Lothair I

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Lothair I
Emperor of the Romans and King of Italy
Lothar I.jpg
Reign As Emperor: 817–855;
As King of Italy: 818–855
As King of Middle Francia: 843–855
Coronation By his father: 817, Aachen;
By Pope Paschal I: 5 April 823, Rome
Born 795
Died 29 September 855 (aged 59–60)
Place of death Prüm
Buried Prüm
Predecessor Louis the Pious
Louis II, Lothair II, Charles of Provence
Successor Louis II
Consort Ermengarde of Tours
Issue Louis II
Lothair II
Charles of Provence
Carloman (d. 853)
Hiltrude
Berta
Gisela
Rotrude
Royal House Carolingian Dynasty
Father Louis the Pious
Mother Ermengarde of Hesbaye

Lothair I or Lothar I (German: Lothar, French: Lothaire, Italian: Lotario, Dutch: Lotharius) (795 – 29 September 855) was the Emperor of the Romans (817–855), co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria (815–817), Italy (818–855) and Middle Francia (840–855). The territory of Lorraine (Lothringen in German) is named after him.

Lothair was the eldest son of the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious and his wife Ermengarde of Hesbaye,[1] daughter of Ingerman the duke of Hesbaye. On several occasions, Lothair led his full-brothers Pippin I of Aquitaine and Louis the German in revolt against their father to protest against attempts to make their half-brother Charles the Bald a co-heir to the Frankish domains. Upon the father's death, Charles and Louis joined forces against Lothair in a three-year civil war (840–843). The struggles between the brothers led directly to the breakup of the Frankish Empire assembled by their grandfather Charlemagne, and laid the foundation for the development of modern France and Germany.

Early Life and Reign[edit]

Little is known of Lothair's early life, which was probably passed at the court of his grandfather Charlemagne. Lothair was sent to govern Bavaria in 815.[1] He first comes to historical attention in 817, when Louis the Pious[1] drew up his Ordinatio Imperii.[citation needed] In this, Louis designated Lothair as his principal heir and ordered that Lothair would be the overlord of Louis' younger sons Pippin of Aquitaine and Louis the German, as well as his nephew Bernard of Italy. Lothair would also inherit their lands if they were to die childless. Lothair was then crowned joint emperor by his father at Aachen.[1] At the same time, Aquitaine and Bavaria were granted to his brothers Pippin and Louis, respectively, as subsidiary kingdoms.[citation needed] Following the murder of Bernard by Louis the Pious, Lothair also received the Kingdom of Italy.[citation needed] In 821, Lothair married Ermengarde (d. 851), daughter of Hugh the Count of Tours.[1]

In 822, he assumed the government of Italy, and at Easter, 5 April 823, he was crowned emperor again by Pope Paschal I, this time at Rome. In November 824, Lothair promulgated a statute, the Constitutio Romana, concerning the relations of pope and emperor which reserved the supreme power to the secular potentate, and he afterwards issued various ordinances for the good government of Italy.[1]

On Lothair's return to his father's court, his stepmother Judith won his consent to her plan for securing a kingdom for her son Charles, a scheme which was carried out in 829,[1] when the young prince was given Alemannia as king.[citation needed] Lothair, however, soon changed his attitude and spent the succeeding decade in constant strife over the division of the Empire with his father. He was alternately master of the Empire, and banished and confined to Italy, at one time taking up arms in alliance with his brothers and at another fighting against them, whilst the bounds of his appointed kingdom were in turn extended and reduced.[1]

Breaking Kingdom[edit]

The first rebellion began in 830. All three brothers fought their father, whom they deposed. In 831, their father was reinstated and he deprived Lothair of his imperial title and gave Italy to Charles. The second rebellion was instigated by Angilbert II, Archbishop of Milan, in 833, and again Louis was deposed in 834. Lothair, through the loyalty of the Lombards and later reconciliations, retained Italy and the imperial position through all remaining divisions of the Empire by his father.[citation needed]

Medallion portrait presumed to be of Lothair, from the binding of the Lothaire Psalter in the British Library
Denarius of Lothair I, from 840–55

When Louis the Pious was dying in 840, he sent the imperial insignia to Lothair, who, disregarding the various partitions, claimed the whole of the Empire. Negotiations with his brother Louis the German and his half-brother Charles, both of whom resisted this claim, were followed by an alliance of the younger brothers against Lothair. A decisive battle was fought at Fontenay-en-Puisaye on 25 June 841, when, in spite of his[1] and his allied nephew Pepin II of Aquitaine's[citation needed] personal gallantry, Lothair was defeated and fled to Aachen. With fresh troops he began a war of plunder, but the forces of his brothers were too strong, and taking with him such treasure as he could collect, he abandoned his capital to them.[1][clarification needed] He met with the leaders of the Stellinga in Speyer and promised them his support in return for theirs, but Louis and then the native Saxon nobility put down the Stellinga in the next years.[citation needed]

Peace negotiations began, and in June 842 the brothers met on an island in the Saône. They agreed to an arrangement which developed, after much difficulty and delay, into the Treaty of Verdun, signed in August 843. By this, Lothair received the imperial title as well as northern Italy and a long stretch of territory from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, essentially along the valleys of the Rhine and the Rhône. He soon ceded Italy to his eldest son, Louis, and remained in his new kingdom, engaging in alternate quarrels and reconciliations with his brothers and in futile efforts to defend his lands from the attacks of the Northmen (as Vikings were known in Frankish writings) and the Saracens.[1]

Death and Aftermath[edit]

In 855 he became seriously ill, and despairing of recovery renounced the throne, divided his lands between his three sons, and on the 23rd of September entered the monastery of Prüm, where he died six days later. He was buried at Prüm, where his remains were found in 1860.[1]

Lothair's kingdom was divided between his three sons[1]—the eldest, Louis II, received Italy and the title of emperor; the second, Lothair II, received Lotharingia; the youngest, Charles, received Provence.[citation needed]

Family[edit]

He married Ermengarde of Tours in 821, who died in 851.[1]

One illegitimate child is known.

  • Carloman (? - d. 853)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lothair I.". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica Sources[edit]

Emperor Lothair I
Died: 29 September 855
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Louis the German
Dukes of Maine
817–831
Succeeded by
Pepin I of Aquitaine
Preceded by
Bernard of Italy
King of Italy
818 – 23 September 855
with Emperor Louis II (844–855)
Succeeded by
Emperor Louis II
Preceded by
Louis the Pious
as Emperor and King of the Franks
Roman Emperor
817 – 23 September 855
with Louis the Pious (817–840)
Emperor Louis II (850–855)
King of Middle Francia
843 – 23 September 855
Succeeded by
Lothair II
as King of Lotharingia
Succeeded by
Charles
as King of Provence