having failed to make satisfaction in accordance with the remonstrances which it shall be the duty of their elder brother to address to them. If either of the two die leaving several lawful sons, the people shall make their choice among them, but there shall be no further division of territory. If, on the contrary, the deceased leave no legitimate son, his apanage shall devolve on one of his brothers. Supplementary provisions, derived, indeed, from the Divisio of 806, were added, forbidding the magnates to possess benefices in several kingdoms at once, but allowing any free man to settle in any kingdom he chose, and to marry there.

Such, in its main outlines, was the celebrated Divisio imperii of 817, which we may fittingly analyze, as its provisions were often to be appealed to during the struggle between the sons of Louis. Its object was to avoid every occasion of strife. Yet one of its earliest effects was to kindle a revolt, that of the young Bernard of Italy. He considered himself threatened, or his counselors persuaded him that he was threatened, by one of the regulations of the act of Aix, laying down that after the death of Louis, Italy should be subject to Lothar in the same manner as it had been to Louis himself and to Charles. It is, however, difficult to see more in this article than a provision for the maintenance of the actual status quo. All our authorities agree in attributing the responsibility for the revolt less to Bernard himself than to certain of his intimates, the count Eggideus, the chamberlain Reginar (Rainier), and Anselm, Archbishop of Milan. The Bishop of Orleans, the celebrated poet Theodulf, was also counted among the young prince’s partisans. The rebels’ plan, it was said, was to dethrone the Emperor and his family, perhaps to put them to death, and to make Bernard sole ruler of the Empire.

(Bernard was the illegitimate son of King Pepin of Italy, the second legitimate son of the Emperor Charlemagne. In 810, Pepin died from an illness contracted at a siege of Venice; although Bernard was illegitimate, Charlemagne allowed him to inherit Italy. Bernard married Cunigunda of Laon in 813. They had one son, Pepin, Count of Vermandois. Prior to 817, Bernard was a trusted agent of his grandfather, and of his uncle. His rights in Italy were respected, and he was used as an intermediary to manage events in his sphere of influence - for example, when in 815 Louis the Pious received reports that some Roman nobles had conspired to murder Pope Leo III, and that he had responded by butchering the ringleaders, Bernard was sent to investigate the matter. A change came in 817, when Louis the Pious drew up the Ordinatio Imperii. Under this the bulk of the Frankish territory went to Louis’ eldest son, Lothair; Bernard received no further territory, and although his Kingship of Italy was confirmed, he would be a vassal of Lothair. This was, it was later alleged, the work of the Empress Ermengarde, who wished Bernard to be displaced in favor of her own sons. Resenting Louis’ actions, Bernard began plotting with a group of magnates: Eggideo, Reginar, and Reginar the last being the grandson of a Thuringian rebel against Charlemagne, Hardrad.)

Ratbold, Bishop of Verona, and Suripo, Count of Brescia, who were the first to warn Louis of what was being plotted against him, added that all Italy was ready to uphold Bernard, and that he was master of the passes of the Alps. In reality, the rebellion seems in no sense to bear the character of a national movement, which indeed would hardly have been possible at this stage, and the numerous army, which the Emperor hastily assembled, found no difficulty in occupying the passes of Aosta and Susa. Louis in person put himself at the head of the troops concentrating at Chalon. Bernard was alarmed, and finding himself ill supported, made his submission, along with his chief partisans, to the Frankish counts who had pushed on into Italy, and surrendered himself into their custody. The prisoners were sent to Aix-la-Chapelle, and the assembly held in that town at the beginning of 818 condemned them to death. The Emperor granted them their lives, but commuted their punishment to that of blinding. Bernard and his friend Count Reginar died in a few days in consequence of the torture inflicted (17 April 818). The young prince was not nineteen. Those of his accomplices who were churchmen were deposed and confined in monasteries. Theodulf, in particular, was exiled to Angers. It is probable that it was this rising in favor of a spurious member of his family which led the Emperor at this time to take precautionary measures against his own illegitimate brothers, Hugh, Theodoric and Drogo (later, 826, Archbishop of Metz), whom he compelled to enter monasteries.

