BEYOND 2.VIII: The Partition of the Regnum Lotharii (?)
Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)

A leading motive for the coming war between Francia and Neustria was the Treaty of Metz which has, intentionally or not, left out a clear plan of division of Lotharingia, an economically, culturally, and politically important region between the two kingdoms which both lay claim on the former Kingdom whose thrown was left vacated after the sudden death of Lothair III. It is consequently no surprise that the tensions were high in the two duchies of Upper and Lower Lorraine as both the two Dukes and the many Counts and the clergy of Lotharingia frequently changed alignment to reap the benefits of submitting to the Carolingian Frankish or the Widonid Neustrians. The nature of this interregnum is reflected by the coinage of that time in that area: Recent coin findings in Utrecht probably stem from areas in the British Isles outside of Anglian or Wessexian political control; others may have been made within the borders of the growing tenth-century British kingdoms, most likely in peripheral or newly conquered territory by counterfeiters. These Anglo-Carolingian hybrid coins, nonetheless, suggest that Henry I of Francia, named in the inscription of the obverse XHEINRICVS·DEI·GRA·REX·FRAN·ET·LOT on the coins, was at least nominally recognized to be the king of all Lotharingia, a blundered version of the common Carolingian royal style “gratia Dei rex” around a large cross on the other side of the coins further emphasize the claim. [1] That established, this directly contradicts silver coins found in the river Moselle with either HERBERTVS·DUX or ADELHARDVS as the inscription on the obverse following traditional Neustrian minting techniques found in the medieval mint of the Corbie Abbey.

In 954, the death of the aforementioned HERBERTVS, Duke Herbert I of Upper Lorraine, who nominally bequeathed the Duchy of the Moselle to Adalhard I, had decisively weakened the position of the Carolingians in Lotharingia, and in the winter months of the same year, large parts of the Lothringian nobility had turned away from Henry I and the Franconian Babenbergs. In January 955, King Adalhard I of Neustria appeared in the Duchy of Moselle to emphasize his claim on the entirety of Lotharingia and penetrated the vacated kingdom as far as Alsace to assert the Neustrian claim. He had documents issued, which also concerned Babenberg and Ezzonid property in Lotharingia, partially confiscating minor counties to redistribute to the Norman landlords who increasingly grew restless in his kingdom. His visit was cut short though when Louis III of Aquitania ask for negotiations regarding the situation of Berry and Gascony.

This act of power sparked outrage on the other side of the Rhine was interpreted as an open act of aggression against the Treaty of Metz. The loudest criticism came from the clergy, in particular, Archbishop Günther II of Cologne; One of the primary goals for the archbishopric under Günther II situated in Lotharingia was the restoration of power of the descendants of the emperor Lothair III to the rule of Lotharingia against what is perceived to be the unlawful usurpation of the young Carolingian Odo and his mother Johanna. To defend the Frankish Carolingian claim to rule over both duchies of Lorraine and the possessions and rights of his allies’ families there, Henry I led three campaigns in 956 and 957 with limited success. At first, he succeeded in pushing back the Neustrians from Toxandria and Alsace, but in the same year, some of the Lothringian potentates allied to Paris invaded Alsace again and burned the town of Verdun, held by Frankish loyalists. This affected the trade in the region to a considerable degree, and further sparking outrage in the East. The second campaign was marked by the death of the Duke of Lower Lothringia, Adolf I, whose successor Adolf II turned against Henry I, after having been approached by the new Neustrian king Wipert I. Although the regional balance of power was hardly determined by the presence of Adalhard I and later Wipert I, Lotharingia remained outside of Henry I’s influence. This meant a huge loss of prestige and destabilized Henry I’s position within Francia: the region was considered the traditional cultural and economic center of the former Greater Frankish Empire, as the imperial city of Aachen was located here. However, the means of power of royalty and important family possessions in the West were also lost.

Inside of what remained of the Frankish Empire in the East, the royal central power had already lost its reputation through disputes over the throne within the ruling dynasty of the Carolingians as well as through underage and weak kings such as Henry I; in fact, no king after Louis the German maintained an effective royal power which was able to set and enforce rules. Their royal orders no longer penetrated all parts of Francia, not to mention Lotharingia, and the Hungarian invasions only intensified the disintegration. Under Louis III of Bavaria's successor, Eberhard I, who was primarily concerned with consolidating his place in Bavaria, relations with the royal court had almost come to a standstill, for instance. This alienation process at the royal court was intensified by the promotion of Franconian Babenberg dominance and the lack of cooperation and integration of the regional rulers. In the individual stem duchies, powerful aristocratic families such as the Brunonids of Saxony fought for supremacy within their domains to secure their position. Especially in Saxony, Henry I, however, began to have doubts about transferring the entire power of the deceased Duke Liudolf II to his son Bruno III. As a result, he had the displeasure of most of the potentates of Saxony, seeing this as an attempt to further curb the power of the stem duchy. Nonetheless, Henry I tried to continue the Carolingian rule and to place his rule in the tradition of Carolingian kingship. This was particularly evident in the royal documents and the organization of the court and the state at large, including the chancellery belonging to this institution. The notaries were taken over from Lothair III's chancellery. In his documents, Henry I also maintained the memory (memoria) of the Carolingians. In his notarization practice, the monasteries and dioceses that his predecessors had already privileged were often granted even more rights, much to the dismay of the Saxon and Swabian clergy which was oftentimes overlooked. As a founder, he approached almost exclusively groups of people who had already been designated as trustees and beneficiaries by his predecessors in the Frankish royal office. In Basel and St. Gallen, for example, Henry I continued the foundations of monasteries and churches by Carloman, Arnulf, and Lothair III. Numerous foundation documents in Henry I’s name from other areas such as Franconia and the Nordgau of Bavaria have also survived the ages. The foundations primarily served “the salvation of soul and memory”. In addition, to further emphasize his bloodline, Henry I allied himself, in the Carolingian tradition, with the church to combat the rising power of the princely stem duchies. Thus, while his reign initially was widely supported by the potentates, especially so after his victory against the Magyars in the Battle of Schlehdorf, his focus on the clergy unsurprisingly eventually led to a more autonomous secular nobility turning against the central power of the royal office. This development forced Henry I to act decisively against Neustrian aggression from the West and the domestic issues regarding the fleeting royal authority, and all paths apparently led to Lotharingia, to campaigns for the reclamation of his perceived birthright.
This campaign formally started in 959 when a dispute over the counties of Yvois and Ename, which belonged to the Duchy of Lower Lorraine, which was then under the sovereignty of the Neustrian Kingdom after the election of Wipert I in the preceding year. Duke Adolf II had Count Ulfried III “Blackbeard”, part of a minor branch of the Ezzonids of which the House of Yvois would develop, exiled to St. Maximin Abbey in Trier, to which he was supposed to be its advocatus; his son Manfred II lost his right of inheritance and all offices and fled to Franconia. He tried from 959 onwards to forcibly regain his hereditary property. But he also found broad and energetic support for his cause at the Babenberg court and among the Franconian nobility which also held considerable properties in Lotharingia. The first attack on Suidbertswerth was initially successful but was then repulsed personally by Duke Adolf II of Lower Lorraine. The second attempt began in 960, which had the full support of the Frankish court, notably Duke Henry the Red of Franconia whose epithet may have originated from this campaign (although this claim is also disputed) and Duke Bruno III who also took part so that the campaign appeared like a joint undertaking of the Frankish ruling class. This invasion force met a coalition of anti-Carolingian nobles near Bockfels [2] whose outcome is unknown; it seems, however, that the battle was inconclusive and forced both parties to the negotiation table. The Treaty of Neuss, widely regarded as the first treaty regarding the status of Lotharingia, forced Duke Adolf II to reconcile with Henry I which is regarded by contemporary chronicles as a humiliation of Adolf II who was further pushed to give back Yvois to Ulfried III in addition to the vacated county of Lützelburg [3] whose rights were bought from the St. Maximin Abbey of Trier in exchange of Ename. Other vacated counties were systematically redistributed to loyal subjects from Francia to secure its newfound power North of the Moselle and another “legitimate” election crowned Henry I as the king of all Lotharingia, with the anointment carried out by archbishop Günther II of Cologne.

