The Info List - Charles The Bald

Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
(13 June 823 – 6 October 877) was the King of West Francia
(843–877), King of Italy
King of Italy
(875–877) and Holy Roman Emperor (875–877, as Charles II). After a series of civil wars during the reign of his father, Louis the Pious, Charles succeeded by the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
(843) in acquiring the western third of the Carolingian
Empire. He was a grandson of Charlemagne
and the youngest son of Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
by his second wife, Judith.


1 Struggle against his brothers 2 Reign in the West 3 Reign as emperor 4 Baldness 5 Marriages and children 6 Ancestry 7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 External links

Struggle against his brothers[edit]

Kingdoms of Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
and other Carolingians in 876

He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt,[1] when his elder brothers were already adults and had been assigned their own regna, or subkingdoms, by their father. The attempts made by Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
to assign Charles a subkingdom, first Alemannia
and then the country between the Meuse
and the Pyrenees
(in 832, after the rising of Pepin I of Aquitaine) were unsuccessful. The numerous reconciliations with the rebellious Lothair and Pepin, as well as their brother Louis the German, King of Bavaria, made Charles's share in Aquitaine
and Italy only temporary, but his father did not give up and made Charles the heir of the entire land which was once Gaul. At a diet in Aachen
in 837, Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
bade the nobles do homage to Charles as his heir.[2] Pepin of Aquitaine
died in 838, whereupon Charles at last received that kingdom,[2] which angered Pepin's heirs and the Aquitainian nobles.[3] The death of the emperor in 840 led to the outbreak of war between his sons. Charles allied himself with his brother Louis the German
Louis the German
to resist the pretensions of the new emperor Lothair I, and the two allies defeated Lothair at the Battle of Fontenoy-en-Puisaye
Battle of Fontenoy-en-Puisaye
on 25 June 841.[4] In the following year, the two brothers confirmed their alliance by the celebrated Oaths of Strasbourg. The war was brought to an end by the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
in August 843. The settlement gave Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
the kingdom of the West Franks, which he had been up until then governing and which practically corresponded with what is now France, as far as the Meuse, the Saône, and the Rhône, with the addition of the Spanish March as far as the Ebro. Louis received the eastern part of the Carolingian
Empire, known then as East Francia
East Francia
and later as Germany. Lothair retained the imperial title and the Kingdom of Italy. He also received the central regions from Flanders
through the Rhineland
and Burgundy as king of Middle Francia. Reign in the West[edit]

Denier (type Temple and cross) of Charles the Bald, minted at Reims between 840-864 (pre-Edict of Pistres).

The so-called Equestrian statuette of Charlemagne
(c. 870), thought to most likely depict Charles the Bald

The first years of Charles's reign, up to the death of Lothair I
Lothair I
in 855, were comparatively peaceful. During these years the three brothers continued the system of "confraternal government", meeting repeatedly with one another, at Koblenz
(848), at Meerssen
(851), and at Attigny (854). In 858, Louis the German, invited by disaffected nobles eager to oust Charles, invaded the West Frankish kingdom. Charles was so unpopular that he was unable to summon an army, and he fled to Burgundy. He was saved only by the support of the bishops, who refused to crown Louis the German
Louis the German
king, and by the fidelity of the Welfs, who were related to his mother, Judith. In 860, he in his turn tried to seize the kingdom of his nephew, Charles of Provence, but was repulsed. On the death of his nephew Lothair II
Lothair II
in 869, Charles tried to seize Lothair's dominions by having himself consecrated as King of Lotharingia
at Metz, but he was compelled to open negotiations when Louis found support among Lothair's former vassals. Lotharingia
was partitioned between Charles and Louis in the resulting treaty (870).[5] Besides these family disputes, Charles had to struggle against repeated rebellions in Aquitaine
and against the Bretons. Led by their chiefs Nomenoë and Erispoë, who defeated the king at the Battle of Ballon (845) and the Battle of Jengland (851), the Bretons were successful in obtaining a de facto independence. Charles also fought against the Vikings, who devastated the country of the north, the valleys of the Seine
and Loire, and even up to the borders of Aquitaine. At the Vikings' successful siege and sack of Paris in 845 and several times thereafter Charles was forced to purchase their retreat at a heavy price. Charles led various expeditions against the invaders and, by the Edict of Pistres
Edict of Pistres
of 864, made the army more mobile by providing for a cavalry element, the predecessor of the French chivalry so famous during the next 600 years. By the same edict, he ordered fortified bridges to be put up at all rivers to block the Viking incursions. Two of these bridges at Paris saved the city during its siege of 885–886. Reign as emperor[edit]

Apparition of Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
after his death and burial in Saint Denis

