• Revision:Carolignian Period

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Charles Martel:

  • 20 years enforcing claim to hegemony
  • Strengthened power by reducing power
  • Independent lordships
  • Confiscated royal resources



753 - 758

  • Fight the Saxons need generations genocide, deportations to beat them

755 - 756

  • Low key campaigns against Lombards


  • Pippin dies
  • Charles and Carloman agree division


  • All out war with Saxons


  • Lombards crushed
  • Enables further links with Hafdria


  • Saxons crushed ruthlessly


  • Avar plunde


  • Charlemagne's Empire Utmost Limit - 9th Century Expansion halts


  • Charlemagne Dies


  • Treaty of Verdun
  • Lothar, Louis and Charles trade off competing interests after death of father
  • Louis the German - three way split of the empire


  • Lothar death



  • Louis the German settles with Charles the Bald


  • Renovatio Monetae
  • Charles raises money via recoinage taxing of markets etc


  • Treaty of Meersen
  • Charles the Bald loses land gained when conquers Lotharingia


  • Charles crowned Emperor in Italy after Louis dies

Charles Martel

715 - 741

  • Rallies subjects with external threats
  • Saxony, Bavaria, Aquitaine, uses lay bishoprics to cement power.
  • Death 741 divides kingdom between Carloman and Pippin III


751 - 768

  • Impossible to beat militarily, Boniface cements links between papacy and monarchy, war every season and strong links via Pope Stephen III
  • Franks protect papal interests
  • Francia stronger than ever before
  • Destroy the overly powerful aristocrats
  • Dynasty drew on religious support, underlay consolidation of its rule


768 - 814

  • Energetic, rushing around kingdom
  • Crucially gains loyalty, legislation in favour of crucial loyalty
  • Avar plunder gives treasure
  • Rule takes on Roman characteristics
  • Images of in worship, commission Frankish version orthodoxy, Aachen built Roman architecture
  • 800 - culmination crowned Emperor
  • Towards end of reign increasing concerned with getting military service and support magnates less willing to support when spoils of war dry up

Government under Charlemagne

  • optimistic
  • view capitularies, written government implies innovative institutions, combine with missi and scabini
  • Ties of loyalty to master and religious officer do duty
  • Pessimistic view little evidence missi scabini in practice, no new government structure, plunder and tribute sustained growth, lack of structure exposed when empire stopped expanding


  • some intentions, others ideals
  • revivial religious and intellectual activity with growth in the power of rulers

Revial, Reform, Expansion

  • Went hand in hand
  • Declared aim to create justly governed society
  • Cleansing Christian community
  • Strengthened hand of rulers.

Church Reform

  • strengthened brief of state to intervene in the individual standardisation and coordination of religious and culture life strengthened hegemony of the state


  • Joviality and accessibility important maintaining support of the aristocracy


  • Needed to beat the Saxons to protect vital Rhineland
  • Charlemagne needed to be crowned emperor as Saxons no conception of Kings, can't be ruled by ethnogenesis,
  • Saxons appreciate emperorship as cultural pagan history focused on mystic leaders.
  • Political concessions to the Saxon aristocracy believed they had been given their own laws
  • Charlemagne seeks ideological cement for disparate people - Holy Roman Empire born
  • Less to facilitate acquisition of power, than to canonise power already achieved.

Negative Analysis

  • administrative reform overrated, local government in bad way as counts neglect duties
  • no economic or social policy

Louis the Pious

814 - 840

  • Sole heir to Charlemagne's empire
  • father and grandfather never mastered art of living in peace
  • Conglomeration of sub-kingdoms uses levers of patronage to get rid of Charlemagne's old guard
  • 833 - Pippin and brothers depose Louis but regains control, determined to gain succession
  • 837 - 838 - lands given to Charles, Pippin dies (838) and land given to Charles
  • Was he weakened by 833? Lack of documents say yes but continued to hand out honores etc, successful getting Charles land

Charles the Bald

  • 844 - Unexpected defeat Aquitaine Pippin II new life paid Vikings off
  • Lothar insistent on undermining Verdun and Louis the German's allies with Charles
  • 848 - Charles undermines Pippin in Aquitaine
  • Viking raids continue but Charles copes admirably with Vikings in Bordeaux
  • 847 - 48 - escalation Viking trouble
  • 851 - that Charles deals with again
  • 853 - Louis the German's son sent to Aquitaine as Louis the German worried about Lothar/Charles the Bald alliance
  • Chares clever and reconstructs regional, territorial political identity on basis collective interest