This victory did not go unnoticed, however. Wipert I of Neustria believed this to be a hostile act. And in 962, supported by his brother Lambert of Maine, he undertook a surprise attack on Neuss to capture Henry I, who was there on a brief stop. The ambush worked in favor of Wipert I; Part of the court had to flee hastily to Cologne while the Frankish king was imprisoned and moved to Aachen. Now in Neustrian captivity, the negotiations were an embarrassing stain on Frankish history. Although regally treated as equal to Wipert I, it marked the end of true Carolingian supremacy over other emerging dynasties of Europe. Wipert I succeeded in temporarily defusing the conflict by giving up some minor claims; in May 962, Wipert I ceded the Frisian lands and Alsace, which was to be integrated into the stem duchies of Saxony and Swabia respectively, to Francia, while being forced to recognize that Wipert I is the true suzerain of all (remaining) Lotharingia, leaving the bulk of the important sites to the Neustrian Crown, a gargantuan hit on the Frankish self-perception as heirs of the Frankish Empire. That said, the content of the Treaty of Aachen itself is commonly overlooked and overshadowed by the imprisonment of Henry I which was condemned by the Frankish clergy as unjust. This arrangement did not last for more than a decade as upon the death of Wipert I, whose successor Guy I was embroiled in a domestic succession struggle with his uncle Lambert of Maine, Adalhelm III of Campania, and Louis III of Laon, who descended from Charles the Bald, the king of West Francia. Henry I did consequently campaign in Lotharingia to “undo the shame of [the] division”. At the imperial assembly in Dortmund in June 969, Henry I decided to launch a campaign against Lotharingia, and this endeavor was started in autumn of the same year. Henry I, with the support of Saxon and Franconian potentates, gathered an army and now invaded the western kingdom. Through the internal feuds within Lotharingia and Neustria, and with the support of Rudolph III of Upper Lorraine, the last male legitimate Rudolphing, who almost simultaneously started a revolt to reverse the bequeathment of the duchy to the kings of Neustria by the hands of his grandfather, Henry’s forces were able to reach as far as Rheims, although they had to return to the Rhineland because of the onset of winter. The Carolingian contented himself with letting the army line up for a victory celebration in Aachen: With the campaign to Rheims, the now experienced Henry I had restored his honor after his failures. In 970, Guy I was able to decisively beat the Carolingians in Toxandria and in Thise near Besançon and Langres, however, and the war quickly boiled down to a stalemate, favoring Francia, by the onset of the second winter. Both parties, knowing of the futility of the struggle and the issues arising at home, started to negotiate and reconcile. Guy and Henry I met in Attigny and restored peace through an alliance of friendship (amicitia). A formal division was carried out: In return for the formal recognition of the two duchies under Neustrian control, large swaths of territories east of the Meuse and the Moselle, in particular the culturally important towns of Aachen, Cologne, Metz, and Trier, the latter being particularly important for the Babenbergs which held large estates surrounding the St. Maximin Abbey, were ceded to Francia which used this opportunity to reinstate several local and foreign supporters in the region. Rudolph III, a compromise candidate as he descended from an illegitimate branch of the Carolingians, was reinstated as the Duke of Upper Lorraine, which now only covered the areas surrounding Langres and Besançon. The Treaty of Attigny [4] unsurprisingly favored the Carolingians as Guy I was not in a position to demand what the Treaty of Aachen had established beforehand and it would be challenged multiple times for the next decades by both the Neustrians and Frankish, although successful changes to the agreement were rare. The loss of the title of King of Lotharingia, nevertheless, also meant a loss in prestige for the Carolingian Frankish who descended from the namesake of the now Neustrian kingdom where the title would be continued to be used until well beyond this century.

This period of war and peace between Francia and Neustria caused unity in the Frankish Court which had the, for the Carolingians unfortunate, side-effect of further promoting the Babenbergs and Liudolfings within Francia, as both would be attested to have served the king faithfully before his eventual death in early 973 while attempting to cross the Alps to invade Italy. When Lothair the Child eventually died in 975 without leaving a son, Duke Henry the Red and Bruno III had another chance to ascend the throne, as he had now become the most powerful nobleman in the empire, causing the end of a second Carolingian kingdom and the de-facto end of the “Frankish” Carolingian dynasty.


Herbert I of Upper Lorraine passes away. Adalhard I of Neustria, who was bequeathed with the duchy of Upper Lorraine by Herbert I, successfully invades Lotharingia and had himself elected as the new king of all Lotharingia. Rudolph III, a grandson of Herbert I, forms an opposition force around the County of Dijon.
956: Frankish Campaigns in Lotharingia. Henry I of Francia invades Lotharingia with limited success.
960: The Treaty of Neuss. Lower Lorraine and nominally all of Lotharingia were ceded to Henry I.
962: The Treaty of Aachen. After the unprecedented imprisonment of Henry I of Francia by Duke Lambert of Maine, the king is forced to recognize the suzerainty of Neustria over all of Lotharingia.
969: Wipert I of Neustria passes away. He is succeeded by his son Guy I, although this claim is covertly challenged by Adalhelm III of Campania and Louis III of Laon.
971: The Treaty of Attigny. The third and final partition of Lotharingia in the 10th century between Guy I of Neustria and Henry I of Francia occurs, roughly following the rivers Meuse and Moselle.

[1] Admittedly, I would like to add some pictures to make this description less dry, but there is no coin of a Henry I from a Lotharingian or Frankish mint with said inscription. But here is something somewhat close to what I have described, a coin from OTL Henry the Fowler which was minted for the County of Bar in (Upper) Lorraine.
[2] In OTL Luxembourg, nowadays just known as the Bock inside the historical district of the modern capital city.
[3] OTL Luxembourg, although slightly shifted northwards.
[4] A map for that important treaty will come soon, although it should be no surprise that it is modeled after the OTL Treaty of Meerssen of the previous century with some appropriate minor changes to reflect the different power dynamic.
OOC: We have reached the word count of 100.000 with this update, hurray!
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Hoping Guy becomes the ITTL equivalent of Louis for Neustria :p

Looks like Frankreich managed to reassert itself in Lotharingia for now, but I'm sure the Widonids will be sure to exploit the upcoming fracas between the Red Capet and the Saxons...
Hoping Guy becomes the ITTL equivalent of Louis for Neustria :p
The question would be which Louis, seems to be a common name in that time period ;)

Looks like Frankreich managed to reassert itself in Lotharingia for now, but I'm sure the Widonids will be sure to exploit the upcoming fracas between the Red Capet and the Saxons...
Compared to OTL East Francia/Germany/(soon-to-be-)HRE, they're definitely worse off, losing OTL Brabant, Franche-Comte, Bar, Hainaut, and Liège, to name a few major places that are not part of East Francia ITTL, not to mention the loss of the title of King of Lotharingia to a non-Caroling. And I already teased that their string of bad luck will continue both externally in Italy (to which we will return in the next update, I hope) and internally with increasingly autonomous duchies which only pay lip service to the king of the (Eastern) Franks and the rise of both Franconian and Saxon noble houses which will almost inevitably eye for the throne of Francia.
All of this is a result of the butterflies within Germany: a weaker Saxony that never managed to exert control over Thuringia and the Elbe meaning that they're overall a bit less assertive in terms of political power and economic means, a string of weak rulers in both Neustria and Francia, and the teased failure to take the Holy Roman Crown in Italy, among other minor differences in the areas surrounding Francia, namely Scandinavia, Bohemia, and OTL Poland.

That said, I should definitely be less obvious with the stuff I had planned since you already found out the next major development of Francia. :openedeyewink:
CHAPTER 1.XXXIII: The Fallout of Emperor Charles II
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)

The time between the death of Emperor Charles II and the rise of the recognizable communes within the Holy Roman Empire is undoubtedly not a meek field for study, and from time to time it has been handled with some awkwardness within the academic circles; contemporary sources are either only making subsidiary references to the events within Italy or are otherwise unprecise at best, and the events that were indeed not lost to time seem counterintuitive and unconforming to the pre-established notions on how medieval Italy functioned. And yet, this time was crucial for the history of the Holy Roman Empire as it laid the foundations of late medieval Europe and what was to follow. Be it the relocation of royal and margravial authority towards the local levels of society or the quick ascendancy and collapse of notable dynasties or individuals who shaped the various regions or the kingdom at large, the unpopularity of this period is undeserved, and yet understandable, a contradiction fitting for a contradictory period. […]

With the death of Emperor Charles II, the general instability of the Kingdom of Italy began to subside as the remaining political forces eyeing for the Iron Crown did not immediately turn down reconciliatory efforts. The turmoil of the recent decades deteriorated the power of the petty margraves, dukes, and kings, the bureaucracy inherited by the Franks, Lombards, and Romans began to wither away in its totality, and the minor counts, abbots, and other potentates started to abuse the obtained local authority to build fortresses against the invasion of the Magyar pagans that was given to them through a confusingly written charter of Guy IV of Spoleto at the beginning of the rowdy 10th century against their superiors’ wishes which would lay the foundation of future administrative and judicial centers of private estates. The formerly elegantly constructed hegemony in Italy of the early Carolingians crumbled away in favor of unprecedented political fragmentation that, to some extent, would only be replicated in nearby Aquitania. Facing this situation, the two main contenders for the royal title, Neidhardt I of Spoleto and Adalbert III of Tuscany, having become the center, not of Carolingian adherents but disaffected groups, tried to reverse this development towards fragmented, decentralized hierarchies as the political crisis of recent years demonstrated that it is an existential threat to the margravial powers [1]. But a margrave or even a king could no longer interfere directly in local dealings, without escalating this involvement into a political initiative; the local magnates de facto did not hold their land from the benevolence of their superiors anymore, for the most part, and their only links to the margraves were individual links of interpersonal loyalty. Thus, the activities of Neidhardt I and Adalbert III seem to have been restricted to the patronage or destruction of individuals and families to strengthen their respective loyal power base, with fair to middling results. […]

