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Louis I, The Pious

Louis I, The Pious

Please see Charlemagne Project for Source Details

* English Louis the Pious

* Nederlands Lodewijk de Vrome

* Français Louis le Pieux

* German Ludwig the Pious

* Español Ludovico Pío

* Swedish Ludvig the Pious

(Please note: NOT Holy Roman Empire)

August 778--20 June 840

Father; Charlemagne / Charles I / Charlemagne (768-814) Mother: Hildegard of Vinzgouw (758-783)

Wife 1: Ermengard (775/780 - 818)

Children with Ermengard

  • 1. Lothaire (Lothar) I (795-855) King of Lotharingia
  • 2. Pepin I. (797-838), King of Aquitaine
  • 3. Hrotrud (Rotrude) (b. c800)
  • 4. Berta
  • 5. Hildegard (802/804 - 857/860), Abbess of St_Jean de Laon
  • 6. Louis (Ludwig) II "le Germanique / der Deutsche / the German" (806-876), King of Eastern Franconia

Wife 2: Judith (805 - 843)

Children with Judith:

  • 7. Gisela (819/822 - 874) m. 836 to Eberhard, Marchese di Friula (d. 866)
  • 8. Charles II "le Chauve / the Fat" (823-877) King of Western Franconia
  • 9. Unknown mother of Udalrich III (820/25 - 896/900)

Unknown mistress


  • 10. Alpais (Elphaid) (793/794 - 852), wife of Bego de Paris (755/760 - 816), Marchio of Septimania. Comte de Paris
  • 11. Arnoul (Arnulf) (794 - 841) Comte de Sens

Basic information and justifications

Birth: (from FMG) 16 April / September 778, fifth born - (from Wikipedia) Cassinogilum, Aquitaine, Carolingian Empire; present Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, department du Vienne, region Poitou-Charentes, France Death: (from FMG) 20 June 840 - island in the Rhine near Ingelheim Buried: Eglise abbatiale de St-Arnoul in Metz

Married to Ermengard in 794 Married to Judith at Aix-la-Chapelle / Aachen February 819

Occupation: King of Aquitaine (15 April 781-2 February 814), King of the Franks (2 February 814-20 June 840), Joint Emperor of the Romans (with Charlemagne, 11 September 813-2 February 814), Emperor of the Romans (2 February 814 - 20 June 840)

Alternate names: Louis: Louis "the Pious", Louis "the Debonaire", Louis "the Fair", Louis "le Pieux", Louis "le Debonnaire"; Ludwig: Ludwig "the pious", Ludwig "the good-natured", Ludwig "the justice"; Hludowic, Hludowicus Pius, Hludowicus Piissimus, Hludowicus Iustitia

From the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy page on Carolingian Kings

LOUIS I 814-840

LOUIS [Hludowic], son of CHARLES I King of the Franks & his second wife Hildegard (Chasseneuil-du-Poitou {Vienne} [16 Apr / Sep] 778-island in the Rhine near Ingelheim 20 Jun 840, Metz office, église abbatiale de Saint-Arnoul [178]).

