Oliver J. (Oliver Joseph) Thatcher.

A short history of mediæval Europe online

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Emperor and the Pope ; the authority, rights, and duties
of each were not clearly defined.

Karl himself by his own personal efforts gave unity to
the whole government and did much of the actual work.
He was busy moving from one part of the realm to an-
other, fighting, administering justice, conducting trials,
.settling difficulties, and, in general, keeping the machinery
of government in motion.

His military system did not differ from that of his prede-
cessors. At his summons all his free subjects were supposed
to come prepared to begin a campaign. But the frequency
of his wars and their great distance from home made them
very burdensome, and many now began to try to escape
military service. A compromise was effected by which a
certain number of men were allowed to equip one man and
send him as their representative. Karl also built a fleet to



TJie Franks 63

guard the coast, and especially the mouths of rivers, which
latter he often fortified.

As a lawgiver he was also active, although there is little Karl r\s law-
that is remarkable in his legislation. He tried to pre-
serve the old German laws and customs, which he now
caused to be reduced to writing. His own laws are a
curious mixture of German, Roman, and biblical elements.
Since his Empire was Christian, the Bible was the very
highest authority, and all laws were to be^in.harmony with
it. It did indeed color much of his legSlation.

As a builder Karl achieved a great reputation. He built As builder,
many churches, the principal one of which was the church
at Aachen, in which he was buried. He built a great
palace for himself at x-Vachen, another at Ingelheim, near
Mainz, and another at Nijmegen. He also built a bridge
over the Rhine at Mainz, but it was destroyed by fire be-
fore his death. His architects were mostly Italians. Many
pillars and other building materials were brought from Italy
at incredible expense and labor. The style of his architect-
ure was undoubtedly a derived Byzantine, for the buildings
of Ravenna were his models.

Probably the most remarkable of all Karl's activities was His attitude
his educational work. He drew to his court some of the -^l^^
most learned men of his day, among them Alcuin, Paulus
Diaconus, Peter of Pisa, and others. He formed his court
into a palace school (Scola Palatina), all the members of
which assumed either classical or biblical names. Karl
called himself David. The sessions of this school were held
mostly in the winter, because in the summer Karl was en-
gaged in his wars. His learned men gave lectures, and
there were many discussions of the subjects broached. The
clergy of the Empire were, on the whole, very ignorant,
many of them too ignorant to preach, and Karl caused a
volume of sermons to be prejiared for their use. He estab-



64 A Short History of Medieval Eiirope



Effects of this
" Revival of
Learniner."



Karl a Ger-
man.



lished cathedral schools, the most prominent of which were
at Rheims and Orleans, and monastery schools, such as those
of St. Gall, Tours, Reichenau, Fulda, Hersfeld, Corvey,
and Hirschau. These were especially for the clergy, but
they were open to all who might wish to enter. In fact,
Karl had thoughts of a state system of public instruction.
Karl was also greatly interested in the study of music. He
asked the Pope to send him priests who could give instruc-
tion in the style of singing practised in Italy. Two schools
of music were established by him, one at Metz, the other at
Soissons. The organ was introduced into Gaul about this
time and was cultivated by Karl.

This manifold activity amounted to a real revival of learn-
ing, which bore fruit in the ninth century in the great dis-
putations about foreordination and transubstantiation, as
well as in the literature of that period. The great emphasis
placed on classical Latin had some very important effects.
In the first place, it purified the Latin of the Church, but
at the same time widened the chasm between the spoken and
the written Latin. The spoken Latin had now become a
dialect, very different from the written language and im-
possible to purify. This vulgar speech was the beginning
of the French language, and its development and use as a
literary language was hastened by the revival of classical
Latin. Not only the French but also the other Romance
languages were gradually developing. The interest in the
classics led to the multiplication of manuscripts and the pres-
ervation of the works of Latin authors which would other-
wise have perished, and it also determined that the Latin
should be the language of education during the Middle Age.

Karl also loved his own tongue, the German. He caused
a grammar of it to be made, attempting thus to make of it
a literary language by reducing it to regular forms. He
made a collection of the German songs and legends which



The Franks 65



Avere probably the earliest forms of some of the stories in
the " Nibelungen Lied," but his son Ludwig, to our great
loss, had this destroyed because of its heathenism.

