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DESERTED by Charles the Fat, on whom, through a strange illusion, they had fixed all their hopes, the West-Franks in 887 again found themselves as much at a loss to choose a king as they had been at the death of Carloman in 884. The feeling of attachment to the Carolingian house, whose exclusive right to the throne seemed to have been formerly hallowed, as it were, by Pope Stephen II, was still so strong, especially among the clergy, that the problem might well appear almost insoluble. It was out of the question indeed, to view as a possible sovereign the young Charles the Simple, the posthumous child of Louis II, the Stammerer. Even Fulk, Archbishop of Reims, who was later to be his most faithful supporter, did not hesitate to admit that “in the face of the fearful dangers with which the Normans threatened the kingdom it would have been imprudent to fix upon him then”. Nor, at the first moment, did anyone seem inclined towards Arnulf, illegitimate son of Carloman and grandson of Louis the German, whom the East-Franks had recently, in November 887, put in the place of Charles the Fat.

In this state of uncertainty, all eyes would naturally turn towards Odo (Eudes), Count of Paris, whose distinguished conduct when, shortly before, the Normans had laid siege to his capital, seemed to mark him out to all as the man best capable of defending the kingdom. Son of Robert the Strong, Odo, then aged between twenty-five and thirty, had, by the death of Hugh the Abbot (12 May 886), just entered into possession of the March of Neustria which had been ruled by his father. Beneficiary of the rich abbeys of Saint-Martin of Tours, CormeryVilleloin and Marmoutier, as well as Count of Anjou, Blois, Tours and Paris, and heir to the preponderating influence which Hugh the Abbot had acquired in the kingdom, in Odo the hour seemed to have brought forth the man. He was proclaimed king by a strong party, consisting mainly of Neustrians, and crowned at Compiègne on 29 February 888 by Walter, Archbishop of Sens. Nevertheless, he was far from having gained the support of all sections. To the people of Francia it seemed a hardship to submit to this Neustrian, “a stranger to the royal race”, whose interests differed widely from theirs. The leading spirit in this party of opposition was, from the outset, Fulk, Archbishop of Reims.

From at least the time of Hincmar, the Archbishop of Reims, “primate among primates”, had been one of the most conspicuous personages in the kingdom. The personal ascendancy of Fulk, who came of a noble family, was considerable; we find him openly rebuking Richilda, widow of Charles the Bald, who was leading an irregular life, and it was he who in 885 acted as the spokesman of the nobles when Charles the Fat was invited to enter the Western Kingdom; again it was he who for the next twelve years was to be the head of the Carolingian party in France. Although on the deposition of Charles the Fat, Fulk had for a moment played with the hope of raising to the throne his kinsman, Guy, Duke of Spoleto, a member of a noble Austrasian family perhaps related to the Carolingians, he now no longer hesitated to apply to Arnulf, just as three years before he had applied to Charles the Fat. Accompanied by two or three of his suffragans, he travelled to Worms (June 888) to acquaint him with the position of affairs, the usurpation of Odo, the youth of Charles the Simple, the dangers threatening the Western Kingdom, and the claims which he (Arnulf) might make to the succession. But Arnulf, hearing at this juncture that Odo “had just covered himself with glory” by inflicting, at Montfaucon in the Argonne, a severe defeat upon the Northmen (24 June 888), preferred negotiations with the “usurper”. To emphasize his own position of superiority, as successor to the Emperor, he summoned him to Worms, where Odo agreed to hold his crown of him. This was a fresh affirmation of the unity of the Empire of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious without the imperial title, but at the same time it gave a solemn sanction to the kingship of Odo.

Even within his dominions, opposition to Odo gradually gave way. Several of his opponents, among them Baldwin, Count of Flanders, had submitted. But Fulk did not allow himself to be won over. Though he had feigned to be reconciled (November 888), he was merely deferring action till fortune should change sides. For this he had not long to wait. The victory of Montfaucon proved to be a success which led to nothing; the king was forced in 889 to purchase the retreat of a Northman band ravaging the neighborhood of Paris, and to allow another to escape next year at Guerbigny near Noyon, and was finally surprised by the pirates at Wallers, near Valenciennes, in 891 and routed in the Vermandois. Several of the lords who had rallied to his cause were beginning to abandon him: Baldwin, Count of Flanders, himself had raised the standard of revolt (892). Fulk cleverly contrived to draw together all the discontented and to rally them to the cause of Charles the Simple. The latter, only eight years old in 887, was now thirteen. There were still nearly two years to wait for his majority which, in the Carolingian family, was fixed at fifteen, but the Archbishop of Reims boldly pointed out “that at least he had reached an age when he could adopt the opinions of those who gave him good counsels”. A plot was set on foot, and on 28 January 893, while Odo was on an expedition to Aquitaine, Charles was crowned in the basilica of Saint Remi at Rheims.

Without loss of time, Fulk wrote to the Pope and to Arnulf to put them in possession of the circumstances and to justify the course he had taken. Arnulf was not hard to convince, when once his own pre-eminence was recognized by the new king. But he avoided compromising himself by embracing too zealously the cause of either of the candidates, and thought it better policy to pose as the sovereign arbiter of their disputes. Before long, moreover, Charles, having reached the end of his resources and being gradually forsaken by the majority of his partisans, was reduced to negotiate, first on an equal footing, then as a repentant rebel. At the beginning of 897, Odo agreed to pardon him, and Charles having presented himself to acknowledge him as king and lord, “he gave him a part of the kingdom, and promised him even more”. These few enigmatic words convey all the information we have as to the position created for Charles. What followed showed at least the meaning of his rival’s promise. Odo having soon afterwards fallen sick at La Fère, on the Oise, and feeling his end near, begged the lords who were about him to recognize Charles as their king.

After his death, which took place on 1 January 898, the son of Louis the Stammerer was in fact acclaimed on all hands; even Odo’s own brother, Robert, who had succeeded as Count of Paris, Anjou, Blois, and Touraine, and ruled the whole of the March of Neustria, declared for him.

It thus appeared that after what was practically an interregnum peace might return to the French kingdom. But Charles was devoid of the skill to conciliate his new subjects. His conduct, despite his surname, the Simple, does not seem to have lacked energy or determination; his faults were rather, it would seem, those of imprudence and presumption.

The great event of his reign was the definitive establishment of the Northmen in France, or rather, the placing of their settlement along the lower Seine on a regular footing. One of their chiefs, the famous Rollo, having been repulsed before Paris and again before Chartres, Charles profited by the opportunity to enter into negotiations with him. An interview took place in 911 at St-Clair-sur-Epte, on the highroad from Paris to Rouen. Rollo made his submission, consented to accept Christianity, and received as a fief the counties of Rouen, Lisieux and Evreux with the country lying between the rivers Epte and Bresle and the sea. It was an ingenious method of putting an end to the Scandinavian incursions from that quarter.

But it was especially on the eastern frontier of the kingdom that Charles was able to give free scope to his enterprising spirit. The subjects of Zwentibold, King of Lorraine, an illegitimate son of the Emperor Arnulf, had in 898 revolted against him. Charles, called in by a party among them, obtained some successes, but before long had beaten a retreat. But when in September 911 Louis the Child, King of the Germans, who in 900 had succeeded in getting possession of the kingdom of Lorraine, died leaving no children, Charles saw that the moment had come for more decisive interference. Conrad, Duke of Franconia, Louis’s successor in Germany, belonged to a family unpopular in Lorraine; Charles, on the contrary, as a Carolingian, could count upon general sympathy. As early as November he was recognized by the Lorrainers as king, and as soon as peace was secured on his western border he was able, without encountering any difficulties, to come and take possession of his new kingdom. We find him already there by 1 January 912, and thenceforward he seems to show a marked preference for dwelling there. He defended the country against two attacks by Conrad, King of the Germans, and forced his successor, Henry I, to recognize the rightfulness of his authority in an interview which he had with him on a raft midway in the Rhine at Bonn on 7 November 921. His power, both in France and Lorraine, seemed to be firmly established.

