843: the signing of the Treaty of Verdun

843: the signing of the Treaty of Verdun

The Treaty of Verdun, signed in 843 between the surviving sons of Louis the Pious, recorded the division of the Carolingian Empire and ended the universality of the imperial title. From this division, the kingdom of France will be born a few centuries later.

The Treaty of Verdun was signed in the year 843 between the three surviving sons of Louis Le Pieux, son of Charlemagne, who died in 840. It put an end to a conflictive situation arising from the inability of the brothers to agree to act on the inheritance. of the Carolingian Empire on the death of his father.

We have to go back a few years to understand the origins of these succession disputes. Louis Le Pieux, who succeeded his illustrious father in 814, was crowned emperor at Reims in 816. He had three sons: Lothaire, Pépin, and Louis le Germanique. The question of succession then arises, a crucial question in the imperial context.

In 817, Lothair was designated as the principal successor to Louis Le Pieux by the capitular Ordinatio Imperii. This document is a compromise between the Frankish tradition that imposes an equitable division between the heirs and a universal conception of the indivisibility of the imperial title. Placed under the authority of his brother, Pépin recovers the duchy of Aquitaine and Louis, the territories of Bavaria.

A brother torn apart by the empire of Charlemagne

However, an event calls this distribution into question. Ermengarde, wife of Louis the Pious, died in 818. The following year, Louis the Pious remarried a second time to Judith of Bavaria. Two children were born from this union, including Carlos, in 823. The king then had to rethink his succession. He does not hesitate to richly endow his youngest son, sometimes to the detriment of his eldest. For example, in 832, he deprived Pepin 1Ahem of his territories in Aquitaine and grants them to Carlos. Lotario sees his inheritance fragmented and weakened. So he decides to fight back: he unites his brothers to his cause and gains the support of the Pope. He thus manages to have his father deposed in 833. At the same time, he locks up Judit and Carlos in a monastery.

But the story does not end there. By a reversal of the alliance, Louis and Pépin approach his father and actively participate in his return to the throne in 834. Only then do his wife and his youngest son regain their freedom. Tensions subsided and paved the way for reconciliation in 838. But this rapprochement was short-lived: Pepin IAhem he died in September 838, forcing the aged king to review his succession. After a new partition in 839, the king died the following year.

Upon the death of Charlemagne’s son, these lawsuits resumed and turned into armed confrontations. Strengthened by the status of his elder, Lotario claims the succession and gathers Pepin II, son of Pepin I, to his cause.Ahem. Louis Le Germanique and Charles le Chauve join forces to counter their brother’s ambitions. Their alliance was victorious: they defeated Lothair and Pepin II at the Battle of Fontenoy at Pusaye in 841. The alliance of circumstances became a solemn alliance with the Strasbourg Oaths in February 842; the two sovereigns swear unconditional mutual assistance. Lotario has no choice but to give in to the joint armed forces of his cadets.

The division of the Carolingian Empire

Lotario, Luis el Germanico and Carlos reach an agreement that materializes with the Treaty of Verdun. This treaty ratifies the division of his grandfather’s empire and therefore eliminates the universality of the imperial title.

  • Charles inherits Western France: the territory extends over the powerful duchies of Aquitaine, Gascogne, Septimania, part of Burgundy, Neustria and Navarre. This territory is at the origin of the kingdom of France.
  • Louis the German obtained East Francia, often known as Germania, the embryo of the future Holy Roman Empire.
  • Lothair receives the median France that extends from Lotharingia to Provence and Lombardy.

If Lothaire retains the imperial title, the reality is very different. He alone controls a large territory wedged between Charles the Bald’s wealthy western France and Louis the German’s lands to the east. The territorial unit of the empire of Charlemagne no longer exists. The frank law of land division among the king’s sons is respected.

The atomization of the territories continues in the second half of the IXme century. On the death of Lothair’s sons, Luis the Germanic and Carlos the Bald divided the territories of Lotharingia, Provence and the Kingdom of Italy. This tripartite division of the Carolingian Empire shapes the territorial influence of what will become France, Italy and Germany. The imperial title inherited from Charlemagne disappears on Lothair’s death. Two strong new entities appear to be taking hold: Charles Le Chauve’s West Francia and Louis the German’s Germania.

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