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second time (816). Thus he loosened his own grasp on the Papacy in one year, and allowed the Pope to tighten his grasp on the empire in the next.
In 817 happened an accident which was to have the gravest consequences on the emperor's character and fate. He was passing with all his train over a wooden gallery which connected the cathedral and the palace at Aachen, when the whole structure came crashing to the ground. Many of the courtiers were killed, and the emperor himself received injuries which confined him to his bed for many weeks. The shock and the narrow escape from death set Lewis meditating on the instability of life and the necessity for being always prepared for the grave. He had never been anything but sober and self-contained, but he now fell into a morbid and lugubrious frame of mind, which never left him till his dying day. If he had only hitherto been a daring sinner he might have salved his conscience by turning to a new manner of life: but being already a man of blameless and virtuous habits, his conversion only led him into an exaggerated asceticism. He abandoned the study of profane literature, which had hitherto soothed his leisure hours, and would for the rest of his life read nothing but theology. We are even told that he destroyed the collection of Old-Frankish heroic poems which his father had made, because of the many traces of heathenism which he found in them. It was with difficulty that his councillors prevented him two years later from laying down his crown and retiring to a monastery.
One of the first effects of Lewis' morbid brooding over his latter end was that he determined to make a settlement of the inheritance of his own dominions in view of his own possible death. He was now only forty-three, and his eldest son was but seventeen, but he resolved to take the untried boy into partnership and associate him with himself, so that his succession might be assured at his own death. At the same time he determined to give his younger sons appanages in the realm which would be their brother's. The old German instinct for dividing the paternal heritage was still too strong to be resisted.
By this Partition of Aachen, the first of many partitions that we shall have to bear in mind, Lothair, the eldest of Lewis' three sons, became co-emperor, and was allotted as his special province, during his father's life, the kingdom of Italy. Pippin, the second son, was to inherit Aquitaine, his father's original portion. Lewis, the third son, was assigned Bavaria, and the wild marches to its east along the Danube. Thus it was provided that at the emperor's death his successor should hold the great bulk of the realm, containing both its capitals— Aachen and Rome—and including all the oldest Frankish lands, Neustria and Austrasia alike. The kings of Aquitaine and Bavaria would be far too weak, even if united, to trouble him by rebellions, but Lewis ended his deed of gift by a solemn exhortation to the younger sons to obey The Part;tion their brother, visit his court once a year, and be of Aachen, his helpers in peace and war. In spite of the experience of elder generations of his house he hoped that his children might dwell together in amity.
There was one clause in the Partition of Aachen which was certain to cause instant trouble. It named Italy as the special portion of the young Lothair. Now, Italy was, and had been for seven years, under the government of the emperor's nephew Bernard, son of that Pippin of Italy who died in 810. Charles the Great had placed him there, and while obeying Lewis as a loyal subject he looked upon the Cisalpine kingdom as his own appanage, and expected to retain it through all changes in the imperial succession. Bernard was determined not to be ousted from his realm; the moment that the news of the Partition of Aachen reached him he flew into rebellion. His rule had been popular, and the Lombards gladly took arms in his behalf and seized all the passes of the Alps. He even tried to stir up trouble in Gaul by the aid of his friend Theodulph bishop of Orleans.
Having gone so far, Bernard would have done wisely to abide altogether by the arbitrament of the sword. Instead of doing this he held back and negotiated. Relying on the emperor's well-known character for justice and moderation Bernard left his army and went to a conference at Chalons-sur-Saone. He soon found that he had made a fatal mistake. He was treated as a criminal on trial, not as a prince who came to negotiate terms of peace. The conference adjoined to Aachen, and there Bernard and his chief adherents were judged and condemned. The council doomed the accused to death, but Lewis, half-mindful of the safe-conduct that his ambassadors had promised, commuted the sentence to blinding. The cruel order was executed, but so clumsily was it Death of carried out, that Bernard died of the shock. Bernard of Rumour added that it was the empress Hermenitaly, 818. garde who had bribed the executioners to do their work so badly. The remorse that seized the emperor for his broken safe-conduct and the death of his nephew never ceased to vex his soul for all his remaining years. It was the only grave moral offence that he had ever committed, and his tender conscience would give him no rest.
