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Arnulf, king of Germany—His victory at Louvain over the Danes—His expedition to Italy—His troubles with his son Zwentibold—Approach of the Magyars—Reign of Lewis the Child—Internal anarchy, and disasters from Magyar invasions—Reign of Conrad of Franconia—His troubles and death.
ARNULF of Carinthia was base-born, the son of the Slavonic mistress of king Carloman, but he possessed a considerable share of the strength and vigour of his ancestors. For the twelve years of his reign the German realm made head against its enemies to north and east, and held the primacy among the states of Christendom. The Frankish empire had now fallen apart into five states: but the kings who held the other shares all came to seek out Arnulf and obtain his recognition of their rights. Odo the ruler of the West Franks was the first to appear before the German monarch and crave his friendship. It would almost appear that he recognised Arnulf as his superior and liege-lord, for on his return to Neustria he had himself crowned for a second time at Rheims in the presence of German ambassadors, and with a diadem which Arnulf had given to him. Rudolf the ruler of Upper Burgundy was the supremacy of ** visit the German court; he came to Regens. Arnulf in the burg, obtained recognition from Arnulf, and reEmpire. turned in peace. Berengar of Lombardy, already threatened with war by his competitor Wido of Spoleto, met the king of Germany at Trent, on the border of his realm, and promised to be his faithful supporter in all things. Lastly Hermengarde, the widow of Boso of Lower Burgundy (Arles), placed her young son Lewis under Arnulf's protection, and besought him to undertake the regency of the Provençal realm. Though Arnulf had not obtained the imperial title he was for all practical purposes far more of a general suzerain and ruler of the whole Frankish realm than any of his relatives had been for the last fifty years. The best sign of his strength was that he succeeded in checking the inroads of the Vikings in a manner which made them for the future the least dangerous of the many enemies of Germany. In 891 the Danes came flooding into Austrasia in great force, and harried all the lands on the Meuse and Moselle. The local levies of Lotharingia were beaten, and Sunderold archbishop of Mainz, who had led them, fell on the field. But Arnulf, who had been far away in Bavaria, came flying westward on the news of this disaster, and chased the Danes as far as their great fortified camp at Louvain on the Dyle. There they had entrenched themselves with the river at their back and a marsh in their front, which rendered it impossible for the Frankish horsemen to approach them. But Arnulf bade all his The Battle of warriors dismount, and taking axe in hand led Louvain, 891. them through the swamp and up to the Danish palisades. The Germans hewed down the breastwork, broke into the camp, and drove the Danes into the river, where most of them perished. This was the last first-class engagement which the Danes ever fought in the East Frankish realm. They continued to come on plundering excursions to Frisia and the lower Rhine, but never attempted again either to penetrate deep into the land or to set up any independent principality upon its borders. After defeating the Danes and putting down some risings of his eastern Slavonic vassals, the Czechs and Moravians, Arnulf undertook the unwise enterprise of con- Arnulfin quering Italy, whence his friend and vassal Italy. Berengar had of late been expelled by Wido of Spoleto. Of the details of his two invasions of 894 and 895-6 we have
spoken at length in our Italian chapter." Arnulf returned from Italy wearing the imperial crown, whose splendour seemed to ratify the primacy that he already possessed over his brother-kings; but he was broken in health by the fever that he had caught in the Roman campaign, and he left Italy behind him in a state of complete disorder, and mainly in the hands of Lambert of Spoleto. After his Italian expedition Arnulf's reign was much less fortunate. A fatal succession-difficulty arose in his own house, and caused endless trouble. For many years he had no lawful issue born to him : so he persuaded the national council of the Germans to allow him to designate his bastard son Zwentibold as his heir (889). Four years later he made this prince sub-king in Lotharingia. But the same year (893) his wedded wife Ota bore him a son, known in history as Dynastic Lewis the Child, who was therefore recognised Troubles, as the lawful heir to the empire, to the great grief 893-99. and anger of the new king of Lotharingia. From this time forward Zwentibold, an unruly and turbulent young man, was a perpetual thorn in his father's side. He grudged his infant brother the heritage of the German kingdom, and persistently stirred up strife. He fell into a long and bloody feud with some of the chief nobles of Lotharingia, and notably with Reginald-with-the-Long-Neck, count of Hainault and the Maasgau. In revenge for his tyranny Reginald and many others of the Austrasians called in to their aid Charles the Simple, the monarch of Neustria, and did homage to him as king of Lotharingia, handing over to him the old royal towns of Aachen and Nimuegen. The attempt to tear away Austrasia from Germany failed, not because of Zwentibold's arms, but because Charles the Simple feared to face the whole force of the East Frankish realm, when Arnulf took up his son's cause (898). He agreed to retire into his own states, and evacuated Austrasia. Of even greater import of evil to Germany than Zwentibold's * See pages 463-4.
