« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
of 882-3 was as disastrous for northern France as that of 881-2 had been for the Rhineland. From Rheims to Amiens and Courtray, the whole countryside was harried : king Carloman and his nobles, instead of copying the conduct of Lewis III., and remembering the triumph of Saucourt, followed the miserable example of Charles the Fat, and paid the invaders the enormous bribe of 12,000 lbs. of silver to induce them to transfer themselves to Austrasia, England, Ireland, or any other realm that they might choose. In the moment of rest obtained by the temporary departure of the pirates, Carloman died, ere yet he had reached his twentieth year. He was accidentally slain by one of his companions, while hunting the boar in a forest near Les Andelys (884). The Carolingian line was now well-nigh spent: five kings had died in five years, and the only males surviving were the shiftless emperor Charles the Fat, and Carloman's younger brother, a child of five, the posthumous son of Lewis the Stammerer, the prince whom the next generation was to know as Charles the Simple. Rather than face the horrors of a minority, the WestFranks sent to the emperor and besought him to take up the kingship of Neustria. All the empire that had charies the obeyed Charles the Great was therefore united Fat inherits once more beneath a single sceptre, save the ** little realm of king Boso, in Provence. But Charles the Fat was a sorry substitute for his great namesake. The three years of his reign over the whole of the Frankish kingdoms (884-7) were fated to shatter the last remnants of loyalty in the breasts of the subjects of the empire, and to cause them to cast away the old royal house in despair, and seek new saviours and new kings. The history of these three evil years is easily told. Hearing of the death of Carloman, the Danes flocked back to Neustria: ‘oaths sworn to a dead man,’ they said, ‘did not count.” But their return was chiefly caused by a thorough beating which their main body had suffered at Rochester from the strong hand of king Alfred. At the same time the converted Viking Godfred rose in rebellion on the Lower Rhine. He impudently bade the emperor give him the rich lands about Bonn and Coblenz, ‘because his duchy had no vineyards to yield him wine.” Charles did not take arms against him, but sent ambassadors to lure him to a conference. When the Dane appeared, the counts Henry and Eberhard treacherously cut him down, and massacred his retinue. The army of Godfred broke up; some of his warriors went plundering in Saxony, where they were cut to pieces, the rest joined king Siegfred, who was just about to invade Neustria (885). The great host of the Vikings had once more united itself under Siegfred, and entered north France, as if designing to subdue the whole country and settle down therein. But they met with an unexpected resistance at Paris, where the local count and bishop, Odo and Gozelin, had gathered together all the best warriors of Neustria. The defence of Paris was the bravest feat of arms which the Franks had wrought since Great siege the battle of Saucourt. They maintained the of Paris. isle of Paris, with its two fortified bridge-heads over the two branches of the Seine, for more than eleven months, against all the assaults of the Northmen (Nov. 885Oct. 886). Seven hundred Viking keels were drawn ashore on the flat land where the Champ de Mars now lies, and 40,000 Vikings beset the city on all sides. But though shamefully abandoned by the emperor—who chose the time as suitable for a journey to Italy—Odo and Gozelin refused to despair, even when the northern bridge-head was cut off from the city by an inundation, and burnt by the besiegers. At last, in the summer of 886, Charles the Fat so far bestirred himself as to raise the national levies of the whole empire, and march to the relief of Paris with an army not less than that which he had led four years earlier against the camp of Elsloo. But when his vanguard received a check, and its leader, Henry, duke of Franconia, was slain, the emperor refused to risk an attack on the Danes. Once more the disgraceful scene of Elsloo was renewed: Charles paid the Danes 7oo lbs. of silver, and gave them charies the permission to pass up the Seine into Burgundy, Fat bribes and work their will there. He was angry with the **** Burgundians for refusing him obedience and leaning to the cause of Boso, the king of Arles, and chose this despicable means of wreaking his vengeance on them. Paris was saved, and the reputation of its gallant defender, count Odo, raised to the highest pitch. But the emperor had thrown away his last chance, and forfeited the respect of even the meanest of his subjects. His remaining days were few and evil. Attacked by softening of the brain, and burdened by an ever-increasing corpulence, he retired to Germany after the disgraceful treaty of Paris. There his doom was awaiting him: the counts and dukes of the East Frankish realm conspired against him, headed by his illegitimate nephew Arnulf, duke of Carinthia, the son of king Carloman. In 887 the young duke took up arms, openly announcing that he was about to march on Frankfurt and depose his uncle. Charles tried to raise an army, but none of his vassals would lend him aid: in sheer despair he sent his royal crown and robes to Arnulf, abandoning the abdication kingdom, and craving only five manors in his of Charles native Suabia to maintain him for his few remain- *** ing days. This boon the duke granted, and the unwieldy ex-Caesar dragged himself away to a royal villa at Neidingen, where he died less than three months after, worn out by the bodily ills which form the only possible excuse for his shiftless and cowardly conduct during the last three years. Meanwhile Arnulf entered Frankfurt, and was there hailed as king by all the counts and dukes of Germany. He was known as a brave and able young man, and though he was but a Karling of bastard blood, the East Franks Arnulf, king gladly intrusted themselves to the protection of of Germany, his arm. But the other parts of the empire did 888-899. not consider themselves bound to follow the lead of Germany. In each of the kingdoms a noble of great local note and power stepped forward to claim the crown of his native land.
In Neustria there still survived one Karling of the direct line, the boy Charles the Simple, Carloman's youngest brother; but he had only reached the age of eight, and when Paris was but just saved, and the Danes were still on the Seine, it was no time to give the crown to children. Two claimants Odo, king appeared for the Neustrian throne, Wido duke
Paris, the hero who had saved his city from the Danes in the past year. Though he could boast of no Carolingian blood in his veins, Odo easily carried the day against his rival; he was crowned king at Compiègne by Walter, archbishop of Sens, and soon forced Wido to leave France and retire to Italy. We shall relate in another chapter how Berengar of Friuli was chosen king of Italy, and how he was obliged to fight hard for his crown with Wido, when the latter returned from his unsuccessful expedition to France. A fourth kingdom was established in the Jura and the western Alps by count Rudolf, one of the governors of Upper Burgundy. He first got himself crowned at St. Maurice by the counts and bishops of Helvetia, and then, pushing beyond the Jura, was again proclaimed king at Toul. But Rudolf never got any firm footing in Lotharingia: his realm was limited to the lands north of the Alps, sugar king west of the Aar, and east of the Saone. The of Upper chief towns of this—the smallest of the fractions **** of the Carolingian realm—were Lausanne, Geneva, St. Maurice, and Besançon. Boso's kingdom of Arles or Lower Burgundy was now in the ninth year of its existence; its founder had died in 887, but his son Lewis—a Carolingian on the female side through his mother Hermengarde, the daughter of the emperor Lewis of Italy, had succeeded without trouble to his father's throne. Thus the Frankish empire was cut up into five states, not ephemeral creations of a heritage-partition, like the many kingdoms which we have seen rising and falling from the days of the Merovingians onward, but more permanent divisions, three of which represented real national differences, while even the other two—the Upper and Lower Burgundy—had a certain national coherence and individuality of their own, and were destined to last for several generations. One of the five realms was ruled by a bastard Carolingian; two by two princes who boasted a Carolingian descent on the spindle side: only France and Upper Burgundy were in the hands of monarchs who could lay claim to no drop of the ancient royal blood." * Rudolf of Upper Burgundy was connected by marriage with the