When Charlemagne approached the end of his life, he had but one remaining son to inherit the empire. That one son, Louis the Pious, was less fortunate. Upon his death, the empire was passed on to three sons, who each took a distinct part, of which the middle part ultimately vanished into history.
The division went as follows:
Lothair I - Middle Francia. Technically he was also the new Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Louis the German - East Francia
Charles the Bald - West Francia
But the divisions weren't just political, they were cultural and linguistic as well. Whereas the languages of West Francia showed the influences of early Rome, the languages of East Francia were predominantly Germanic. After the death of Louis the Pious, wars between his sons led to the Treaty of Verdun which moved boundaries in 842. However, the treaty didn't prevent additional wars from occurring in subsequent generations. Eventually the heirs of Lothair emerged empty handed.
In 884 Francia was briefly reunited under the rule of Charles the Fat. In the end, he couldn't hold it and was deposed 887.
Created as Charles the Balds' inheritance, West Francia initially consisted of the fiefs of Aquitane, Brittany, Burgundy Flanders, Gascony, Gothia, the Isle de France, Toulouse and Catalonia.
After Charles the Fat was deposed, control returned to the western branch of the Carolingians only to be periodically lost to the Robertian Dynasty. The line finally ended once and for all with the death of Louis V the Lazy. And with the election of Hugh Capet as a French King, the Francia name ceased to have meaning.
Created as a kingdom in 817 for Louis II the German, East Francia began with Swabia, Franconia, Saxonia and Bavaria. In 842, in accordance with the Treaty of Verdun, Speyer, Worms, Mainz & Thuringia were added.
When Charles the Fat was deposed in 887, his nephew Arnulf took over in East Francia where he ruled until dying in 899. Unfortunately his successor, Louis the Child, being only six at the time never really got any traction and died at the age of 18 leaving no heir and consequently ended the Carolingian Dynasty.
The death of Louis the Child, initially left the East Francia in a broken state as there was little agreement in 911 as to who the new ruler should be. About the only thing that seems to have agreed on, was that it should not be anyone with a connection to West Francia. The competing fragments would not be reunited as a single state until 919 when Henry the Fowler was elected as a German King, thus beginning the Ottonian Dynasty.
- The Outline of History, H.G. Wells
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