unruliness was the arrival on the eastern frontier of the kingdom of a new race of enemies. These were the Ugrian tribe of the Magyars or Hungarians who appeared in 896 on the middle Danube and Theiss, where the decaying remnant of the Avars were now dwelling mixed among the Slavonic Moravians. The Magyars had been driven westward by another wild horde, the Tartar Petchenegs, who thrust them out of South Russia and forced them to find new homes. They were a race of light horsemen, mighty with the bow, skilful in sudden onsets and feigned retreats, but wanting the perseverance and steady strength in pitched battle which The Hun. would have rendered them invincible. Their garians. raids were even more rapid and destructive than those of the Northmen, but they were not such formidable foes to meet as the Vikings, for they never could learn to besiege a fortified place, or to defend themselves in entrenched camps, or to fight in regular line of battle. All their attacks were mere ambushes or sudden surprises, and they seldom allowed the heavy horsemen of Germany to fight them on equal terms and in the open field. Their custom was to ride through the open country burning defenceless monasteries and villages, but avoiding walled towns and always escaping in haste if the levies of the district came out against them in full force. Arnulf himself was responsible for the first visit of the Magyars to the empire. During his Moravian war he hired some of their warriors to follow him to the field as auxiliary light horse. Thus they learnt the way into Moravia and Germany alike: during Arnulf's own life they do not seem to have seriously molested his kingdom, for they were mainly occupied in evicting the Slavs from the plains by the Danube. But no sooner was the emperor dead than they began to extend their ravages into Bavaria and Thuringia. At an even earlier date they are found already harassing north Italy, and vexing the soul of king Berengar by ravaging his native duchy of Friuli (899). In December 899 Arnulf died, old before his time, and was
buried in his favourite city of Regensburg. Then the dukes, counts, and bishops of Germany met at Forchheim and chose Death of as king Lewis the Child, the six-year-old son of Arnulf, 899, their deceased monarch. The reign of a minor was always dangerous to the old Teutonic kingdoms, and that of Lewis was no exception to the rule. The eleven years during which he nominally ruled as king of Germany were almost the most disastrous ever known in the history of the East Frankish realm. Hitherto the land had been fortunate in its rulers; of all the descendants of Charles the Great the German line had been by far the most able and vigorous; save the unhappy Charles the Fat, who only reigned for five years—they had all proved strong and capable rulers. weakness of But now under the nominal sway of Lewis the Lewis the Child all the evils that had been kept down by Child. his father's strong hand came to a sudden head. Germany was deprived of all central authority, and exposed to two evils at once, invasion by the enemy from without and civil war at home. The first troubles came from Lotharingia, where king Zwentibold had made himself so hated that many of the Austrasian nobles determined to disavow their allegiance to him, and to acknowledge his boy-brother as immediate ruler as well as suzerain. While waging war on his rebellious subjects Zwentibold fell in battle; as he very happily left no male issue, his kingdom was at once reunited with the main body of the Germanic realm. But worse was to come: in 902 there burst out the first of the great family feuds which were to be such a curse to Germany. During the last generation the succession to the posts of duke, count, and margrave throughout the land had been tending more and more toward hereditary right. It was growing quite. usual to continue the son in the father's office, and to give to brothers countships in each other's close neighbourhood. Under a strong government this had not led to any danger. Arnulf had been powerful enough to keep all his vassals in