Friday, May 11, 2012

On this day in European history...

Medieval depiction of the battle.
On this day in we'll focus on the Battle of Fontenoy. Not the later battle fought during the War of the Austrian Succession, but the earlier battle fought by the grandsons of Charlemagne. The battle during the War of the Austrian Succession was fought on May 11, 1745 and would be the obvious selection for this day in history. The earlier battle was actually fought on June 25, 841 and wouldn't necessarily qualify for the exact "On this day history" criteria, but this battle was far more interesting to research and so I'll relate it here rather than on June 25th which was already slated for a different historical occurence. I don't have to be exact. This is my blog and I'll do as I please, thank you very much!
Lothair I

Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious had ruled the inherited empire of his father seemingly well enough, but as he was getting on in age he decided to dole out his territories to his sons in keeping up with Frankish law rather than the eldest one getting the whole shebang. But, in keeping with many Medieval cultures (and ancient ones' too) Louis gave his sons co-ruler status while he was still alive.

Louis the German
Lothair, Louis' eldest son was given the title of Emperor of the Romans and King of Italy by his pops. His full brother Louis the German was given the title of King of Bavaria. Their half brother, Charles the bald was given Western Francia to rule over. Lothair and Louis the German decided that their half-brother had no claim to rule and decided to go to war with their father and Charles the Bald over the latter's promotion to rule. They fought three separate civil wars to show their dismay at Charles getting some territory. But, in the end Charles the Bald would have a chance to rule as Louis the Pious would beat down his two sons in battle. But, eventually Louis the Pious would pass away and after he did, all hell broke loose. Lothair decided he had had enough of his brothers and decided to try and take over the whole kingdom of Charlemagne and claimed it for himself. Louis the German and Charles the Bald balked at this assertion of dominance and war broke out amongst the brothers.

Charles the Bald
The war between the brothers was brutal and the Battle of Fontenoy was decisive in nature. Lothair brought in his nephew, Pepin II, King of Aquitaine and Gerard II, Count of Paris. Louis the German and Charles the Bald were able to muster about the same number of troops as their older brother Lothair through their barons. The battle started off well for Lothair as Pepin's troops pushed back the forces of Charles the Bald. But, the troops of Lothair started to lose ground to the men of Louis the German. As Lothair's men got beaten back further and further the troops of Bernard of Septimania decided that the victors would be Louis the German and Charles the Bald. He entered the fray and turned the victory into a rout. Lothair would retreat from battle, but on his way back to his capital of Aachen in modern Germany, Lothair would pillage and plunder and grab a whole bunch of treasure. If he wasn't going to rule all of Charlemagne's kingdom he was going to take as much of its wealth as he could. He lost the battle and the chance to rule like Charlemagne. Charles the Bald and Louis the German retained the rights to their kingdoms, but Charles the Bald would find that he had a rather impoverished kingdom to look after. And that's what happened on this day in history, sort of...

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