This was an illusion. For some time already discontent had been secretly fermenting in the western part of France; the Neustrians were doubtless irritated at seeing the king’s exclusive preference for the lords of Lorraine. What fanned their resentment to fury was seeing him take as his confidential adviser a Lorrainer of undistinguished birth named Hagano. In the first place, between 917 and 919, they refused to join the royal host to repel a Hungarian invasion, and in 922, as Hagano continued to grow in favor, and great benefices and rich abbeys were still heaped upon him, they broke into open revolt. Robert, Marquess of Neustria, brother of the late king, Odo, was at the head of the insurgents, and on Sunday, 30 June 922, he was crowned at Reims by Walter, Archbishop of Sens.

As a crowning misfortune, Charles, at that moment, lost his most faithful supporter. Hervé, Archbishop of Reims, who had succeeded Fulk in 900 and had boldly undertaken his king’s defence against the revolted lords, died on 2 July 922, and King Robert contrived to secure the archbishopric of Reims, nominating to it one of his creatures, the archdeacon Seulf. Charles gathered an army composed chiefly of Lorrainers, and on 15 June 923 offered battle to his rival near Soissons.

Robert fell in the fight, but Charles was put to the rout, and attempted in vain to win back a section of the insurgents to his side. The Duke of Burgundy, Raoul (Radulf), son-in-law of King Robert, and, next to the Marquess of Neustria, one of the most powerful nobles in the kingdom, was crowned king on Sunday, 13 July 923, at the Church of St Medard at Soissons by the same Archbishop Walter of Sens who had already officiated at the coronations of Odo and of Robert.

Charles’s position was most serious. Still it was far from being desperate; besides the kingdom of Lorraine which still held to him, he could count upon the fidelity of Duke Rollo’s Normans and of the Aquitanians. He completed his own ruin by falling into the trap set for him by King Raoul’s brother-in-law, Herbert, Count of Vermandois. The latter gave him to understand that he had left the Carolingian party against his will, but that an opportunity now offered to repair his fault and that Charles should join him as quickly as possible with only a small escort so as to avoid arousing suspicion. His envoys vouched on oath for his good faith. Charles went unsuspiciously to the place of meeting and was made prisoner, being immured first in the fortress of Chateau-Thierry, then in that of Peronne.

But the agreement between the new king and the nobles did not last long. Herbert of Vermandois, who in making Charles prisoner seems to have mainly intended to supply himself with a weapon which could be used against Raoul, began by laying hands on the archbishopric of Reims, causing his little son Hugh, aged five, to be elected successor to Seulf (925); he then attempted to secure the county of Laon for another of his sons, Odo (927). As Raoul protested, he took Charles from his prison and caused William Longsword, son of Rollo, Duke of Normandy, to do him homage; then to keep up the odious farce, he brought the Carolingian to Reims, whence he vigorously pressed his prisoner's claims upon the Pope. Finally, in 928, he got possession of Laon.

For the sake of clearness in the narrative we give here the genealogy of the descendants of Robert the Strong, down to Hugh Capet:



Robert the Strong. Marquess of Neustria-d. 866


Odo.Marquess of Neustria. King of France 888-898


Robert.Marquess of Neustria. King of France 922-923

Hugh the Great. Duke of the Franks-d. 956

Emma =Raoul. Duke of Burgundy.King of France 923-936

Herbert II. Ct. of Vermandois

Hugh Capet.Duke of the Franks. King of France 987-996

Otto. Duke of Burgundy 960-965

Odo (surnamed Henry) a priest, then Duke of Burgundy 965-1002


The death of Charles the Simple in his prison at Péronne (7 Oct. 929) deprived Herbert of a formidable weapon always at hand, and Raoul having shortly afterwards won a brilliant victory at Limoges over the Normans of the Loire, seemed stronger than ever.

The Aquitanian nobles recognized Raoul as king, and on the death of Rollo, Duke of Normandy, his son and successor, William Long-sword, came and did homage to him, while for a time his authority was acknowledged even in the Lyonnais and the Viennois, both at that period forming part theoretically of the kingdom of Burgundy. Herbert of Vermandois still held out, but Raoul got the better of him; entering Reims by the strong hand he promoted to the archiepiscopal throne the monk Artaud (Artald) in place of young Hugh (931), and with the help of his brother-in-law Hugh the Great, son of the late King Robert, he waged an unrelenting war against Herbert, burning his strongholds, and besieging him in Château-Thierry (933-934).

Just, however, as a peace had been concluded between the king and his powerful vassal, Raoul suddenly fell sick (autumn of 935). A few months later he died (14 or 15 January 936).


Hugh the Great


The disappearance of Raoul, who died childless, once more imposed upon the nobles the obligation of choosing a king. The most powerful of their number was, without question, the Marquess of Neustria, Hugh the Great, son of King Robert, nephew of King Odo and brother-in-law of the prince who had just died. Heir to the whole of the former “March”, once entrusted to Robert the Strong, consisting of all the counties lying between Normandy and Brittany, the Loire and the Seine, Hugh was recognized throughout these districts if not as the direct lord, at least as a suzerain who was respected and obeyed. The petty local counts and viscounts, the future rulers of Angers, Blois, Chartres or Le Mans, who were beginning on all hands to consolidate their power, were his very submissive vassals. The numerous domains which Hugh had reserved for himself, his titles as Abbot of St Martin of Tours, of Marmoutier, and perhaps also of St Aignan of Orleans, gave him, besides, opportunities of acting directly over the whole extent of the Neustrian March. He was also Count of Paris, had possessions in the district of Meaux, was titular Abbot of St Denis, of Morienval, of St Valery, and of St Riquier and St Germain at Auxerre, and finally, in addition to all this, bearing the somewhat vague, but imposing title of “Duke of the Franks”, Hugh the Great was a person of the highest importance.

But however great was the ascendancy of the “Duke of the Franks” he did not fail to meet with formidable opposition, the chief of it coming from the other brother-in-law of the late King Raoul, Herbert, Count of Vermandois. A direct descendant of Charlemagne, through his grandfather, Bernard, King of Italy (the same prince whose eyes had been put out by Louis the Pious in 818), Herbert also held sway over extensive domains. Besides Vermandois, he possessed in all probability the counties of Melun and Château-Thierry, and perhaps even that of Meaux, to which, a few months later, he was to add those of Sens and Troyes. His tortuous policy had, as we have seen, made him for several years in King Raoul's reign the arbiter of the situation. Ambitious, astute, and devoid of scruples, Herbert was a dangerous opponent, and was evidently little inclined to further the elevation to the throne of the powerful duke of the Franks in whom he had found a persistent adversary.

Such being the situation, the sentiment of loyalty to the Carolingians once more gained an easy triumph. It was conveniently remembered that when Charles the Simple had fallen into captivity, his wife, Queen Eadgifu, had fled to the court of her father, Edward the Elder, King of the English, taking with her Louis her son who was still a child. Educated at his grandfather’s court, then under his uncle Aethelstan, who had succeeded Edward in 926, Louis, whose surname “d'Outremer” (“from beyond the sea”) recalls his early years, was now about fifteen. There was a general agreement to offer him the crown. Hugh the Great seems from the outset very dexterously to have taken his claims under his patronage, and when Louis landed a few weeks later at Boulogne he was one of the first to go and greet him. On Sunday 19 June 936, Louis was solemnly crowned at Laon by Artaud, the Archbishop of Reims

From the very beginning, Hugh the Great sought to get exclusive possession of the young king. First he brought him with him to dispute possession of Burgundy with its duke, Hugh the Black, brother of the late King Raoul: then he drew him in his wake to Paris. But Louis proved to have the same high and independent spirit, the same energetic temper as his father. He skewed this markedly by reviving Charles the Simple’s claims to Lorraine, which, in the reign of Raoul, had been re-taken by the king of Germany (925) and reduced to a duchy. Louis invaded it in 938 at the request of its duke, Gilbert (Giselbert). But the results of this firm and decided course were the same as in the case of Charles the Simple. The party of opposition gathered again around Hugh the Great and Herbert of Vermandois, whom a common hostility drew together. The Carolingian's chief support lay in Artaud, Archbishop of Reims.

