Charlemagne split the Frankish Empire between his sons even before they became adults. After years of steady conquests across the vast lands of Europe. Louis, the Holy Roman Emperor’s fourth son by his wife Hildegard, received the domain of Aquitaine and lived there since his childhood. By 813 AD, Charlemagne was on the brink of death. The only son left alive was Louis the Pious of Aquitaine (Pepin of Italy died in 810 and followed by Charles in 811). Charlemagne summoned Louis, as well as the Frankish noblemen by his side when he felt that death was near. He then appointed Louis as emperor of the Franks in front of the witnesses. Charlemagne died on January 28, 814 AD at the age of 72 and was buried in the Aachen Cathedral on the same day. These events led to Germany (East Francia) during 843 AD according to the Bible Timeline Poster with World History.
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Louis acceded the throne as the new Holy Roman Emperor and took a page from his father’s book by dividing the empire between his own sons. His eldest son, Lothair, received Italy and became his father’s co-emperor; another son named Louis received Bavaria; while Pepin, the youngest, got Aquitaine. Louis’ first wife died in 818 AD, and he took another woman, Judith, as his second wife in 820. His new wife gave birth to their son, Charles (later nicknamed the Bald and the Landless) in 823 AD. He was so fond of the boy that he chipped away at Lothair’s domain and gave little Charles the lands of Alemannia.
Lothair was understandably furious, so he convinced his brothers, Louis of Bavaria and Pepin of Aquitaine, to rebel against their father. They fought their father in a war which lasted for three years until they captured Louis, as well as Charles, and imprisoned them in different monasteries as punishment. While he was imprisoned in a monastery, Louis sent his sons an offer they could not refuse: he would give them more land and in exchange, the brothers would join him and turn against Lothair. The brothers agreed to their father’s deal, and Lothair (who did not expect this turn of events) was forced to sign a peace treaty with his father.
One of his sons, Pepin of Aquitaine died in 838 AD, so Louis handed his territory over to Charles the Landless. The people of Aquitaine rebelled when they heard the news that the land had been passed over to Charles, so they installed Pepin’s son, Pepin II, as ruler of the territory. Before he died in 840 AD, Louis gave Neustria to Charles the landless to compensate for his loss.
The Birth of Germany
A bloodier civil war led by the troublesome Lothair once again erupted in the Frankish empire after Louis’ death. The civil war that flared up became so vicious that all sides lost many warriors during the battles, while invaders from Al-Andalus and Viking pirates pillaged the countryside. The brothers finally realized the futility of the civil war after they saw the destruction of their kingdoms, so they came together in 843 AD, and shifted the border lines of the Frankish Empire into what was called the Treaty of Verdun. Charles the Landless took Western Francia, Lothair received Middle Francia, and Louis the German took Eastern Francia which was an area that later gave birth to modern Germany.
Picture By NuclearVacuum – File:Location European nation states.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8087888
Bradbury, Jim. The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare. London: Routledge, 2004.
Detwiler, Donald S. Germany: A Short History. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1976.
Einhard. “Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne.” Internet History Sourcebooks. Accessed August 30, 2016. http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/einhard.asp.
Goldberg, Eric Joseph. Struggle for Empire: Kingship and Conflict under Louis the German, 817-876. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006.
Thatcher, Oliver J., and Edgar Holmes McNeal. “A Source Book for Medi忙val History; Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age.” Internet Archive. Accessed August 30, 2016. https://archive.org/stream/asourcebookform03mcnegoog#page/n8/mode/2up.
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