Political Consensus

  • missi given task getting capitularies implemented at local court
  • ecclesiastical and lay share responsibility maintaining peace and order
  • uses assembles for consensus, people at court from wide distribution of regions


  • Charles the Bald's institutionalisation of hereditary countships
  • 877 - power and property inherited
  • Dhondt allows amassing of countships by great regional magnates 0 ancestors of great 12th century houses
  • footloose quality aristos following King dispute Dhondt's point

Crisis of Charles the Bald's Reign


  • Parts of aristocracy agitated and ask Louis the German to come in
  • lacked military strength to get him out so negotiated Coblenz
  • 860 - became magnet for discontented nobles, expansion prospect as Louis the German's sons are weak

Charles the Bald's Sons

  • 4 die within months and uses this opportunity to put in others into power creates regional constellations of power not allowing construction of a single territorial principality but divides and rules.

Use of Church

  • Exploits mobility and flexibility of ecclesiastical patronage
  • Episcopal and abbatial appointees functioned as royal agents
  • extended infrastructure Charles the Bald could tap into to
  • King secures political and military services without loss of fisc
  • church was a frail aqueduct across which late Roman administrative practice, with its geographical divisions passed to early medieval states


  • Defences: Marne 862 shows result
  • decent defences against the Vikings:
  • Charles fortified bridge strategy saved Oise valley palaces and for last decade Seine basin paradise spared further Viking attacks.
  • two prong strategy friendly with leaders and fortresses on rivers as visible wealth grew so did Vikings' desire,
  • 840 - Franks wealth increased, $Danish familiarity with this and desire and power to raid it also increased
  • Frankish empire's capacity to defend it diminished.
  • Brunt of Viking efforts onto Charles the Bald's kingdom
  • 860s - Charles the Bald applies himself seriously to defending his paradise
  • hire fees for contingents, fortified bridges (Pitres)


  • 864 - Reform of the Coinage
  • stimulating flow of coinage King helped himself to tap increasing flow of wealth in his kingdom
  • same legislation as proliferation of markets
  • 10% cut of old coinage essentially a substantial wealth tax
  • recoinage demonstration political willneed large supplies silver to fund new imperialism
  • taxed more heavily for Viking defences as economy could cope
  • economic effect of Vikings hard to judge - positive stimulus defense etc but did plunder
  • no economic planner but knew enough to make sure utilised benefits.


  • Exploiting nephews' dynastic weakness and expand eastwards and south-eastwards - political manoeuvring meant in 869 Charles' prospects of Lotharingian acquisitions looked bright
  • loses gains in Lotharingia at Treaty of Meersen
  • crowned emperor of Italy 875 upon Louis' death, Louis the German enters Charles the Bald's kingdom when Charles the Bald in Italy

Battle of Andernach

  • Charles the Bald tries to get back parts of Lotharingia gained before Meersen, loses as traitor in ranks

Capitulary of Quierzy

  • ruler with firm grip of control and aristocratic support

Regnum and Regna

  • Bretons on side with Salomon from 840
  • degree local autonomy but always loyal, closer links with burgundy via Episcopal and Abbatial appointments - Goths in Septmania give little problems as dislike Saracen raids
  • more intensive rule in Francia heartlands

Homeostatic Mechanisms

  • for maintenance aristocratic support - oath-takings, receptions at court


Royal Fisc

  • fluid
  • The wherewithal to reward followers, power radiating from central core, weaker at periphery plunder went directly to the king and was the redistributed gift giving language in which to express power relationships
  • gifts rather than taxation

Power dependent on instability

  • expand territory neighbour's expense
  • If a Frank is your friend, he's certainly not your neighbour
  • Dhondt argues squandering royal fisc, but giving land positive instrument royal power, rule of distant lands manageable


  • Pippin continues Charles Martel strategy expropriating church lands
  • nobles into key sees, control bishoprics, reinforce corporate involvement, require military service, endow grants ecclesiastical land, control bishoprics enable taking Burgundy 750 royal demands; blessings, military series etc loyalty and efficiency ecclesiastical dignitaries more reliable than secular office holders Bishops and abbots with large land acted as a force for cohesion and integration
  • Church v. important in the expansion of the Carolingian empire