  • He is named, and his parentage recorded, in the Gesta Mettensium, which specifies that he was his parents' third son, born a twin with Hlothar [179].
  • Crowned King of the Aquitainians in Rome 15 Apr 781 by Pope Hadrian I. His armies occupied Girona, Urgel and Cerdanya in 785 and besieged Barcelona 802, establishing the "March of Spain" [180].
  • At the partition of territories agreed at Thionville in 806, he was designated sovereign of Aquitaine, Gascony, Septimania, Provence and southern Burgundy. His father named him as his successor at Aix-la-Chapelle, crowning him as joint emperor 11 Sep 813 [181]. On his father's death, he adopted the title Emperor LOUIS I “the Pious / le Pieux” 2 Feb 814, and was crowned at Reims [Jul / Aug] 816 by Pope Stephen IV. He did not use the titles king of the Franks or king of Italy so as to emphasize the unity of the empire [182].
  • He promulgated the Ordinatio Imperii at Worms in 817, which established his eldest son as his heir, his younger sons having a subordinate status, a decision which was eventually to lead to civil war between his sons. His nephew Bernard King of Italy, ignored in the Ordinatio Imperii, rebelled against his uncle, but was defeated and killed. After his death, Italy was placed under the direct rule of the emperor.
  • Emperor Louis crowned his son Lothaire as joint emperor at Aix-la-Chapelle in Jul 817, his primary status over his brothers being confirmed once more at the Assembly of Nijmegen 1 May 821. In Nov 824, Emperor Louis placed Pope Eugene II under his protection, effectively subordinating the papal role to that of the emperor.
  • The birth of his son Charles by his second marriage in 823 worsened relations with his sons by his first marriage, the tension being further increased when Emperor Louis invested Charles with Alemannia, Rhætia, Alsace and part of Burgundy at Worms in Aug 829, reducing the territory of his oldest son Lothaire to Italy. His older sons revolted in Mar 830 and captured their father at Compiègne, forcing him to revert to the 817 constitutional arrangements.
  • However, Emperor Louis reasserted his authority at the assemblies of Nijmegen in Oct 830 and Aix-la-Chapelle in Feb 831, depriving Lothaire of the imperial title and relegating him once more to Italy. A further revolt of the brothers followed.
  • Emperor Louis what defeated and deposed by his sons at Compiègne 1 Oct 833. He was exiled to the monastery of Saint-Médard de Soissons. His eldest son Lothaire declared himself sole emperor but was soon overthrown by his brothers Pepin and Louis, who freed their father.
  • Emperor Louis what crowned once more at Metz 28 Feb 835. He proposed yet another partition of territories in favor of his son Charles at the assembly of Aix-la-Chapelle in 837, implemented at the assembly of Worms 28 May 839 when he installed his sons Lothaire and Charles jointly, setting aside the claims of his sons Pepin and Louis. This naturally led to revolts by Pepin in Aquitaine and Louis in Germany, which their father was in the process of suppressing when he died [183].
  • The Annales Fuldenses record the death "in insulam quondam Rheni fluminis prope Ingilenheim XII Kal Iul 840" of Emperor Louis and his burial "Mettis civitatem… in basilica sancti Arnulfi" [184]. The necrology of Prüm records the death "840 12 Kal Iul" of "Ludvicus imperator" [185]. The necrology of St Gall records the death "XII Kal Jul" of "Hludowicus imperator in insula Rheni quiæ est sita iuxta palatium Ingelheim" [186]. The Obituaire de Notre-Dame de Paris records the death "XII Kal Jul" of "Ludovicus imperator" [187]. The necrology of the abbey of Saint-Denis records the death "XII Kal Jul" of "Ludovicus imperator" [188].

m firstly ([794]) ERMENGARD, daughter of ENGUERRAND Comte [de Hesbaye] & his wife --- ([775/80] -Angers 3 Oct 818 [189], bur Angers).

  • Thegan's Vita Hludowici Imperatoris names the wife of Emperor Ludwig "filiam nobilissimi ducis Ingorammi… Irmingarda" [190]. The Gesta Francorum records the death "818 V Non Oct" of "Irmingardis regina" [191]. The Vita Hludowici Imperatoris records the death "V Non Oct" of "Hirmingardis regina" three days after falling ill [192].

m secondly (Aix-la-Chapelle Feb 819) JUDITH, daughter of WELF [I] Graf [von Altdorf] & his wife Heilwig --- ([805] -Tours 19 Apr 843, bur Tours Saint-Martin).