Such was the case with the Count Flambert of Ivrea, who gathered negative attention after his speedy rise through the ranks: a sly opportunist, one might say, speculated to be of Frankish stock, whose loyalties constantly changed to gain the most of the given situation; Flambert’s rise began during the ascendancy of Charles II, where, for his service against the Ottwinids of Ivrea, he was awarded with property and offices around Casalmaggiore in the vicinity of Cremona whose Bishop Walpert would call him a faithful man despite his questionable loyalties. There, he repeatedly signed documents with a signum manus as a "lord vassal of the king [from the people] of the Franks [Charles II]" which came to be associated with his person. Through his loyalty during another rough revolt of potentates close to Volkhold I of Ivrea in 955 and 961 and his increasing web of connections to the higher echelons of society, he was eventually awarded additional offices and properties around Sospiro, by then a fortified town [2], and Corteolona. During that period of seven years, he also earned the right to collect the Decima, a yearly tax of a tenth, in Biella, Cerrione, and in the peripheries of the bishopric of Vercelli, much to the dismay of Volkhold I who by then fell in disgrace in the eyes of Emperor Charles II and the bishops of that town. It seems that the Carolingian emperor played with the idea of instating Count Flambert as a seemingly loyal margrave of Ivrea after a defeat of an Ottwinid revolt near Frascati in 964, as preparations were made to invite Flambert with honors to Charles II’s residency, but as the hapless emperor seemed to be losing ground, Count Flambert changed his allegiance in support of Volkhold I: In January 965, the Bishop Aitingus of Vercelli passed away and was succeeded by Atto who was then, however, substituted by a man named Podius, half-brother of Flambert, by March. The election of Podius as bishop of Vercelli was supported by Pope John XII and the lay potentates of Lombardy, including Flambert, but it was strongly opposed by Charles II, as he feared that this election would push the margraviate of Ivrea further towards the camp of the Fornovani of Rome. In response, the king took control of the diocese and seized its revenues, which resulted in the major split between Flambert and Charles II, and reinstated Atto to his office. This event apparently infuriated Flambert who then actively rallied his own vassals around Volkhold I to claim the throne. Whether his support for the Ottwinid candidate was genuine can be questioned, as Flambert’s forces never seemed to have participated in battles nor did he contribute actively to the Ottwinid cause otherwise. Volkhold I, however, would not live to see himself acquire the royal title, regardless of the opportunistic support of the local lay potentates; he was assassinated in 967 by what appears to have been agents of the aristocracy of Rome who have gathered around Adalbert III. Whether this assassination occurred before or after the natural death of Charles II cannot be verified, although the assumption of a death of Volkhold I after the death of the emperor form the ruling opinion and is supported by an overwhelming amount of the intelligentsia [3]. Contemporaries, such as Podius of Vercelli, noted that Flambert, in his perceived fidelity and foresight, urgently warned Volkhold I, who had no male heirs, of such an attempt on his life, if he does not conform to a coalescing alliance between Rome, Spoleto, and Tuscany, but to no avail. The assassins, named Ratold and Otbert in contemporary chronicles, were hanged by Flambert, who now became the new strongman of the margraviate of Ivrea. To further establish himself, he married the younger sister of the deceased Volkhold I, named Gisela, who was initially promised to Duke Theobald of Burgundy within the Aquitanian Kingdom, although this decision was seemingly never confirmed by the courts of the duchy.

Meanwhile, the Iron Crown of Lombardy remained vacant, as the question of succession remained unclear. The papacy under Pope John XII is reluctant to coronate a “foreigner”, that is, another Carolingian from Aquitania or Francia or a potentate from one of the bordering duchies of Burgundy or Bavaria, both of which enjoyed familial ties to the Italian margraviates of Tuscany and Friuli respectively, after the recent experiences with Charles II who was unfamiliar with the established Italian socio-political traditions. The major dynasties of the Lombard Kingdom of the last century, the Supponids under Louis II, in particular, needed a robust state, for their landholding was extended across so much of the North that only the crown could secure the peace that they needed to keep it all. It may therefore not be a coincidence, however, that their power as a dynasty dwindled from the sources in the decades following the beginning of the 10th century in which the Italian state broke up. The last of the Supponids, Suppo VI, remained in Piacenza as a supporter for Volkhold I before changing his allegiance to the Duke of Spoleto. The advantage of such a king from foreign lands was that they were strangers with no familial or territorial presence in the Italian kingdom which, as far as the potentates were concerned, would create the risk of strong, interventionistic kingship in which the hypothetical king could draw his power from a local power base, as seen with the Widonid kings of Italy before the Carolingian Lothair III or the various claimants after the latter’s death. A foreign king, conversely, would have the “benefit” of having to rely on the local magnates and would hold a more fragile throne - that was certainly true of Lothair III, who despite overthrowing the margraves Ottwin I of Ivrea and Unroach IV of Friuli, had to rely on the local potentates and margraves for rulership over Italy, leading to a reign in Italy that was, despite the achievements of Lothair III in his other regna and the Meridian Campaign, unremarkable, certainly to the benefit of the local aristocracy.

Duke Neidhardt I of Spoleto, a candidate for the Lombard Crown, was initially the main aspirant in the eyes of Pope John XII and the Lombard aristocracy. While he did not enjoy close familial ties to the Roman aristocracy, he appeared to be a decent compromise candidate, his Franco-Swabian roots and his small fiefdom close to Rome made him almost ideal for the royal dignity. However, his needless military ventures against Charles II and his interest in integrating the Lombard principalities of Meridia into the Spoletan duchy already appalled the upper echelons of the Lombard aristocracy. Finally, the tides turned in 969, when Neidhardt I was rather ingloriously captured and briefly taken prisoner to the Rhomaioi, after a campaign to conquer the Principality of Benevento in 968, after which the Beneventan citizenry invited Prince Aiulf III to restore his rule. Thus, Adalbert III of Tuscany nominally appeared at the request of Pope John XII and the Lombard magnates to Pavia, after other potential claimants to the crown either swore their allegiance to Adalbert III or perished like Volkhold I of Ivrea did. Pavia at the time was in firm control of supporters of Adalbert III, including Count Flambert, and the Tuscan margrave made no secrets of his intentions to rule Italy himself, not only as a king but also as emperor. He took over the Italian royal dignity without any explicit mention of an act of rebellion in the contemporary sources. He was anointed on 11 March 970, clearly in Carolingian fashion, as "King of the Franks and Lombards" (Rex Francorum et Langobardorum) and on the 17th of the same month as "King of the Franks and Italians" (Rex Francorum et Italicorum). There, it seems, after much consideration due to the past allegiances of Count Flambert, he was raised to the rank of margrave. Adalbert III certainly was not the undisputed leading potentate in Italy at the time, but he may have made an agreement with his most dangerous rival Neidhardt I of Spoleto, whereby the Spoletan duke would inherit the Iron Crown on the event of the death of the Tuscan margrave without a male heir, the marriage between his second oldest daughter Bertha to Neidhardt I’s son Engelbert most likely happened under this agreement to secure peace in the kingdom. This would never be realized, however, as Neidhardt I would pass away in the following year. Thus, in the aftermath of the coronation, a fragile alliance emerged between the margraves, the Papacy under John XII, and the Roman aristocracy. Adalbert III, numbered in succession to his grandfather Duke Adalbert II, also appeared in Rome to receive the imperial insignia [4] in October 970, where Pope John XII reluctantly “designated” Adalbert III to the “imperial crown of the Romans”, with the sly support of the Roman aristocracy. Though, as time would tell, he would never be coronated emperor, as the Fornovan/Theodorian Papacy used the title as a hostage to be able to outmaneuver the various magnates of Italy and beyond.

As one of the first acts, Adalbert III imprisoned his wife Susanna, one of the daughters of the late Burgundian Duke Boso I, on the account of infertility, after which she vanished from historical records. The marriage between Adalbert III and Susanna has been known to be one fueled by mutual contempt and little love, only further exacerbated by the age difference between the two, with Susanna being approximately a decade older than her husband. That the marriage failed to produce a male heir to the estates encouraged such a move against the wife, at least in the eyes of the king. Adalbert III henceforth sought after a new wife and seemed to have been interested in Theodora, a widowed sister of the Rhomaian Emperor Leo VI [5], without any success. He eventually married a noblewoman named Gerberga, although her origin cannot be satisfactorily explained; She could be a younger sister of Flambert of Ivrea, although her assumed age would come into conflict with the established genealogy of the short-lived Flambertings. Another theory suggests that she is a daughter of Duke Louis III of Bavaria, a convincing argument for that assumption would be the onomatology of her name which was in common usage within the Bavarian line of the Carolingians. Charter evidence for Adalbert III and his reign at Pavia begins between June 970 and October of the same year already, though the legitimacy of some of these early charters has been questioned. The efforts of now-King Adalbert III were focused on modernizing the administration of the Kingdom and continuing some of the legal reforms which were already in progress under the rule of his Carolingian predecessor. A peculiar example for these efforts was a Charter written in Pavia and published in 971: The duel, a traditional way to sort a feud in Lombard Law, was kept alive by the Carolingians as a last resort if the evidence offered by each side in a case was unreliable, with no way to reconcile these positions. This way of dealing with a feud was considerably extended under Adalbert III in this charter, who, to the dismay of the clergy and future legal commentators such as Manasses of St. Flor in the 11th century, also permitted the legitimacy of charters to be challenged by trial by battle, thus causing, as the clerics complained, battles being held for properties possessed for a dozen of decades by one family and those who possessed them being killed. While this charter was eventually revoked under Hugh I, it seems that Adalbert III tried to reconcile the ailing power of the monarchy by empowering the lower levels of administration. But in his attempt to reform the state, he repeated the mistakes of Charles II by proving to be too interventionistic in the eyes of the local magnates: In Spring 971, the archbishop of Milan, Angelbert III, passed away, leaving two potential successors: Amizo, originally a monk, was restless, difficult to get along with, ambitious, and overly zealous. Consequently, despite his strict orthodoxy, wide learning, and good conduct, he was met with difficulties in every position he assumed. That said, he was favored by Pope John XII. The other candidate Theofried, already Bishop of Trent, and an illegitimate paternal half-brother of William III of Friuli, himself a maternal half-brother to the king, found support in the leading magnates of the region, including both Flambert and William III. But Adalbert III was strictly against Theofried’s ascension to the archdiocese, perhaps rightfully, dreading that Theofried would serve as a vessel to further empower the Roman aristocracy beyond the city walls of Rome and to enable the Northern Margraviates to do as they please. As the two sides increasingly grew hostile to each other regarding the vacant influential archdiocese, as Charles II did with the Bishopric of Vercelli, Adalbert III took control of the archdiocese and seized its tax revenues, making reconciliation with the potentates of the Lombard Kingdom impossible. William III moved to Lombardy to gather an army from among the Friulans and Lombards to oppose Adalbert III. This he did, but the battle they fought near Bologna in the summer was a narrow victory for Adalbert III, forcing William III to reconsider his plans; The designated archbishop Theofried and William III, among other potentates disgruntled with Adalbert III, began to actively encourage Duke Eberhard I of Bavaria to intervene in Italy and to secure the Lombard iron crown for his oldest surviving son Eberhard II, although this endeavor was met with a crushing defeat of the Bavarian forces near the Masegra Castle, forcing a general retreat of the Frankish forces after only a short visit in Italy. When Adalbert III was planning to surprise, capture, and blind Flambert, the Margrave of Ivrea, he brought about his own downfall. Flambert escaped to the court of King Henry I of Francia where the Carolingian made the first contact with the Italian situation. Flambert convinced him there that every ruler of a former Frankish regnum was free to adorn himself with imperial splendor without provoking unpopular reactions in Italy. However, the plan for an Imperial coronation of the Frankish king seems to have condensed into a fixed action plan only very late as sources imply that the decision of Henry I to move towards Pavia was an unexpected course of action, especially so since Henry I's activities were primarily focused on the consolidation of the Frankish Kingdom in opposition to the Polabians and Neustrians.