The attitude of Ivarl to the Church has already been Karl and the
shown. He regarded it as his special duty to defend the
Church and to extend it by converting the heathen. The
motive of many of his wars was quite as much religious as
political. He took care that the conquered lands should
be supplied with churches and clergy. He regarded him-
self as the master of the Church by virtue of the office which
he held. He controlled the election of bishops and Arch-
bishops, and sometimes even appointed them. The organ-
ization of the Church, begun in a systematic way by Boni-
face, was largely completed by him. He exercised the right
of calling ecclesiastical councils, presided over them, and
signed the decrees, which would otherwise have been in-
valid. Under him the Church had no independent power
of legislation. The clergy, as well as the laymen, were
subject to the laws of the Empire. Karl was the first to
make the payment of tithes obligatory. During the first
seven centuries of the Church, the tithe was practically un-
known, being at that time only the traditional and custo-
mary rent paid for the use of lands. Karl tried to make
this payment binding on the lands which he conquered,
especially on the Saxons. This tenth was paid for the sup-
port of the Church, and this fact brought about a change in
the conception of it. It was then identified with the tithe
of the Old Testament, and in time made compulsory through-
out all Christian countries.

But Karl's authority over the Church extended still
farther. He claimed to have the right to determine the
polity, ritual, and even the doctrines of the Church. In
787 the Empress Irene called a council to meet at Nicaea
which should settle the question of the use of images in the



66 A Short History of Medieval Europe

churches. This council, under the protection of Irene, de-
clared in favor of their use and sent its decrees or decisions
Karl and the to Pope Hadrian (772-95). Hadrian, who had all the
^°P^" time favored the use of images, was pleased with the de-

cisions, sanctioned them, and sent them to Karl and asked
him to publish them. But Karl was of a different opinion,
and calling a council of his bishops in 794, he caused the
action of the council at Niccea to be refuted. The refuta-
tion (the Libri Carolini) was sent to Pope Hadrian with a
reprimand, and a command that in the future he should
wait in all such matters until Karl had given his consent.
In another letter he reminded the Pope that it was his
special duty to pray, and not to interfere in the affairs of
state, which belonged to the Emperor alone. Karl's au-
thority over the Pope is seen even more clearly in the case
of Leo III., who was compelled to clear himself before Karl
of the charges made against him. Karl undoubtedly was,
and was regarded, as the highest authority in the west ;
distinctly superior to the Pope in all political matters, and
practically so in ecclesiastical affairs. There Avas no legal
determination of the mutual relations and powers of the
Emperor and the Pope, for the theoretical question was not
yet broached. Both Emperor and Pope made claims
which were mutually opposed and conflicting, but there
was no theoretical treatment of the question of their re-
spective rights and authorities. The Pope claimed to be
the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of the whole Church,
and therefore he must have authority over the whole
Church ; but Karl was the Christian Emperor, the ruler of
the world with absolute authority. The adjustment of
these claims was not to be reached till after centuries of
struggle for supremacy.

In Karl is found that peculiar fusion of German, Roman,
and biblical elements which characterizes the Middle Age.



TJic Franks 6y

In his dress, speech, manners, and sympathies he was a
German, but judging him by his notions and practice of
government he was a Roman, largely affected by biblical
conceptions and ideas. He was a Roman Emperor who
attempted to establish a theocracy. He was absolute mas-
ter of the west, and his reputation was so great that his
friendship was sought even by the great Khalif, Haroun-ar-
Raschid, of Bagdad, who wished to see his rebellious Sara-
cen subjects of Spain punished.

His counsellor and private secretary, Einhard, has left Einhnrd's

Biogiapliy.

us a lively picture of Karl.^ Without doubt he was one of
the greatest men of all time. No one else has more thor-
oughly taken hold of the imagination of the people. For
centuries after his death the popular imagination was busy
with his name and deeds, and the impression which he
made on the world found expression in a vast cycle of le-
gends, all of which were confidently believed during the
Middle Age.