The punishment suffered by Bernard, who was hardly more than a lad, was out of all proportion to the risk which he had caused the Emperor to run. It was an act of pure cruelty, and was generally and severely criticized at the time. Louis himself judged that he had shown excessive severity. In 821 at the assembly at Thionville which followed the rejoicings on the marriage of Lothar with Ermengarde, daughter of Hugh, Count of Tours, he granted an amnesty to Bernard's former accomplices, and restored their confiscated property. At the same time he recalled from Aquitaine Adalard, another of the proscribed, and replaced him at the head of the monastery of Corbie. Next year at Attigny he took a further step in the same direction. He solemnly humiliated himself in the presence of the chief clergy of his kingdom, the Abbot Elisachar, Adalard and Archbishop Agobard, declaring that he desired to do penance publicly for the cruelty he had shown both to Bernard and to Adalard and his brother Wala. The biographer of Louis the Pious compares this public penance to that of Theodosius. It was in reality extremely impolitic. The Emperor weakened himself morally by this humiliation before the ecclesiastical aristocracy, who looked upon the penance of Attigny as a victory won by themselves over Louis, “who became”, says Paschasius Radbertus triumphantly, “the humblest of men, he who had been so ill-counseled by his royal pride, and who now made satisfaction to those whose eyes had been offended by his crime”. His humiliation was also accompanied by measures taken to secure the protection of property belonging to the Church, and Agobard felt so sure of victory for the latter that he even meditated claiming the restitution of all the ecclesiastical property which had been usurped in preceding reigns. The penance of Attigny was one great political mistake of Louis; his re-marriage was another. Its consequences were to prove disastrous.



Louis’s first wife, “his counselor and helper in his government”, the devout Empress Ermengarde, had died at Angers, just as her husband was returning from his expedition into Brittany (3 Oct. 818). The Emperor for some time gave himself up to despairing grief. It was even feared that he would abdicate and retire into a monastery. However, at the earnest request of his confidential advisers he decided on choosing a second consort “who might be his helper in the government of his palace and his kingdom”. In 819 he chose from among his magnates’ daughters that of Count Welf, a maiden of a very noble Swabian house, named Judith. Aegilwi, the new Empress’s mother, belonged to one of the great Saxon families which had always shown itself faithful to Louis. Contemporaries are unanimous in lauding not only the beauty of Judith, which seems to have had most weight in determining the Emperor’s choice, but also her qualities of mind, her learning, her gentleness, her piety, and the charm of her conversation. She seems to have possessed great ascendancy over all who came in contact with her, especially over her husband. In 823 she bore him a son who received the name of Charles, and whom history knows as Charles the Bald. The ordinatio of 817 had contemplated no such contingency, nor had the confirmation of it which had been solemnly decreed at Nimeguen in 819. It was plain, nevertheless, that whether during his father's lifetime or after his death, the newborn prince would claim a share equal to that of his brothers. From this point onwards, the history of the reign of Louis the Pious becomes almost entirely that of the efforts made by him under the influence of Judith to secure to the latest-born his portion of the inheritance, and that of the counter-efforts of the three elder sons to maintain the integrity of their own shares in virtue of the settlement of 817, and of the principle of unity round which the partisans of Lothar rallied.

For some time events seemed to take the course provided for by the settlement of 817. Pepin was put in possession of Aquitaine on his marriage in 822 with Engeltrude, daughter of Theobert, Count of the pagus Madriacensis, near the lower Seine, and Louis the German was entrusted in 825 with the actual administration of his Bavarian kingdom soon after the assembly at Aix. But in 829, after the assembly of Worms, the Emperor, by an edict “issued of his own will” made a new arrangement by which his youngest son was given part of Alemannia with Alsace and Rhaetia and a portion of Burgundy, no doubt with the title only of duke.

All these districts formed part of Lothar's portion, and he, though godfather of his young brother, could not fail to resent such measures. It appears probable that it was in order to remove him from court that at this juncture he was sent on a new mission into Italy. At the same time in signing charters he ceases to be designated by his title of Emperor. But it was necessary to provide a protector for young Charles, and for this office choice was made of Bernard of Septimania, who also held the Spanish March and received the title of Chamberlain. Son of a great man canonized by the Church, William of Gellone, friend of St Benedict of Aniane, great-grandson of Charles Martel, and defender of Barcelona at the time of the Saracenic invasion, Bernard was already in right of his birth and his valor as well as his position one of the chief personages of the Empire. Because he was chamberlain Bernard was entrusted with the administration of the palace and of the royal domains in general, and held “the next place after the Emperor”. His rise to power seems to have been marked, moreover, by a change in the personnel of Louis’s court. His enemies, through the mouth of Paschasius Radbertus, accuse him of having “turned the palace upside down and scattered the imperial council”, and it is true that Wala and other partisans of Lothar were set aside from the administration of affairs to make way for new men, Odo, Count of Orleans, William, Count of Blois, cousin of Bernard, Conrad and Rudolf, brothers of the new Empress, Jonas, Bishop of Orleans, and Boso, Abbot of Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire (Fleury).