A vanguard consisting of the Babenberg Henry the Red and Margrave Flambert of Ivrea reached Verona by early 973. The motivations of the former to take part in an Italian campaign remain unclear, Henry the Red might have tried to strengthen his position within the court of King Henry I, who remained heirless after two marriages outside of his only son Lothair the Child who perished himself soon after his father, or to carve himself a piece of Italy for himself or a family member. They did not encounter any resistance and the Papacy remained silent. Everything seemed to run perfectly, it indeed seemed like Henry I would be able to secure the Imperial Crown for Francia, and maybe it would in fact have happened under more fortunate circumstances for the last surviving son of the great Lothair III. But alas, Henry I, at the age of 54, caught what appears to be either measles or smallpox during the crossing of the Alps after which his health rapidly ailed. Henry I was able to reach Verona before passing away in the same year. He was buried in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare of Verona where his body still rests to this day. After this botched invasion, Henry the Red and other Frankish vacated Italy as a succession struggle was emerging between the Franconians and Saxons [6]. Nonetheless, Flambert emerged with a small army from Francia and occupied Piacenza which was previously held by Tuscan loyalists, including Bishop Martinus who was forced to flee from Italy to the court of the Franks. Many nobles who were dissatisfied with the Tuscan rule withdrew their support from Adalbert III after Flambert’s appearance in the Lombard Kingdom. That development was partially halted by another battle near the Po River which proved to be a crushing success for the Adalbertine Faction. William III had to sue for peace in Verona, where he lost influence in the Lombard Kingdom but was able to retain his position as margrave, while his co-conspirator Theofried was now officially replaced in Milan by Amizo, though even that success for Adalbert III and Amizo was not to last. Amizo was forced out of Milan by the next year, at the same time of another rebellion, this time sparked by Engelbert I of Spoleto, which diverted the attention of Adalbert III South. This is also the year where the fortunes of Adalbert III completely abated: Pope John XII, a reluctant ally of the new Lombard king, passed away peacefully in 973 and was succeeded by Pope Nicholas II whose reign only lasted a few months before dying in suspicious circumstances. Nicholas II appears to have been a candidate of the enemies of the leading Roman magnates, which, assuming this assumption corresponds to reality, explains the early death of the pope. In the winter of 973, Nicholas II was succeeded by Benedict VI, an illegitimate son of the former Count Theodorus of Fornovo, who was firmly in the hands of the Roman aristocracy. While rearing the ugly face of the Fornovan Papacy, he did act with his own agenda and ousted Amizo from the archdiocese of Milan on the grounds of his ascension to the archbishopric being enabled only through simony. Theofried was subsequently reinstated as archbishop of Milan, while still being the head of the Bishopric of Trent. This act is an obvious indication of hostility against King Adalbert III who is now falling out of favor across Italy for his evident inability to appease the numerous factions of the kingdom. This rift between the Papacy and Adalbert III was to be final. […]

On the other hand, the new pope received support from the margraves of Spoleto and Ivrea, with whom he even led an unsuccessful campaign against Benevento in 974, which aimed to regain papal prerogatives in the Meridian principalities. In the same year, Adalbert III, who was by then openly at war with the Duke of Spoleto, occupied some areas of the Papal States and endangered Roman ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which, at least in the eyes of Pope Benedict VI, was the final straw. Benedict VI appealed to the Aquitanian-Carolingian Hugh I, who, like Adalbert III and Engelbert I, raised claims to the title of King of Italy, for help. Hugh I crossed the Alps with an army and little defiance; Adalbert III withdrew to his castles in Tuscany. Benedict VI presumed that these operations would take place in relative farness to Rome and that the king would also receive support from Adalbert III’s northern Italian opponents. Above all, however, it was expected that Hugh I would then retreat behind the Alps to his kingdom again. Benedict VI sent his own legates to the Aquitanian court, namely a cardinal-deacon named Hadrian. In addition to the lucrative offer of the imperial crown, they must have reminded the king of his duties towards the church. The cardinal-deacon and other Papal envoys were accompanied by Archbishop Theofried of Milan, among other discontented potentates. When the Tuscan king was defeated near the Tuscan Castle Carpineti and ready to abdicate, a treaty of peace was signed between the two combatants, one of its provisions being that the oldest daughter of Adalbert III, Willa, was to be married to young Hugh I as a sign of goodwill on both sides. Adalbert III thus succeeded to at least to some extent secure the continuation of his rule in Italy by kneeling before the victorious Hugh I. Hugh I, who was deeply indebted to Adalbert III for creating this opportunity to intervene and, by Lombard Law, gaining the right to inherit the Iron Crown, did not want to and could not refuse this request. With this treaty, the Iron Crown was de facto vacated once more without being officially claimed by any faction in Italy. Unsurprisingly, the lonely and completely bitter Adalbert III would renounce this treaty and flee to Lucca first and then, in a vain attempt to rebel against Engelbert I of Spoleto, to Pavia, where he died in 977 while preparing for another war against Engelbert I and Hugh I.

At the beginning of November 974, before Hugh I entered into Rome, the king swore to the Pope, represented by Papal delegates, that after entering the Eternal City he would use his energies for the upliftment of the Church and the protection of the person, life, and the "honor" of the Pope. In Rome, he should not be allowed to decide anything on Roman affairs without consulting the Pope. He was also to reimburse everything that fell into his hands in the way of church claims; and, finally, the kingdom of Italy was to become the protector of the church. In return, Benedict VI, for his part, swore for himself to recognize the right of Hugh I to intervene in the Italian affairs. The relationship between Hugh I and Benedict VI was already marked by mistrust, especially since the Pope and the Roman aristocracy feared a dismantlement of their entrenched control over the Papacy and the city, while Hugh I, perhaps rightfully, feared that the Theodori would not be afraid to oppose the Aquitanian king when the moment was right. Engelbert I, in the meantime, had withdrawn to the Apennine mountain fortress of San Marino. Hugh I, who had to withdraw across the Alps to Aquitania again, left his brother-in-law Aymard II “the Kind” of Auvergne [7] behind in Italy. Through negotiations, Aymard II got Engelbert I to come to the court of Hugh I in Arles as a Carolingian vassal in 975. He and his son then received the Kingdom of Italy as a royal fief in return for an oath of loyalty and allegiance to Hugh I and the Great St. Bernard Pass, Moncenisio, and their immediate surroundings which were to be integrated into the rapidly disintegrating Duchy of Burgundy. A serious illness of Hugh I in 976, however, along with another Ramnulfid uprising in Gascony, contributed to a serious crisis of the emerging empire. Engelbert I used it to continue consolidating his power in Northern Italy, allying himself with the aforementioned archbishop Theofried of Milan of the emerging Tridentine Margraviate [8], despite formally only holding Italy as a fief of Hugh I. The early death of Duke Theobald of Burgundy who secured Hugh I's access to Italy in 977 and Hugh I's issues in the Southern and Western part of the Aquitanian kingdom in the face of numerous vacant offices there then seem to have encouraged Engelbert I to bring Rome and the Patrimony of Petri under his influence. There, he came into conflict with Pope Boniface VIII, who asked Hugh I for help once more shortly after June 977. Several magnates of the Lombard Kingdom appeared at the Aquitanian royal court with a similar aim, including the Bishops of Vercelli and Novara, and Margrave Flambert of Ivrea, who sensed the opportunity to use his position as kingmaker in Italy for his own profit.