He died January 28, 814, at Aachen, from pleurisy, and
was buried the same day in the great church which he had
built. " A gilded arch was erected above his tomb, with
his image and an inscription. The words of the inscription
were as follows : ' In this tomb lies the body of Karl the
Great and Orthodox Emperor, who gloriously extended the
kingdom of the Franks and reigned prosperously for forty-
seven years. He died at the age of seventy, in the year of
our Lord 814, the seventh indiction, on the 28th day of
January.' "^

» A good translation of this is published by Harper & Brothers in their
School Classics.
* Einhard, page 71.



CHAPTER V

THE DISMEMBERMENT OF THE EMPIRE

Karl had indeed acquired a vast Empire and by his
great personal abihty governed it well. But he could not
in so short a time make the various peoples who composed
his realm homogeneous. A common religious faith and a
common government were not sufficient to overcome the
differences which existed in race, tribe, temperament, cus-
toms, and language. As soon, therefore, as Karl's com-
manding personality was removed, these differences began
to show themselves. Karl had made a brilliant attempt to
reorganize society after the model of the Roman Empire.
Causes of (lis- He failed, and his kingdom went to pieces because of the
'^ ' weakness of his successors, under whom lands, office, and
authority were usurped by their officials. Another cause
was the actual partition of the Empire among the sons in
the royal family ; the Empire being regarded as a private
possession and divided among the heirs ; the disinte-
gration was further brought about by the racial differences
that existed in the realm, and by the forces set in opera-
tion by the invasion of the Barbarians. The Germans
were intensely ambitious and proud. Individualism was
one of their most prominent characteristics. In the then
existing state of society the only legitimate exercise of abil-
ity and ambition was in the practice of arms. Since this
was the only way to rise, it is not surprising that we should
now come upon a period of violence and lawlessness in
which might determined everything. Although Karl's



The Dismemberment of the Empire 69

realm went to pieces, during his reign its various parts had
all been subjected to influences which modified their future.
The dissolution of the Empire made rapid strides under
Karl's son Ludwig the Pious (814-40), a prince who lacked Ludwig ihe
all the qualities which made his father great. His educa-
tion had been entrusted to the clergy with most unfortu-
nate results. He was better fitted for the monastery than
the throne, and more than once actually wished to lay
down his crown and enter the cloister. His conscience
was abnormally developed and thoroughly morbid. Petty
faults he magnified into great sins, and he was continually
doing penance when he should have been attending to the
affairs of state. He altogether lacked the sterner qualities
necessary for governing in a time of violence and barbar-
ism. Being without will and purpose he was the slave
in turn of his wife, his clergy, and his sons. Karl the
Great, about six months before his death, had crowned His threefold

_,. ,. r-^ ^ ■ -Tj- coronation.

Ludwig as his successor. On his accession Ludwig re-
peated the coronation, placing the crown upon his own
head. In 815 Pope Leo HL died, and the people of
Rome at once elected his successor, Stephen IV. , without
asking the consent or sanction of Ludwig, an insult and
infringement of his prerogatives which the Emperor did
not resent. The Pope followed up the advantage thus
gained, and told the Emperor that his coronation was in-
valid because it had not been performed by the clergy, and
proposed to come into France and recrown him. Again
Ludwig yielded, and was crowned a third time by Stephen
IV., at Rheims (816-17). Another precedent was thereby
established for the claim made by the Popes that they alone
had the right to crown the Emperor.

The record of the reign of Ludwig is full of stupid blun-
ders. In his zeal for reform he drove from his court the
able counsellors of Karl the Great, because their lives did



70 A Short History of Mcdiceval Europe

not seem to him sufficiently ascetic. He released nearly all
the monasteries of his realm from all duties to the state ex-
cept that of praying for the welfare of the Emperor, his
children, and the state, thus depriving the crown of a large
income, and fostering in the Church the idea of separation
and independence. He closed the monastery schools to the
laity, was lavish in his gifts to both monasteries and churches,
and was always surrounded by monks and priests. In 817
he committed the unpardonable blunder of dividing his
Empire among his three sons and associating them with him-
self in the government. The division led to jealousies, in-
trigues, and war. Instead of boldly facing the problems and
difficulties that beset him, Ludwig spent his time in doing
penance, and offended against the dignity of his office by
appearing in the garb of a penitent before a great council
of the clergy and nobility, and making humble confession of
imaginary sins. Yielding to the importunities of Judith,
his second wife, he deprived two of his sons by his first wife
of some of their territory in order to make a principality foi
his youngest son, Charles. Revolt and war were the result,
and the last years of his life were filled with the most dis-
graceful intrigues and treachery.