Church Reform

794 - 829

  • high summer of Carolingian church reform, aims:
  • intensification Christian practice, greater uniformity, preservation purity of the church


  • treasure as reward for service, note Avar loot of 793
  • as Danish Kings show treasure not totally sustainable form of power

Internal redistribution v. external expansion

  • less opportunities expansion so workings of inheritance 840 and 855 allowed expansion between kingdoms Louis the German and Charles the Bald extend realm by exploiting infertility nephew
  • post-Charlemagne use treasure, abbacies, extraction from peasant move from economy of plunder to economy of profiteering
  • Charlemagne and Louis find it difficult to raise armies - war-weary end of Carolingian expansion pre-destined? Defensive footing - see Charles the

Bald against Vikings. Also limits of empire, not resources, but resources for conversion afterwards

  • v. Christian empire, once Saxony and Avar taken unprofitable and difficult
  • less to gain from plunder and more to lose if attack goes wrong, acquisition of loot by successful warfare crucial in determining the momentum of Frankish expansion and the allocation of power within the empire internalises warrior desire for power and wealth
  • inter-Carolingian conflict fundamental dynamic a means whereby resources where re-allocated
  • nobility, ecclesiastics move one ruler to the next depending on opportunity.


  • participation in spoils of war, aggressive landlordship
  • King's job to make sure powerful men at court did not factionalise
  • Kingdom held together if aristocrats functioned, concept of Konigsnahe
  • Kingship and Lordship went together and reinforced each other

Economic Management

  • Coinage oiled trade tolls and trade added to royal income
  • Charles 858 plunder own people with recoinage

Sociology of Kingship

  • marriages as conduit of power; few Kings escaped rebellion by sons sub-kingdoms a limited resource

Logistics of Power

  • Local and regional aristocracies remained establishment of son in a sub-kingdom recognition of a regional power more than an attempt to control the region use of Counts to; maintain social order and justice, look after royal estates, summon men when king campaigned bishops similar role to counts


  • Charlemagne's acquisition, notably Lombardy and Bavaria, allowed them to keep basis on law
  • law territorial not personal
  • formally dissolved jurisdiction to regional princes functioned like sub-Kings
  • trade off between local aristocratic power and royal power, good deal of subsidiarity
  • Charlemagne's main challenge was to make sure local aristos ruled fairly
  • vassalage oath taking
  • was there to much regional power that caused collapse, or structure of leadership?
  • Empire just an accident because of lack of sons?
  • Paradoxically existence supra-regional aristocracy and an empire with different kingdoms that led to a regionalisation of this aristocracy. Fluidity of aristocracy and great purges by different Kings, notably in the East after treaty of Coblenz in 600 moves west notably, number of regnal aristocracies replaced an imperial aristocracy aristocracies coagulated in the different kingdoms and this meant an increasing identification with a territory in the East this coincided with the split between Louis the German's brothers leading to the three regional aristocracies. Capable of collective action increasingly consent of leading men needed for inheritance, or they could invite a Carolingian to lead them

Ties of property and marriage important in establishing East Francia

  • By 843 Carolingian experiment to create a unified monarchy and Church administered by united and loyal aristocracy failed
  • local ambition greater than private interest

Imperial Aristocracy

  • played important role in holding Charlemagne's empire together
  • different in 9th centiury
  • divisions with siblings hardened, aristos look to different Kings for advancement, East West drift indigenous aristocracy already ensconced from which incoming magnates could recruit clients and subordinates
  • Was there an aristocracy at all older model says land of free men and then developed nobility new model suggests aristocracy goes back to Merovingian times and therefore did not owe position to Carolingians


  • legitimacy from Pope, approval of Pippin early on;
  • Charlemagne incorporates nation of lordship oaths of fidelity etc
  • Charles the Bald develops idea of societas political advice and military support all without exception had to come to the defence of the patria
  • sword still defined a man's public status


  • were limited
  • preserve and extend own wealth and power,
  • to do justice and keep peace within border,
  • wage war and extract tribute from abroad.

East/West Balance

  • West more economically developed in the 9th century
  • East politically more powerful, intervene West Francia three times, assert themselves Lotharingian succession
  • East had open frontier, only one of Verdun 3 so possibility plunder + tribute
  • West elite turn to other forms of political and military organisation as neither expansion nor tribute available thus we see the development of the principality, the castellany


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