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after which he retired to a cloister, and his son

Louis the Debonnaire. 155

Herviquez, who succeeded him, acknowledged that
he held his crown of the bishops. This fact was
cited on this occasion, as if any example could jus-
tify a villainous procedure. They likewise alleged
the penance of the emperor Theodosius; but this
was a very different case. Theodosius had caused
fifteen thousand of the inhabitants of Thessalonica
to be massacred, not from a sudden emotion of
anger, as is so falsely and repeatedly asserted by a
number of writers, but in consequence of a long and
cool reflection. This deliberate piece of cruelty
justly drew upon him the vengeance of a people who
had not chosen him to be their butcher. St. Ambrose
did a most noble action in refusing him entrance
into the Church; and Theodosius was no less pru-
dent in endeavoring to alleviate the hatred of the
empire against him, by forbearing to enter the
Church during eight months ; a poor and insufficient
atonement for the most atrocious piece of wicked-
ness that ever sullied the royal character.

Louis was confined for a year in a cell in the
convent of St. Medard of Soissons, clothed in sack-
cloth, as a penitent, without servants, without con-
solation, and dead to the rest of the world. If he
had had but one son he had been lost forever; but
his three sons quarrelling about the spoils they had
stripped him of, their dissensions restored the father
to his liberty and crown.

Having been sent to St. Denis in 834, two of his
sons, Louis and Pepin, went there to replace him on

156 Ancient and Modern History.

the throne, and restore to his arms his wife and son
Charles. The assembly of Soissons was anathe-
matized by another at Thionville; but it cost the
archbishop of Rheims only the loss of his fee ; more-
over, he was only tried and deposed in the vestry;
whereas the emperor had been publicly degraded at
the foot of the altar. Some other bishops were like-
wise deposed. The emperor either would not or
dared not inflict any greater punishment on them.

Soon after, Louis of Bavaria, one of the same sons
who had re-established him on the throne, rebelled
against him again : this second defection touched
the unhappy father so nearly, that he died of
vexation, June 20, 840, in a tent near Mentz, saying :
" I forgive Louis, but let him know that he has been
the cause of my death."

It is said that he confirmed in a solemn manner,
by his last will, the donation made by Pepin and
Charlemagne to the church of Rome.

This confirmation is liable to the same doubts as
the gifts which it tends to ratify. It can hardly be
thought that Charlemagne and his son should have
made a present to the pope of Venice, Sicily, Sar-
dinia, and Corsica, countries to which they had at
best but a precarious claim to the sovereign juris-
diction. And at what time could Louis dispose of
Sicily, which belonged to the Greek emperors, and
was moreover infested by the continual inroads of
the Barbarians?

After Louis the Debonnaire. 1 57



AFTER the death of Charlemagne's son, his empire
suffered the same fate as that of Alexander ; and,
as will hereafter be seen, befell that of the caliphs.
Founded suddenly, suddenly it sank to ruin; being
rent and divided by internal wars.

It is not to be wondered at, that princes who had
dethroned their own father, should be for getting
rid of one another ; each strove to strip his brother ;
the emperor Lotharius was for getting all into his
own hands. Charles the Bald, king of France, and
Louis, king of Bavaria, joined together to oppose
him. A son of Pepin, king of Aquitaine who was
son of Louis the Debonnaire, and king after the
death of his father joined Lotharius. These laid
the empire waste, in 841, and drained it of its sol-
diers. In fine, two kings opposed against two kings,
and three of these brothers, and the other nephew to
them all, gave each other battle at Fontenoy, in the
Auxerrois, with a fury truly worthy of a civil war.
Several authors affirm, that upwards of a hundred
thousand men perished in this action. Indeed we are
sure that these writers were not contemporaries,
and are therefore at liberty to doubt whether so
much blood was really shed. This engagement
ended in the defeat of Lotharius, who afterwards

158 Ancient and Modern History.

gave the world an example of a policy quite the
reverse to that of Charlemagne.

The conqueror of the Saxons had compelled them
to submit to Christianity, as a necessary curb; but
their frequent revolts, and continual endeavors to
return to their own worship, gave convincing proofs
of their hatred to a religion which they looked on
as their punishment. Lotharius, hoping to attach
them to him, granted them full liberty of conscience :
the consequence of which was, that one-half of the
country relapsed into idolatry, but still remained
faithful to their king. The conduct of this prince,
and that of his grandfather Charlemagne, may serve
to show mankind in how many different ways kings
may make religion subservient to their interests.