  • The Annales Xantenses record the marriage in Feb. 819 of "Ludewicus imperator" and "Iudith" [193]. Thegan names "filiam Hwelfi ducis sui, qui erat de nobolissima progenie Bawariorum ... Iudith ... ex parte matris ... Eigilwi nobilissimi generic Saxonici" as second wife of Emperor Ludwig, specifying that she was "enim pulchra valde" [194]. Einhard's Annales record that Emperor Louis chose "Huelpi comitis filiam ... Judith" as his wife in 819 after "inspectis plerisque nobelium filiabus" [195].
  • Judith was influential with her husband, which increased the tensions with the emperor's sons by his first marriage. Thegan's Vita Hludowici Imperatoris records that "quondam duce Bernhardo, qui erat de stirpe regali" was accused of violating "Iudith reginam" but comments that this was all lies [196].
  • Judith was exiled to the monastery of Sainte-Croix de Poitiers during the first rebellion of her stepsons in 830, was released in 831, but exiled again to Tortona in Italy in 833 from where she was brought back in Apr 834 [197].
  • The necrology of the abbey of Saint-Denis records the death "XIII Kal Mai" of "Judith regina" [198]. The Annales Xantenses record the death in 843 of "Iudhit imperatrix mater Karoli" at Tours [199].

Mistress (1): ---. The name of Emperor Lothar's mistress or mistresses is not known.

Emperor Louis I & his first wife had six children:

1. LOTHAIRE [Lothar] (795 monastery Prüm 29 Sep 855, bur monastery Prüm). Thegan's Vita Hludowici Imperatoris names (in order) "Hlutharius, Pippinus, Hludowicus" as sons of Emperor Ludwig I & his wife Ermengard [200]. He was crowned joint Emperor LOTHAIRE I, jointly with his father, in Jul 817 at Aix-la-Chapelle.

2. PEPIN ([797] -Poitiers 13 Dec 838, bur Poitiers, église collégiale de Sainte-Radégonde). Thegan's Vita Hludowici Imperatoris names (in order) "Hlutharius, Pippinus, Hludowicus" as sons of Emperor Ludwig I & his wife Ermengard [201]. Under the Ordinatio Imperii promulgated by his father at Worms in 817, he became PEPIN I King of Aquitaine.

3. HROTRUD [Rotrude] ([800] -). The Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis names (in order) "Hlotharium Pipinum et Hludovicum Rotrudim et Hildegardim" as children of "Hludovicus ymperator ... ex Yrmingardi regina" [202].

4. BERTA . Settipani cites charters which name Berta as the daughter of Emperor Louis [203].

5. HILDEGARD ([802/04] -857, or maybe after [23 Aug 860]). The Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis names (in order) "Hlotharium Pipinum et Hludovicum Rotrudim et Hildegardim" as children of "Hludovicus ymperator ... ex Yrmingardi regina" [204]. Hildegard is named as sister of Charles by Nithard [205]. Abbess of Notre-Dame and Saint-Jean at Laon. She supported her brother Lothaire against her half-brother Charles and, in Oct 841, imprisoned Adalgar at Laon. After Laon was besieged, she surrendered Adalgar but was herself released by her half-brother205. The Annales Formoselenses record the death in 857 of "Hildegard, Lothawici regis filia" [206], corroborated in the Annales Alemannici [207].

6. LOUIS ([806] -Frankfurt-am-Main 28 Aug 876, bur Kloster Lorsch). Thegan's Vita Hludowici Imperatoris names (in order) "Hlutharius, Pippinus, Hludowicus" as sons of Emperor Ludwig I and his wife Ermengardis [208]. Under the Ordinatio Imperii promulgated by his father at Worms in 817, he became King of Bavaria and Carinthia. Under the partition of territories agreed by the Treaty of Verdun 11 Aug 843, Louis was installed as LUDWIG II "le Germanique / der Deutsche" King of the East Franks.

Emperor Louis I & his second wife had [three] children:

