Carloman, son of Charles the Bald

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Carloman (848 – c. 877) was the youngest son of Charles the Bald, king of West Francia, and his first wife, Ermentrude. He was intended for an ecclesiastical career from an early age, but in 870 rebelled against his father and tried to claim a part of the kingdom as an inheritance.

Born in 848, Carloman was tonsured as a child in 854 in furtherance of his father's policy of preventing a partition of the kingdom (as had happened at Verdun in 843) by placing his younger sons in the church. Carloman was tutored by Abbot Wulfad, a future archbishop. In 860 Carloman was ordained a deacon and acquired the abbacy of Saint-Médard de Soissons. In the following decade he acquired the abbacies of Saint-Amand d'Elnon, Saint-Riquier, Lobbes and Saint-Arnould de Metz.[1]

In 865 Carloman's older brother and fellow ecclesiastic, Lothair the Lame, died and Carloman succeeded him in the abbey of Saint-Germain d'Auxerre. The next year (866), another brother, Charles the Child, whom Charles the Bald had made King of Aquitaine, died. With these deaths, Carloman became second in line to the throne after the eldest brother, Louis the Stammerer.[2] Resenting being shunted into the church, and perhaps at heart a warrior, by 870 he had gathered an aristocratic following.[1] No specific names have come down to us of those who supported Carloman, although they appear to have been mostly from Lotharingia and Flanders.[1] Before his defiance of his father amounted to anything, he was arrested, tried and imprisoned at Senlis.[1] His abbacies were forfeited.[3]

Pope Hadrian II unsuccessfully intervened to try to secure Carloman's release, but the latter escaped to Flanders, where he gathered a small army.[1] The bishops of the province of Reims then met under the leadership of Archbishop Hincmar at Compiègne in early 871. They pronounced excommunication on all of Carloman's supporters in the province of Reims, with one dissenting voice—Bishop Hincmar of Laon, who was perhaps a supporter of Carloman himself.[1] In 873, Carloman was re-tried and blinded, but he avoided imprisonment by escaping to East Francia, where his uncle, King Louis the German, gave him protection. He died there about 877.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g McKitterick 1983, pp. 186–87.
  2. ^ McKitterick 1983, p. 195. Charles appears to have disliked his two surviving sons by Ermentrude when he remarried in 870 to Richilda, perhaps because Carloman was trained for the church and Louis was physically weak.
  3. ^ McKitterick 1983, p. 207.


  • McKitterick, Rosamond (1983). The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987. London: Longman.