The misfortunes of Lotharius furnish us with
yet another example of this: his two brothers,
Charles the Bald, and Louis of Bavaria, assembled
a council of bishops and abbots at Aix-la-Chapelle,
in which Lotharius was, by the unanimous voice
of these prelates, declared to have forfeited his right
to the crown, and his subjects absolved of their oath
of fidelity. " Do you promise to govern better than
he has done ? " said they to the two brothers. " We
do," replied these two princes. Then said the bishop
who presided at the council : " We, by the divine
authority invested in us, permit and command you
to take the reins of government in his stead."

When we see bishops thus disposing of crowns,
we should deceive ourselves, were we to suppose that

After Louis the Debonnaire. 159

they were then what the electors of the empire are
at present. They had great authority indeed, but
none of them were sovereign princes. The authority
annexed to their character, and the veneration the
people had for them, were the instruments made
use of by kings to serve their own purposes. These
ecclesiastics showed much more weakness than
grandeur, in thus determining the right of kings, in
servile compliance to the orders of the stronger

We should not then be surprised, that, a few years
afterwards, an archbishop of Sens, with twenty
other bishops, should have had the boldness, in a
like position, to depose Charles the Bald, king of
France. This audacious attempt was undertaken to
please Louis, king of Bavaria. These two mon-
archs, who were as bad kings as they had been
unnatural brothers, finding themselves not able to
destroy each other, procured one another to be
anathematized by turns ; but what is really surpris-
ing, is the acknowledgment made by Charles the
Bald, in a rescript he condescended to publish
against the archbishop of Sens, in these words:
"At least, the archbishop ought not to have pro-
ceeded to depose me, before I had appeared before
the bishops who consecrated me king: it was just
that I should first have undergone their censure, to
whose paternal correction and chastisement I was
always ready to submit myself." The race of

160 Ancient and Modern History.

Charlemagne reduced to speak in these terms, were
visibly marching with long strides to their ruin.

I shall now return to Lotharius, who had still a
powerful party in Germany, and remained quiet pos-
sessor of Italy. He passed the Alps, and had his
son Louis crowned, who afterwards went to Rome
to try Pope Sergius II. That pontiff made his
appearance in 844, and answered in a formal man-
ner to the allegations brought against him by the
bishop of Mentz. In the course of his trial he fully
justified himself, and afterwards took an oath of
fidelity to that very Lotharius who had been deposed
by his bishops. Lotharius himself at the same time
made that famous and useless decree, that to pre-
vent seditions, which were so frequent at that time,
the pope should no longer be elected by the people ;
and that the emperor should henceforth be made
acquainted whenever the holy see became vacant.

It may appear surprising to find this emperor, who
was at times so humble, behaving so haughtily on
this occasion ; but let it be considered, that he had
an army within a little distance of Rome when the
pope swore obedience to him, and had none at Aix-
la-Chapelle when the bishops deposed him.

Their decree only served as an additional scandal
to the desolations of Europe. The provinces from
the Alps to the Rhine were at a loss to know whom
they were to obey. Cities were every day changing
their tyrants, and the countries round about were
ravaged in turns by different parties. Nothing was

After Louis the Debonnaire. 161

to be heard of but battles, in which there were
always monks, abbots, and bishops, perishing with
sword in hand. Hugh, one of the sons of Charle-
magne, who had formerly been forced to embrace
a monastic life, and afterwards came to be abbot
of St. Quentin, was killed before Toulouse, together
with the abbot of Farriere; and, at the same time
and place, two bishops were made prisoners.

These civil broils ceased for a while, but it was
only to return again with redoubled fury. The
three brothers, Lotharius, Charles, and Louis, made
a fresh division of the empire among themselves,
which did but prove a subject for fresh animosities
and wars.

The emperor Lotharius, after having thrown all
Europe into confusion, without acquiring either suc-
cess or glory, finding himself growing weak and
feeble, turned monk, and retired to the abbey of
Prum. He lived however but six days in his new
state, and died a fool, after having lived a tyrant.

