Louis the Child

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For the king of Sicily with the same nickname, see Louis of Sicily.
For the Chicago-based musical duo, see Louis the Child (musician).
Louis the Child
King of East Francia
Reign 4 February 900 – 20/24 September 911
Coronation 4 February 900, Forchheim
Predecessor Arnulf
Successor Conrad I
King of Lotharingia
Reign 900 – 20/24 September 911
Predecessor Zwentibold
Successor Charles IV
Born September/October 893
Ötting (Autingas), Bavaria
Died 20/24 September 911 (aged 17 or 18)
possibly Frankfurt
Burial monastery of Saint Emmeram in Regensburg
Consort unknown
House Carolingian Dynasty
Father Arnulf of Carinthia
Mother Ota

Louis the Child (893 – 20/24 September 911), sometimes called Louis III or Louis IV, was the king of East Francia from 899 until his death. He was the last East Frankish ruler of the Carolingian dynasty.


Louis was a legitimate son of the Emperor Arnulf and his wife, Ota, a member of the Conradine dynasty. He had at least two brothers: his elder, illegitimate brother Zwentibold, who ruled Lotharingia, and another brother named Ratold, who briefly ruled Italy. Ratold's maternity and age are unknown. Louis was born in September or October 893, in Altötting, Bavaria. He succeeded his father as king upon the latter's death in 899, when he was only six. During his reign, the country was ravaged by Magyar raids.

Louis was crowned in Forchheim on 4 February 900.[1] This is the earliest German royal coronation about which records are known to exist. Louis was of a weak personal constitution, often sick, and with his young age, the reins of government were entirely in the hands of others, the nobles and bishops. Indeed, the coronation was probably a result of the fact that there was little Louis could gain at the expense of the nobles. Louis also inherited Lotharingia with the death of his elder illegitimate half-brother, Zwentibold, in 900.

The most influential of Louis's councillors were Hatto I, Archbishop of Mainz, and Solomon III, Bishop of Constance. It was these two who assured that the royal court decided in favour of the Conradines against the Babenbergers in the matter of the Duchy of Franconia. They appointed Louis's nephew, Conrad, as duke. In 903 Louis promulgated the first customs regulations in the German part of Europe.

In 900 a Magyar army ravaged Bavaria. Another group of them were defeated by the Margrave Liutpold and Bishop Richer of Passau. In 901 they devastated Carinthia. In 904 he invited Kurszán, the spiritual prince of the Magyars, offering negotiations, but killed him and his delegation.[2][3] In 906 they twice ravaged Saxony. In 907 they inflicted a heavy defeat on the Bavarians who had invaded Hungary, killing the Margrave Liutpold and many high nobles in the Battle of Pressburg. Next year it was the turn of Saxony and Thuringia, in 909 that of Alemannia. On their return, however, Duke Arnulf the Bad of Bavaria inflicted a reverse upon them on the Rott (river), but in 910 they, in their turn, defeated Louis the Child's army in the battle of Augsburg.[4]

Louis himself tried to take some military control as he grew older, but he had little success against the Magyars. His army was destroyed at Ennsburg in 907. In a state of despair, Louis died, at Frankfurt am Main, on 20 or 24 September 911, only seventeen or eighteen years of age. Louis was buried in the monastery of Saint Emmeram in Regensburg, where his father Arnulf of Carinthia lay. His death brought an end to the eastern (German) branch of the Carolingian dynasty. The vacuum left in the Carolingian East was eventually filled by the family of Henry the Fowler, a cousin, and heralded the beginning of the Ottonian dynasty. Firstly, however, the dukes of East Francia assembled to elect Conrad of Franconia king, as opposed to the reigning king of West Francia, Charles the Simple. The magnates of Lotharingia elected Charles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Louis the Child". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 50. 
  2. ^ Györffy, György (1959). "Tanulmányok a magyar állam eredetéről". Budapest: Akadémiai Publishing Company. 
  3. ^ Andrew L. Simon, Istvan Lazar (2001). Transylvania: A Short History. ISBN 1-931313-21-0. 
  4. ^ Gwatking, H. M., Whitney, J. P., et al. Cambridge Medieval History: Volume III—Germany and the Western Empire.

External links[edit]

Louis IV of East Francia
Born: September/October 893 Died: 20/24 September 911
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Arnulf of Carinthia
King of East Francia
Succeeded by
Conrad I
Preceded by
King of Lotharingia
Succeeded by
Charles the Simple