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European Kingdoms

The Franks




Carolingian Kings of the Eastern Franks (East Francia / Kings of Germany)
AD 840 - 911

The eastern half of the Frankish empire evolved into modern Germany, but Carolingian rule was relatively brief before a High-German-speaking Teutonic ruling class was established. In 840, Louis the Pious left his empire to his sons, but tried to ensure that the eldest gained the biggest share, in order to avoid the fragmentation of territory that so weakened the Merovingians. Lothar received Middle Francia (the Rhine corridor including the kingdom of Burgundy, and Italy), Charles the Bald received Western Francia (France and the duchy of Burgundy), and Louis the German received Eastern Francia (Germany, including Alemannia, Bavaria, Khorushka, and Saxony, plus regions that are already emerging as Franconia and Thuringia). However, Lothar initially claimed overlordship over all three regions and Louis and Charles had to go to war to convince him to relent, which he did in 843. The Treaty of Verdun confirmed the official division of the empire between the three kings, with rule over the empire as a whole being nominal.

(Additional information from Hungarians and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: An Introduction to Early Hungarian History, András Róna-Tas (Central European University Press, 1999).)

840 - 876

Louis II the German

Son of Carolingian Louis I. Duke of Alemannia (& Breton March).


Prince Pribina, a Slav noble and adventurer who had been chased out of Great Moravia by Mojmir I, is granted the eastern section of Avar territory - in Lower Pannonia - as the principality of Balaton, with his headquarters near Lake Balaton on the River Zala (close to the modern village of Zalavár, in Zala County in Hungary, surrounded by forests and a swamp). As dux of the eastern march and prince of Balaton, Pribina's main duty is to hem the territorial ambitions both of Great Moravia and Bulgaria. Having himself been a victim of Moravia's ambitions, Pribina is only too happy to play a large role in Louis the German's campaigns against that state.

Map of the Frankish empire at the Treaty of Verdun AD 843
King Louis the Pious of the Frankish empire attempted to leave the empire intact for his eldest son, Lothar, but the others rebelled at the idea. The treaty of Verdun in AD 843 confirmed the official division of the empire between Charlemagne's three surviving grandsons (click on map to view full sized)

869 - 888

The Swiss territories are controlled by the Eastern Franks before passing to Upper Burgundy.


A province of East Francia, known as a 'gau', is first mentioned in the Treaty of Meerssen in this year. Known as Hattuarian Gau, it is on the west bank of the Rhine. This may well be a surviving relic of the former Germanic tribe of the Chattuarii. The treaty arises due to the death of Lothar II of Lotharingia. His territory is subsequently divided fairly by his uncles under the terms of the treaty, those uncles being Louis the German and Charles the Bald of the Western Franks.


The death of Louis the German results in his territory being divided between his three sons. This is something that he had already foreseen, and portions of territory had been appointed to each of them in 865. Now in a peaceful succession, Carloman inherits Bavaria and the Ostmark (plus Lower Pannonia of the former Avar lands), Louis the Younger gains Franconia (which includes the Hessi lands), Saxony, and Thuringia, while Charles the Fat succeeds to Rhaetia and Alemannia (Swabia). As the oldest son, Carloman also retains de facto dominance over the Eastern Franks as a whole.

876 - 880

Carloman of Bavaria / Charles

of Germany. King of Bavaria (876), Italy (877) & part of Lotharingia.

876 - 882

Louis III the Younger

III of Germany. Ruled in Franconia, Lotharingia & Empire (901-905).

876 - 887

Charles III the Fat

III of Germany. France 884-888. Italy 879-888. III of Empire 881-888.

877 - 879

Charles the Bald of the Western Franks and Italy dies while fending off Carloman (son of Louis the German, , who himself had been beaten to the Italian throne by Charles the Bald). Carloman gains Italy, but suffers a debilitating stroke just two years later. Unable to rule in anything but name and having no legitimate offspring, he divides his holdings between his brothers. Louis the Younger gains Bavaria while Charles the Fat gains Italy. Carloman's illegitimate son, Arnulf, becomes duke of Carinthia.


Lotharingia, which has been divided between the Eastern Franks and the Western Franks since 870, is incorporated into the Frankish Empire thanks to the Treaty of Ribemont.

881 - 882

Charles the Fat succeeds as titular head of the Frankish empire, holding the position as Emperor Charles III. He is crowned by Pope John VIII. In the following year, 882, Louis the Younger dies and Charles, as the last remaining of the three brothers, inherits his territories of Bavaria, Franconia, Saxony, and Thuringia, thereby reuniting East Francia following its division in 876.

