Louis the Pious : A Brief Overview of the Changing French Landscape:  806 - 843

Partition of 806. As Charlemagne aged, he realized he had to make a provision for the division of his empire among his sons, a Frankish custom.  From Charlemagne's Divisio Regnorum, "So as not to leave my sons a confused and unsettled matter of dispute and contention as regards the status of my entire kingdom, I have divided the whole body of the realm into three portions; the portion that each of them is to guard and rule, I have caused to be described and designated. I have done this so that each may be content with his portion in accord with my ruling. and so that each may strive to defend the borders of his kingdom which face foreign peoples and maintain peace and charity with his brothers." In this division, Louis received Aquitaine, his brother Pippin received Italy and the other brother Charles Francia. Pippin died in 810 and Charles in 811, before Charlemagne. This map reflects Charlemagne's division.


When Charlemagne died in 814 his empire stretched from what is today northern Spain throughout the Low Countries, into Bavaria and throughout northern Italy. This was inherited by Louis the Pious.

Louis the Pious had a fractious relationship with his sons. The empire went through several partitions and consolidations. The first of these partitions was among his three sons by his first wife. He had Lothar crowned as co-emperor and they shared the central core of the empire. To Pippin he gave Aquitaine to have and to hold, and to Louis the German he gave an area in the east of the empire, north of Italy. He did this in his Ordinatio imperii where he states "Although this petition (concerning the empire and our sons) has been made devotedly and faithfully, it has not seemed to us nor to any right thinking men that the unity of the empire preserved for us by God should be rent by a human act of division out of  regard for our sons, lest perchance by this act there should arise scandal in the church and I myself offer Him in whose power lie the laws of all kingdoms." The Roman church was not sympathetic to this continual division of kingdoms, since it weakened the hold the clergy held on the political process.

After the death of his first wife he married Judith of Bavaria. They had a son, the future Charles the Bald. Judith was aggressive in seeking to establish an inheritance for him and in 829 Louis carved out a territory for him in Alemania. This triggered revolts in 830 and 833, with an additional attempt at partition in 831, with a larger share for Charles. In 833, after revolt, Louis took Pippin's kingdom from him and transferred it to Charles. Louis of Bavaria also revolted against his father.

Louis died in 840. After three years of conflict his surviving sons came to a division of the kingdom. Charles received Francia, the heart of what emerged as the nation state of France, Lothar the Lotharingie, which evolved into Italy and Louis the German Allemagne. This was recognized by the Treaty of Verdun in 842. The Frankish tradition of dividing the the kingdom made for continual strife and a series of unifications and separations. It left legacy that impaired the emergence of a strong nation state.

For background on the events leading up to the Treaty of Verdun please visit the Battle of Fontenoy page.


Riche, The Carolingians, U of Pennsylvania Press, 1993

Les Souverains de France, Maurice Griffe Editions