7. GISELA ([819/822] -after 1 Jul 874, Bur Cysoing, Abbey of St Calixtus). The Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis names (in order) "Karolum et Gislam" children of "Hludovicus ymperator ... ex Iudith ymperatrice" [209]. Her marriage is deduced from a charter in which Gisela states that their eldest son Unruoch brought back the body of Eberhard from Italy [210]. She founded the abbey of St Calixtus at Cysoing, Flanders, where she lived as a widow. "Gisle" granted "le fisc de Somain en Ostrevant" to "filii… Adelarde" by charter dated 14 Apr 869, which names "rex Karolus meus… germanus… senioris mei dulcis memorie Evrardi… tres infantes meos Rodulfum… et Berengarium… et… Adelarde "[211]. The Historia Ecclesiæ Cisoniensis records that “Gisla” donated property to Cysoing abbey for her burial next to “coniugis mei dulcis memoriæ Evrardi”, by charter dated 2 Apr 870 which names “filiæ meæ Ingiltrudis… filius meus Rodulfus”, and by charter dated “ Kal Jul anno XXXV regnante Carolo Rege ”, naming“ filii mei Unroch… filiorum meorum Adalardo atque Rodulfo ”and signed by“ Odelrici Comitis ”[212]. "Gisle" donated property to Cysoing for the anniversaries of "Ludovico imperatore patre meo et ... Judith imperatrice matre mea et ... rege Karolo ... germano et ... prole mea ... Hengeltrude, Hunroc, Berengario, Adelardo, Rodulpho, Hellwich, Gilla, Judith" by charter dated to [874] [213]. m ([836]) EBERHARD Marchese di Friulia, son of UNRUOCH Comte [en Ternois] & his wife Engeltrude (-in Italy 16 Dec 866, bur Cysoing, Abbey of St Calixtus).

8. CHARLES (Frankfurt-am-Main 13 Jun 823-Avrieux or Brides-les-Bains, Savoie 6 Oct 877, bur Nantua Abbey, transferred to église de l'abbaye royale de Saint-Denis). The Annales S. Benigni Divisionensis record the birth of "Karolus filius Ludowici" in Frankfurt "Idus June 824" [214]. Thegan's Vita Hludowici Imperatoris named Charles as son of his father by his second wife [215]. Under the division of Imperial territories by the Treaty of Verdun 11 Aug 843, he became CHARLES II “le Chauve” King of the West Franks.

9. [daughter .

  • The Casus Monasterii Petrishusensis records that "rex Francorum qui et imperator Romanorum" (which appears to indicate Charles II "le Chauve") gave his sister in marriage to "vir nobilissimo genere decoratus", that the couple had two sons to whom their uncle gave "in Alemannia loca ... Potamum et Brigantium, Ubirlingin et Buochorn, Ahihusin et Turingen atque Heistirgou, Wintirture ... et in Retia Curiensi Mesouch", and that one of the sons returned to France while the other "Oudalricus" retained all the property in Alamannia [ 216]. The editor of the MGH SS compilation dates this source to the mid-12th century [217]. The information has not been corroborated in any earlier primary source, although it is not known what prior documentation may have been available to the compiler of the case.
  • There are several other difficulties with this marriage which suggest that the report in the case should be treated with caution. If the information is accurate, it is likely that the bride was a full sister of King Charles, although if this is correct her absence from contemporary documentation is surprising. If she had been Charles's half-sister, it is difficult to see how Charles would have had much influence on her marriage, which would have been arranged by one of her full brothers.
  • In any case, it is unlikely that Emperor Louis's first wife would have had further children after [812/15] at the latest, given the birth of her eldest son in 795. If that estimated birth date is correct, then it is more likely that this daughter's marriage would have been arranged by her father Emperor Louis before his death in 840.
  • Another problem is the potential consanguinity between the parties. Although the precise relationship between the couple's son Udalrich [III] and the earlier Udalrichinger cannot be established from available documentation, it is probable that he was closely related to Hildegard, first wife of Emperor Charles I, who was the paternal grandmother of Emperor Louis's children .
  • Lastly, Udalrich [III] is recorded in charters dated 847 and 854, suggesting a birth date in the 820s assuming that he was adult at the time, which is inconsistent with Charles II "le Chauve" (born in 823) having arranged his parents 'marriage.
  • m --- [Udalrichinger].]

Emperor Louis I had [two] illegitimate children by Mistress (1):

10. [ALPAIS ([793/94] -23 Jul 852 or after, bur [Reims]).

  • Flodoard refers to "Ludowicus Alpheidi filie sue uxori Begonis comitis" [218]. The Annales Hildesheimenses name "filiam imperatoris… Elpheid" as the wife of "Bicgo de amici regis" when recording the death of her husband [219].
  • Settipani discusses the debate about the paternity of Alpais, preferring the theory that Emperor Charles I was her father [220]. If Emperor Louis was her father, it is unlikely that she was born before [793/94], given his known birth date in 778. It would therefore be chronologically tight for her to have had [three] children by her husband before his death in 816. However, no indication has been found in primary sources of the age of these children when their father died.
  • The question of Alpais's paternity is obviously not beyond doubt, but it is felt preferable to show her as the possible daughter of Emperor Louis in view of the clear statement in Flodoard. No indication has been found of the name of Alpais's mother. If Alpais was the daughter of Emperor Louis, it is likely that she was not her husband's only wife in view of Bego's estimated birth date.
  • After her husband died, she became abbess of Saint-Pierre-le-Bas at Reims in [817]. She was still there 29 May 852.
  • m ([806]) [as his second wife,] BEGO, son of [GERARD [I] Comte de Paris & his wife Rotrud] ([755/60] -28 Oct 816).
  • He governed the county of Toulouse as "marchio" for Septimania in 806.
  • Comte de Paris in [815], succeeding comte Stephanus.]

11. ARNOUL ([794] -after [Mar / Apr] 841).

  • The Chronicon Moissacense named "quartum ... filium [Ludovici] ... ex concubina ... Arnulfum" recording that his father gave him the county of Sens [221].
  • Comte de Sens 817.
  • He was a supporter of his half-brother Emperor Lothaire in [Mar / Apr] 841 [222].


[178] Nithard I.8, p. 140

[179] Pauli Gesta Episcop. Mettensium, MGH SS II, p. 265.

[180] Settipani (1993), p. 250.

[181] RFA 813, p. 95.

[182] Settipani (1993), p. 252.

[183] ​​Settipani (1993), pp. 252-3.

[184] Annales Fuldensium Pars Secunda, auctore Euodolfo 840, MGH SS I, p. 362.

[185] Annales Necrologici Prumienses, MGH SS XIII, p. 219

[186] Libri Anniversariorum et Necrologium Monasterii Sancti Galli, Constance Necrologies, p. 462.

[187] Obituaires de Sens Tome I.1, Obituaire de Notre-Dame de Paris, p. 227.

[188] Obituaires de Sens Tome I.1, Abbaye de Saint-Denis, p. 320.

[189] RFA 818, p. 104.

[190] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 4, MGH SS II, p. 591.

[191] Gesta quorundam regum Francorum 818, MGH SS I, p. 356

[192] Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 31, MGH SS II, p. 623.

[193] Annales Xantenses 819, MGH SS II, p. 224

[194] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 26, MGH SS II, p. 596.

[195] Einhardi Annales 819, MGH SS I, p. 206

[196] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 36, MGH SS II, p. 597.

[197] Settipani (1993), pp. 254-5.

[198] Obituaires de Sens Tome I.1, Abbaye de Saint-Denis, p. 315

[199] Annales Xantenses 843, MGH SS II, p. 227.

[200] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 4, MGH SS II, p. 591.

[201] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 4, MGH SS II, p. 591.

[202] Genealogiæ Comitum Flandriæ, Witgeri Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis MGH SS IX, p. 303

[203] Settipani (1993), p. 255 footnote 446, citing MGH Dipl Carol, no. 48, p. 143, 101, 241, 197, p. 353, lane. 34, p. 441.

[204] Genealogiæ Comitum Flandriæ, Witgeri Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis MGH SS IX, p. 303. [205] Nithard III.4, p. 160.

[206] Annales Formoselenses 857, MGH SS V, p. 35.

[207] Annales Alemannici 857, MGH SS I, p. 50 "Hludovici regis filia Hiltikart", footnote 1 referring to "Necrolog S Galli" recording "X Kal Dec".

[208] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 4, MGH SS II, p. 591.

[209] Genealogiæ Comitum Flandriæ, Witgeri Genealogica Arnulfi Comitis MGH SS IX, p. 303

[210] Coussemaker, I. de (ed.) (1886) Cartulaire de l'abbaye de Cysoing et de ses dépendances (Lille) ("Cysoing"), V, p. 10.

[211] Cysoing III, p. 7th

[212] Historia Ecclesiæ Cisoniensis, Spicilegium II, pp. 878 and 879, and Cysoing IV and V, pp. 8 and 10.

[213] Cysoing VI, p. 11.

[214] Annales S. Benigni Divionensis 824, MGH SS V, p. 39.

[215] Thegani Vita Hludowici Imperatoris 35, MGH SS II, p. 597.

[216] Casus Monasterii Petrishusensis I.2, MGH SS XX, p. 628

[217] MGH SS XX, pp. 622-25.

[218] Flodoardus Remensis Historia Remensis Ecclesiæ IV, XLVI, MGH SS XXXVI, p. 448.

[219] Annales Hildesheimenses 815, MGH SS III, p. 42.

[220] Settipani (1993), pp. 200-02.

[221] Chronicon Moissacense 817, MGH SS I, p. 312

[222] Settipani (1993), p. 255.

Compiler: David Walker, Edwards, Ontario, Canada:

Louis I "The Pious", Emperor of the Romans M, b. August 778, d. 20 June 840

Father; Charlemagne (Charles The Great) Emperor of the Romans b. 2 Apr 742, d. 28 Jan 814 Mother: Hildegarde Countess of Swabia (Linzgau), Empress of the Romans b. c 757, d. 30 Apr 783

Marriage * Louis I "The Pious", Emperor of the Romans married Judith 'The Fair ", Princess of Bavaria. Birth * Louis I" The Pious ", Emperor of the Romans was born in August 778 in Casseneuil, France.

He was the son of Charlemagne (Charles The Great) Emperor of the Romans and Hildegarde Countess of Swabia (Linzgau), Empress of the Romans Death * Louis I "The Pious", died on 20 June 840 in or near, Ingelheim, Rhinehessen, Hesse, Germany, at age 61.

Family Judith 'The Fair ", Princess of Bavaria b. Circa 800, d. 19 April 843


Adelaide De Tours, De Aquitane + b. bt 822 - 824

Updated on 25 Jun 2009

From the English Wikipedia page on Louis the Pious:

Louis the Pious (778-20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, [1] was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor (as Louis I) with his father , Charlemagne, from 813. As the only surviving adult son of Charlemagne, he became the sole ruler of the Franks after his father's death in 814, a position which he held until his death, save for the period 833-34, during which he what deposed.

During his reign in Aquitaine, Louis was charged with the defense of the Empire's southwestern frontier. He reconquered Barcelona from the Muslims in 801 and re-asserted Frankish authority over Pamplona and the Basques south of the Pyrenees in 813.

As emperor he included his adult sons — Lothair, Pepin, and Louis — in the government and sought to establish a suitable division of the realm between them. The first decade of his reign was characterized by several tragedies and embarrassments, notably the brutal treatment of his nephew Bernard of Italy, for which Louis atoned in a public act of self-debasement.

In the 830s his empire was torn by civil war between his sons, only exacerbated by Louis's attempts to include his son Charles by his second wife in the succession plans.

Though his reign ended on a high note, with order largely restored to his empire, it was followed by three years of civil war. Louis is generally unfavorably compared to his father, though the problems he faced were of a distinctly different sort.

Birth and rule in Aquitaine

Louis was born while his father Charlemagne was on campaign in Spain, at the Carolingian villa of Cassinogilum, according to Einhard and the anonymous chronicler called Astronomus; the place is usually identified with Chasseneuil, near Poitiers. [2] He was the third son of Charlemagne by his wife Hildegard.

Louis was crowned king of Aquitaine as a child in 781 and sent there with regents and a court. Charlemagne constituted the sub-kingdom in order to secure the border of his kingdom after his devastating defeat at the hands of Basques in Roncesvalles in (778).

In 794, Charlemagne settled four former Gallo-Roman villas on Louis, in the thought that he would take in each in turn as winter residence: Doué-la-Fontaine in today's Anjou, Ebreuil in Allier, Angeac-Charente, and the disputed Cassinogilum .

