Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the last years of his reign Pippin occupied a central place in the affairs of Europe such as no prince had held since the days of Theodoric the Great. Even the Abbaside Caliph of Bagdad sent to solicit his alliance: troubled by the revolt of Spain under the Ommeyad prince Abder- im ortance ahman, he endeavoured to enlist the aid of Pippin of Pippin in for the driving out of the rebel. The Frank Europewisely allowed the infidels to tear each other to pieces without helping either party. The Eastern emperor Constantine Copronymus sent frequent embassies to Gaul. One was designed to cajole Pippin into restoring the Exarchate to the Byzantine realm. Another brought a proposal for .wedding Constantine's eldest son to Gisela, Pippin's only daughter. On a third occasion the communication was on religious subjects, the East-Roman envoys being clerics who were to endeavour to interest the Franks in the Iconoclastic controversy, and induce them to join in the destruction of images. The Byzantines held a discussion with some legates of the Pope in Pippin's presence, but got no assistance from the great king of the West, in whose eyes the dispute was far from having the same importance that it possessed in those of Constantine.

In the fulness of years and honours Pippin passed away on September 24th, 768, at St. Denis near Paris, after along illness which gave him time to divide the kingdom between his two sons before he died. His character is somewhat difficult to fathom: he possessed all the distinguishing traits of the great men of the house of St. Arnulf, courage, ambition, energy, administrative skill, but showed few special characteristics of his own. It is not easy to detect any ruling passion or foible in his character, but his interference in Italy and his assumption of the royal title show that he lacked the extreme caution of his father. On the other hand his piety Death of is praised by contemporaries not in the half- Pippin, 768hearted way in which that of Charles was described, but in the most unqualified terms of laudation. There are indications that he possessed somewhat of that taste for literature which we find so well marked in his son Charles the Great. But it is impossible to draw any complete picture of his personality: even his nickname 'the Short' was given him not by his own contemporaries but by the chroniclers of the eleventh century, who speak from tradition and not from knowledge. Our idea of him must be constructed solely from what we know of his life and actions.

[graphic]
[graphic]

CHAPTER XX

CHARLES THE GREAT—EARLY YEARS 768-785—
CONQUEST OF LOMBARDY AND SAXONY.

Charles and Carloman—Final conquest of Aquitaine—Death of Carloman— Character and habits of Charles—State of the Prankish Ei.ipire—Charles interferes in Italy on behalf of the Pope—He subdues tt" Lombard monarchy—His later expeditions into Italy—First conquest of Saxony— Expedition to Spain—Rebellions of Saxony followed by its reconquest and permanent subjection.

The moment that king Pippin had been laid beneath his" marble slab near the high altar of St. Denis, his two sons drew apart, and each retiring a few leagues from the place of their father's death hastily had themselves saluted as kings by their counts and dukes, and anointed by their bishops— Charles at Noyon, Carloman at Soissons (Oct. gth, 768).

Now for the second time it appeared likely that the greatness of the house of St. Arnulf might be wrecked by the old and evil Frankish custom which prescribed the division of the kingdom among the sons of the king. How that custom had worked under the Merovings we have already seen. At the death of Charles Martel it had already threatened to break up the power of his house, a danger which was only averted by the unexpected abdication of the elder Carloman. Untaught by the experience of his own youth Pippin the Short had committed the same mistake: old habit was too much for him. On his deathbed, as we have seen, he divided his realm between his two sons. He had, however, done his best to leave his first-born so superior in strength to his brother, that the younger king should not be able to compete joint rule of with him. Charles was left the warlike half of Cariomannd the kingdom, a11 those Frankish lands, both 768-72. Austrasian and Neustrian, from the Main to the

Channel, which supplied the chief fighting element in the Frankish armies. In addition he obtained the western half of the newly conquered Aquitaine. Carloman's share consisted of Burgundy, the Suabian lands on both sides of the upper Rhine, and the whole Mediterranean coast from the Maritime Alps to the border of Spain—the old Provincia and Septimania. Moreover, he took the eastern half of Aquitaine,— the country about Clermont, Rodez, Albi, and Toulouse. Though wellnigh as large as the share of Charles, his kingdom w3j''not nearly so powerful, for the king who could comrr,ind the swords of the Franks was the one who could give law to the whole realm.

For reasons which we know not, Charles and Carloman had never been friendly—perhaps the younger son as born after his father's coronation may have claimed some precedence over the elder, who was the son merely of a Mayor of the Palace. We know at any rate that throughout the three years of their joint reign they were always on the edge of a .quarrel. Nothing but the influence and advice of their worthy mother Bertha kept them from an open rupture. Luckily for the realm both were good sons, and listened to the maternal pleadings: still more luckily for the Franks the life of the younger king was destined to be a short one. If Carloman had been granted many days on earth, we may be sure that the history of the last quarter of the ninth century would have repeated the old fratricidal wars of the Merovings. The historians who wrote the life of the great Charles are never tired of insisting on the many provocations which his brother gave him. If Carloman had chanced to find an apologist we might perhaps have learnt that Charles also gave subjects for offence.

The commencement of the joint reign of the two kings was

[merged small][ocr errors]

followed by the prompt revolt of the newly subdued Aquitaine. Duke Waifer the leader of the Southerners in their long war with Pippin, being dead, his old father Hunold emerged from his monastery to put himself at the head of the insurrection. The country as far north as Angouleme — which was kept down by a Frankish garrison — at once fell away to him, for the Gascons trusted that the two jealous brothers charles sub. would be too much occupied with their griev- dues Aquitaine ances against each other to spare time for the 76greconquest of the south. Charles immediately marched against the rebels, and invited Carloman to accompany him: the younger king appeared for a moment, but only to hold an angry colloquy with his senior and then to return to Burgundy. He did not, however, take the opportunity to attack Charles, and the latter was able to pursue, unaided but also unhindered, his campaign against the Aquitanians. It was completely successful: he forced his way in arms as far as Bordeaux, built a great fortified camp at Fronsac, which was destined to remain as the central stronghold of the Garonne for many generations, and so thoroughly beat Hunold that the old man fled for refuge to Lupus, duke of the Gascons. But Lupus fearing the wrath of Charles submitted to th£-£onqueJOiT-^simJendercd tbo— fagrttvej

obtained peace. Charles went home in triumph, replaced Hunold in a cloister, and was henceforth undisputably king in Aquitaine. He divided the country into countships on the usual Frankish system, and placed these provinces in the hands not of natives, but of men from north of the Loire whose fidelity he could trust. For the future Aquitaine gave no trouble.

In spite of Carloman's denial of help during the war in the south, Charles was ere long persuaded by his mother to be reconciled to his brother. But he took measures to keep .him in check for the future by making alliance with the neighbours of Carloman to north and south. He concluded a treaty with Tassilo, duke of Bavaria, whose dependence on the Frankish

PERIOD I. Y

« ՆախորդըContinue »