Page images

his promised inheritance in Germany, and found support among all the Teutonic peoples east of the Rhine, who had no wish to be handed over to the boy Charles. He mustered an army, sent to beg the help of his brother Lothair, and stood on the defensive. The old emperor replied by summoning a great council at Cérisy-sur-Oise, at which he declared Lewis deprived of all his lands save Bavaria, and conferred them on the young Charles. Immediately afterwards Pippin of Aquitaine died, and the emperor put the finishing touches to his unwisdom by handing over the whole of Pippin's realms to his darling. If this plan had been carried out, Lewis would have left all the Frankish empire north of the Alps, save the single duchy of Bavaria, to his youngest child. The worst point in the project was that Pippin left sons, and the eldest of them— his father's namesake—was a growing boy of about the same age as Charles. The majority of the people of Aquitaine would have nothing to say to the transfer of their allegiance, and proclaimed Pippin the younger king in his father's room. The emperor, with transparent injustice, declared the boy too young to reign, and bade the Aquitanians send him to Aachen to be trained up at his court and learn the art of government —an art which Lewis was so competent to teach When the young Pippin did not appear, Lewis threatened his southern subjects with invasion. At once the civil war burst out in East and West and South. Lewis of Bavaria broke into Suabia; the Gascon followers of Pippin the Young marched on the Loire. At the same time the Danes who had been narrowly watching their opportunity returned to the Frisian coast, destroyed Dorstad for the second time and harried all the lands about the Rhine mouth. (Spring of 839.) At his wit’s end to know which foe he should first attack, the emperor resolved to seek aid in the only place where it might still be found. Consigning to oblivion all memories of the Lügenfeld, and the humiliations before the altar of St. Médard, he besought the help of his eldest son. Lothair on his side was anxious to recover his PERIOD I. 2 C

birthright, and to be recognised once more as heir to the empire. He hurried from Pavia to Worms, to place himself at his father's disposition. Kneeling before the old man in full meeting of the great council, he confessed his ingratitude and repeated treasons, and asked for pardon. But while ostensibly craving for forgiveness only, he had secretly stipulated for reward. Accordingly Lewis the Pious now proclaimed the last of the many partitions of the empire which had been the bane of his life. The Placitum of Worms stated that Lewis of Bavaria should retain his original Bavarian duchy alone, that the younger Pippin should be wholly disinherited, and that Lothair and Charles should divide the empire. The eldest son and heir took Italy, Saxony, Suabia, all the Frankish lands on the Meuse and Rhine, and the Burgundian and Provençal realms along the Rhone. The dearly-loved Charles was given Neustria and Aquitaine, the two kingdoms whose union roughly represents the modern land of France.” The year 840 saw the commencement of the civil war, with a new arrangement of combatants. Lewis the elder, Lothair, and Charles, against Lewis the young, and Pippin. Fortune favoured the old man for once. He first marched into AquiThird civil taine, drove the rebels before him, and forced the war, $3 bishops and counts of the land beyond the Loire to do homage to Charles at Clermont in Auvergne. Contrary to his usual custom the emperor did not pardon all his enemies, but beheaded several of the chief partisans of the young Pippin. Aquitaine was no sooner overrun, than Lewis, with a vigour which he had never shown before—it was the dying flash of his life's energy—wheeled his army northward and marched against his son the king of Bavaria. So rapid was the attack that the younger Lewis was driven out of Suabia, chased along the Bavarian bank of the Danube, and forced to take refuge in the far Ost-Mark on the Slavonic border. The emperor

'France, that is, minus the lands between Rhone and Alps, and plus Flanders and Catalonia.

had now vindicated by the force of arms the partition of Worms: Pippin was disinherited, and Lewis driven back into a narrow corner of Germany. A great council was summoned to meet in July, and the emperor came back by slow stages towards the Rhine to preside over it. But the double campaign of the spring had been too much for him. For some years his lungs had been affected, and the chills of a March and April spent in arms in the open field brought on a rapid consumption. At Frankfort-on-Main he dismissed his army and took to his couch. His strength dwindled as the weeks passed away, and at last he bade his attendants place him in a boat and row him down to the Rhine, to a spot which he loved well, the island in mid-stream hard by his palace at Ingelheim, where the tower of the Pfalz now rises from the rapid rushing waters. Then it contained only a rough hunting lodge thatched with reeds, and in that poor shelter the dying emperor lingered out the midsummer weeks, lying for hours motionless on his couch with a little cross clasped to his breast. His wife and his son Charles were far away at Poictiers, in Aquitaine, and did not arrive in time to receive his dying blessing. But a crowd of bishops and monks mustered around the emperor's deathbed, to watch over his edifying end. On June 25th the old man's last agony seized him ; he started up in bed, cried in a loud voice “Out ! Out!’ and fell back dead, leaving the clerical throng around to debate Death of . whether his last words bade some evil spirit Lewis, *. depart from his presence, or referred to his own setting out for a better world. So ended king Lewis,

Rex Hludovicus, pietatistantus amicus,
Qui Pius a populo, dicitur et titulo.

He left the empire which he had done so much to dismember to be fought for by his three sons and his grandson. He left the imperial dignity fatally injured by his grovelling penances at Attigny and Soissons. He had allowed the Danes to spy out the nakedness of the land in the North; while the Saracens had already landed in Italy to the South. He had suffered the clerical power again and again to usurp authority over secular things, as none of his predecessors of the Frankish race, Meroving or Karling, had ever done. Yet in spite of all, his piety and conscientious desire to do right—often as it was misled—gave him a greater claim to the respect of his subjects than did the personal character of any of his successors. Ere long men came to look back to the time of Lewis the Pious as to an age of comparative quiet and prosperity.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Wars of the sons of Lewis the Pious—Battle of Fontenay and Peace of Verdun —The Vikings and their ships and methods of warfare—All Western Europe subject to their incursions—Their invasion of Neustria and Austrasia—Intermittent civil wars of the Franks-Charles the Bald and his policy—Death of Lothair.

At the moment of his death Lewis the Pious had been at enmity with his son Lewis of Bavaria and his grandson Pippin the young of Aquitaine, while he had by his last partitionstatute provided for the division of the bulk of his realm between his eldest-born Lothair, and his youngest-born Charles. It seemed natural, therefore, that when, after the old man's death, the succession troubles broke out with renewed vigour the Franks of Neustria and Austrasia and the Lombards would be ranged in battle against the East Germans and the Aquitanians. Such, however, was not to be the case; the governing force in the future course of events was to be, not the dying will of Lewis the Pious, but the dispositions of his three sons, and still more the unwillingness of the various kingdoms in their heritages to abide by the unnatural partition—last among so many—which Lewis had left behind him. The first question to be settled was whether the empire, in the shape in which Charles the Great and Lewis in his earlier

years had ruled it, was to continue. There was no doubt as to

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »