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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance

Charles II


King & Emperor



Charles II, known as Charles the Bald (in French Charles le Chauve; in German Karl der Kahle), grandson of Charlemagne and youngest son of Louis the Pious, was king of the West Frankish kingdom and, later, Western Emperor.

Charles was the son of Louis's second wife Judith, and his half-brothers Pippin, Lothair and Louis the German were pretty much grown when he was born. His birth precipitated a crisis when his father attempted to reorganize the empire to accomodate him at the expense of his brothers. Although matters were ultimately resolved while his father still lived, when Louis died civil war broke out.

Pippin had died before their father, but the three surviving brothers fought amongst themselves until Charles joined forces with Louis the German and made Lothair accept the Treaty of Verdun. This agreement divided the empire roughly into three sections, the eastern portion of which went to Louis, the middle portion to Lothair and the western portion to Charles.

Because Charles had little support, his hold on his kingdom was tenuous at first. He had to bribe the Vikings to stop attacking his lands and deal with an invasion by Louis the German in 858. Still, Charles managed to consolidate his holdings, and in 870 he acquired western Lorraine through the Treaty of Meersen.

Upon the death of the emperor Louis II (Lothair's son), Charles went to Italy to be crowned emperor by Pope John VIII. When Louis the German died in 876, Charles invaded Louis's lands but was defeated by Louis's son, Louis III the Younger. Charles died a year later while dealing with a revolt by another of Louis's sons, Carloman.

Important Dates

Born: June 13, 823
Crowned emperor: Dec. 25, 875
Died: Oct. 6, 877

On the Web

Charles the Bald on the Web

In Print

The link below will take you to a site where you can compare prices at booksellers across the web. More in-depth info about the book may be found by clicking on to the book's page at one of the online merchants.

The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe
by Pierre Riché; translated by Michael Idomir Allen

Related Resources

The Carolingian Empire
An index of sites concerning the predecessors and successors of Charlemagne and the empire they built.

Early Europe
Directory of sites that offer useful resources for the study of Europe in Late Antiquty, or shortly after the fall of Rome. 



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Who's Who in Medieval History is copyright © 2000-2013 Melissa Snell. All rights reserved.




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