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Charles II

Charles II or Charles the Bald, 823–77, emperor of the West (875–77) and king of the West Franks (843–77); son of Emperor Louis I by a second marriage. The efforts of Louis to create a kingdom for Charles were responsible for the repeated revolts of Louis's elder sons that disturbed the latter part of Louis's reign. When Lothair I, the eldest and heir to the imperial title, attempted to reunite the empire after Louis's death (840), Charles and Louis the German marched against their brother and defeated him at Fontenoy (841). Reaffirming their alliance in 842 (see Strasbourg, Oath of), they signed (843) with Lothair the Treaty of Verdun (see Verdun, Treaty of), which divided the empire into three parts. The part roughly corresponding to modern France fell to Charles. He was almost continuously at war with his brothers and their sons, with the Norsemen (or Normans, as they came to be known in France), and with rebellious subjects. When Charles's nephew Lothair, son of Lothair I and king of Lotharingia, died in 869, Charles seized his kingdom but was forced by the Treaty of Mersen (870) to divide it with Louis the German. In 875, at the death of his nephew Louis II, who had succeeded Lothair I as emperor, Charles secured the imperial crown. His reign witnessed the growth of the power of the nobles at the expense of the royal power and thus marked the rise of local feudalism. Charles's chief adviser was Archbishop Hincmar.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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