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disputing about the choice of a successor to their late monarch. He was acclaimed as king by some of the Lombards, and then made ready to march on Rome, where he knew that the Pope was ready to give him the imperial crown. But, meanwhile, Lewis the German was preparing to interfere. He first sent his youngest son Charles of Suabia—better known as Charles the Fat—to oppose the Neustrian king. But Charles, who always throughout his life consistently mismanaged everything that was intrusted to him, was easily scared by his uncle, and fled back into the Alps. Then the king of Germany sent down into Lombardy his unruly eldest born, Carloman the king of Bavaria, with an imposing array of Bavarian and Franconian levies. Charles the Bald feared to face this army, and proposed to Carloman that both the Neustrian and the German forces should withdraw from the peninsula, and allow the disputed succession to be settled by peaceful negotiation. The Bavarian prince was beguiled by his uncle's specious offer, and betook himself homeward over the Brenner. But, instead of making a corresponding retreat towards the Cenis, Charles the Bald turned southward and made a dash for Rome. He reached it, and was duly crowned emperor by his friend John viii. But he did not linger in Italy to help the Pope against the Saracens, as the latter besought him, but returned at once to Neustria to exhibit his new imperial crown at home. At this moment died Lewis the German, now an old man of seventy-six; it was sixty years since he had been appointed king of Bavaria by his father, and thirty-three since he had obtained sway over the whole of Germany by the award of the Treaty of Verdun. He had been on the peath of whole a successful ruler, in spite of the many Lewis the revolts of his sons, and in spite of the fact that he “” had not been able to retain all his Slavonic vassals under his hand. To him more than to any other king Germany owed her organisation as a unified national kingdom. His long reign gave Saxon and Franconian, Bavarian and Suabian, time to grow together and to learn to regard themselves as a nation PERIOD I. 2 E

apart, not merely as provinces of the Frankish empire. . But if to Germany his reign was one of unqualified good, history can not pardon him the two occasions in 854 and 858 when he deliberately sacrificed the general welfare of Christendom to private ambition, and attacked his Neustrian brother while Charles was in the thick of his Viking wars. These are the darkest spots on the reputation of the first king of Germany. We have already related how Lewis, following the evil custom of his family, had divided his realm among his three sons Carloman, Lewis, and Charles, the kings of Bavaria, Saxony, and Suabia. They were not destined, however, to inherit their father's realm in peace. No sooner did Charles the Bald hear that his elder brother was dead, than he made another vigorous attempt to seize Lotharingia, arguing that as emperor he was entitled to the imperial city of Aachen, and openly asserting that the oaths of Mersen had been “sworn to charis, as the father but not to the sons.’ At the head of a Bald beaten large army Charles entered Austrasia, and occui.* pied Aachen and Köln. Of the three young kings of Germany Lewis alone came out against him. Carloman was away far in the East fighting with rebellious Slavs, and Charles the Fat was, or purported to be, on a bed of sickness. The fate of the lands between Rhine and Scheldt was settled by a battle at Andernach, in which the Neustrians, though superior in number, were completely defeated by the Franconians and Saxons of Lewis of Saxony. Charles the Bald was—as usual—the first to fly, and arrived in safety at Liége, though the greater part of his army was cut to pieces. He returned to his home to find a Danish fleet up the Seine, for the Vikings were just beginning to drift back from England. But such troubles moved him little, and though his Austrasian expedition had fared so ill, he started off with hardly a moment's pause on an equally rash and ill-judged descent into Italy, where the imperial crown that he had so lightly gained in 875 was now in jeopardy. He sent the Vikings 50oo lbs. of silver to induce them to transfer their ravages from Neustria to his German nephew's land, and hastened to Lombardy with a small and hastily equipped army, for the best of his men had been slain or captured at the battle of Andernach. Charles met his friend pope John VIII. at Pavia, and was about to proceed to Rome when he heard that his eldest nephew, Carloman of Bavaria, who possessed many supporters among the eastern Lombards, had crossed the Alps and was marching against him, eager to revenge the treachery to which he had been sub- charles dies jected in the preceding year. Charles hastily fled in Italy, 87. before the approaching forces of the Bavarian, but as he was crossing the Cenis he was stricken down by dysentery, and died suddenly in a miserable hut at the foot of the pass (877).