After the death of this third emperor of the West,
there started up new kingdoms in Europe, like heaps
of earth after the shock of a mighty earthquake.

Another Lotharius, son of the deceased emperor,
gave the name of Lotharingia to a pretty large
tract of country called since, by contraction, Lor-
raine; lying between the Rhine, the Scheldt, the
Meuse, and the sea. What we now call Brabant,
was then called Upper Lorraine, and the rest Lower
Lorraine. At present there is no more remaining of

Vol. 24 ii

1 62 Ancient and Modern History.

Upper Lorraine than a small province of that name
lately swallowed up in the kingdom of France.

A second son of the emperor Lotharius, named
Charles, had Savoy, Dauphiny, and a part of Lyon-
nais, Provence, and Languedoc. This state com-
posed the kingdom of Aries, so called from the name
of its capital, which had formerly been an opulent
city, and greatly embellished by the Romans; but
was now a poor, petty, insignificant place, as indeed
are all the towns on this side the Alps.

A barbarian, by some writers called Solomon,
soon after made himself king of Brittany, a part of
which still continued in paganism: but all these
petty kingdoms sank almost as quickly as they were

The shadow of the Roman Empire still existed.
Louis, the second son of Lotharius, who had a part
of Italy for his share, was proclaimed emperor by
Pope Sergius II., in 855. He did not reside at
Rome, nor did he possess the ninth part of Charle-
magne's empire, having only an authority in Italy,
and that contested by the popes and the dukes of
Benevento, who were then in possession of a con-
siderable tract of dominion.

By his death, which happened in 875, if the Salic
law had had any degree of weight, with respect
to the family of Charlemagne, the empire of right
devolved to the elder branch of that house; and
Louis of Bavaria, as such, ought to have succeeded
his nephew on his dying without children. But

After Louis the Debonnaire. 163

arms and money determined the right to Charles the
Bald, who shut up the passages of the Alps against
his brother, and hastened to Rome with a body of
troops. Regino and the annals of Metz and Fulda
tell us for certain, that he purchased the empire of
Pope John VI II., who not only made him pay
handsomely for it, but, profiting by so favorable a
circumstance for raising the authority of his see,
gave the empire as a sovereign, and Charles received
it as a vassal ; declaring that he held it of the pope,
in like manner as he had before declared in France,
in 859, that he should submit to the decision of the
bishops ; but he did not care how much he debased
his dignity, provided he could but enjoy it.

Under him then the Roman Empire was composed
of France and Italy. It is said that he died poisoned
by his own physician, who was a Jew, named Sede-
cias ; but no one has ever pretended to say for what
reason he committed this crime. What could this
physician gain by poisoning his master? Under
whom could he enjoy a more happy lot? No writer
makes mention of the punishment inflicted on him;
and therefore we have a right to doubt the truth of
this poisoning story, and content ourselves with
reflecting on the ignorance of Christendom at that
time, when kings were obliged to send in search of
physicians among the Jews and Arabs.

This shadow of an empire still continued to be a
bone of contention ; Louis the Stammerer, king of
France, the son of Charles the Bald, disputed the

164 Ancient and Modern History.

possession of it with the other descendants of
Charlemagne: but all the parties asked it of the
pope. A duke of Spoleto, and a marquis of Tus-
cany, who had been invested with these states by
Charles the Bald, seized on the person of Pope John
VIII., and plundered a part of Rome, in order, as
they said, to oblige that pontiff to confer the impe-
rial dignity on a king of Bavaria, named Carloman,
the eldest of the descendants of Charlemagne.
And this Pope John had not only these persecutions
to suffer in Rome from Italians, but had just before,
in 877, been obliged to pay the sum of twenty-five
thousand pounds weight of silver to the Mahom-
etans, who were possessors of the island of Sicily
and the Neapolitan coast. This was the money
which Charles the Bald had given him for the
empire; but it soon passed from the hands of the
pope into those of the Saracens; and the former
was even obliged to agree, by an authentic treaty,
to pay them the like sum annually.