The path to the imperial coronation has been discussed wildly in research. There is controversy as to whether the policies of Hugh I were aimed at a renewal of the Carolingian Empire in the long term or whether it was solely the initiative of the Pope and some Italian potentates in an acute emergency that allowed the final intervention of Hugh I against the last of the "native kings". In either case, however, it would have serious repercussions for the history of mankind and go down as one of the defining moments of European history.

+ + +


Margrave Volkhold I of Ivrea is assassinated. The Ivrean March remains vacated.
970: King Louis III of Aquitania passes away. He is succeeded by his son Hugh I.
970: Margrave Adalbert III of Tuscany is crowned King of Italy in Pavia.
970: Count Flambert, a regional potentate, is elevated to the position of Margrave of Ivrea by King Adalbert III.
971: Archbishop Angelbert III of Milan passed away, leaving two potential successors. In a bid to further entrench his power into the Lombard Kingdom, he invested Amizo as archbishop of Milan, instead of the popular candidate Theofried. Infuriated, Margrave William III of Friuli launched a rebellion in Northern Italy. With the support of local magnates such as Margrave Flambert of Ivrea, William III invites Duke Eberhard I to restore order in the Lombard Kingdom, with no success.
973: After an invitation of Flambert of Ivrea to intervene in Italy and to acquire the imperial title, the Carolingian king Henry I of Francia attempts to invade Italy and to depose the unpopular King Adalbert III. This endeavor, however, ends abruptly with the death of King Henry I of Francia in Verona.
973: Pope John XII passes away. He is succeeded by Pope Nicholas II.
973: After a reign of only a few months, Pope Nicholas II passes away. He is succeeded by Pope Benedict VI.
974: Threatened by an invasion of Adalbert III into the Papal State, Pope Benedict VI, among other magnates of Italy, invite King Hugh I of Aquitania to restore order in Italy. He crushed the resistance of Adalbert III who abdicated from the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Adalbert III, however, renounces this treaty and starts a revolt from the Apennine Mountains. Duke Engelbert I of Spoleto receives the Kingdom of Italy as a royal fief in return for an oath of allegiance to Hugh I, among territorial concessions.
975: Pope Benedict VI passes away. He is succeeded by Pope Boniface VIII.
977: The disloyal Duke Engelbert I of Spoleto attempts to diminish the influence of the Papacy and the Roman aristocracy. The papacy under Pope Boniface VIII appeals to King Hugh I of Aquitania for intervention once more.
977: Margrave Adalbert III passes away after having attempted a rebellion against Engelbert I of Spoleto.

[1] Similar to OTL, with a minor difference: One of the butterflies here is that we did not have Berengar I of Ivrea or an exact analog to him as ruler over Italy. IOTL, it is generally accepted that Berengar I weakened the institutions of the kingdom to such an extent that no successor would ever fully reestablish royal authority over Italy. He gave away property, rights, and other immunities as grants en masse, in the face of his ineptitude in dealing with the Magyar incursions. Thus, to keep support for his authority afloat, he needed to give gifts continuously and systematically to the regional potentates, of whom he favored the local clergy due to their apparent political neutrality in comparison to the lay counts, out of which, later, the here teased fragmentation developed (although this was by no means a universal development, regional differences are noticeable). While this development happened correspondingly ITTL as well, we butterflied the scope of that development away through a less incompetent military command by the respective kings of Italy during the times of the incursions. Half a century later in this world, this translates to comital power within urban centers being a bit more relevant compared to OTL where bishops began to be conceded complete comital powers in their cities, restricting counts to the countryside, although this is not going to save the kingdom from the fragmentation into communes. It will, however, give this fragmentation a different flavor.
[2] Unlike IOTL, a minor butterfly.
[3] Getting rid of potential rivals? Getting rid of the last troublemaker in Italy after Charles II’s death? The reasons are numerous.
[4] I should have pointed out during the update on the Treaty of Metz that the Imperial Insignia was transferred from the younger brother Henry I of Francia to his oldest brother Emperor Charles II to reassert the claim of Charles II to the Holy Roman imperial title. My mistake.
[5] Son of basileus Nicholas I, the progenitor of the Chrysabians. Not OTL Leo VI of the Macedonian Dynasty.
[6] More to the succession of Henry I on a later date.
[7] Perhaps his epithet stemmed from being not as openly hostile as his father we have talked about some update ago.
[8] More to that in the next update.
OOC: I'm back after quite some time of writer's block and personal issues, but with a larger update in return. We're definitely closing in to the final few entries of Chapter 1, so stay tuned for a final look at the emerging Holy Roman Empire of this timeline and another final look at Europe and its immediate surroundings before the beginning of the next millennium!
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Is Engelschalk I the son of Engelbert I of Spoleto, or an alias?

Also, why is Henry I considered "heirless" in part 1.XXXIII if he has a son in part 2.VIII?
Is Engelschalk I the son of Engelbert I of Spoleto, or an alias?

Also, why is Henry I considered "heirless" in part 1.XXXIII if he has a son in part 2.VIII?
As for the former, that was a grave spelling error on my part, which I'll have to excuse myself for. It's Engelbert I, not Engelschalk.
As for the latter, there's a reason why his son was called Lothair the Child which we'll get into sooner or later :p
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It returns! Italy, OTL as ITTL, continues to be an abbatoir of kinglets and their stunted ambitions, while Hugh of Aquitaine seems to be set up to be a Carolingian Otto...

As always, looking forward to more!
Man, I'll need to re-read the whole timeline, since it's been a while. Anyway, glad to see you back with a great TL!
I think the summaries should be enough to get you up to date, isn't that the purpose of these little boxes? ;) Thanks for the compliments!

It returns! Italy, OTL as ITTL, continues to be an abbatoir of kinglets and their stunted ambitions, while Hugh of Aquitaine seems to be set up to be a Carolingian Otto...

As always, looking forward to more!
Italy being a bit chaotic in regards to their kings is something I actually attempted to avoid initially, but then I realized that there is no reason why it should not have happened. A proper PoD to avoid Italy disintegrating into communes and minor counties or bishoprics would be a bit convoluted, like avoiding both the Ivrean Anscarids and the gift-giving system of Berengar I and his successors, wanking large landholding dynasties like the Supponids which relied on a strong kingship to protect their extensive possessions and circumventing the Magyar invasions altogether, the latter most likely requiring a very early PoD to alter the migration pattern of the Magyars.

That said, I think that it can still be fun to see an Italy that is somewhat analogous to OTL while completely divergent in the details. We diverge farther from OTL Italy quite soon with Hugh I, although I should note here that the divergences are already far more severe in regions like Britain (Guthrum's High Kingship in Anglia), the Balkans (soon-to-be Catholic Bulgaria, no Macedonian Dynasty in the Byzantine Empire), the Middle East (Saffarid Ascendancy, less successful Fatimids), Eastern Europe (Wislanian Principality, different succession of rulers in Bohemia), OTL France (Neustria and Aquitania survive as two independent royal titles with questionable stability in both realms), and Scandinavia (the Kingdom of Norway didn't survive). All of that before we have even reached the next millennium, and I yet have to look back at some of the regions like Saffarid Persia or Britain. The final map update of this Chapter draws closer and I'm looking forward to it as well!
Great to see an update and a good one at that! Not sure if you have answered that before but until when do you aim to continue the timeline?
Glad to see this back! So a *HRE that has its cores in Italy and Aquitaine, will likely be easier to control than its OTL counterpart due to not having the Alps neatly dividing the Empire in twain (though it will still have a complicated relationship with the Pope, to say the least) and I wonder if having its founder being a Carolingian will help grant it more legitimacy as well. Honestly, any timeline with an independent Aquitaine and, resulting, a surviving and vibrant Occitan makes me happy :)
Great to see an update and a good one at that! Not sure if you have answered that before but until when do you aim to continue the timeline?
Thank you for the nice words!
Regarding the extent of this timeline: I would ideally and hopefully continue it to the end (which isn't necessarily our present year), as I have a rough timeline for the next century and a general direction that I personally want to push this world towards afterward. But I know that this is a lot of work. I must admit that I'm not a full-time timeline writer, so it might either take a while or I'll skip some decades or even centuries later down line to finish this TL quicker. Currently, however, the former is the plan, as I will take my time to read papers on the discussed topics to give it a bit of depth. That said, I haven't been shy in regards to hints, be it within the updates like (spoilers will follow) the long-teased Aquitanian Holy Roman Empire or the Franconians gaining the Frankish Crown sooner or later, in the titles, authors, or publishing companies of the in-universe works, Excerpt: Phransiya – Akllasumaq Kichka, Quitu Scholastic Press is quite on the nose in that regard, or in some of the maps.

Furthermore, I am quite open to suggestions, either as to what should happen within this world, or just general criticism of what has happened so far in terms of realism and other concerns or of my writing. I know that updates have been released only semi-regularly for a while, the main cause for that being my mediocrity in terms of time management (and in other areas), but I really like this TL and will therefore try my best at improving it. You can even check the older updates I edit almost regularly now because I discovered a typo or weird grammar that I noticed. To reiterate, always open to questions regarding virtually everything.