The rebels marched straight upon Reims. The place made but a faint resistance, Hugh the Great and Herbert entering it after brief delay. Artaud was driven from his see and sent to the monastery of St Basle, while Herbert procured the consecration in his stead of his own son Hugh, the same candidate whom a few years earlier King Raoul had replaced by Artaud. The rebels proceeded to besiege Laon. Louis defended himself vigorously. In company with Artaud, who had fled from his monastery, he advanced to raise the blockade of Laon. But his bold attempt upon Lorraine had resulted in drawing Otto, the new King of Germany, towards Hugh the Great and Herbert. At their request he entered France, stopping at the palace of Attigny to receive their homage, and for a short time even pitching his camp on the banks of the Seine (940).

Defeated in the Ardennes by Hugh and Herbert, forced to flee into the kingdom of Burgundy, cut off from Artaud (who had been deposed in a synod held at Reims, and again shut up in the monastery of St Basle, while his rival Hugh obtained the confirmation of his dignity from the Holy See), King Louis seemed to be in a desperate position (941). But at this moment came one of those sudden reversals of policy which so frequently occur in the history of the tenth century. From the moment when he seemed likely to prevail, Hugh the Great was deserted by Otto, who had every interest in maintaining the actual state of instability and uncertainty in France. Louis and Otto had an interview at Vise on the Meuse, in the month of November 942, at which their reconciliation was sealed. Simultaneously, Pope Stephen VIII raised his voice in favor of the Carolingian, ordering all the inhabitants of the kingdom to recognize Louis afresh as king, and declaring that “if they did not attend to his warnings and continued to pursue the king in arms, he would pronounce them excommunicate”. Hugh the Great consented to make his submission. Soon afterwards the death of Herbert of Vermandois was to rid Louis of one of his most dangerous enemies (943).

An accident very nearly caused the settlement to fall through. Louis, like his father, was taken in an ambush in Normandy and handed over to Hugh the Great (945). But the latter quickly realized that an attempt at revolution would only end in disappointment, and thought it better policy to obtain from the king the surrender of his capital, Laon.

As soon as he was set at liberty, Louis appealed to Otto. The kings joined in re-taking Reims, drove out the Archbishop, Hugh of Vermandois, and restored Artaud (946). Then in June 948 a solemn council assembled on German soil at Ingelheim, under the presidency of the Pope’s legate, to consider the situation. The kings, Louis and Otto, appeared there side by side. Hugh of Vermandois was excommunicated. Louis himself made a speech, and recalled how “he had been summoned from regions beyond the sea by the envoys of Duke Hugh and the other lords of France, to receive the kingdom, the inheritance of his father’s; how he had been raised to the royal dignity and consecrated by the universal desire and amid the acclamations of the magnates and warriors of the Franks; how then, after that he had been driven from his throne by the same Hugh, traitorously attacked, made prisoner and detained by him under a strong guard for a whole year; how at last in order to recover his liberty he had been compelled to abandon to him the town of Laon, the only one of all the royal residences which the queen, Gerberga, and his faithful subjects had been able to preserve”. In conclusion he added that “if anyone would maintain that these evils endured by him since he had obtained the crown had come upon him by his own fault, he would purge himself of that accusation according to the judgment of the Synod and the decision of King Otto, and that he was even prepared to make good his right in single combat”. Touched by this remonstrance, the Fathers of the Council replied by the following decision: “For the future, let none dare to assail the royal power, nor traitorously to dishonor it by a perfidious attack. We decide, in consequence, according to the decree of the Council of Toledo, that Hugh, the invader and despoiler of the kingdom of Louis, be smitten with sword of excommunication, unless, within the interval fixed, he shall present himself before the Council, and unless he amends his ways, giving satisfaction for his signal perversity”. And, in fact, Hugh the Great, who had not feared even further to expel the Bishop of Laon from his see, was summoned under pain of excommunication to appear at a forthcoming council which was to meet at Treves in the ensuing month of September. He did not appear and was excommunicated. Not long after, a lucky stroke made Louis again master of Laon (949) and Hugh, again solemnly excommunicated by the Pope “until he should give satisfaction to King Louis”, was soon constrained to come and renew his submission (950).

Everything considered, the power of Louis seemed to have been greatly strengthened, when he died suddenly on 10 September 954, as a result of a fall from his horse. This explains why the nobles, Duke Hugh foremost among them, without raising any difficulties chose his eldest son Lothair (Lothar) to succeed him. The latter, then aged about fourteen, was crowned at Rheims on 12 November 954.


Lothair and Otto II

Delivered ere long from the embarrassing patronage of Hugh the Great, whom death removed on 17 June 956, Lothair, a few years later, thought himself strong enough to resume the policy of his father and grandfather in Lorraine. He gave secret encouragement to the nobles of that country who were in revolt against Otto II, the new King of Germany, and in 978 attempted by a sudden stroke to recover the ground lost in that direction since the days of Raoul. He secretly raised an army and marched upon Aix-la-Chapelle, where he counted on surprising Otto. The stroke miscarried. Otto, warned in time, had been able to escape. Lothair entered Aix, installed himself in the old Carolingian palace, and by way of a threat, turned round to the east the brazen eagle with outspread wings which stood on the top of the palace. But provisions failed, and three days afterwards he was obliged to beat a retreat. Otto, in revenge, threw himself upon the French kingdom, destroyed Compiegne and Attigny, took Laon and pitched his camp upon the heights of Montmartre. He was only able to burn the suburbs of Paris, and then after having a victorious Alleluia chanted by his priests he fell back upon the Aisne (November 978). Lothair only just failed to cut off his passage across the river, and even succeeded in massacring his camp-followers and taking his baggage. This barren struggle was not, on the whole, of advantage to either sovereign. An agreement took place; in July 980 Lothair and Otto met at Margut on the Chiers on the frontier of the two kingdoms, when they embraced and swore mutual friendship.

It was a reconciliation in appearance only, and a few months later Otto eagerly welcomed the overtures of Hugh the Great’s son, Hugh Capet, Duke of the Franks. The death of Otto on 7 December 983 deferred the final rupture. But dark intrigues, of which the Archbishopric of Reims was the centre, were soon to be woven round the unfortunate Carolingian.

The Archbishop of Reims, Adalbero, belonged to one of the most important families of Lorraine. One of his brothers was Count of Verdun and of the Luxembourg district. Talented, learned, alert and ambitious, his sympathies as well as his family interests bound him to the Ottonian house. In the same way Gerbert the scholasticus, the future Pope Sylvester II, whom a close friendship united to Adalbero, owed the foundation of his fortune and his success in life to Otto I and Otto II. As he had long been a vassal of Otto II, from whom he had received the rich abbey of Bobbio, his devotion was assured in advance to young Otto III who had just succeeded, and to his mother, the Empress Theophano. Lothair having thought well to form an alliance with Henry, Duke of Bavaria, young Otto's rival, Adalbero and Gerbert did not hesitate to plot his ruin. A whole series of obscure letters, with a hidden meaning, often written on a system agreed upon beforehand, were exchanged between Adalbero and Gerbert and the party of Otto III. Hugh Capet was won over to the imperial cause, and a skilful system of espionage was organized around Lothair

The latter, nevertheless, defended himself with remarkable courage and firmness. He contrived to recruit followers even among the vassals of Hugh Capet, threw himself upon Verdun, surprised the place, and so took captive several Lorraine nobles of Adalbero’s kindred who had shut themselves up there. Finally he summoned Adalbero on a charge of high treason before the general assembly to be held at Compiegne on 11 May 985. Unfortunately, all these exertions were in vain; Hugh Capet came up with an army and dispersed the assembly at Compiegne. Not long after the king took a chill and died suddenly on 2 March 986.

Lothair had taken the precaution, as early as 979, to have his son Louis V acknowledged and crowned king. The latter, who was nineteen years of age, succeeded him without opposition. He was about to take up his father’s policy with some vigour, and had just issued a fresh summons to Adalbero to appear before an assembly which was to meet at Compiegne, when a sudden fall proved fatal (21 or 22 May 987).