Charles the Fat
Charles the Fat (not necessarily living up to his descriptive sobriquet) welcomes messengers into his tent as titular head of the Frankish empire, as depicted in the fourteenth century Grandes Chroniques de France


The first noble to exercise domination over the papacy in Rome is Prince Theophylact of the Theophylactii. He has served Louis III as judex in Italy, and is now elected Consul by Rome's nobility. He is also a senator and magister militum, and count of Tusculum (modern Tuscany).


The rule of Germany falls to non-Frankish emperors when the weak Charles is deposed by the Germans at the Diet of Tribur (November 887). The Frankish empire is officially divided between East and West. The western section becomes France, the eastern section Germany, with the title of Roman Emperor also being held by Germans. Charles the Fat takes refuge in the monastery of Reichenau in Alemannia (Swabia) where he dies the following year.

887 - 899

Arnulf of Carinthia

Son of Carloman. Duke of Carinthia. Roman Emperor (896-899).


Berengar defeats his chief rival in Italy, Guy of Spoleto, as the two vie for control of the eastern half of the former Frankish Empire. Arnulf immediately forces Berengar to accept vassal status under him, but it seems that Berengar holds the Germanic imperial title.


Berengar of Friuli agrees on the formal division of Italy with Lambert, but following a defeat in battle, Berengar emerges as sole ruler of Italy. However, he is still a vassal of Arnulf, who is now also Germanic Roman Emperor. Arnulf triggers a period of confusion in the western fringes of his imperial territory when he hands Lotharingia to his illegitimate son.

899 - 911

Louis IV the Child

IV of Germany.


Count Gebhard of the Wetterau in the lands of the Hessi is confirmed as duke of Lotharingia by Louis the Child, king of Germany.

911 - 915

East Francia passes to Conrad the Younger as the first elected native king of Germany, ruling what had formerly been the eastern section of the Carolingian empire. Conrad is the duke of Franconia and also the count of Oberlahngau in the lands of the Hessi. A large-scale political reorganisation of south-western Germany now creates the stem duchy of Swabia.

911 - 918

Conrad I the Younger

Duke of Franconia (906-911).


In September 915, Count Palatine Erchanger is confirmed as the first duke of Swabia by the nobility. After being defeated at the Battle of Wahlwies, the proclamation is not supported by King Conrad I of Germany, despite him being Erchanger's brother-in-law. Erchanger's rise and fall is swift, perhaps unsurprisingly.

Location of the battle of Wahlwies
The Battle of Wahlwies took place in the Hegau, an extinct volcanic region in southern Swabia (and modern Germany), with Wahlwies itself being a small satellite village of the town of Stockach, now in the modern district of Konstanz, southern Baden-Württemberg (Photo by External Link: sued7.de)

919 - 936

Henry I the Fowler

Duke of Saxony (912-936).

936 - 944

Upon the death of his ally, Henry the Fowler, Gilbert of Maasgau, duke of Lorraine, rebels against his successor, Otto I. Instead he swears allegiance to Louis IV d'Outremer of the West Franks. Gilbert rules Lorraine almost as an independent state for the next three years.

936 - 961

Otto I the Great

Duke of Saxony (936-973).

939 - 949

The rebellious dukes Gilbert II of Maasgau, duke of Lorraine, and Eberhard of Franconia loot the counties of Udo IV of the Wetterau (or Odo) and his nephew Conrad of Niederlahngau, both Hesse lands. Their force is so large that Udo and Conrad are unable to resist them. But then the rebel dukes re-cross the Rhine at Andernach on 2 October in order to return to Lorraine and Udo and Conrad take the opportunity that has been presented to them.

The Battle of Andernach takes place with Gilbert and Eberhard still on the east bank of the Rhine and the bulk of their forces already across. Udo and Conrad attack and defeat them, killing Eberhard while Gilbert drowns when trying to escape. Their deaths allow Otto I, king of Germany, to restore order and show his favour to Udo. He succeeds Conrad as count of Niederlahngau in 949.


Feeling that his position is threatened by the marriage of his father, Otto I, to Adelaide, heiress of Italy, Ludolph of Swabia joins forces with his brother-in-law, Conrad the Red, duke of Lorraine, in revolt. Ludolph is supported by the Swabians, but Conrad fails to gain the same support from his own subjects. Otto and Henry I of Bavaria defeat the rebellion.

Map of Germany AD 962
Germany in AD 962 may have had its new emperor to govern the territories shown within the dark black line, but it was still a patchwork of competing interests and power bases, most notably in the five great stem duchies, many of which were attempting to expand their own territories outside the empire, creating the various march or border regions to the east and south (click on map to view full sized)


The Germanic emperors are overthrown by the Saxon king of Germany, Otto I. The two titles are effectively merged into one and the beginnings of the Holy Roman empire are born. In later years, the title 'King of the Germans' is viewed as the junior of the two, usually being granted to the heir to the imperial throne. Once an heir has been crowned king of the Germans, his route to becoming emperor upon the death of his father is usually unobstructed - at least in theory.