Charles the Bald was still below the age of sixty, but he

had been a king from his boyhood, and had reigned over the West Frankish realm which the treaty of Verdun gave him for

thirty-four disastrous years. Of all the Karlings he was the man who wrought the empire the most harm : his birth had been a misfortune: the endowment of his youth cost the state a long civil war: his manhood was flighty, unscrupulous, eager, yet unstable. He started four several wars by reckless snatching at the heritages of his kinsmen, but when withstood and faced he always slunk away in rapid retreat. The condition of Neustria was a disgrace to his name: if half the bribes and subsidies that he had spent to buy the Danes' departure, had been used in military preparations against them, they might easily have been driven off. But Charles was always busied with fantastic schemes of foreign conquest; and while his eyes were fixed abroad he allowed his realm to fall to pieces at his feet. History can find nothing to praise in the first king of France. In the ten years which followed the death of Charles the Bald, a blight seemed to fall upon the house of the Karlings. King after king was swept away by an untimely death, some by accident, more by disease. In France and in Germany six reigning monarchs died without leaving a single child of legitimate birth, and by 887 the royal house was represented by one solitary male heir, and he a boy of only eight years old. Meanwhile the Danes had returned from England in full force, and the whole empire of these short-lived kings was enduring the worst crisis that had yet fallen upon it. Charles the Bald was succeeded in Neustria and Aquitaine, or France, as we may now call the Western realm, by his son Lewis II., better known as Lewis the Stammerer. The new king was a prudent and circumspect ruler, very unlike his flighty parent. He at once gave up all pretension to the kingdom of Italy and the imperial crown, though John viii. urged him to reassert his father's claims. He promptly

Reign and - -

death of made peace with his German cousins, renewing : with them the terms of the Treaty of Mersen, by 877-879. which eastern Lotharingia fell to Germany and

western Lotharingia to France. He then took the field against the Danes, who had just returned once more to the mouth of the Loire, but while engaged with them he was stricken down by disease, and died a few months later, long before he had completed the second year of his reign (879). He left two sons, Lewis and Carloman, and a third child was born to him just after his death, and christened Charles. The counts and bishops of France, following the invariable and unhappy custom of the times, crowned both Lewis and Carloman as kings. The two lads—they were but seventeen and sixteen —were not to enjoy a quiet heritage. Alfred had just expelled from England those of the Danish ‘Great Army’ who had refused to settle down in the Danelagh and do him homage. The swarm of Vikings fell on Flanders, and burnt Ghent and assession of St. Omer before the young kings' reign was two Lewis III. months old. At the same Lewis, king of Saxony, 3. ** on whom the spirit of greed that had possessed

Charles the Bald seemed now to have descended, invaded Neustria—summoned, it would appear, by some disloyal counts. But the West Franks rallied around their young masters, and Lewis the Saxon consented to retire on condition that Western Lotharingia—the lands that Charles the Bald had acquired by the Treaty of Mersen ten years before— should be ceded to him. So Liége, Namur, Cambrai, and Tongern became for the moment German and not French. In another part of the West Frankish realm an equally serious loss was at the same time taking place. Since the death of the good emperor Lewis II. Provence and southern Burgundy had been united to Neustria (875-79). But Lewis' only daughter, the princess Hermengarde, had now found a strong and ambitious husband in Boso, count of Vienne, one of the governors of Burgundy. Taking advantage of the crisis in Neustria, this count Boso resolved to assert his wife's claim to her father's heritage. In Italy he failed to win success, though the Pope would gladly have helped him, but in Provence and Lower Burgundy the nobles rallied to his standard. He was proclaimed king in October 879, and afterwards crowned at Lyons. His new realm of Arles, Boso made Provence, or Lower Burgundy—for it is found king of Arles, styled by all these names—was the first fraction 879. of the empire of Charles the Great to pass away from the male heirs of the great royal line. Boso's dominions nearly coincided in size with the kingdom of Provence as it had been held by Charles the son of the emperor Lothair I. They included the whole valley of the Rhone, from Lyons to the sea and the borders of Italy. While the West Frankish kingdom was being cut short to north and south, Germany was on the whole in better condition. The three sons of Lewis the German, unlike most royal brothers of the time, dwelt together in harmony. The two elder brothers had come to an agreement that Carloman should prosecute his fortunes in Italy, while Lewis sought to aggrandise himself in Lotharingia. But Carloman, after driving Charles the Bald out of Lombardy, and mastering most of the land north of the Po, was stricken down with a fever which terminated in a paralytic stroke. He was carried back to Bavaria, and survived for two years, but never rose from

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