In 875, after the death of the Emperor Louis II (son of his half-brother Lothair), Charles the Bald, supported by Pope John VIII, traveled to Italy, receiving the royal crown at Pavia
and the imperial insignia in Rome on 29 December. Louis the German, also a candidate for the succession of Louis II, revenged himself by invading and devastating Charles' dominions, and Charles had to return hastily to West Francia. After the death of Louis the German
Louis the German
(28 August 876), Charles in his turn attempted to seize Louis's kingdom, but was decisively beaten at the Battle of Andernach on 8 October 876. In the meantime, John VIII, menaced by the Saracens, was urging Charles to come to his defence in Italy. Charles again crossed the Alps, but this expedition was received with little enthusiasm by the nobles, and even by his regent in Lombardy, Boso, and they refused to join his army. At the same time Carloman, son of Louis the German, entered northern Italy. Charles, ill and in great distress, started on his way back to Gaul, but died while crossing the pass of Mont Cenis at Brides-les-Bains, on 6 October 877.[6] According to the Annals of St-Bertin, Charles was hastily buried at the abbey of Nantua, Burgundy because the bearers were unable to withstand the stench of his decaying body. He was to have been buried in the Basilique Saint-Denis
Basilique Saint-Denis
and may have been transferred there later. It was recorded that there was a memorial brass there that was melted down at the Revolution. Charles was succeeded by his son, Louis. Charles was a prince of education and letters, a friend of the church, and conscious of the support he could find in the episcopate against his unruly nobles, for he chose his councillors from among the higher clergy, as in the case of Guenelon of Sens, who betrayed him, and of Hincmar of Reims. Baldness[edit] It has been suggested that Charles' nickname was used ironically and not descriptively; i.e. that he was not in fact bald, but rather that he was extremely hairy.[7] An alternative or additional interpretation is based on Charles' initial lack of a regnum. "Bald" would in this case be a tongue-in-cheek reference to his landlessness, at an age where his brothers already had been sub-kings for some years.[8] Contemporary depictions of his person, e.g. in his Bible of 845, on his seal [[:of 847]] (as king) as well as on his seal of 875 (as emperor) show him with a full head of hair, as does the equestrian statuette (c. 870) thought to depict him. The Genealogy of Frankish Kings, a text from Fontanelle dating from possibly as early as 869, and a text without a trace of irony, names him as Karolus Calvus ("Charles the Bald"). Certainly, by the end of the 10th century, Richier of Reims
and Adhemar of Chabannes
Adhemar of Chabannes
refer to him in all seriousness as "Charles the Bald".[9] Marriages and children[edit] Charles married Ermentrude, daughter of Odo I, Count of Orléans, in 842. She died in 869. In 870, Charles married Richilde of Provence, who was descended from a noble family of Lorraine. With Ermentrude:

Judith (c.843–after 866), married first King Ethelwulf
of Wessex, second his son King Ethelbald, and third Baldwin I, Margrave of Flanders Louis the Stammerer
Louis the Stammerer
(846–879) Charles the Child
Charles the Child
(847–866) Lothair the Lame (848–866), monk in 861, became Abbot of Saint-Germain Carloman (849–876) Rotrude (852–912), a nun, Abbess of Saint-Radegunde Ermentrud (854–877), a nun, Abbess of Hasnon Hildegarde (born 856, died young) Gisela (857–874) Godehilde (864–907)

With Richilde:

Rothilde (871–929), married firstly to Hugues, Count of Bourges and secondly to Roger.[10] Drogo (872–873) Pippin (873–874) a son (born and died 875) Charles (876–877)


Ancestors of Charles the Bald

16. Charles Martel

8. Pepin the Short

17. Rotrude

4. Charlemagne

18. Charibert of Laon

9. Bertrada of Laon

2. Louis the Pious

10. Gerold of Vintzgau

5. Hildegard

22. Hnabi

11. Emma of Alamannia

1. Charles the Bald

6. Welf

3. Judith of Bavaria

7. Hedwig of Bavaria

See also[edit]

First Bible of Charles the Bald Crown of Charlemagne Capitularies of Charles the Bald Engelram, Chamberlain of France


^ Riche 1983, p. 150. ^ a b Riche 1983, p. 157. ^ Riche 1983, p. 158. ^ Bradbury 2007, p. 14. ^ Nelson 1992, p. 17-18. ^ Riche 1983, p. 204. ^ Nelson 1992, p. 13. ^ Lebe 2003. ^ Dutton 2008. ^ Riche 1983, p. 237.


Bradbury, Jim (2007). The Capetians: Kings of France
987-1328. Hambledon Continuum.  Dutton, Paul E. (2008). Charlemagne's Mustache. Palgrave Macmillan.  Lebe, Reinhard (2003). War Karl der Kahle wirklich kahl? Historische Beinamen und was dahintersteckt. Dt. Taschenbuch-Verlag.  Nelson, Janet (1992). Charles the Bald. Essex.  Riche, Pierre (1983). The Carolingians:The Family who forged Europe. University of Pennsylvania Press. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles the Bald.

has original works written by or about: Charles the Bald

Carolus Calvus Francorum Rex, Patrologia Latina

Emperor Charles II the Bald Carolingian
Dynasty Born: 13 June 823 Died: 6 October 877

Regnal titles

Preceded by Pepin I King of Aquitaine 838–855 with Pepin II as contender (838–855) Succeeded by Charles the Child

Duke of Maine 838–851 Succeeded by Robert the Strong

Preceded by Louis the Pious as king of the Franks King of Western Francia 840–877 Succeeded by Louis the Stammerer

Preceded by Louis the Younger (Holy) Roman Emperor 875–877 Vacant Title next held by Charles the Fat

King of Italy 875–877 Succeeded by Carloman

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