Within a few months after Bernard's death Lewis was visited by a calamity which he considered the first instalment of the divine vengeance for the deed. On his return from an expedition to Brittany he was met by the news of the death of his wife Hermengarde. It was whispered that she had been largely guilty in the matter of her nephew's death, and that she was now paying the penalty. Lewis at any rate seems to have had this idea. He had been deeply attached to his imperious wife, and leant much on her guidance. Deprived of her he fell into a state of morbid melancholy, far worse than any he had yet experienced. He shut himself up with his grief, neglected state affairs, and talked of retiring into a cloister. After some months his ministers found the situation growing so impossible that they took every means to rouse him. It was, we are told, his bishops who took the strange step of urging on him that he must marry again as a public duty; his seclusion injured the realm, and he must remember that man was not meant to live alone. When the emperor would neither go to seek a wife nor take a princess whom he had not seen on another's recommendation, his ministers brought to his court all the fairest of the daughters of the counts and nobles of his realm. The same scene was rehearsed that was a few years later to be seen at Constantinople when the widowed Theophilus took his second wife. Among the crowd of ladies presented before him, the eye of Lewis fixed upon Judith, a noble damsel from the Suabian Alps, daughter of Welf, count of Altdorf. Pressed hard by his courtiers he consented to take her to wife, and rued it all his remaining years. Judith was fair, wise, witty, and learned above all the women of her day, and soon acquired an empire over her melancholy spouse, not less than that which her predecessor Birth of had exercised. Two years later she presented him Charles the with a son, whose birth was to cause unending Balci evils to the empire. The boy was named Charles, after his great grandsire. (a.d. 822.)
For a space things seemed to be going well with Lewis but three years after his second marriage the black shadow closed in again over the unfortunate emperor. Some cause, to us unknown, suddenly plunged him once more into a fit of misery and contrition. He remembered first that he had not pardoned all his enemies as a good Christian should. Forthwith all whom he had ever injured were recalled from exile. The brothers Wala and Adalhard were drawn out of their monasteries. The partisans of Bernard of Italy who had suffered blinding and imprisonment were sent back to their homes. So anxious was the emperor to atone for his harshness that he most unwisely proceeded to place the most important of the exiles in high posts of trust. He made Adalhard master of his household, and sent Wala to his son Lothair to be his first councillor. He had forgotten that others might not forgive as he could himself; these appointments placed in power men who at the bottom of their hearts could never pardon their years of weariness and cloistered seclusion.
After doing what he could to recompense his victims for the indignities they had suffered, Lewis took another and a more startling step. He summoned a great council at Attigny, hard by the royal city of Soissons, and proceeded to do penance for his sins before the face of his magnates. Coming forth crownless and robed in sackcloth he recapitulated all the faults and misdeeds that had ever been committed, from the execution of Bernard of Italy down to many trifling transgressions, which most men counted as harmless failings, and all had long forgotten. He even rehearsed, with a somewhat unnecessary scrupulousness, all the crimes and short-comings of his great father the emperor Charles. Then he besought his bishops to lay on him such a meed of penance as might fit these many and grievous sins. Not unwilling to take advantage of their sovereign's humiliation, the prelates prescribed to him a course of stripes and fasting and vigils, of prayer, almsgiving, and building of churches, all of which he conscientiously carried out. The astonished counts and Penance of courtiers saw their monarch baring his back to
Attigny. the lash, and discharging with exactitude all the humiliating burdens that the clergy laid upon him. It was the act of a saint, but not of an emperor.
Nothing could have done Lewis more harm than this outburst of laboured penitence. While his subjects marvelled at his Christian humility, they drew from his conduct the conclusion that as a sovereign he was no longer to be feared or obeyed. The Frankish nobles who remembered the highhanded Charles the Great, and had loved him in spite of all his harshness, felt more scorn than admiration- for an emperor who wept and grovelled in public over deeds which few in that age considered sins at all. They muttered that Lewis was no better than a brain-sick, self-torturing monk. For the future there was an under-current of contempt for the emperor passing through the minds of most of his lay vassals. It needed