Front Matter Gauls Defeat Romans Vercingetorix Saints of France Attila, Scourge of God Story of Clovis Sons of Clovis Mayors of the Palace Charles the Hammer Pepin the Short Charlemagne in Lombardy Defeat at Roncesvalles Emperor of the West Louis the Pious War of Three Brothers Louis the Stammerer Paris defies the Sea Kings Rollo the Viking Hugh Capet Becomes King Bishop Betrays the Duke Robert the Pious The Peace of God Harold Visits Duke William William Sails to England The Battle of Hastings Peter the Hermit First War of the Cross Louis the Fat and Laon King Fights his Vassal Second War of the Cross French Queen of England How Normandy Was Lost Albigenses War Battle of Bouvines Story of Hugh de La Marche Reign of St. Louis St. Louis's last Crusade Peter the Barber Knights vs. Weavers Pope vs. Philip the Fair Sons of Philip the Fair Philip VI vs. Flanders Battle and Plague King vs. Charles the Bad The Jacquerie Stephen Marcel Betrays Paris Charles V and du Guesclin Du Guesclin Fights for France The Madness of Charles VI The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans End of Hundred Years' War King vs. Charles the Bold Troubles of Duchess Mary Charles the Affable Knight Without Reproach Battle of the Spurs Francis I, Gentleman King King Taken Prisoner Duke of Guise Defends Metz Calais Returns to France The Riot of Amboise Huguenot and Catholic St. Bartholomew Massacre War of the Three Henries The Protestant King Edict of Nantes Reign of Favorites Taking of La Rochelle Power of the Cardinal-King Reign of Louis XIV The Man in the Iron Mask The Height of Power Edict of Nantes Revoked War of Spanish Succession

History of France - H. E. Marshall

Louis II (the Stammerer)
and His Sons [877-884]

Charles the Bald was succeeded by his son, Louis le Begue, or the Stammerer. He was weak in health and weak in will, but his reign was so short that it is hard to know whether or not he added anything to the misery into which the realm had fallen.

The misery could hardly have been greater. The people were wearied with constant wars. Hunger, poverty, and sickness were abroad in the land. The nobles fought among themselves, the Northmen ravaged all the western shores, the Saracens attacked the south, from Italy and Germany the sons of Louis the German threatened their cousin.

The whole country was full of wars and troubles, when the Stammerer died in 879, after scarcely eighteen months' reign. He was succeeded by his two young sons, Louis and Carloman. Louis was eighteen, Carloman only fourteen. Unlike the other Carolingian princes they loved each other and did not quarrel over the division of the kingdom. They were courageous and warlike, but they were mere boys and could do little to stem the troubles of the time.

Louis indeed built a castle of wood as protection against the Northmen. But it became a fortress for them, rather than a defence for the Franks. For, badly supported by his vassals, Louis could find no one to hold the castle for him.

After two years of troubled reign Louis died suddenly from an accident while out riding. Carloman then ruled alone. He too fought the Northmen, sometimes defeating them, sometimes being defeated by them. But for want of soldiers, and want of agreement among his nobles, he was never able to drive them out. At length, weary of the struggle, he made a treaty with them, and having received a great sum of money the Northmen promised to go away, and not return for twelve years.

A few days after this Carloman went hunting. He was chasing a wild boar when it suddenly turned and attacked him savagely. Seeing that the King's life was in danger, a comrade rode quickly forward and struck at the boar with his spear. But in his eagerness he aimed badly. His spear slipped, and instead of killing the boar it pierced the King in the thigh.

The wound was a very bad one, and in these days doctors were not skillful. In a few days it was seen that the young King must die. He faced death bravely. He knew that his comrade had meant to help and not to hurt him. But he knew, too, that, if the truth were told, the people would kill the brave man, perhaps in some cruel fashion, for having caused their King's death. Carloman did not wish an innocent man to suffer. So he hid the real cause of his wound, and told those around him that his leg had been torn by the tusks of the boar. He died in 884, having reigned four years in all.

Neither Louis nor Carloman had any sons and the heir to the throne was their little step-brother Charles, who was not yet five years old. But this was no time in which to give the ruling of the state into the hands of a helpless child, so the nobles chose the Emperor Charles le Gros, or the Fat, to be their King.

Charles the Fat was the youngest son of Louis the German. He was already Emperor and King of Italy and Germany. So now once again all the realm of Charlemagne was united under one scepter. But Charles was a very different ruler from his great-grandfather, Charlemagne. He was fat and lazy, treacherous and cruel, neither a soldier nor a statesman.