Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Civil War Witness, 3

Charlemagne's grandsons were not satisfied with the way their father, Emperor Louis the Pious, divided up his realm while still alive so they could have territories to rule. They frequently rebelled against him and each other in order to grab more. On these occasions, a sometime adviser to Louis, Bernard of Septimania, once chose the losing side, once chose the winning side, and then tried a different approach.

In 837, Louis the Pious was becoming more devoted to Charles the Bald, his son by his second wife. He made Charles king of Alemannia and Burgundy, including a portion of the land that had been given to Louis the German, Louis' youngest son by his first wife. Louis the German (understandably) objected, invaded Alemannia (for the second time: he had invaded Alemannia as his part of the 2nd civil war). In 838, Pepin died, and Charles was named King of Aquitaine. Unfortunately, the nobles of Aquitaine decided to name Pepin's son, Pepin II, their new king. Lothair actually sided with his father this time; their combined forces quickly deposed Pepin II, forced Louis the German to retreat quickly (but gave him Bavaria), and then granted the whole eastern part of the Empire to Lothair, including Italy.

This was merely a prequel to the free-for-all in 840, when Louis the Pious died.

Pepin was gone, but there were still three (half-) brothers capable of alliance or discord, whichever suited their goals.* Louis the German, with little land, allied himself with the now-more-powerful ruler of the western half of the empire, Charles, and they attacked Lothair. While they marched their armies eastward, Pepin II reared his head again and claimed kingship of the now-deserted Aquitaine, offering his support to Lothair. A decisive battle was fought in June 841, in which Charles and Louis forced Lothair to flee.

Division after the Treaty of Verdun [link]
But where was Bernard? He and a small force had arrived at the battle to offer support, but he obviously knew that picking the losing side again would be disastrous. He sat out the battle, waiting to see who won so that he could offer support. After the battle, he sent his son to Charles with pledges of loyalty and promises that he could talk Pepin II into giving up. He apparently had no intention of doing this, however, nor did his tepid support please Charles. While Charles marched on Aquitaine, he deprived Bernard of Toulouse, his only remaining territory. Bernard, refusing to accept this, allied himself with Pepin II.

Events were not in Bernard's control, however. The Treaty of Verdun in 843 made an arrangement between the three brothers—Lothair, Louis the German, and Charles the Bald—to divide the empire. Pepin continued to make trouble in Aquitaine for many years. Bernard was captured a year later near Uzés in the south, where he had sent his wife years earlier when he became more involved in politics, and brought before Charles where his execution was arranged. A sad end for a man on the fringe of great events; if only he had been the recipient of good advice. For that, he would have had to spend more time with his wife; more on that tomorrow.

*Historians consider this the same war that began in 837-8.

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