However, this pontiff, who was a tributary to the
Mahometans, and a prisoner in Rome, made his
escape, took shipping, and got over to France;
where he performed the office of consecrating the
emperor Louis the Stammerer, in the city of Troyes,
after the example of his predecessors Leo III.,
Alexander, and Stephen III., who, though perse-
cuted and driven from their own dominions, still
continued to dispose of the crowns of other king-

After Louis the De'bonnaire. 165

Under the reign of Charles the Fat, emperor and
king of France, the desolations of Europe were
redoubled. The farther the blood of Charlemagne
ran from its source, the more it degenerated.
Charles the Fat was, in 887, declared incapable of
reigning, by an assembly of French and German
nobles, who deposed him in a council called by him-
self, at a place near Mentz. This was not the act
of a set of bishops, who, while they are basely
serving the ambition or revenge of a prince, affect
to dispose of crowns ; this was an assembly of the
principal nobility, who thought they had a right to
make choice of the person who was to govern them,
and under whose command they were to fight. It
is said that Charles the Fat grew weak in intellect;
weak he always was, without doubt, since, by his
conduct, he had brought himself to such a pass, as
to suffer himself to be dethroned, and to lose, at
one stroke, all Germany, France, and Italy, and be
reduced, at length, to depend upon the charity of
the archbishop of Mentz for the common necessaries
of life. It is evident, that in these times the natural
order of succession was reckoned as nothing, since
Arnold, the bastard of Carloman, son of Louis the
Stammerer, was declared emperor, and Eudes, or
Odo, count of Paris, made king of France. There
was then neither the right of birth, nor the acknowl-
edged right of election. Europe was a chaos, in
which the strongest rose upon the ruins of the weak-
est, to be tumbled down, in their turn, by others.

1 66 Ancient and Modern History.


EUROPE was now all confusion; everything was
divided, everything weak and miserable. This
opened a passage to the people of Scandinavia, and
those who inhabited the ports of the Baltic Sea.
These savages, grown too numerous for the lands
they possessed, lands in themselves barren and
ungrateful to the laborer's toil ; without any manu-
factures of their own, and destitute of all knowl-
edge of the arts, sought only how to spread them-
selves at a distance from their own country. Rob-
bery and piracy were as necessary to them, as car-
nage to beasts of prey. The Germans called these
people by the general name of Normans, or men of
the North, in the same manner as we still say in
general, the corsairs of Barbary, or the Sallee rov-
ers. As early as the fourth century they mingled
in the fleets of other barbarians, and assisted in
carrying desolation even into Rome and Africa : we
have already seen that, during the reign of Charle-
magne, they kept at home for fear of slavery. In
the time of Louis the Debonnaire they began to
cruise abroad. The vast forests with which their
country was overspread, furnished them with suffi-
cient quantities of timber for building their vessels,
which were worked with two sails and with oars,
and would contain about a hundred men, with all

The Normans. 167

the necessary provisions for a cruise. They used to
coast along the seashore, and make descents in those
places where they were likely to meet with no
resistance, and afterwards return home with what
booty they could pick up, of which they made a
regular distribution, according to the laws of piracy,
as is now done among the pirates on the coast of
Barbary. As early as the year 843, we find them
entering France by the mouth of the river Seine,
and plundering the city of Rouen; another fleet
made its way by the river Loire, and laid all the
country waste as far as Touraine. The men they
took in these cruises they kept in slavery; the
women and girls they divided among themselves.
They even brought away the young children, in
order to train them up to the business of piracy:
wherever they landed they cleared all before them,
bringing away cattle, movables, and everything
that came in their way; and would sometimes sell
on one coast what they had brought off from
another. The success of their first expeditions
excited the avarice of their indigent countrymen.
The inhabitants of the seacoast of Germany soon
joined them, and entered on board their vessels in
like manner as the renegadoes of Provence and
Sicily have served in the fleets of Algiers.

In the year 844, they covered the sea with their
ships, and made descents almost at the same time on
England, France, and Spain. There were tio meas-
ures taken, indeed, either by the French or English,

1 68 Ancient and Modern History.

to prevent these invasions; but in Spain the sea-
coasts were guarded by the Arabs, who, at length,
drove these pirates off.

