Arnulf, Duke of Bavaria

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Arnulf (birth unknown- died 937), also known as the Bad (German: der Schlimme) or the Evil (der Böse), held the title of duke of Bavaria from 907 until his death in 937 at Regensburg. He was a member of the Luitpolding dynasty. Arnulf was ruler of the Bavarian estates around Regensburg.

Early life[edit]

Arnulf was born into the Luitpolding dynasty, the year of his birth is unknown, but it is said that he was the namesake of other Arnulfs and so would have been born around the time of the reign of Arnulf the seventh century bishop of Metz and the Carolingian king Arnulf of Carinthia.[1] Arnulf was the son of Margrave Luitpold of Bavaria and Cunigunda, daughter of Berthold I, the count palatine of Swabia.

Early military career[edit]

In 907, during the Battle of Pressburg (Bratislava), the Bavarian lead forces under the command of his father Luitpold were defeated in an attack against the Magyars. After the death of his father at the Battle of Pressburg (Bratislava) in 907, Arnulf succeeded his father in Bavaria, becoming the Duke of Bavaria.[2] as ruler of the Bavarian estates around Regensburg. Soon after his ascension in to Dukedom, Arnulf was faced with constant raids from the Hungarians during 905- 906. These raids had laid waste to the lands of Bavaria, Saxony, and Thuringia.[3]

Besieged by frequent raids by the Hungarians and desperate to raise funds to finance a defense, Arnulf strengthened his power through confiscation of church lands and property, which earned him the nickname "the Bad". He re-established the stem duchy of Bavaria and eventually negotiated a truce with the Hungarians who thereafter largely passed through Bavaria on their raids into other German territories.

Later military career[edit]

In 913, Arnulf’s widow mother, Cunigunda, married Conrad I, who invaded Bavaria in 916, attacking and pillaging Regensburg. These attacks drove Arnulf into exile. In September of 916, Conrad I convoked a church council in Hohenaltheim, attended by the Bavarian episcopate, which summoned Arnulf and his brother, Berthold, on the grounds of excommunication at Regensburg on 1 November. It is more than likely that Arnulf and his family never appeared at the convocation, or that the council meeting was never held. As a result, they remained exiled among the Magyars. In January 917, with Conrad I now angered by the situation, he called for the execution of his rebellious Swabian brother-in-law, Erchanger and Berthold, giving Arnulf more pause for concern.[4] In Conrad's conflict with Erchanger and Burchard II of Swabia he backed his Swabian cousins and later challenged Conrad's successor, Henry the Fowler of Saxony. According to the Annales Iuvavenses, in 920, Baiuarii sponte se reddiderunt Arnolfo duci et regnare ei fecerunt in regno teutonicorum ("the Bavarians spontaneously surrendered to Duke Arnolf and made him reign in the kingdom of the Germans"): the Bavarians, with some other East Franks, elected Arnulf king in opposition to Henry (actually in 919).

In 919, the death of Conrad I allowed Arnulf to return to Bavaria and expel Conrad I’s forces. With his return, "the Bavarians freely submitted themselves to Duke Arnulf and him to reign within the realm of the Germans." With Conrad I being childless, the throne was open to Arnulf, again.[5] The 919 ascension of Henry the Fowler, however, would bring forth a battle for the throne. Arnulf's "reign" was short-lived. Henry defeated him in two campaigns in 921, confirmed his sovereignty over Bavaria in return for Arnulf's renunciation of his royal claim. In 919, Arnulf was besieged by Henry in Ratisbon and was defeated. Arnulf eventually submitted honorably in 921, becoming Henry’s man and was confirmed by him as the ruler of Bavaria.


Arnulf died in Regensburg in 937 and is buried at St. Emmeram's Abbey. Many believe Arnulf was married to Judith of Friuli, daughter of Count Eberhard of Friuli and Gisela of Verona. The dates, however, do not match up. Judith of Friuli died ca. 881. This would have made a marriage between a boy (or at least young) Arnulf and an elder Judith, who was supposed to have produced several children 23 years or so after her death. More likely, therefore, is that he was married to Judith of Sulichgau (born ca. 888), daughter of Eberhard of Sulichgau. Arnulf's daughter Judith married Henry I of Bavaria, brother of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor.


  1. ^ Duggan, Anne J., ed. Nobles and Nobility in Medieval Europe: Concepts, Origins, Transformations. Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell & Brewer, 2000.p.36.
  2. ^ Hammer, Carl I. From Ducatus to Regnum: Ruling Bavaria under the Merovingians and Early Carolingians. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2007.p.272-273
  3. ^ Henderson, Ernest F., A History of Germany in the Middle Age, London: George Bell & Sons. 1894.p.115.
  4. ^ Hammer, Carl I. From Ducatus to Regnum: Ruling Bavaria under the Merovingians and Early Carolingians. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2007. p.274.
  5. ^ Stubbs, William. Germany in the Early Middle Ages, 476-1250. ed by Arthur Hassall. New York: Howard Fertig.p.81.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

Arnulf, Duke of Bavaria
Died: 937
Preceded by
Duke of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
King of Germany
during reign of Henry I:
Elected in opposition by Bavarians

Succeeded by
None; eventually Rudolf of Rheinfeld