Glad to see this back! So a *HRE that has its cores in Italy and Aquitaine, will likely be easier to control than its OTL counterpart due to not having the Alps neatly dividing the Empire in twain (though it will still have a complicated relationship with the Pope, to say the least) and I wonder if having its founder being a Carolingian will help grant it more legitimacy as well. Honestly, any timeline with an independent Aquitaine and, resulting, a surviving and vibrant Occitan makes me happy :)
I'm also quite happy to be back! The assumption that it will be easier to control compared to the OTL Germano-Italian HRE is a bit dangerous to make in several ways: Just like IOTL, the feudal political disintegration that both Italy and especially Aquitania are undergoing is way more severe than in Germany, to the point of whole vassalic structures being multilateral under different suzerains at the same time which IOTL led to the French magnates only paying lip service to the King in Paris who, like the Aquitanian Carolingians of this timeline, don't have an extensive duchy to fall back onto like the OTL Ottonians in Germany of the aforementioned Ivrean Anscarids of Italy. There are several other issues, but I don't want to take away everything planned for the future. :p
That aside, I am willing to say for the in-universe future of this timeline that the OTL Occitans, linguistically and culturally speaking, will be more successful compared to what happened to the various Occitan tongues in our history. A saved culture in a timeline will always be a new goldmine. ;)
CHAPTER 1.XXXIV: Hugo, Dei Gratia Romanorum Imperator et semper Augustus
Excerpt: The Genesis of the Holy Roman Empire – Hervé-Dario Etchegaray, INH Press (AD 1986)

The uprising of Engelbert I came at an inopportune time for Hugh I. The kingdom of Aquitania was divided, the king's authority was wavering, and now, in addition to the Ramnulfid uprising in Gascony, which was inherited from his predecessor Louis III, one of Hugh I's greatest allies, Duke Theobald of Burgundy, died without a successor for the ducal title from a male line of the Bosonids. His death was early and likely followed a long period of illness, a thesis supported by his general absence in contemporary sources and the major events during his lifetime. However, it was also Theobald I “the Short” who was responsible for protecting the Alpine passes as the gateway to Italy, and who was, therefore, an extremely important base for King Hugh I's policies on Italian affairs.

Initially, the Aquitanian king could not prevent a Neustro-Burgundian nobleman, Count Reginald III of Mâcon [1], laying claim onto the entire duchy based on dynastic and territorial feuds with the former Bosonids, from establishing himself as the primary potentate of Cisjurania. In a charter dated 12 August 951, the Archbishop Adalran of Lyon, himself descending from a minor line of the Anscarids, agreed with Reginald III’s uncle and predecessor of the same name to a donation made of three swaths of land, including fields for vines, as well as a celebration on the feast day of St. Peter at the abbey of Cluny on the Rhône, paid by Count Reginald II. This present to the archbishopric of Lyon seems to have secured a lasting alliance which blossomed in 977 when, with the help of the successor of Adalran to the archdiocese named Adhémar and at the urging of the wife of Reginald III, a sister of King Wipert of Neustria and Lambert of Maine, Reginald III was proclaimed Duke of Cisjurania, Burgundy, and Provence at a gathering of the magnates at Lyon. The ambitions of Reginald III clashed with those of Hugh I. Reginald III was able to initially assert himself against the Aquitanian King in Cisjurania but could not hold the far northeast of his duchy, such as Valais, Aosta, and Savoy, and the vital Provence, including Arles. There, Hugh I sought to restrict the influence of the Anscarid faction in the duchy to some extent, beginning to lay blame on Archbishop Adhémar of Lyon for various heresies and petty offenses in the hopes of damaging the position of Adhémar and Reginald III. A more valuable opportunity for Hugh I arose in early 978 when archbishop Adhémar perished after the first days of the new year. Still with the power of investiture at this time, Hugh I arranged for the Archbishopric of Lyon to go to Odo, an illegitimate son of Louis III and thus the king's own half-brother, guaranteeing himself a benefactor among the clergy of Burgundy. The Auvergnat Abbey of St. Flor decried the appointment to an extent, but Odo received the papal sanction nevertheless, a decision made in the face of the aggressions of Engelbert I in Italy.

At the same time, the brother of Reginald III, Anscar II of Autun, was trying to establish ducal authority in Neustrian Burgundy, in opposition to the Widonid Kings and Campanian Dukes. This Neustro-Burgundian duchy was initially ill-defined in the late 9th and 10th centuries, but by the time of the death of Reginald II in 965 the Anscarid rulership had been thoroughly established in the northern territories of which was considered part of the Aquitanian Duchy of Burgundy throughout the Middle Ages. The years of the reign of Reginald III and Anscar II were marked by constant wars with the Aquitanian Carolingians, the Neustrian counts and dukes, and even between each other. However, the success of Anscar II in the North was short-lived. In 980, he was captured by Duke Theobald II of Campania, his most fearsome Neustrian rival. Afterward, Anscar II retreated to his capital of Autun, where he lived until 988; But with his defeat, Neustrian Burgundy was never able to coalesce and act again as an independent entity within the Neustrian Kingdom [2]. The conflict with his brother Anscar II left Reginald III politically overextended and thereby weakened his revolt in Cisjurania as a result. A mediation attempt by Archbishop Odo of Lyon resulted in a truce which later historians would dub “an attempt at civilizing the feudal structures of Burgundy”, which Reginald III gleefully accepted and Hugh I used to reflect on the situation in Aquitania and Italy.

The feudal revolution of that period manifested itself as cancer to the power of the monarch in both regna, vassals from the Carolingian kings of the last century are de facto no longer required to give military service. The petty noblemen of the region in the age of lawlessness following the death of Charles the Bald and Louis II for Aquitania and Italy respectively were forced to turn to local authorities for protection: They began to pledge their allegiance to one of them or even multiple great magnates of the kingdom, depriving the king of their authority over his own kingdom. These potentates used their acquired authority to defend their own independence from any royal intervention, however, and sometimes even to launch their own bids for the throne of one of the kingdoms. This disintegration of royal authority into localized centers of power, be it under margraves, bishops, or dukes, consequently formed a self-reinforcing vicious cycle, one whose solution is not obvious or easy to achieve, especially by the time of the entrance of Hugh I into the history books. Before long, the only way to rule a kingdom in the Mediterranean at all was through personal relations, something that was attempted by Charles II of Italy and Adalbert III already with mixed results. The answer to this grave issue of Hugh I of Aquitania was to fill local power vacuums with one of his kin, a feat made easier with the generous amount of illegitimate children his father Louis III produced during his lifetime (sources are unclear regarding the number of children who did not enter an ecclesiastical career). This worked reasonably well in Aquitania, where vacant counties are abundant in number, and Hugh I elevated his half-brothers, sons-in-law, brothers-in-law (such as Aymard II of Auvergne who is married to a sister of Hugh I named Joan), and his own illegitimate children into higher offices, the most notable of the loyal followers of the Aquitanian king being his youngest half-brother named Pepin who has been elevated into a newly created County Palatine of Provence in 980 when Hugh I left Aquitania. Pepin, for example, with the return of a palatine title to a Carolingian kingdom, became the permanent representative of the Aquitanian king, and later of the Holy Roman Emperor, and "ruled over a domain of the crown". This allowed for stabilization of his own realm and a base of support concentrated in Burgundy and Septimania for the duration of at least one generation. This plan, however, only worked to some extent: many counties he could not refill with one of his kin were left vacated, and his authority still did not radiate into Gascony and Poitou where the local magnates, led by the Ramnulfids, are still in open defiance to the Carolingian. Additionally, Reginald III would not be defeated in battle during the lifetime of Hugh I, and thereby the Anscarids managed to establish themselves as Dukes of Burgundy. The Anscarid authority was limited to the lands surrounding the river Saône and minor counties west of the Rhône, however, with significant autonomy acquired through maneuvering themselves between the hands of Neustria and Aquitania for the time being. [...]

With the pressing matters dealt with, Hugh I prepared for another invasion of Italy for around three years in which Hugh I moreover guarded and raised his two infant sons Louis and Lothair “with great joy” while Engelbert I attempted to reshape the political landscape: The fragmentation of Italy into localized islands of power benefited the duke immensely, and the weak role of the royal title allowed Engelbert I to openly question the position. However, in his bid for the Iron Crown, he suffered from the same issues as his predecessors. The other powerful margraves of Italy, Flambert of Ivrea and William III of Friuli in particular, still lingered on in the peripheries of the kingdom and amassed strong principalities behind the backs of Adalbert III and Engelbert I, ready to strike once Engelbert I would ask too much of them. And he came into conflict with the Papacy, the heart of the Roman aristocracy, after Bishop Peter V of Bologna, an ally of King Adalbert III at first and, after the margrave’s death in 977, a Carolingian loyalist, had been detained and removed by Engelbert I based on the accusation of rebellion, and the king was enthusiastic to appoint a Neidhardting supporter christened Theodolf to the position. Pope Boniface VIII, however, disputed his right to do so, claiming that the bishopric of Bologna was part of the territory belonging to the Patrimony of Petri as part of the former exarchate according to the Donation of Pepin. Thus, according to this document, only the papacy – represented by the treasurer Theodorus II, one of the Fornovani, at that time – could make such an appointment. Engelbert I at first backed down and let a man named Stephen take the Bishopric who, however, was not shortly after also accused of rebellion and simony by Engelbert I, installing Theodolf to this position. Pope Boniface VIII felt threatened by this perceived aggression of Engelbert I and invited Hugh I to depose Engelbert I, who received Italy as a fief of Hugh I during the latter’s last invasion in 974. Before long, Italy was once again in open rebellion: The Margraviate of Tuscany, the former stronghold of Adalbert III and now without a margrave, where resentment against the Spoletan Engelbert I was particularly high due to the human and economic costs of his previous rebellions against Adalbert III, was in open rebellion against Engelbert I and invited Eberhard II, son of Duke Eberhard I of Bavaria, again to depose Engelbert I, though Eberhard II seems to have dismissed this invitation as he was preoccupied with the succession struggle within Francia. This revolt of local petty noblemen was crushed in the siege of Poggio Marturi, though, where the counts were decimated and agreed to negotiate with Engelbert I for peace. While the previous battle proved that Engelbert I was no stranger to brute violence as contemporaries seemed to have implied, he was indeed lenient with the terms of the peace. He reinstated most counts back to their former possessions and agreed to appoint the survivors to the vacated counties of Tuscany. In return, he appointed himself as margrave of Tuscany by the right of his wife Bertha “who inherited the march from the point of passing in the rebellion of her father Adalbert” which was to be ruled in union with Spoleto in a bid to centralize Italy under his patronage. In reality, this act of mercy was unavoidable, Engelbert I could not afford another revolt. Yet, it boosted the morale of his miles and secured at least some support among the local minor counts and bishops of Tuscany. This, however, did not save Engelbert I who already moved north where he expected an invasion. There, he now raised an army and prepared for a war against Flambert who announced his intent to restore order to Italy and “severe punishment for those who had broken the oath” and in 980, he left Ivrea with an army to subdue Engelbert I back to Spoleto. [...]