The displeasure of the magnates evicted from power or disappointed in their ambitions was shown as early as the following year (830). Louis, perhaps by the advice of Bernard who was eager to strengthen his position by military successes, had planned a new expedition against the Bretons and summoned the host to meet at Rennes at Easter (14 April). Many of the Franks proved little disposed to enter on a campaign in spring, at an inclement season of the year. On the other hand, Wala secretly informed Pepin that hostile designs were being formed against him by Bernard, who under pretext of an expedition into Brittany meditated nothing less than turning his arms against the king of Aquitaine and stripping him of his possessions. Pepin was a man of energy, but also of levity and impetuosity, and under pressure, perhaps, from the Aquitanian lords who had gradually been substituted for the Frankish counselors placed round him by his father, either believed, or feigned to believe the information, and came to an agreement with his brother Louis and the partisans of Wala and Lothar to march against the Emperor.

Louis the Pious, who was on his way to Rennes along the coast with Judith and Bernard, was at Sithiu (Saint-Bertin) when the news of the revolt reached him. He continued his journey as far as Saint-Riquier. But the time had gone by for the Breton expedition. The majority of the fideles who should have gathered at Rennes to take part in it had met at Paris and made common cause with the rebels. Pepin, after having occupied Orleans, had joined them at Verberie, N.E. of Senlis. Louis the German had done likewise. As to Lothar, he was lingering in Italy, perhaps to watch what turn events would take. But any resistance was impossible for Louis, because the whole weight of military force was on the side of the conspirators. The latter declared that they had no quarrel with the Emperor, but only with his wife, whom they accused of a guilty connection with Bernard. They demanded therefore that Judith should be exiled and her accomplices punished. Louis, sending Bernard for refuge to his city of Barcelona, and leaving the Empress at Aix, went to meet the rebels, who were then at Compiègne and surrendered himself into their hands. Judith, who had set out to join him, fearing violence took shelter in the church of Notre-Dame at Laon. Two of the counts who had espoused Pepin’s cause, Warin of Macon and Lambert of Nantes, came up and forcibly removed her. After having detained her a prisoner for some time with her husband, they finally shut her up in a convent at Poitiers. Her two brothers, Conrad and Rudolf, were tonsured and relegated to Aquitanian monasteries.

In these circumstances, Lothar, dreading no doubt that he might be ignored if a division should take place without him, arrived at Compiègne and at once put himself at the head of the movement, his first step being to resume his title of joint-Emperor. Louis the Pious seemed inclined to dismiss Bernard and restore the former government. Lothar’s desires went beyond this, and he surrounded his father with monks instructed to persuade him to embrace the religious life, for which he had formerly shown some inclination. But Louis did not fall in with this project. He was secretly negotiating with Louis the German and Pepin, promising them an increase of territory if they would abandon the cause of Lothar. On their side, the two princes were no more inclined to be Lothar's subjects than their father’s. The Emperor and his supporters succeeded in gathering a new assembly at Nimeguen in the autumn, at which were present many of the Saxon and German lords who were always loyal to Louis. The reaction beginning in favor of the Emperor now showed itself plainly. Louis was declared to be re-established in his former authority. It was also decided to recall Judith. On the other hand, several of the abettors of the revolt were arrested. Wala was obliged to surrender the abbey of Corbie. The Arch-Chaplain Hilduin, Abbot of St Denis, was banished to Paderborn. Lothar, in alarm, accepted the pardon offered him by his father and showed himself at the assembly beside the Emperor in the character of a dutiful son.