Charlemagne's intention was to see all his sons brought up as natives of their given territories, wearing the national costume of the region and ruling by the local customs. Thus the children were sent to their respective realms at so young an age.

Each kingdom had its importance in keeping some frontier, Louis's was the Spanish March. In 797, Barcelona, ​​the greatest city of the Marca, fell to the Franks when Zeid, its governor, rebelled against Córdoba and, failing, handed it to them. The Umayyad authority recaptured it in 799. However, Louis marched the entire army of his kingdom, including Gascons with their duke Sancho I of Gascony, Provençals under Leibulf, and Goths under Bera, over the Pyrenees and besieged it for two years, wintering there from 800 to 801 when it capitulated.

The sons were not given independence from central authority, however, and Charlemagne ingrained in them the concepts of empire and unity by sending them on military expeditions far from their home bases. Louis campaigned in the Italian Mezzogiorno against the Beneventans at least once.

Louis was one of Charlemagne's three legitimate sons to survive infancy, and, according to Frankish custom, Louis had expected to share his inheritance with his brothers, Charles the Younger, King of Neustria, and Pepin, King of Italy. In the Divisio Regnorum of 806, Charlemagne had slated Charles the Younger as his successor as emperor and chief king, ruling over the Frankish heartland of Neustria and Austrasia, while giving Pepin the Iron Crown of Lombardy, which Charlemagne possessed by conquest. To Louis's kingdom of Aquitaine, he added Septimania, Provence, and part of Burgundy.

But in the event, Charlemagne's other legitimate sons died - Pepin in 810 and Charles in 811 - and Louis alone remained to be crowned co-emperor with Charlemagne in 813. On his father's death in 814, he inherited the entire Frankish kingdom and all its possessions (with the sole exception of Italy, which remained within Louis's empire, but under the direct rule of Bernard, Pepin's son).


He was in his villa of Doué-la-Fontaine, Anjou, when he received news of his father's passing. Hurrying to Aachen, he crowned himself and was proclaimed by the nobles with shouts of Vivat Imperator Ludovicus.

In his first coinage type, minted from the start of his reign, he imitated his father Charlemagne's portrait coinage, giving an image of imperial power and prestige in an echo of Roman glory. [3]

He quickly enacted a "moral purge", in which he sent all of his unmarried sisters to nunneries, forgoing their diplomatic use as hostage brides in favor of the security of avoiding the entanglements that powerful brothers-in-law might bring. He spared his illegitimate half-brothers and tonsured his father's cousins, Adalard and Wala, shutting them up in Noirmoutier and Corbie, respectively, despite the latter's initial loyalty.

His chief counsellors were Bernard, margrave of Septimania, and Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims. The latter, born a serf, was raised by Louis to that office, but ungratefully betrayed him later. He retained some of his father's ministers, such as Elisachar, abbot of St. Maximin near Trier, and Hildebold, Archbishop of Cologne. Later he replaced Elisachar with Hildwin, abbot of many monasteries.

He also employed Benedict of Aniane (the Second Benedict), a Septimanian Visigoth and monastic founder, to help him reform the Frankish church. One of Benedict's primary reforms was to ensure that all religious houses in Louis' realm adhered to the Rule of Saint Benedict, named for its creator, Benedict of Nursia (480-550), the First Benedict. In 816, Pope Stephen IV, who had succeeded Leo III, visited Reims and again crowned Louis. The Emperor thereby strengthened the papacy by recognizing the importance of the pope in imperial coronations.

Ordinatio imperii

On Maundy Thursday 817, Louis and his court were crossing a wooden gallery from the cathedral to the palace in Aachen when the gallery collapsed, killing many. Louis, having barely survived and feeling the imminent danger of death, began planning for his succession; three months later he issued an Ordinatio Imperii, an imperial decree that laid out plans for an orderly succession. In 815, he had already given his two eldest sons a share in the government, when he had sent his elder sons Lothair and Pepin to govern Bavaria and Aquitaine respectively, though without the royal titles. Now, he proceeded to divide the empire among his three sons and his nephew Bernard of Italy:

Lothair was proclaimed and crowned co-emperor in Aix-la-Chapelle by his father. He was promised the succession to most of the Frankish dominions (excluding the exceptions below), and would be the overlord of his brothers and cousin. Bernard, the son of Charlemagne's son Pippin of Italy, was confirmed as King of Italy, a title he had been allowed to inherit from his father by Charlemagne.