Louis left no children. There remained, however, one Carolingian who might have a legitimate claim to the crown, Charles, brother of the late King Lothair. After a quarrel with his brother, Charles, in 977, had taken service with the Emperor, who had given him the duchy of Lower Lorraine. From that time Charles had taken up the position of a rival to Lothair; in 978 he had accompanied Otto II on his expedition to Paris and perhaps had even tried to get himself recognized as king. But soon there was a complete change; Charles had become reconciled to his brother in order to plot against Otto III. At the same time he had fallen out with Adalbero, and when the succession to the French crown was suddenly thrown open in 987, his prospects of obtaining it seemed from the first to be gravely compromised.

The truth was that for a century past political conceptions had gradually been transformed. Although the kingship had never ceased, even in Charlemagne’s day, to be considered as in theory elective, it seemed, up to the time when Odo was called to the throne, that only a Carolingian could aspire to the title of king. The theory of the incapacity of any other family to receive the crown was still brilliantly sustained during the last years of the ninth century by Fulk, Archbishop of Reims. In a very curious letter of self-justification, which he wrote in 893, he laid it down that Odo, being a stranger to the royal race, was a mere usurper; that the King of Germany, Arnulf, having refused to accept the crown which he himself and his supporters offered him, they had been forced to wait until Charles the Simple, “with Arnulf, the only remaining member of the royal house”, should be of an age to ascend the throne, which his brothers, Louis III and Carloman, had occupied. He added that by conferring power on him they had merely observed the principle almost universally known, by virtue of which royalty, among the Franks, had not ceased to be hereditary. Consequently he entreated King Arnulf to interfere for the maintenance of this principle, and not to permit that usurpers should prevail against “those to whom the royal power was due by reason of their birth”.

In 987 these principles were far from being forgotten. Adalbero, Hugh Capet himself, according to a contemporary historian, Richer, monk of St Remi at Rheims, declared that “if Louis of divine memory, son of Lothair, had left children, it would have been fitting that they should have succeeded him”. Nor shall we find the rights of Charles of Lorraine, brother of King Lothair, denied in principle, and in order to eliminate them it was necessary to have recourse to the argument that Charles by his conduct had rendered himself unworthy to reign.

Another principle had indeed been gradually developing, to the prejudice of hereditary right, namely, that the king, having as his function to defend the kingdom against enemies from without, and to preserve peace and concord within it, ought to be chosen by reason of his capacity. We have seen that Archbishop Fulk himself had deliberately set aside Charles the Simple in 888, “because he was still too young both in body and mind, and consequently unfit to govern”. In the same way, the historian Richer makes Adalbero say “that only a man distinguished for valor, wisdom and honor should be put at the head of the kingdom”. And in fact, since the death of Charles the Fat, the Carolingians had more than once been supplanted by kings unconnected with their house.

Now even before the succession fell vacant, there was a personage in the kingdom who, as Gerbert wrote in 985, although under the nominal king was in fact the real king. This personage was the Duke of the Franks, Hugh Capet, son of Hugh the Great. With singular skill and perseverance, Hugh the Great, and afterwards Hugh Capet had never in fact ceased to extend through the kingdom, if not their direct domination, at least their preponderating influence. We have seen how, at the accession of Louis IV, Hugh the Great had attempted to act the part of regent of the kingdom. In a charter of the year 936 Louis himself declares that he acts “by the counsel of his well-beloved Hugh, duke of the Franks, who in all our kingdoms holds the first place after me”. This guardianship had soon become burdensome to the young king who had freed himself from it, but Hugh had none the less maneuvered very adroitly to increase his prestige. Having lost his wife, Eadhild, sister of the English King Aethelstan, he had married, about 937, a sister of Otto I, King of Germany. Soon after, in 943, he had obtained from Louis IV the suzerainty of Burgundy, thus interposing himself between the sovereign and a whole class of his greatest vassals; a little later he had succeeded in usurping the overlordship of Normandy, and finally in 954 he had attempted to add to it that of Aquitaine. The new King, Lothair, having allowed this fresh grant to be extorted from him, had even been obliged to go with the duke to lay siege to Poitiers (955). The attempt, however, had failed, but in 956 on the death of Gilbert, Duke of Burgundy, Hugh directly appropriated his inheritance. Owner of numerous abbeys and estates dispersed here and there through the kingdom, in Berry, in the Autun district, in that of Meaux and in Picardy, he really did appear as the “Duke of the Gauls” as, some thirty years later, the historian Richer styles him, and his power throwing that of the king into the shade, he had publicly held almost royal courts (placita) to which bishops, abbots and counts resorted in crowds.

His son, Hugh Capet, had been obliged to give up Burgundy to his brother Otto, and had tried in vain to secure the Duchy of Aquitaine, of which he had obtained a fresh grant from King Lothair in 960. But at the same time he saw, the power of his rivals much more seriously diminished. The possessions of Herbert II of Vermandois, who died in 943, had been divided among his sons, and in 987 neither Albert I, titular of the little county of Vermandois, nor even the Count of Troyes, Meaux and Provins, Herbert the Young, although his territorial power was beginning to be somewhat of a menace, was of sufficient importance to compete in influence with the Duke of the Franks. But if the duke’s authority, when closely examined, might seem to be undermined by the growing independence of several of his vassals, it was none the less very imposing; suzerain, if not immediate holder of all Neustria, including Normandy, of an important part of France, and titular of several rich abbeys, the Duke of the Franks, who had on his side the support of Adalbero and Gerbert, might well seem expressly marked out to succeed to the inheritance suddenly left vacant by the death of Louis V.

And this, indeed, was what took place. The assembly which Louis V at the time of his death had summoned to meet at Compiegne to judge in Archbishop Adalbero’s case, was held under the presidency of Duke Hugh. As was to be expected, it decided that the charges against the prelate were groundless, and, at his suggestion, resolved to meet again a little later at Senlis on the territory of the Duke of the Franks and to proceed to the election of a king. Adalbero there explained without circumlocution that it was impossible to think of entrusting the crown to Charles, Duke of Lorraine. “How can we bestow any dignity” he exclaimed (according to the report of the historian Richer who was doubtless present in the assembly) “upon Charles, who is in nowise guided by honor, who is enervated by lethargy, who, in a word, has so lost his judgment as no longer to feel shame at serving a foreign king, and at mismatching himself with a woman of birth inferior to his own, the daughter of a mere knight? How could the powerful duke suffer that a woman, coming from the family of one of his vassals, should become queen and rule over him? How could he walk behind one whose equals and even whose superiors bend the knee before him? Examine the situation carefully, and reflect that Charles has been rejected more by his own fault than by that of others. Let your decision be rather for the good than for the misfortune of the State. If you value its prosperity, crown Hugh, the illustrious duke. Let no man be led away by attachment to Charles, let no man through hatred of the duke be drawn away from what is useful to all. For if you have faults to find in the good man, how can you praise the wicked? If you commend the wicked man, how can you condemn the good? Remember the threatening of God who says: ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness!’. Take then as your master the duke, who has made himself illustrious by his actions, his nobility, and his resourcefulness, and in whom you will find a protector, not only of the public weal, but also of your private interests. His benevolence will make him a father to you. Where is the man, indeed, who has appealed to him without finding protection? Who is he who, being deprived of the help of his own people, has not by him been restored to them?”. These reasons seemed conclusive, no doubt, to an assembly which asked nothing better than to be convinced. Hugh Capet was proclaimed and crowned at Noyon on Sunday, 8 July 987.

Such were the circumstances attending what is called, improperly enough, the Capetian Revolution. To speak correctly, there was no more a revolution in 987 than there had been a century before when Odo was chosen. In one case as in the other the Carolingian had been set aside because he was considered, or there was a determination to consider him, unfit to govern. If in after years the event of 987 has seemed to mark an epoch in the history of France, it, is because Hugh Capet was able enough to hand on his heritage to his son, and because the house of Capet succeeded in retaining power for many long centuries. But this was in some sort an accident, the after-effect of which on the constitution of the State is hardly traceable. It is quite impossible to say in any sense that the kingship became by this event a feudal kingship; neither in this respect nor in any other was the occurrence of 987 of a subversive character; the position of the monarchy in France was to prove itself on the morrow of Hugh Capet's election exactly what it had been in the time of his predecessors.