The assembly convoked at Aix-la-Chapelle (February 831) to pass definitive sentence on the rebels, adjudged them the penalty of death, which Louis the Pious commuted to imprisonment and exile, together with confiscation of goods. Lothar himself was obliged to subscribe to the condemnation of his former partisans. Thus Hilduin lost the abbeys he had possessed and was banished to Corvey, Wala was imprisoned in the neighborhood of the Lake of Geneva, Matfrid and Elisachar exiled. At the same time the Empress, after solemnly clearing herself by oath from the accusations leveled against her, was declared restored to her former position. Her brothers, Conrad and Rudolf, quitted the monasteries in which they had been temporarily confined, and recovered their dignities. Contrariwise the name of Lothar again disappears from the parchments containing the imperial diplomas, the eldest son losing his privileged position as joint-Emperor, and being reduced to that of king of Italy, while in accordance with the promise he had made them Louis the Pious increased the shares of his younger sons in the inheritance. To Pepin’s Aquitanian kingdom were annexed the districts between the Loire and the Seine, and, to the north of the latter river, the Meaux country, with the Amienois and Ponthieu as far as the sea. Louis of Bavaria saw his portion enlarged by the addition of Saxony and Thuringia and the greater part of the pagi which make up modern Belgium and the Netherlands. Charles, besides Alemannia, received Burgundy, Provence and Gothia with a slice of France, and in particular, the important province of Rheims. Nevertheless, as these arrangements had no validity until Louis the Pious should have disappeared from the scene, they made little or no change in the actual position of the three princes, especially as the Emperor expressly reserved to himself the power to give additional advantage to “any one of our three above-mentioned sons, who, desirous of pleasing in the first place God, and secondly ourselves, should distinguish himself by his obedience and zeal” by withdrawing somewhat “from the portion of that one of his brothers who shall have neglected to please us”.

Yet the sentences pronounced at Aix-la-Chapelle were to be of no lasting effect. At Ingelheim, in the beginning of May, several of the former partisans of Lothar were pardoned. Hilduin, in particular, regained his abbey of St Denis. On the other hand, Bernard, though like Judith he had purged himself by oath before the assembly at Thionville from the accusations made against him, had not been reinstated in his office at court. On the contrary, it would seem that Louis the Pious made endeavors to reconcile himself with Lothar, perhaps under the influence of Judith, who was ever ready to cherish the idea that her young son might find a protector in his eldest brother. The Emperor was, besides, in a fair way towards a breach with Pepin. The latter being summoned to the assembly at Thionville (autumn 831) had delayed under various pretexts to present himself, and when he did resolve to appear before the Emperor at Aix (end of 831) his father received him with so small a show of favor that Pepin either feared or pretended to fear for his safety, and at the end of December secretly betook himself again to Aquitaine, disregarding the prohibition, which had been laid upon him. Louis decided to take strong measures against him and called an assembly to meet at Orleans in 832, to which Lothar and Louis the German were both summoned. From Orleans an expedition was to be sent south of the Loire.

But at the beginning of 832, the Emperor learned that Louis the German, perhaps fearing to share the fate of Pepin, or instigated by some of the leaders of the revolt of 830, was in a state of rebellion, and at the head of his Bavarians, reinforced by a contingent of Slavs, had invaded Alemannia (the apanage of Charles) where many of the nobles had ranged themselves on his side. Relinquishing for the moment his Aquitanian project, Louis summoned the host of the Franks and Saxons to muster at Mayence. The leudes eagerly responded to his appeal, and Louis the German, who was encamped at Lorsch, was obliged to recognize that he had no means of resisting the superior forces at his father's disposal. He therefore retreated. The imperial army slowly followed his line of march, and by the month of May had reached Augsburg. Here it was that Louis the German came to seek his father and make his submission to him, swearing never in future to renew his attempts at revolt.

Louis then turned towards Aquitaine. From Frankfort, where he was joined by Lothar, he convoked a new host to meet at Orleans on 1 September. Thence he crossed the Loire, and ravaging the country as he went, reached Limoges. He halted for some time to the north of this town, at the royal residence of Jonac in La Marche, where Pepin came to him and in his turn submitted himself to him. But, showing more severity in his case than in that of Louis the German, the Emperor, with the alleged object of reforming his morals, caused him to be arrested and sent to Treves. At the same time, disclosing his true purpose, he annexed Aquitaine to the dominions of young Charles, to whom the magnates present at the assembly at Jonac were required to swear fealty. Bernard of Septimania himself, whose influence excited alarm, was deprived of his honors and benefices, which were given to Berengar, Count of Toulouse. But the Aquitanians, always jealous of their independence, would not submit to be deprived of the prince whom they had come to look upon as their own. They succeeded in liberating him from the custody of his escort, and the Frankish troops, sent in pursuit by Louis, were unable to recapture him. The imperial army was obliged to turn northward, harassed by the Aquitanian insurgents, and their winter march proved disastrous. When Louis at length reached France again, leaving Aquitaine in arms behind him (January 833), it was only to learn that his two other sons, Lothar and Louis the German, were again in rebellion against him.