Pepin was proclaimed King of Aquitaine, his territory including Gascony, the march around Toulouse, and the counties of Carcassonne, Autun, Avallon and Nevers. Louis, the youngest son, was proclaimed King of Bavaria and the neighboring marches.

If one of the subordinate kings died, he was to be succeeded by his sons. If he died childless, Lothair would inherit his kingdom. In the event of Lothair dying without sons, one of Louis the Pious' younger sons would be chosen to replace him by "the people".

Above all, the Empire would not be divided: the Emperor would rule supreme over the subordinate kings, whose obedience to him was mandatory.

With this settlement, Louis tried to combine his sense for the Empire's unity, supported by the clergy, while at the same time providing positions for all of his sons. Instead of treating his sons equally in status and land, he elevated his first-born son Lothair above his younger brothers and gave him the largest part of the Empire as his share.

Bernard's rebellion and Louis's penance

The ordinatio imperii of Aachen left Bernard of Italy in an uncertain and subordinate position as king of Italy, and he began plotting to declare independence upon hearing of it. Louis immediately directed his army towards Italy, and betook himself to Chalon-sur-Saône.

Intimidated by the emperor's swift action, Bernard met his uncle at Chalon, under invitation, and surrendered. He was taken to Aix-la-Chapelle by Louis, who there had him tried and condemned to death for treason. Louis had the sentence commuted to blinding, which was duly carried out; Bernard did not survive the ordeal, however, dying after two days of agony.

Others also suffered: Theodulf of Orléans, in eclipse since the death of Charlemagne, was accused of having supported the rebellion, and was thrown into a monastic prison, where he died soon after - poisoned, it was rumored. [4]

The fate of his nephew deeply marked Louis's conscience for the rest of his life.

In 822, as a deeply religious man, Louis performed penance for causing Bernard's death, at his palace of Attigny near Vouziers in the Ardennes, before Pope Paschal I, and a council of ecclesiastics and nobles of the realm that had been convened for the reconciliation of Louis with his three younger half-brothers, Hugo whom he soon made abbot of St-Quentin, Drogo whom he soon made Bishop of Metz, and Theodoric.

This act of contrition, partly in emulation of Theodosius I, had the effect of greatly reducing his prestige as a Frankish ruler, for he also recited a list of minor offenses about which no secular ruler of the time would have taken any notice. He also made the egregious error of releasing Wala and Adalard from their monastic confinements, placing the former in a position of power in the court of Lothair and the latter in a position in his own house.

Frontier was it

At the start of Louis's reign, the many tribes - Danes, Obotrites, Slovenes, Bretons, Basques - which inhabited his frontierlands were still in awe of the Frankish emperor's power and dared not stir up any trouble.

In 816, however, the Sorbs rebelled and were quickly followed by Slavomir, chief of the Obotrites, who was captured and abandoned by his own people, being replaced by Ceadrag in 818. Soon, Ceadrag too had turned against the Franks and allied with the Danes, who were to become the greatest menace of the Franks in a short time.

A greater Slavic menace was gathering on the southeast. There, Ljudevit Posavski, duke of Pannonia, was harassing the border at the Drava and Sava rivers. The margrave of Friuli, Cadolah, was sent out against him, but he died on campaign and, in 820, his margarvate was invaded by Slovenes.

In 821, an alliance was made with Borna, duke of the Dalmatia, and Ljudevit was brought to heel. In 824 several Slav tribes in the north-western parts of Bulgaria acknowledged Louis's suzerainity and after he was reluctant to settle the matter peacefully with the Bulgarian ruler Omurtag, in 827 the Bulgarians attacked the Franks in Pannonia and regained their lands.