A new division of his kingdom was several times at-
tempted, in the hope that all the sons might be satisfied.
It was all in vain, however, for when Ludwig died (840),
tlie three sons who survived him continued their fratricidal
wars for three years before they could agree \\\)0\\ any di-
vision of the territory. Finally, the brothers came together
and settled their long quarrel by the treaty of Verdun (843).
The treaty of According to the terms of this famous treaty, Lothar re-
Verdun. 843. ^-^jj^g^j t|-ig imperial crown. As Emperor he must have the
two capitals, Rome and Aachen. He therefore received
Italy and a strip of land extending from Italy to the North
Sea. This strip was bounded on the east by the Rhine, but



East lO^/rom Greenwich.



50 100




W



THE EMPIRE OF

KARL THE GREAT

sho>viug tlie Divisiou of

843.



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TJie DisnicuibcDHcnt of the li.iitpiic 71

at Bonn the line left the river and ran north to the mouth
of the Weser. The western boundary line began some miles
west of the mouth of the Rhone, but reached that river near
Lyon ; it then followed the Rhone and the Saone to the
source of the latter ; thence to the source of the Meuse, which
seems to have formed the boundary as far as the Ardennes.
The line then ran to the Scheldt, which it followed to its
mouth. Charles received all the territory west of this strip.
Ludwig obtained all the land to the east, with the dioceses
of Mainz, Worms, and Speier, which lay west of the Rhine.

Charles and Ludwig had the best of it in this division,
because their territory was compact and each was mas-
ter of a single nationality. The subjects of Ludwig were The beginning
all German, while those of Charles were mixed, indeed, but Germany,
rapidly becoming homogeneous. The German element was
being assimilated by the Keltic. But Lothar's subjects were
of many nationalities. Besides, his territory lay in such a
way that it could not easily be defended. It is significant
that his kingdom could be named only after himself and not
after any people. It was known as the kingdom of Lothar,
while Chatles was called king of the Franks, and Ludwig
king of the Germans. The history of Germany and of
France as separate nations begins with 8<3, but geographi-
cally and racially it was impossible that the kingdom of
Lothar should hold together. The Alps broke it into two
parts; Italy might perhaps be made into a nation, but the
narrow strip along the Rhine, from the Alps to the North
Sea, was fated to be broken into many fragments and fought
over for centuries by the French and the Germans.

Lothar was powerless against the violence that prevailed
during the ninth century, and, worn out, divided his terri-
tory among his three sons and withdrew into a monastery,
where he soon afterward died (855). His eldest son,
known as Ludwig XL, received Italy and the imperial title ;



72 A Short History of Mediceval Etirope



The family of
Lothar be-
comes extinct;
his kingdom
divided.



The Reign of
Ludwig the
German.



Charles's portion was Provence and Burgundy ; while Lo-
thar II. obtained Friesia, Austrasia, and all the remaining
lands north of the Alps. From him this territory took the
name of Lotharingia (Lorraine). The three brothers could
not, however, live together in peace. They were in con-
stant feud with one another till 863, when Charles died,
and the other two divided his territory between them.

In 869 Lothar II. died, and his uncles, Charles the
Bald, king of the West Franks, and Ludwig the German,
after some struggle, divided his land. In S75 the Emperor,
Ludwig II., died, and with his death this branch of the fam-
ily became extinct. The rivalry between Charles the Bald
and Ludwig the German culminated in a war for the pos-
session of the imperial crown. Charles was the first to reach
Italy, and was crowned at Pavia king of the Lombards,
and a short time afterward Emperor, by the Pope at Rome.

