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brothers. The armies met in the valley of the Yonne, and there followed the decisive and disastrous battle of Fontenay, the greatest fight that Europe had seen since Charles Martel Battle of smote the Saracens at Poictiers. The whole of Fontenay. the nations of the empire were arrayed against each other. On the hill by Bretignolles Lothair, with the host of Austrasia, faced the Bavarians and Saxons of king Lewis. In the plain by Lefay the Neustrians of Charles were drawn up against the Aquitanians of the young Pippin. After much hard fighting the Neustrians gave way before the onslaught of their southern countrymen, but on the other flank the Germans of Lewis won a far more decisive advantage over the emperor's Austrasian followers. Lothair was driven down from the hill with fearful slaughter, the flower of the nobility of the land between Meuse and Rhine lay dead on the field. It was a blow from which Austrasia never recovered. Her ancient supremacy over the rest of the empire, won six generations back at Testry and Ambleve, was gone for ever. The swords of the Teutons of the east had shattered the reputation of her invincibility, and the balance of power was permanently transferred eastward (June 25th, 841). The slaughter was long remembered, and the evils which the empire was to pass through during the next forty years were often ascribed to the result of this fatal fight. 'By that day,' says the chronicler Regino, 'the strength of the Franks was so cut down, and their fame and valour so diminished, that for the future they were not merely unable to extend the bounds of their realm, but even incapable of protecting their own frontiers.'
Lothair drew back the wrecks of his army to Aachen, while Pippin fled southward to Aquitaine. The victorious brothers, Charles and Lewis, -.v-3»'^4 before the year was out in subduing all the partisans of the emperor, both in Neustria and in Germany. It was in vain that Lothair tried to stir up trouble against them by supporting a rebellion in Saxony, where, in the wilder corners of the land, a rising of the servile classes, and the few surviving adherents of paganism, was troubling king Lewis.
In the next spring the kings of Neustria and Germany united their armies to drive Lothair from Austrasia. They met at Strasburg, where they swore to each other The oath of the solemn oath, whose wording is so precious to Strasburg. us as giving the first monument of the new French and German tongues that were just developing in their realms. When they marched on Aachen Lothair was compelled to take his wife and children and the royal treasure-hoard, and fly southward into Burgundy. It was long remembered how on his retreat he broke up the great silver globe, which had been the pride of his grandfather Charles the Great, 'whereon were represented the divisions of the world, and the constellations of heaven, and the courses of the planets,' and distributed its fragments as pay among his discontented soldiery. He halted at Lyons, and there his proud spirit at last bowed to the necessity of asking for peace from his brothers. The two kings showed themselves willing to treat, and the final result of the negotiations was the famous Partition of Verdun. It was indeed no time for civil wars. While the brothers were fighting, the Danes had sacked Quentovic, a great port on the English channel, and the Moors had.landed in Provence and harried Arles, while the Slavs beyond the Elbe had shaken off the Frankish yoke.
The Partition of Verdun finally broke up the empire. Though Charles and Lewis restored to Lothair his capital of Aachen, and consented to recognise him as emperor, and to respect him as elder brother, yet for the future they were for all practical purposes independent sovereigns. The scheme which Charles the Great had worked so successfully, and Lewis the Pious so feebly, for conducting the government of Western Christendom by an emperor assisted in certain outlying regions by subject-kings of his kindred, now definitely disappeared. Lothair had no power or authority outside the district which his brothers consigned to his direct sovereignty.
Examining the boundaries fixed by the treaty of Verdun, we find the Frankish empire divided into three long strips
Treaty of running from north to south. In the east Lewis
Verdun, 843. of Bavaria took all the Teutonic lands east of
the Rhine—Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Suabia, and the
suzerainty over the Slavs of the Elbe and Save. He had also one small tract of Austrasian territory west of the Rhine, the gaus of Speier, Worms, and Mainz. Lothair kept his old kingdom of Italy, together with a long narrow strip of territory reaching from the mouth of the Rhone to the mouths of the Rhine and Yssel. This strip consisted of Frisia, the bulk of Austrasia, the most of Burgundy, and Provence. Charles took the western kingdoms of Neustria and Aquitaine, with the Spanish March and western Burgundy, for his kinsman Pippin was abandoned to his mercy by the emperor, and the lands south of the Loire, as well as those north, were put into his share of the empire.
Two of these realms, those of Charles and Lewis, roughly corresponded to national unities. The eastern kingdom comprised all the Teutonic districts of the empire, except Austrasia. The western, formed by the union of Neustria and Aquitaine, was the first foreshadowing of the modern kingdom of France, comprising as it did the bulk of the Romance Districts of the empire, where the Teutonic element had alw^yj; been small, and was of late growing less and less prominent. But Lothair's kingdom was an unnatural and unwieldy aggregation of districts connected neither by blood, by language, nor by historical ties. Its shape seems to have been determined merely by the wish to give the emperor both the imperial cities—Rome and Aachen—together with a strip of soil conveniently connecting them. The Teutonic Austrasians, the Romance-speaking Burgundians, and the Italian Lombards were in no wise fitted for union with each other, and were certain to drift apart, alike from geographical and from national reasons. They only adhered to each other for one man's life, and fell asunder the moment that he died.
For the future we shall find the wide realm of Charles the Great constantly tending to minute sub-division. The connection between- east and west, north and south, grows constantly less, and ere long we shall be compelled to tell of the fortunes of the different fractions of the empire in separate chapters, since the central cord of connection formed by the kingly power has finally snapped. But as long as the generation of the sons of Lewis the Pious survives, there is still a certain interdependence between the history of the Eastern and Western Franks, and it is not till the deposition of Charles the Fat, in 887, that the elements of dissolution finally triumph, and all ideas of the reunion of the empire are finally discredited.
In 843 commences the tripartite government of Lothair the emperor, and his two brothers, whom we may for the future style by their well-known names of Lewis the German and » Charles the Bald, though the latter style can hardly yet have
been appropriate to the Neustrian king, who had only just celebrated his twenty-first birthday. His elder brothers were now much older men, Lothair having attained his forty-fourth and Lewis his thirty-eighth year. Both of them had now sons whom they were ere long to take as colleagues
in part of their realm.
The period from the Peace of Verdun, in 843, down to the deposition of Charles the Fat, in 887, is the most chaotic and perplexing portion of the history of Europe with which we have to deal. For the fortunes of the various fractions of the _. , Frankish empire are bound up with the fortunes
The grandsons 1 l
of Lewis the of the members of a much-ramified royal house Plous- in which—with a lamentable want of originality
—the same four names are continually recurring. We have hitherto been confronted only with the three brothers— Lothair, Lewis, and Charles. Now each of these brothers had three sons, and with a perversity which the reader and the writer of history must alike deplore, each christened his boys after their uncles. Lothair's three sons were Lewis, Charles, and Lothair; Lewis named his offspring Lewis, Charles, and Carloman; and Charles, when at a later date he became a father, followed the evil example by christening his children Lewis, Charles, and Carloman also. The genealogical table must be kept carefully before us, lest from the similarity of names we confuse the imperial, the German, and the Neustrian houses of the Karlings.
The dates of the reigns of the three contentious brothers were, for Lothair 843-855, for Lewis 843-876, for Charles 843877. When they had settled down after the Peace of Verdun, they found two problems before them. The first was that of