Flattering reports of Rome suggest that Flambert was a man of military brilliance, but little in his history confirms this. Indeed, his only advantage over Engelbert I which can be assumed is true was the military experience he accumulated over the years. After some minor skirmishes, documented by the Bishopric of Luni, the two main armies met at the castrum de Ameliae which lend its name to the battle which took place in the spring of the following year. Though not much is actually known about the clash, the Battle of Ameliae was certainly a succession of misfortunate circumstances and short-sighted decisions made by Engelbert I after an unexpected ambush by the main body of the army of Flambert. Before the battle occurred, however, Flambert invited Engelbert I to solve their feud in a duel, though this proposal was turned down. As the battle dawned, an attempt to overwhelm the Neidhardting faction by Flambert’s cavalry utterly failed, even though Engelbert seems to not have been able to exploit that tactical fiasco. The battle devolved into one of attrition where “those, who could, fled, and, those who could not, perished by the sword” as Bishop Agapatus of Luni testified to the pope in a series of letters in a call for peace for Italy. What is known, however, is that the Spoletan Duke suffered a crushing defeat and that most of his men chaotically fled the field once Flambert himself appeared to have pierced through the lines from behind. While the human cost seemed to have been high on both sides already, this battle was even more disastrous in its consequences: Most noblemen withdrew their support from Engelbert I and amassed themselves behind margrave Flambert, who is already being speculated to be the next king of Italy by Bishop Agapetus, to the point that even Archbishop Theofried of Milan, the most important clerical ally of Engelbert I, seems to have abandoned the Spoletan duke. Engelbert I himself evidently had his resolve entirely broken as he hastily abandoned the Apennine castles of Tuscany and plundered his way back to Spoleto. The previous announcement of harsh punishments by Flambert before the Battle of Ameliae also led to those counts and bishops who could flee the kingdom to the courts of Francia, Neustria, or Aquitania, though this may have been done in vain as the announced punishments were never to come as the margrave, having experienced the success of Engelbert I and his forgiving policies, tried to reconcile with the petty noblemen who were once on the side of Engelbert I. Flambert may have instead intended this as a method to seize the allodial lands of those who fled to redistribute them among his followers. This scheme certainly worked regarding Theofried of Milan who fled with his personal belongings across the Alps to Arles to invite Hugh I once again to Pavia to be crowned King of Italy.

From this occasion, the tale of Theofried and Hugh emerged, although its veracity can be doubted without worries as it only verifiably emerged in the 12th century. To regain his dioceses from which he was banished by the population, Theofried of Milan went to Arles to meet Hugh I of Aquitania who was already preparing a restoration of the Carolingian Empire. However, the Italian counts blocked the simple Alpine crossings they controlled, so that archbishop Theofried had to take the long and dangerous detour via the Burgundian Mont Cenis. During the strenuous crossing of the Alps, he “sometimes crawled forward on hands and feet, sometimes he leaned on the shoulders of his servants; sometimes, too, when his feet slipped on the smooth floor, he fell and slid down a long way; in the end, he reached the plain with great danger to their lives.” In Arles, after taking off his robes, Theofried was forced to “stand barefoot and sober, from morning to evening, without any badges of the episcopal dignity, and without displaying the slightest splendor.” So, he was prohibited an audience with the king for the first two days. Finally, on the third day, he was admitted into the camp of Hugh I who, after embracing Theofried with food and wine, imprisoned him for pluralism as Archbishop of Milan and Bishop of Trent and for abandoning his diocese, “doing what [Pope] Boniface [VIII] should have done”. The very drastic and pictorial representation centuries after it reportedly happened is assessed by recent research as tendentious and propagandistic, a tale which most likely arose as part of a campaign to dishonor the clergy to support the lay potentates of the Holy Roman Empire as part of the larger Investiture Controversy. What actually happened during that meeting is not known, Theofried of Milan would accompany Hugh I to Pavia where he vanished from the historic records. It is assumed that he was indeed exiled from Milan by the locals, the pope, or even the king, although no concrete evidence supports either of these claims. [...]

Mirroring what has happened more than half a century ago, the Ivreans and Friulians, this time under Flambert and William III, in the face of Hugh I being about to enter Italy for the second time agreed to an alliance to preserve the peace. Their roles as margraves were critical: Ivrea was strategically critical; Ivrea was the largest march in the Lombard Kingdom and controlled key Alpine passes into Aquitania and Francia, from where foreign intervention was most likely to come. Friuli, on the other hand, was heavily fortified after the Magyar raids of the recent century and the two Frankish invasions and had access to the most important passes into Francia and its Eastern Marches. Flambert of Ivrea appeared already in the court of Arles to invite Hugh I to oppose Engelbert I, though his allegiance was not so much to the Carolingian as to his own power which was greatly expanded when he crushed Engelbert I and his followers in the Battle of Ameliae without Carolingian miles. Now, Flambert was the most powerful potentate of Italy and secured an alliance with William III whose interests in Italy were limited. This dynamic between Ivrea and Friuli was previously a key feature in the alliance between the Unroachings and Ottwinids in their bid to the royal title of Italy and this did not go unnoticed by the Roman aristocracy who, perhaps correctly, predicted that another axis and another petty king in form of Flambert was emerging. Unlike Ottwin I and Unroach IV, however, Flambert had won at Ameliae, Flambert controlled Pavia, and Flambert had many of the potentates of Lombardy rising to his support. Ottwin I, on the other hand, was a Bavaro-Frankish outsider at the time of his bid whose cunning was not sufficient to secure Italy for himself. The kingmaker of Italy, as Flambert would later be remembered as, did however strategize that a coronation of himself as king of Italy would not be worth the trouble: Hugh I is already entering Italy with a large force and his court, expecting the remaining margraves of Italy in Pavia to discuss the further proceedings. Hugh I seems to have genuinely believed that a client state relationship with Italy would be in the best interest of Aquitania, although the rebellion of Engelbert I and now a rather ambiguous allegiance of Flambert made him increasingly distrustful of any of the major figures of Italy. Pressured by his wife Willa, a common occurrence in this marriage [3], Hugh I eventually reached his first destination, Pavia, rather reluctantly, where Hugh I celebrated Christmas with the Lombard magnates, including William III of Friuli who now swore fealty to Hugh I. William III in return gained the hand of Hugh I’s oldest daughter Hildegarde of his previous short-lived marriage, this constellation being a product of an amicitia, a treaty of friendship, between the two sovereigns. Flambert, however, was more politically savvy than William III, who abbot Marinus of Farfa in his chronicle condescendingly described as “war-like, brutish”, and was indeed in a position to demand more after having become the effective hegemon of Italy. Hugh I’s army was larger and ready for combat, however, and the potentates behind the Ivrean margrave have been severely reduced after the Battle of Ameliae. Flambert accordingly requested that the territory of what Archbishop Theofried of Milan administered to be relegated to him as the so-called Tridentine March to “protect the Roman kingdom” in the face of Eberhard II of Bavaria who still longed for the Iron Crown of Lombardy, though inattentive due to the various adventures against the Pagan Slavs of the East and the domestic court intrigues that were so widespread in Francia at that time. Hugh I, not trusting him with even more power, soon appointed Flambert as director of the tolls, mints, and tax duties in Alpine Lombardy and provided him with the required mandate to embark on his task. Despite being a quite lucrative position, Flambert denied this offer and seemingly expected more concessions from Hugh I whose royal coronation could only happen with the silent approval of the hegemon Flambert. Fearing humiliation at the hands of a political novice, Hugh I was moved to agree to the creation of the Tridentine March which was to be ruled by the Margrave of Ivrea. This meeting, though successful for Flambert, would lay the foundation of mutual distrust and even personal hatred between the two which are shaped by completely different demeanor.