Ludwig the German was unable to take the field in per-
son against his brother. He was old and feeble, and death
overtook him the next year (876). His long reign, al-
though greatly disturbed by the revolts of his sons and the
invasions of the Northmen and Slavs was, on the whole,
fairly successful. It was of the very highest importance
that the various German tribes should be brought to feel
their unity and that a national feeling should be produced
among them. It was during his reign that the East Franks
(Franconians), Saxons, Suabians, and Bavarians came to
feel that they were much alike, and that they differed from
the Franks of the west. He extended his boundaries by
chastising and reducing the rebellious Abotrites and Sorbs,
Slavic peoples to the northeast, and a great many of the
Bohemian and Moravian tribes. He was successful in pun-
ishing the Northmen and resisted their invasions, although
he could not prevent the destruction of Hamburg, which
Ludwig the Pious had made the seat of an Archbishop.



The Dismemberment of the Empire 73

In consequence of this calamity the archbishopric of Ham-
burg was added to that of Bremen.

Regarding the kingship as his private property, Ludwig
the German divided his kingdom among his three sons ;
but Karhiian died in 880, and Ludwig, known as the
Saxon, in 884, leaving as sole ruler their brother, Karl the
Fat, who had been crowned Emperor by the Pope in 882.

At the death of Ludwig the German (876), Charles the Charles the

^ , , , . , .1 . , . . , Bald, 840-77-

Bald, true to his character, tried to seize his territory, but
was unable to do so. At the same time the Northmen in-
vaded his kingdom. Without trying to meet them in the
field, he bribed them to attack his nephews, and set off for
Italy because he thought his imperial crown in danger by
a revolt there. He died, however, on the journey, at the
foot of the Mont Cenis pass. The favorite son of his
father, he had been the cause of the wars that filled the
last years of Ludwig the Pious. Ambitious and grasping, .
he had begun several wars during his reign for the purpose
of unjustly depriving some of his relatives of their posses-
sions. In striving to extend his territory, he neglected
what he already possessed. His officials ruled as they
pleased, and the Northmen and Saracens ravished his ter-
ritory almost unhindered. He did little more than squan-
der the resources of his kingdom. His son, Louis II. the
Stammerer, succeeded him ; but after a short, though
promising, reign died (879), leaving two sons, Louis III.
and Karlman, and a p«sthumtus son, afterward known as
Charles the Simple. The (i^ath of Louis III. (882) and
of Karlman (884) practically left the throne vacant, since
Charles the Simple was only five years old. Rather than
trust to a mere child, the nobles offered the crown to Karl Karl the Fat,
the Fat, who, by accepting it, united under himself all 884^7!°'^'
the territory which had once been ruled over by Karl the
Great. He was, however, not equal to the task. Besides



74 A SJiort History of Mediccval Europe



being very corpulent he was afflicted with chronic headache,
which incapacitated him both for thought and action. His
inefficiency led to his deposition (887), and the Empire
The little rapidly broke up into small kingdoms. His nephew, Ar-

kingdoms. xixAi, who deposed him, received as his reward the kingdom
of the East Franks ; the nobles of the West Franks elected
Odo, count of Paris, king, while the duke of Aquitaine
took Charles the Simple to his court and remained inde-
pendent of Odo.

Burgundy was divided into two kingdoms. In 879
count Boso, of Vienne, had usurped the royal title and
made himself master of lower Burgundy. Count Rudolf
now seized upper Burgundy and succeeded in getting him-
self crowned king. His territory was bounded approxi-
mately by the Saone and by the Aar, and extended from
Basel to Lyon. These two little kingdoms remained sepa-
rate till 934, when they united to form the kingdom of
Burgundy or Aries. In Italy there were also two kingdoms
formed. Berengar, margrave of Friuli, was elected king of
the Lombards and crowned by the Archbishop of Milan ;
but Guido of Spoleto made war on him, got possession of
the western part of Lombardy, and assumed the title of king.
Disintegration The breaking up of the Empire into these little kingdoms
shows how thoroughly power and authority had been dissi-
pated and decentralized during the ninth century. Feu-
dalism had got a strong hold on Europe. Offices and
lands which had once been fceld at -the will of the king had
been usurped, and had become hereditary possessions of
their holders. Violence was everyAvhere ; the more power-
ful nobles oppressed the weaker, and all united to enslave
the freemen. The chaos of the times was due to the weak-
ness and inefficiency of the rulers, who, for the most part,
neglected their first and most important duties to chase
after the shadows of empty titles.



Online LibraryOliver J. (Oliver Joseph) ThatcherA short history of mediæval Europe → online text (page 6 of 25)