The fact was that since the end of the ninth century, monarchy in France had been steadily losing ground. More and more, the sovereign had found himself incapable of fulfilling the social tasks assigned him, especially, what was most important in the eyes of contemporaries, upon whom lawlessness and disorder pressed intolerably, his task of defending and protecting order and security.

It was the height of the peril from the Northmen that Odo was chosen by the barons, who acclaimed in him the hero of the siege of Paris, the one man capable of making head against the pirates. And indeed it seemed just at first as though he would not fall short of the hopes entertained of him. In June 888 he surprised a whole band of Northmen at Montfaucon in the Argonne district. He had a thousand horsemen at most with him, while the Northmen were ten times as numerous. The impetuous onset of his troops overthrew the enemy; he himself fought in the foremost rank and in the thick of the melée received a blow from an axe which thrust his helmet back upon his shoulders. Instantly he ran his daring assailant through with his sword, and remained master of the field of battle. But the Northmen returned to the charge. A few weeks later they seized Meaux and threatened Paris. Again Odo hurried up with an army and covered the town. None the less, the Northmen wintered on the banks of the Loing, and in 889 again threatened Paris, when Odo found himself forced to purchase their withdrawal, just as Charles the Fat had done. In November 890 as the Northmen, after ravaging Brittany and the Cotentin, crossed the Seine and marched towards the valley of the Oise, Odo again hastened up to bar their way. He overtook them in the neighbourhood of Guerbigny, not far from Noyon. But the Northmen had a marsh and a brook between them and the king, and the latter was helpless to stay their course. At least he remained with his army on the banks of the Oise to protect the surrounding country. Strongly entrenched in their camp to the south of Noyon, the Northmen spread their ravages far to the north. In the early part of 891 Odo attempted to intercept a band of them returning, laden with booty from Arnulf's kingdom. He hoped to surprise them at Wallers, a few miles from Valenciennes, but once again they escaped him and broke away through the forests, leaving only their spoil in his hands.

Further to the west another contingent might be seen, settled at Amiens, under the leadership of the famous Hasting, in their turn pillaging the country and pushing their ravages as far as Artois. The kin’s energy showed signs of slackening; after another failure near Amiens, he allowed himself to be surprised by the enemy in Vermandois where his army was put to flight (end of 891). In 896 he makes no more attempt at resistance, a handful of pirates ravage the banks of the Seine below Paris with impunity, and, ascending the Oise, take up their winter quarters near Compiegne, in the royal ‘villa’ of Choisy-au-Bac.

Throughout the summer of 897 they continued their ravages along the banks of the Seine, while Odo does not appear at all. Finally he was roused from his inaction, but only to negotiate, to “redeem his kingdom”. He actually left the Northmen free to go and winter on the Loire! Thus gradually even Odo had shown himself incapable of bridling them; at first he had successfully resisted them, then, though watching them narrowly, he had been unable to surprise them, and had suffered himself to be defeated by them; finally, he looked on indifferently at their plunderings, and confined himself to bribing them to depart, and diverting them to other parts of the kingdom.

Such was the situation when Odo died, and Charles the Simple was universally recognized as king. The Northmen pillaged Aquitaine and pillaged Neustria, but Charles remained unmoved. Another party went up the Somme, and this was a direct menace to the Carolingian's own possessions. He therefore gathered an army and repulsed the pirates, who fell back into Brittany (898). At the end of that year they invaded Burgundy, burning the monasteries and slaughtering the inhabitants. Charles made no sign, but left it to the Duke of Burgundy, Richard, to rid himself of them as best he might. Richard, indeed, put them to flight, but allowed them to carry their ravages elsewhere. In 903 other Northern bands, led by Eric and Baret, ascended the Loire as far as Tours and burnt the suburbs of the town; in 910 they pillaged Berry and killed the Archbishop of Bourges; in 911 they besieged Chartres, the king still paying no attention. These facts are significant; evidently the king gives up the idea of defending the kingdom as a whole, and leaves it to each individual to cope with his difficulties as he may. When the region where he exercises direct authority is endangered, he intervenes, but as soon as he has diverted the fury of the pirates upon another part of the kingdom, his conscience is satisfied, and his example is followed on all hands.

In 911 Charles entered into negotiations with Rollo, and, as we have seen, the result was that a great part of the Norman bands established themselves permanently in the districts of Rouen, Lisieux and Evreux, but the character which the negotiations assumed and the share that the king took in them are uncertain. In any case, the chief object of the convention of St-Clair-sur-Epte was to put a stop to the incursions by way of the Seine and the Oise; as to the other Norman bands, or the Northmen of the Loire, the king does not concern himself with them, and we shall find them in 924 vociferously demanding a settlement like that of Rollo.

For the rest, the so-called Treaty of St-Clair-sur-Epte however beneficial it may have been, was far from bringing about peace even in the northern part of the kingdom. Though for the most part converted to Christianity, the companions of Rollo were not tamed and civilized in a day. Increased in numbers by the fresh recruits who came in from the north, they more than once resumed their raids for plunder, often in concert with the Northmen of the Loire. And at the same time a new scourge fell upon the country. Troops of Hungarians, having devastated South Germany, Lorraine and Alsace, advanced in 917 into French Burgundy and threatened the very heart of the kingdom. Confronted with this danger, Charles endeavored to exert himself. But it was now that the utter weakness of the monarchy was made manifest; the barons, ill-pleased with their sovereign, with one accord refused to join the ost. Only the Archbishop of Reims appeared with his vassals, and upon him alone the safety of the kingdom was left to depend.

Thenceforward the Northmen in the north and west, and the Hungarians in the East, harry the country with frenzied pillaging and burning. As long as the king was not directly threatened he remained indifferent and supine: not only did he allow the Normans to devastate Brittany from one end to the other, indeed he had officially permitted them to pillage it in 911, but he allowed them also to go up the Loire, fix themselves at Nantes, burn Angers and Tours, and besiege Orleans (919). The only resistance the spoilers met with in that quarter came, not from the king, but from the Marquess of Neustria, Robert, who in 921 succeeded in driving them out of his duchy at the cost of leaving them at full liberty to settle in the Nantes district. In 923 they plundered Aquitaine and Auvergne, the Duke of Aquitaine and the Count of Auvergne being left to deal with them on their own account. In the same year King Charles himself summoned the Northmen to the north of the kingdom in order to resist Raoul, whom the magnates had just set up in his stead as king. From the Loire and from Rouen the pirates burst forth upon France; they again went up the Oise and pillaged Artois and the Beauvaisis, so that at the beginning of 924 the threatened lords of France were forced to club together to bribe them into retiring. Even then the Normans of Rouen would not depart until they had extorted the cession of the whole of the Bayeux district, and doubtless of that of Séez also.

Still the devastations went on. The Northmen of the Loire, led by Rognvald also demanded a fief in their turn, and committed fresh ravages in Neustria. Here were the domains of Hugh the Great, King Raoul consequently made no movement. In December 924 the robbers invaded Burgundy, and being repulsed after a determined and bloody struggle, came and fixed themselves on the Seine near Melun. Much alarmed, King Raoul found in France a mere handful of barons prepared to follow him, Church vassals from Reims and Soissons, and the Count of Vermandois. These could not suffice. He set off at once for Burgundy to try to recruit additional troops. Duke Hugh the Great, fearing for his own dominions, came and took up a post of observation near the Northmen’s entrenchments. But while the king was in Burgundy with difficulty collecting an army, the Northmen decamped without the slightest effort on Hugh’s part to pursue them.

The Northmen of Rouen thereupon resumed operations more fiercely than ever; they burned Amiens, Arras and the suburbs of Noyon. Once again directly threatened, the king hurried back from Burgundy and convoked the inhabitants of the district. This time the lords felt the necessity for union, and responded to the king's appeal; all took up arms, the Count of Vermandois and the Count of Flanders among others, and getting possession of Eu they slaughtered a whole band of pirates. Some months later the Northmen surprised the king at Fauquembergue in Artois. A bloody struggle ensued, the king was wounded and the Count of Ponthieu killed, but a thousand Northmen lay dead upon the field. The remainder fled, and indemnified themselves by pillaging the whole of the north of France.