In 845, the Normans plundered the town of Ham-
burg, and penetrated a considerable way into Ger-
many. They were no longer, as at their first setting
out, a confused rabble of pirates without order:
they had now a fleet of six hundred barks, contain-
ing a very formidable army, and commanded by a
king of Denmark, whose name was Eric, under
whom they gained two considerable battles before
they re-embarked. This piratical prince, after return-
ing home loaded with German spoils, sent one of
the admirals of the corsairs, whom historians call
Regnier, on an expedition against France: this
man sailed up the river Seine with a fleet of a hun-
dred and twenty sail. We can hardly suppose that
these hundred and twenty sail could carry twenty
thousand men; and yet, with a number probably
inferior, he plundered the city of Rouen for the
second time, and even advanced as far as Paris.
In these kinds of invasions, where the weakness of
the government has not provided against such sur-
prises, the apprehension of the people always aug-
ments the danger, and the greater number fre-
quently flies before the lesser. This was precisely
the case on the present occasion ; the Parisians, who
at other times had been wont to defend themselves
with so much bravery, now abandoned their city to
the enemy, who found nothing there but wooden

The Normans. 169

houses, which they burned to the ground. The
unfortunate king, Charles the Bald, who had
entrenched himself at St. Denis with a few troops,
instead of making head against these barbarians,
purchased their retreat for the sum of fourteen
thousand marks of silver. It is provoking to read
in some of our authors, that many of these barba-
rians were struck dead for having pillaged the
church of St.-Germain-des-Pres. Neither the people
nor their saints made the least defence, and yet must
the conquered indulge themselves in the pitiful
satisfaction of imaginary miracles wrought against
their victors.

Charles the Bald, in thus purchasing a peace of
these pirates, only furnished them with fresh means
for carrying on the war, and deprived himself of
those for supporting it. The Normans employed the
money they had gotten from Charles in carrying on
the siege of Bordeaux, which they took and
pillaged ; and, to complete the general horror and
humiliation, Pepin, king of Aquitaine, a descendant
of Charlemagne, finding himself unable to make
head against these barbarians, joined them; and
then about 858 France was totally ravaged.
The Normans, having considerably increased in
strength by the several parties who had joined them,
continued for a long time to spread desolation
through Germany, Flanders, and the English coast.
We have lately seen armies of one hundred thou-
sand men scarcely able, even after signal victories,

170 Ancient and Modern History.

to take two towns ; to such a perfection has the art
of fortifying and preparing places against an attack,
been carried in our times ; but in those days, a band
of barbarians fighting against other barbarians at
variance with each other, found nothing to oppose
their incursions after succeeding in the first blow.
Sometimes indeed they might be defeated, but then
it was only to return with additional force. God-
frey, king of Denmark, to whom Charles the Fat
had ceded a part of Holland in the year 882, pene-
trated thence into Flanders, when his Normans
passed from the Somme to the Oise without meet-
ing with any resistance, and took and burned Pon-
toise; after which they came before Paris by land
and water.

The Parisians, in 885, who then expected an
irruption of barbarians, did not abandon their city
as before. Odo, or Eudes, count of Paris, whose
valor afterwards raised him to the throne of France,
put the city into such good order, and made such
excellent regulations as animated the courage of
the inhabitants, and served them instead of towers
and ramparts. Sigefroi, who commanded the Nor-
mans in this expedition, pushed the siege with the
most obstinate fury, but yet not destitute of art.
He taught his people to use battering-rams for mak-
ing a breach in the walls, which they at length
effected, and then gave three general assaults, which
the inhabitants stood with incredible bravery. The
Parisians were not headed by Count Eudes only, but

The Normans. 171

by their bishop Goslin also, who every day, after
giving his benediction to the people, mounted the
breach in person, and, with a helmet on his head, a
quiver of arrows at his back, and an axe at his girdle,
after having planted a cross on the ramparts, fought
with it in his view. This prelate seems to have had
at least as much authority in the city as the count
himself; for when Sigefroi endeavored to obtain
permission to enter Paris, Goslin was the person to
whom he addressed himself. This good bishop
died of fatigue in the midst of the siege, leaving
behind him a valued and respected memory; for
though he armed those hands which religion
reserves wholly for the service of the altar, yet it
was for the safety of that altar, and of his fellow-
citizens, fighting in the most just of all causes,
a necessary defence, which is ever above the laws.

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