Lothar and Louis no doubt dreaded lest they should meet with the same treatment as Pepin. Moreover they could not see without feelings of jealousy the share of young Charles in the paternal heritage so disproportionately augmented. Again, Lothar had found a new ally in the person of the Pope, Gregory IV (elected in 827). The latter, though hesitating at first, had ended by allowing himself to be caught by the prospect of bringing peace to the Empire, and of securing for the Papacy the position of a mediating power. He had therefore decided on accompanying Lothar when he crossed the Alps to join his brother of Germany, and had addressed a circular letter to the bishops of Gaul and Germany, asking them to order fasts and prayers for the success of his enterprise. This did not hinder the greater number of the prelates from rallying round Louis who was at Worms where his army was concentrating. Only a few steadfast partisans of Lothar, such as Agobard of Lyons, failed to obey the imperial summons. The two parties seem to have been in no haste to come to blows, and for several months spent their time in negotiating and in drawing up statements of the case on one side or the other, the sons persistently professing the deepest respect for their father, and vowing that all their quarrel was with his evil counselors. Things remained in this state until, in the middle of June, the Emperor resolved to go and seek his sons in order to have a personal discussion with them.


The Field of Lies

In company, then, with his supporters, he went up the left bank of the Rhine towards Alsace where the rebels were posted, and pitched his camp opposite theirs near Colmar, in the plain known as the Rothfeld. Brisk negotiations were again opened between the two parties. Pope Gregory finally went in person to the imperial camp to confer with Louis and his adherents. Did he exert his influence over the bishops who up to then had seemed resolved to stand by their Emperor? Or did the promises made by the sons work upon the magnates who still gathered round Louis? Whatever may be the explanation, a general defection set in. Within a few days the Emperor found himself deserted by all his followers and left almost alone. The place which was the scene of this shameful betrayal is traditionally known as the Lügenfeld, the Field of Lies. Louis was constrained to advise the few prelates who still kept faith with him, such as Aldric of Le Mans or Moduin of Autun, to follow the universal example. He himself, with his wife, his illegitimate brother Drogo and young Charles, surrendered to Lothar. The latter declared his father deposed from his authority and claimed the Empire as his own by right. He made use of it to share dignities and honors among his chief partisans. In order to give some show of satisfaction to his brothers, he added to Pepin’s share the wide duchy of Maine, and to Louis’s Saxony, Thuringia and Alsace. Judith was sent under a strong guard to Tortona in Italy, and Charles the Bald to the monastery of Prüm. After this, Pepin and Louis the German returned to their respective states, while the Pope, perhaps disgusted by the scenes he had just witnessed, quitted Lothar and betook himself directly to Rome.

Louis had been temporarily immured in the monastery of St Medard at Soissons. The assembly held by Lothar at Compiègne was not of itself competent to decree the deposition of the old Emperor, in spite of the accusations brought against him by Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims. Lothar was forced to confine himself to bringing sufficient pressure to bear upon his father (through the agency of churchmen of the rebel party sent to Soissons) to induce him to acknowledge himself guilty of offences which rendered him unworthy of retaining power. But not satisfied with his deposition the bishops forced him besides to undergo a public humiliation. In the church of Notre-Dame at Compiègne in the presence of the assembled magnates and bishops, Louis, prostrate upon a hair cloth before the altar, was compelled to read the form of confession drawn up by his enemies, in which he owned himself guilty of sacrilege, as having transgressed the commands of the Church and violated the oaths that he had sworn; of homicide, as having caused the death of Bernard; and of perjury, as having broken the pact instituted to preserve the peace of the Empire and the Church. The document containing the text of this confession was then laid upon the altar, while the Emperor, stripped of his baldric, the emblem of the warrior (knight or miles), and clothed in the garb of a penitent, was removed under close supervision first to Soissons, then to the neighborhood of Compiègne, and finally to Aix where the new Emperor was to spend the winter.