Just at this time (beginning of 926) the Hungarians fell upon the country, and for a moment even threatened the territory round Rheims. Once again contributions were raised to buy the departure of the Northmen, and, meanwhile, the Hungarians re-crossed the frontier without let or hindrance.

Raoul, however, seemed disposed to make an effort to do his duty as king. In 930, as he was endeavoring to subdue the Aquitanians, who had rebelled against his authority, he met a strong party of Northmen in the Limousin; he pursued them valorously and cut them to pieces. Five years later, as the Hungarians were invading Burgundy, burning, robbing, and killing as they went, Raoul suddenly came up, and his presence sufficed to put the ravagers to flight. The Northmen, for their part, content themselves thenceforward with ravaging Brittany.

But hardly was Raoul dead when the Hungarians grew bolder. Repulsed from Germany in 937, they flooded the kingdom of France, burning and pillaging the monasteries around Reims and Sens. They penetrated into the midst of Berry, and, traversing the whole of Burgundy, passed into Italy to continue their ravages there. In 951 Aquitaine was devastated in its turn; in 954 having burnt the suburbs of Cambrai, they pillaged Vermandois, and the country round Laon and Reims, as well as Burgundy.

Against all these incursions, the atrocity of which left a strong impression on the minds of contemporaries, the monarchy did nothing. After having attempted to lead the struggle against the barbarians, it had gradually narrowed its outlook and had thought it sufficient to protect—though even this was in an intermittent way—the territories in which its actual domains lay, leaving to the dukes and counts of other districts the task of providing for their own defense. All care for the public interest was so far forgotten that each man, the king as well as the rest, felt that he had performed his whole duty when he had thrust back the predatory bands upon his neighbor’s territory. The conception of a State divided into administrative districts over which the king placed counts who were merely his representatives, had been completely obliterated. The practice of commendation, as it became general, had turned the counts into local magnates, the immediate lords of each group of inhabitants whose fealty they thenceforth transmit from one to another by hereditary right. After 888 not a single legislative measure is found emanating from the king, not a single measure involving the public interest. There is no longer any question of royal imposts levied throughout France; even when the buying of the Northmen by the payment of a tribute is concerned it is only the regions actually in danger which contribute their quota.

Once entered on this path, the kingdom was rapidly frittered away into fragments. Since the king no longer protected the people they were necessarily obliged to group themselves in communities around certain counts more powerful than the rest, and to seek in them protectors able to resist the barbarians. Besides, the monarchy itself fostered this tendency. From the earliest Carolingian times it had happened more than once that the king had laid on this or that count the command of several frontier counties, forming them under him into a “march” or duchy capable of offering more resistance to the enemy than isolated counties could do. From being exceptional and temporary this expedient, in the course of years, had become usual and definitive. The kingdom had thus been split up into a certain number of great duchies, having more or less coherence, at the head of which were genuine local magnates, who had usurped or appropriated all the royal rights, and on whose wavering fidelity alone the unity of the kingdom depended for support.

In appearance, the sovereign in the tenth century ruled from the mouths of the Scheldt to the south of Barcelona. Some years before the final overthrow of the dynasty we still find the Carolingian king granting charters at the request of the Count of Holland or the Duke of Roussillon, while we constantly see the monasteries of the Spanish March sending delegates to Laon or Compiegne to secure confirmation in their possessions from the king. From Aquitaine, Normandy, and Burgundy, as from Flanders and Neustria, monks and priests, counts and dukes are continually begging him to grant them some act of confirmation. This was because the traditional conception of monarchy with its quasi providential authority was thoroughly engrafted in men's minds. But the actual state of things was very different. The Gascons, never really subjugated, enjoyed an independent existence; though they dated their charters according to the regnal year of the king of France, they no longer had any connection with him. To the east of Gascony lay the three great marches of Toulouse, Gothia and Spain. The latter, dismembered from ancient Gothia (whence came its name of Gothalania or Catalonia) extended over the southern slope of the Pyrenees beyond Llobregat. Since 875 it had been governed by the Counts of Barcelona, who, as early as the end of the ninth century, had gained possession of all the other counties of the March, those of Gerona, Ampurias, Perelada, Besalu, Ausonia, Berga, Cerdaña, UrgelPailhas and Ribagorza.

They had even at last extended their suzerainty north of the Pyrenees over the counties of Conflent and Roussillon, which certain counts of their family had succeeded in detaching from Gothia, in the hope, perhaps—though this is not certain—of securing for themselves an independent sways. It was a strange thing, but in these remote parts the king's name—no doubt by the very reason of his distance—still inspired a certain awe. In 944, we find the monks of San Pedro de Roda in the county of Ansonia, by the advice indeed of Sunifred, the Count of Barcelona, coming as far as Laon to ask of Louis IV a charter expressly recognizing their independence, which was threatened by two neighboring convents. Louis IV granted them a formal charter by which he takes them under his protection, and, employing the ancient formula, forbids “all counts, all representatives of the public power, and all judicial authorities to come within” their domains. It must be added, however, that the royal authority does not seem to have been scrupulously respected, for four years later, the monks of San Pedro and their rivals found it advisable to come to a compromise, for which, nevertheless, they made a point of coming to beg the king's confirmation. And in 986 even the Count of Barcelona reflects that his sovereign owes him protection, and being attacked by the Musulmans, does not hesitate to appeal to him. But, as a fact, the March of Spain was almost as completely independent as that of the Duchy of Gascony. The king's sovereignty was recognized there, the charters were dated with careful precision according to the year of his reign, the Count of Barcelona no doubt came and did him homage, but he had no power of interfering in the affairs of the country, except in so far as his action was invited.

The March of Gothia, between the Cevennes and the Mediterranean, the Lower Rhone and Roussillon, had gradually lost its individual existence and fallen under the suzerainty of the Counts of Toulouse, whom the records of the tenth century magniloquently style “Princes of Gothia”. They recognized the king’s authority, and came to do him homage; and the charters in their country were dated according to his regnal year, but further than this the connection between the sovereign and his subjects did not extend.

Further north, between the Loire and the ocean, lay the immense duchy of Aquitaine, a region never fully incorporated with the Frankish state. From 781 onwards Charlemagne had found himself obliged to form it into a separate kingdom, though subordinate to his own superior authority, for the benefit of his third son Louis the Pious. When the latter became Emperor in 814 the existence of the kingdom of Aquitaine had been respected, and down to 877 the Aquitanians had continued to live their own life under their own king. But at this date their king, Louis the Stammerer, having become King of France, formed the land into a duchy, a measure which, as may easily be imagined, did not contribute to bind it more closely to the rest of the kingdom. The ducal title, long disputed between the Counts of Toulouse, Auvergne and Poitiers, ended, in the middle of the tenth century, by falling to the latter, despite reiterated attempts on the part of Hugh the Great and Hugh Capet to tear it from their grasp. In the course of these struggles King Lothair several times appeared south of the Loire in the train of the Duke of the Franks. In 955 we find him laying siege with Hugh to Poitiers, and in 958 he was in the Nivernais, about to march against the Count of Poitou. Finally, in 979 Lothair took a decisive step, and restored the kingdom of Aquitaine, unheard-of for a century, for the benefit of his young son Louis V, whom he had just crowned at Compiégne. A marriage with Adelaide, widow of the Count of Gevaudan, was no doubt destined in his expectation to consolidate Louis's power. It was celebrated in the heart of Auvergne, in the presence of Lothair himself and of a brilliant train of magnates and bishops. But this attempt at establishing direct rule over Aquitaine led only to a mortifying check. Before three years had passed, Lothair found himself compelled to go in person and withdraw his son from Auvergne. In fact, no sooner was the Loire crossed than a new and strange France seemed to begin; its manners and customs were different, and when young Louis V tried to adopt them, the Northerners pursued him with their sarcasms. And later, when Robert the Pious married Constance, their indignation was aroused by the facile manners, the clothes, and customs which her suite introduced among them. Such things were, in their eyes, “the manners of foreigners”. The true kingdom of France, in which its sovereigns felt themselves really at home, ended at the Aquitanian frontier.

To the north of that frontier the ties of vassalage which bound the counts and dukes to the sovereign were less relaxed than in the south. But the breaking-up of the State into a certain number of great principalities had gone forward here on parallel lines. Not counting Brittany, which had never been thoroughly incorporated, and thenceforward remained completely independent, the greater part of Neustria had split off, and since the ninth century had been formed into a March, continually increasing in extent, for the benefit of Robert the Strong and his successors. France, in its turn, reduced by the formation of Lorraine to the lands lying between the North Sea and the Channel, the Seine below Nogent-sur-Seine and the lines of the Meuse and Scheldt, was also cut into on the north by the rise of Flanders, and on the west by that of Normandy which at the same time reduced the former area of Neustria by one-third, while to the east the March or Duchy of Burgundy was taking shape in that part of ancient Burgundy which had remained French. The study of the rise of these great principalities is in the highest degree instructive, because it enables us to point out the exact process by which the diminution of the royal power was being effected.

For Flanders it is necessary to go back to the time of Charles the Bald. About 863 that king had entrusted to Count Baldwin, whose marriage with his daughter Judith he had just sanctioned, some counties to the north, among which were, no doubt, Ghent, Bruges, Courtrai and the Mempisc district. These formed a genuine “March”, the creation of which was justified by the necessity of defending the country against the northern pirates. The danger on this side was not less serious than from the direction of the Loire, where the March of Neustria was set up, almost at the same time, for Robert the Strong. The descendants of Count Baldwin I not only succeeded in holding the March thus constituted, but worked unceasingly to extend its limits. Baldwin II the Bald (879-918), son of Baldwin I, took advantage of the difficulties with which Odo and Charles the Simple had to struggle to lay hands upon Arras. In the year 900, Charles the Simple having intended, by the advice of Fulk, Archbishop of Reims, to retake the town, Baldwin II had the prelate assassinated, and not content with keeping Artois, succeeded in fixing himself in the Tournaisis, and in getting a foothold, if he had not already done so, in the county of Thérouanne by obtaining from the king the Abbey of Saint-Bertin. His son, Arnold I (918-964) showed himself in all respects his worthy successor. Devoid of scruples, not hesitating to rid himself by murder of William Longsword, Duke of Normandy, whom he considered dangerous (942) just as his father had done in the case of Archbishop Fulk, Arnold attacked Ponthieu where he got possession of Montreuil-sur-Mer (948). Thus at that time the Flemish March included all the lands lying between the Scheldt as far as its mouth, the North Sea and the Canche, and by the acquisition of Montreuil-sur-Mer even stretched into Ponthieu.

This progressive extension towards the south could not be other than a menace to the monarchy. As in the case of Aquitaine, Lothair endeavored to check it by a sudden stroke, which on this occasion was at least partly successful. In the first place he was astute enough to persuade Arnold I, now broken in spirit, it would appear, by age and the loss of his eldest son Baldwin, to make him a donation of his duchy (962). It was stipulated only that Arnold should enjoy the usufruct. Three years later on 27 March 965 Arnold died, and immediately Lothair marched into Flanders, and, without striking a blow, took Arras, Douai, Saint-Amand and the whole of the country as far as the Lys. But he could penetrate no farther; the Flemings, who were determined not to have the king of France for their immediate sovereign, had proclaimed Count Arnold II grandson of their late ruler, with, as he was still a child, his cousin Baldwin Bauce as his guardian. Negotiations were begun between the king and the Flemish lords. Lothair consented to recognize the new marquess who came and did him homage, but he kept Douai and Arras. It was not long, however, before these two places fell back under the rule of the Marquess of Flanders; certainly by 988 this had taken place. Thus the king had succeeded in checking for a moment the expansion of the Flemish March, but had not in any way modified its semi-independence.

We must also go back to the middle of the ninth century in order to investigate the origin of the Duchy of Burgundy. When the Treaty of Verdun (843) had detached from the kingdom of France all the counties of the diocese of Besançon as well as the county of Lyon, Charles the Bald naturally found himself more than once impelled to unite two or three of the counties of Burgundy which had remained French so as to form a March on the frontiers under the authority of a single count. On the morrow of Odo’s elevation to the throne (888) the boundaries of French Burgundy, which in the course of the political events of the last forty years had undergone many fluctuations, were substantially the same as had been stipulated by the Treaty of Verdun. At this time one of the principal counties of the region, that of Autun, was in the hands of Richard called Le Justicier (the lover of Justice), brother of that Boso who in 879 had caused himself to be proclaimed King of Provence. Here also there was need of a strong power capable of organizing the resistance against the incessant ravages of the Northman bands. Richard showed himself equal to the task; in 898 he inflicted a memorable defeat upon the pirates at Argenteuil, near Tonnerre; a few years later he surprised them in the Nivernais and forced them once again to take to flight. We see him very skillfully pushing his way into every district and adding county to county. In 894 he secures the county of Sens, in 896 he is apparently in possession of the Atuyer district, in 900 we find him Count of Auxerre, while the Count of Dijon and the Bishop of Langres appear among his vassals. He acts as master in the Lassois district, and in those of Tonnerre and Beaune, and is, it would seem, suzerain of the Count of Troyes. Under the title of duke or marquess he rules over the whole of French Burgundy, thus earning the name of “Prince of the Burgundians” which several contemporary chroniclers give him.

At his death in 921 his duchy passed to his eldest son Raoul in the first place, then, when Raoul became King of France (923), to his second son, Hugh the Black. The latter, for some time, could dispose of considerable power; suzerain, even in his father’s lifetime, of the counties of the diocese of Besancon, and suzerain also of the Lyonnais, he ruled in addition on the frontiers of the kingdom from the Seine and the Loire to the Jura. But its very size and its want of cohesion made it certain that this vast domain would sooner or later fall apart. Hugh the Black was hard put to it to prevent Hugh the Great from snatching the whole of French Burgundy from him. Soon after the death of Raoul in 936 (July) the Duke of the Franks, bringing with him the young King Louis IV, marched upon Langres, seized it, spent some time at Auxerre, and forced Hugh the Black to cede to him the counties of Langres, Troyes, and Sens. Later, in 943, he obtained from the king the suzerainty of the whole of French Burgundy, thus making Hugh the Black his vassal.

This complex situation, however, did not last long. In 952 Hugh the Black died, and as a result, French Burgundy was separated from the counties of the Besancon diocese and from that of Lyon. For four years Count Gilbert, who was already master of the counties of Autun, Dijon, Avallon and Chalon, was the real duke though he did not bear the title. But he acknowledged the suzerainty of Hugh the Great and at his death in 956 bequeathed him all his lands. Finally, Hugh the Great, in his turn, having died a few weeks later, the duchy regained its individual existence, when after lengthy bickering the two sons of Hugh the Great, Hugh Capet and Otto, ended by agreeing to divide their father’s heritage, and Otto received from King Lothair the investiture of the duchy of Burgundy (960).

The formation of the Marches of Flanders and Burgundy, as also that of the March of Neustria, which has already been sufficiently dwelt upon, show us what was the normal development of things. A count, especially conspicuous for his personal qualities, his valor and good fortune, has conferred on him by the king a general authority over a whole region; he imposes himself on it as guardian of the public security, he adds county to county, and gradually succeeds in eliminating the king's power, setting up his own instead, and leaving to the king only a superior lordship with no guarantee save his personal homage.

And this same formative process, slow and progressive, is to be seen in many of its aspects even in the duchy of Normandy. In 911 at St-Clair-sur-Epte Charles the Simple conceded to Rollo the counties of Rouen, Lisieux and Evreux, and the lands lying between the Epte on the east, the Bresle on the north and the sea to the west. But the Norman duke was not long content with this fief; in 924, in order to check fresh incursions, King Raoul found himself forced to add to it the district of Bayeux, and, no doubt, that of Séez also. Finally, in 933, in order to make sure of the allegiance of William Longsword who had just succeeded his father Rollo, he was obliged to cede also the two dioceses of Avranches and Coutances, thus extending the western frontier of the Norman duchy to the river Couesnon. But these many accretions of territory were not always gained without resistance. A brief remark of an analyst draws attention in 925 to a revolt of the inhabitants of the Bayeux country, and doubtless more than once the Normans, whose newly adopted Christianity suffered frequent relapses into paganism, must have found difficulty in assimilating the populations of the broad regions placed under their rule. The assimilation, however, took place rapidly enough for the Norman duchy to be rightly ranked, at the end of the tenth century, as one of those in which centralization was least imperfect.