But by the end of 833, dissension was beginning to make itself felt among the victors. Louis’s half-brothers, Hugh and Drogo, who had fled to Louis the German, were exhorting him to come over to the party of his father and of Judith, whose sister, Emma, he had married in 827. Louis the German’s first step was to intercede with Lothar to obtain a mitigation of the treatment meted out to the imprisoned Emperor. The attempt failed, and only produced a widening of the breach between the two brothers. A reaction of feeling began in favor of the captive sovereign. The famous theologian Raban Maur, Abbot of Fulda and later Archbishop of Mayence (847-56), published an apologia on his behalf, in answer to a treatise in which Agobard of Lyons had just refurbished the old calumnies which had been widely circulated against Judith.

Louis the German made overtures to Pepin, who was no more disposed than himself to recognize any disproportionate authority in Lothar, and before long the two kings agreed to summon their followers to march to the help of their father. Lothar, not feeling himself safe in Austrasia, went to Saint-Denis where he had called upon his host to assemble. But the nobles of his party deserted him in his turn. He was compelled to set Louis the Pious and young Charles at liberty and to retreat upon Vienne on the Rhone, while the bishops and magnates present at Saint-Denis decreed the restoration of Louis to his former dignity, reinvesting him with his crown and his weapons, the insignia of his authority. In charters and documents he now reassumes the imperial style: 

Hludowicus, divina repropiciante clementia, imperator augustus.

On leaving Saint-Denis Louis repaired to Quierzy, where he was joined by Pepin and Louis the German. Judith, who had been withdrawn from her prison by the magnates devoted to the Emperor, also returned to Gaul. Meanwhile Lothar was preparing to carry on the struggle. Lambert and Matfrid, his most zealous supporters, had raised an army in his name on the March of Brittany, and defeated and killed the counts sent against them by the Emperor. Lothar, who had rallied his partisans, came to join them in the neighborhood of Orleans. There he awaited the arrival of the Emperor, who was still in company with his other two sons. As on similar occasions, no battle was fought. Lothar, realizing the inadequacy of his forces, made his submission and appeared before his father promising never to offend again. He was obliged to pledge himself also to be content, for the future, with “the kingdom of Italy, such as it had been granted by Charlemagne to Pepin”, with the obligation of protecting the Holy See. Further, he was never to cross the Alps again without his father's consent. His partisans, Lambert and Matfrid, were permitted to follow him into his new kingdom, forfeiting the benefices they possessed in Gaul.

Next year (835) an assembly at Thionville again solemnly annulled the decrees of that of Compiègne, and declared Louis to be “re-established in the honors of his ancestors, henceforth to be regarded by all men as their lord and emperor”. A fresh ceremony took place at Metz, when the imperial crown was again set upon his head. At the same time the assembly at Thionville had decreed penalties against the bishops who had deserted their sovereign. Ebbo of Rheims was compelled to read publicly a formulary containing the acknowledgment of his treason and his renunciation of his dignity. He was confined at Fulda. Agobard of Lyons, Bernard of Vienne, and Bartholomew of Narbonne were condemned as contumacious and declared deposed.

The Emperor attempted to take advantage of this returning prosperity to restore some degree of order in the affairs of his kingdoms, after the fiery trial of several years of civil war. At the assembly of Tramoyes (Ain) in June 835 he decreed the sending of missi into the different provinces to suppress acts of pillage. At that of Aix (beginning of 836) measures were taken to secure the regular exercise of the power of the bishops. A little earlier an attempt had been made to prevail on Pepin of Aquitaine to restore the Church property which he and his followers had usurped. But it is doubtful whether these measures produced any great effect. On the other hand, a fresh peril became daily more threatening, namely the incursions of the Scandinavian pirates.

In 834 they had ravaged the coasts of Frisia, pillaging the sea-coasts as they went, and penetrating at least as far as the island of Noirmoutier on the Atlantic. Henceforth they reappear almost every year, and in 835 they defeated and slew Reginald, Count of Herbauges. In the same year they plundered the great maritime mart of Dorestad on the North Sea. Next year, 836, they again visited Frisia, and their king Horie had even the insolence to demand the wergild of such of his subjects as had been slain or captured during their piratical operations. In 837 fresh ravages took place, and the Emperor in vain attempted to check them by sending out missi charged with the defense of the coasts, and especially by building ships to pursue the enemy. Honk even claimed (838) the sovereignty of Frisia, and it was not till 839 that hostilities were temporarily suspended by a treaty.