On all sides, indeed, the rulers of the marches or duchies, the formation of which we have been tracing, saw in their turn the crumbling away of the authority which they had been step by step extending, and the dissolution of the local unity which they had slowly and painfully built up. How, indeed, could it have been otherwise? No duke had even succeeded in acquiring the immediate possession of all the counties included within his duchy. The counts who co-existed with him, had originally been subordinate to him, but this subordination could only be real and lasting if the authority of the duke was never for a moment impaired. On the other hand, when by chance the duke held a large number of counties in his own hands, he was obliged, since he could not be everywhere at once, to provide himself with substitutes in the viscount's, and it was in the natural course of things that these latter should make use of circumstances to consolidate their position, often indeed to usurp the title of count, and finally to set up their own authority at the expense of their suzerains.

Such was the final situation in the March of Neustria. The most enterprising personage there was the Viscount of Tours, Theobald (Thibaud) the Trickster, who made his appearance very early in the tenth century, and gradually succeeded first in getting himself recognized throughout his neighborhood, then, before 930, in laying hands on the counties of Chartres, Blois and Chateaudun, thus shaping out for himself within the Neustrian March, a little principality for which he remained in theory a vassal of the Duke of the Franks, while day by day he was emancipating himself more and more from his vassalage. His son Odo I (Eudes) (975-996) actually attempted to shake it off: in 983, having become joint lord of the counties of Troyes, Meaux and Provins, which had fallen vacant by the death of Herbert the Old, he took up an independent position and treated directly with the king, over the head of the duke, Hugh Capet, whose suzerainty over him had become quite illusory. A more effective overlordship was preserved even at this time by the Duke of the Franks over the county of Anjou, but here again his immediate lordship had ceased, having passed to the viscount, who about 925 had become count. Slowly and unobtrusively the petty Counts of Anjou worked to extend their own rule, hampered by the neighborhood of the turbulent Counts of Blois. With rare perseverance Fulk the Red (died 941 or 942), Fulk the Good (941 or 942–c. 960) and Geoffrey Grisegonelle (c. 960-987) continued to extend their county at the expense of Aquitaine by annexing the district of Mauges, while in Touraine they set up a whole series of landmarks which prepared the way for their successors’ annexation of the entire province. And as at the same time the county of Maine and the county of Vendome to the west, and the county of Gatinais to the east had each for its part succeeded in regaining its separate existence, the March of Neustria was hardly more than a memory which the accession of Hugh Capet to the throne was finally to obliterate, for, outside the districts of Orleans, Etampes and Poissy, the Duke of the Franks preserved nothing save a suzerainty which the insubordination of his vassals threatened to reduce to an empty name.

Neustria is perhaps of all the ancient “Marches” the one which shows us most plainly and distinctly the process of the splitting up of the great “regional entities” into smaller units. Elsewhere the course of events was more complex; in Burgundy for instance, where the transmission of the ducal power gave rise, as we have seen, to so much friction and dislocation, a break-up which seemed imminent was over and over again delayed and often definitely averted as the result of a concurrence of unforeseen circumstances. It would have been enough, for instance, if Hugh the Black had not died childless, or, still more, if an understanding had not been arrived at by Hugh the Great and Gilbert, the powerful Count of Autun, Dijon, Avallon, and Chalon, to imperil the very existence of the duchy as early as the middle of the tenth century.

The Dukes of Burgundy were, nevertheless, unable to safeguard the integrity of their dominions. From the very beginning of the ninth century the growing power of the Bishop of Langres had been undermining their rule in the north. Through a series of cessions, the Bishop of Langres had succeeded in acquiring first Langres itself, then Tonnerre, then gradually the whole of the counties of which these were the chief towns, as well as Bar-sur-Aube, Bar-sur-Seine, and the districts of Bassigny and the Boulenois, whence at the end of the tenth century the authority of the Duke of Burgundy was wholly excluded. On the other hand, the county of Troyes which, from the days of Richard le Justicier, had formed part of the Duchy of Burgundy, before long in its turn had become gradually separated from it. In 936 it had passed into the possession of Herbert II, Count of Vermandois, then into that of his son Robert, from which time the suzerainty of the Duke of Burgundy over the land had appeared tottering and uncertain. On the death of Count Gilbert, Robert openly severed the tie which bound him to the duke and transferred his homage directly to the king (957), against whom, notwithstanding, he immediately afterwards rebelled. The duke, none the less, continued to regard himself as the suzerain of the Count of Troyes; but his suzerainty remained purely nominal, and the count thenceforward had only one object, that of carving out a principality for himself at the expense both of France and Burgundy. Robert attempted in vain in 959 to seize Dijon but succeeded in securing the county of Meaux which by 962 was under his rule. His brother, Herbert II the Old, who succeeded him in 967, and proudly assumed the title of Count of the Franks, found himself ruler not only of the counties of Troyes and of Meaux but also those of Provins, Chateau-Thierry, Vertus, the Pertois, and perhaps of some neighboring counties such as Brienne. The latter was, like that of Troyes, a dismembered portion of the Burgundian duchy from which, from the opening of the eleventh century, strip after strip was to be detached, as the county of Nevers, the county of Auxerre and the county of Sens, so that the power of the Duke of Burgundy came to be limited to the group consisting of the counties of Macon, Chalon, Autun, Beaune, Dijon, Semur, and Avallon.

The same movement towards disintegration may be observed in the tenth century throughout the whole kingdom of France, showing itself more or less intensely in proportion as the rulers of the ancient duchies had succeeded in keeping a greater or less measure of control over their possessions as a whole. In Normandy and Flanders, for instance, unity is more firmly maintained than elsewhere, because, over the few counties which the duke or marquess does not keep under his direct control, he has contrived to set members of his own family who remain in submission to him. In Aquitaine, for reasons not apparent, the course of evolution is arrested halfway. In the course of the tenth century its unity seems about to break up, as the viscounts placed by the duke in Auvergne, Limousin, at Turenne and Thouars, with the Counts of Angouleme, Perigueux, and La Marche seem to be only waiting their opportunity to throw off the ducal suzerainty altogether. But despite this, the suzerainty continues intact and is almost everywhere effective, a fact all the more curious as the Duke of Aquitaine hardly retained any of his domains outside the Poitevin region.

But, with more or less rapidity and completeness, all the great regional units showed the same tendency towards dissolution. France escapes no more than the rest; but alongside of the county of Vermandois and the counties of Champagne, whether it were the result of chance or, as perhaps one may rather believe, of political wisdom, a whole series of episcopal lordships grow up in independence, which, by the mere fact that their holders are subject to an election requiring the royal confirmation, may prove a most important source of strength and protection to the monarchy. At Reims as early as 940 Louis IV formally granted the archbishop the county with all its dependencies; about the same time the authority of the Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne was extended over the entire county of Chalons, and perhaps also that of the Bishop of Noyon over the whole of the Noyonnais. At about the same time (967) King Lothair solemnly committed the possession of the county of Langres into the hands of the Bishop of Langres.

Surrounded as the monarchy was by so many disobedient vassals, it was precisely the existence of these powerful prelates which enabled it to resist. The whole history of the tenth century is filled with the struggles which the kings were forced to wage against the counts and dukes, and with the plots which they had to defeat. But everywhere and always, it was the support, both moral and material, supplied by the Church which enabled them to maintain themselves. The Archbishop of Rheims, from the end of the ninth century, is the real arbiter of their destiny; as long as he supported the Carolingians they were able, in spite of everything, to resist all attacks; on the day when he abandoned them the Carolingian cause was irretrievably lost.