Nor was the internal peace of the Empire much more secure. Louis and Judith appear to have reverted to the idea of a reconciliation with Lothar, looking upon him as the destined protector of his young brother and godson, Charles. As early as 836 negotiations were begun with a view to the renewal of amicable relations between the King of Italy and his father. But sickness prevented Lothar from attending the assembly at Worms to which he had been summoned. However, at the end of 837 at the assembly held at Aix the Emperor elaborated a new scheme of division which added to Charles’s kingdom the greater part of Belgium with the country lying between the Meuse and the Seine as far as Burgundy. This project was certain to alarm Louis the German, whom we find at the opening of the next year (838) making overtures in his turn to Lothar with whom he had an interview at Trent. This displeased the Emperor and, at the Nimeguen assembly, June 838, he punished Louis by depriving him of part of his territory, leaving him only Bavaria. On the other hand, in the month of September young Charles at the age of fifteen had just attained his majority; such was the law of the Ripuarian Franks followed by the Carolingian family. He therefore received the baldric of a knight, and was given at Quierzy a portion of the lands between Loire and Seine. An attempt made by Louis to regain possession of the lands on the right bank of the Rhine met with no success. The Emperor in his turn crossed the river and forced his son to take refuge in Bavaria while he himself after a demonstration in Alemannia returned to Worms, where Lothar came from Pavia to see him and went through a solemn ceremony of reconciliation with him.

The death of Pepin of Aquitaine (13 December 838) seemed to simplify the question of division and succession, for the new partition scheme drawn up at Worms utterly ignored his son, Pepin II. Apart from Bavaria, which with a few neighboring pagi was left to Louis the German, the empire of Charlemagne was cut into two parts. The dividing line running from north to south followed the Meuse, touched the Moselle at Toul, crossed Burgundy, and having on the west Langres, Chalon, Lyons, Geneva, followed the line of the Alps and ended at the Mediterranean. Lothar, as eldest son, was given the right to choose, and took for himself the eastern portion; the other fell to Charles. After his father’s death, Lothar was also to bear the title of Emperor, but apparently without the prerogatives attached to it by the settlement of 817. It was to be his duty to protect Charles, while the latter was bound to pay all due honor to his elder brother and godfather. These obligations once fulfilled, each prince was to be absolute master in his own kingdom. Aquitaine was thus in theory vested in Charles the Bald, but several guerilla bands still held the field in the name of Pepin II. The Emperor went thither in person to secure the recognition of his son. Setting out for Chalon where the host had been summoned to meet (1 September 839) he made his way to Clermont. Here a party of Aquitanian lords came to make their submission to their new sovereign. This did not, however, imply that the country was pacified, for many of the counts still maintained their resistance.

But Louis the Pious had now to renew the struggle with the King of Germany, who as well as Pepin was injured by the partition of 839, and had invaded Saxony and Thuringia. The Emperor advanced against him and had no great difficulty in thrusting him back into Bavaria. But as he was returning to Worms, where his son Lothar, who had gone back to Italy after the late partition, had been appointed to meet him, the cough which had long tormented him became worse. Having fallen dangerously ill at Salz, he had himself moved to an island in the Rhine opposite the palace of Ingelheim. Here he breathed his last in his tent on 20 June 840 in the arms of his half-brother Drogo, sending his pardon to his son Louis. Before his death he had proclaimed Lothar Emperor, commending Judith and Charles to his protection and ordering that the insignia of the imperial authority, the scepter, crown and sword, should be sent to him.

The dying Emperor might well have despaired of unity for Charlemagne’s Empire and have foreseen that the civil wars of the last twenty years would be renewed more fiercely than ever among his sons. As the outcome of his reign was unfortunate, and as under him the first manifestations appeared of the two scourges which were about to destroy the Frank Empire, the insubordination of the great lords on one side and the Norman invasions on the other, historians have been too easily led to accuse Louis the Pious of weakness and incapacity. He was long known by the somewhat contemptuous epithet of the Debonnaire (the good-natured, the easy-going). But in truth his life-story shows him to have been capable of perseverance and at times even of energy and resolution, although as a rule the energy was of no long duration. Louis the Pious found himself confronted by opponents, who took his clemency for a sign of weakness, and knew how to exploit his humility for their own profit by making him appear an object of contempt. But above all, circumstances were adverse to him. He was the loser in the long struggle with his sons and with the magnates; this final ill-success rather than his own character explains the severe judgment so often passed upon the son of the great Charlemagne