By the time the Aquitanian king arrived at the traditional site of the coronation with what was probably the sole unharmed army in Italy and a meeting at a camp before the gates of Ivrea with Flambert and William III, his election to the royal title of Italy was a preconceived ending to a time of trouble within Italy for the time being: Hugh I received the Iron Crown of Lombardy on 29 December 982 at the age of 45 and thereby became the first Carolingian king of Italy since the passing of his uncle Charles II in 967. Engelbert I and his remaining few followers, in the meantime, withdrew to castles and avoided open combat when Hugh I moved on to Rome for the Papal legitimation. The march from Pavia to Rome was quite uneventful: a certain kind of cynicism established itself in Italy which did not expect a long reign of another Carolingian, a bloodline whose luck or “divine approval” has been in steady decline in Europe by 981. The blood of Charlemagne pumped through the veins of Hugh I and it was one of the few occasions of his life in which the king was actively casting off his otherwise well-known modesty: In full Carolingian royal regalia, possibly trying to mimic his ancestor Charlemagne and Lothair III, he marched South and announced the donation of “one-fifth of his wealth” for the establishment and restoration of various monasteries across Italy, a deed done to appease the Papacy whose treasury has been depleted through corruption and an overbearing defense spending under the last two popes Benedict VI and Boniface VIII who restored the Aurelian Walls in the face of the Italian margraves threatening the eternal city, for instance. Marinus of Farfa leaves no doubt that Boniface VIII would never have agreed to that pompous march south to Rome in the face of the economic and human cost of the petty kings of Italy, though the successor to Boniface VIII, Gregory V, previously active as a cardinal in the Church of Saint Cyriacus in the Baths of Diocletian, sees it in a different light: Gregory V has been a pious and well-read man who has been at least partially influenced by the Florian Principles [4] spreading throughout Aquitania and Italy in the decades following the anarchy in the periphery of Aquitania and later in the entirety of Italy. Gregory V was rather publicly hostile to the margraves of Italy and idealized a return of a strong central monarchy whose authority and power is derived from the Church. This put him understandably at odds with the margraves and dukes of Italy, though he was adored by the Roman aristocracy for his resolve and ambitions which may unintentionally further extend the reach of the Roman aristocracy beyond the walls of Rome. The march of Hugh I in traditional Carolingian fashion may therefore have been an attempt by Hugh I to a lasting alliance with Gregory V who has been welcoming the Carolingian, despite the Roman aristocracy, who has put a watchful eye on the new pope, being, generally speaking, against another Carolingian king and in favor of a pro-Rhomaian approach, as Constantinople was slowly re-establishing itself in the Lombard Principalities of the South. It must be understood that Hugh I’s coronation march to Rome was not motivated by the significance of domestic Roman politics as its reputation is not derived from its economic or political meaning for the Kingdom of Italy, but in its religious and symbolic importance for the empire as a whole. Hugh I was interested in the legitimation of his rule through the Lateran, not by the acceptance of his rule by the petty Roman magnates. However, as the previous petty kings of Italy have shown, it was critical that any emperor in Italy not merely wore the iron crown but had to also control Rome more than just in name, at least to an extent that would confine the Roman aristocracy without antagonizing them. Furthermore, the king must have known that the Pope stood under their influence and needed the support of the lay Roman potentates to secure the endorsement of the papacy.

Even though the Roman aristocracy was nominally leaderless, the Primate of the extended family of the Counts of Fornovo, Octavian [5], younger brother of the deceased Lucian II, centralized the authority under their cronies, tied to him through an intricate web of marital alliances and threats of indiscriminate violence as various non-compliant popes or disobedient counts had to endure. Octavian, unlike his predecessors, is described as a “decent and [God-]fearing man” and even carries the epithet “the Good” in later sources, however, despite his demonstrated ruthlessness which destroyed the last resistance efforts by the Counts of Tusculum within the Roman senate, for example, years before Hugh I’s second entry into Italy. This change of characterization in spite of the same basic structures persisting within the Roman aristocracy implies that either the aforementioned brutality was exaggerated in previous records, to put it mildly, or that Octavian was indeed a different man at heart. The Fornovani of Rome established their legitimacy through their accumulated titles and offices relinquished by the Roman senate and, imaginably more substantially, the Papacy whose temporal authority was relegated to the Fornovani. This, nevertheless, was met with hostility and jealousy by those whose titles were seized, and a coalition of senators and Roman counts, including at least one cadet branch of the Fornovani, was emerging in the recent years before the ascension of Hugh I. It was led by someone named Count Egidius of Galeria [6], himself maternally related to Octavian, who was being frequently incarcerated or hounded out of the eternal city with the intention of forcing him to surrender his possessions to the Fornovani, with little to no success for the Theodori. In exile, Egidius pushed for intervention by Engelbert I who, as a traditional enemy of the Fornovani of Rome, has long been a thorn to the side for the Fornovian plans for expansion. This, however, pushed Octavian, though only grudgingly, to an, undeniably purely opportunistic, pro-Carolingian stance once Engelbert I returned to Spoleto after the Battle of Ameliae. Fueled by contempt for a foreign Frankish king and its imminent coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, Engelbert I and Egidius hastily prepared to teach the Fornovani and the Carolingian a lesson, but in the end, the efforts of Egidius were one-sided; It may be that Engelbert I, who had only begun to recover from the calamity at Ameliae in the previous year, felt that his personal absence from his personal stronghold of Spoleto would be too much of a risk. The revolt of Egidius was consequently ill-prepared from the beginning and was viciously quashed by the men of Octavian. As for Egidius himself, he quickly submitted himself and was thrown in prison in which he disappeared from the historic records. Nonetheless, localized resistance would linger on for the next months. [...]

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Excerpt: The Works of Marinus Farfanensis: Translated and Commented – Abdaikl Lyupanov, White Standard Free Publishing (AD 1923)

Although Marinus' writings have often been viewed as historically unreliable and propagandistic in favor of the Karlings of Aquitania, they are important sources for the historiography of the 10th century, which is generally poor in sources. The writings are particularly important for the cultural and everyday history of Western Europe, Italy and Aquitania in particular, and for the relations between the Latin West and its neighbors to the South, North, and East. [...]

2. Vita Hugonis Aquitanus (written in 989)
1. The venerable Lord, the mirror of all holiness, Hubertus, the Abbot of the Abbey to Saint Flor to Arvernia [7] to Aquitania, greets Marinus, as Abbot of the Abbey to Farfa to Rome. [...]

2. It was the period when Adalbert and Engelbert ruled, or rather ravaged, in Italy and, to be more truthful, exercised their tyranny. The supreme pontiff and universal Pope Boniface VIII, whose church was then all-too-familiar with the savagery of the aforementioned Adalbert and Engelbert, sent ambassadors of the holy Roman Church, that is, Gregory the cardinal deacon and Milo the archivist, to Hugo, the most serene and pious king (now august caesar). With prayerful letters and indicators of the situation, the messengers were to beg that, for the love of God and of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, who the pope hoped would be the ones to absolve his own sins, the king would free the pope himself and the eternal city and his ward, the Roman church, from the tyrants’ fangs, and return them to their original health and liberty. Adalbert and Engelbert were already defeated by the hands of Hugo the Aquitanian; unsure of his Italian policy, Hugo entrusted them with the kingdom of Italy in 974. [...] They held power until 977 and created trouble for Hugo thereafter. [...]

4. But there were also other reasons for Hugo’s last visit to Rome. The Romans, led by the honorable Octavian of the family of the Counts of Forum Novum, had advised Pope Gregory V, on whom they were bonded by friendship and codependence, a representative of the divine and of the earthly respectively, to ask for the king’s assistance. Hugo, therefore, went to Rome to put order into the confused situation and reestablish the status of the Church. His march to Rome from Pavia where he was crowned as king of the Lombards took the whole summer. It was on this occasion that he accepted the titles of Emperor and Augustus on 30 October of 981, which was denied for Adalbert and Engelbert, and this decision was received by all those present with great acclaim since it seemed to be divinely inspired for the good of Christendom. At first Hugo the Aquitanian was so humbled by entering the footsteps of his venerable ancestors Charles Magnus, Lothar I, and Lothar III, that he proclaimed that he would renounce his titles to his sons Louis and Lothar and have entered the church for his eternal thankfulness if he had beforehand realized the intentions of the Pope and the Romans. [...] The festivities that ensued lasted for fourteen days and fourteen nights in which Hugo was seen on multiple occasions in a long tunic, chlamys, and Roman shoes, where he ate and drank with the Romans, Lombards, and Franks of Aquitania, which received the king with great hospitality. [...] Still, he bore with astonishing patience the envy his imperial title aroused in the indignant Frankish kinglets and Engelbert, who renounced the decision of the holy Roman Church in his insularity. Hugo overcame their stubborn opposition with magnanimity—of which he unquestionably had far more than they did—and sent frequent embassies to the Franks, always calling them his brothers in his letters, and vanquishing them, as Engelbert of Spoleto, cursed be his line, had to endure. [...] Thereby Hugo ruled in name from the town of Nantes in the Breton lands, to Gascony, Septimania, Arvernia, Burgundy, over the Alpine passes to Ivrea, Friuli, Lombardy, Tuscany, and Spoleto, Hugo also increased the glory of his empire by establishing friendly relations with many kings and peoples outside of the Roman Empire. An example is his close friendship with King Aethelhelm III of the West Saxons, who always insisted on calling himself Hugo’s vassal when sending him letters or ambassadors to Rome. To this day where this is written, there exist letters sent by them which clearly express these feelings of mutual respect and awe of Hugo's imperial title. [...]

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Duke Theobald of Burgundy unexpectedly passes away. He leaves no legitimate children and a succession struggle over the vital duchy within Aquitania ensues.
977: The Neustrian Count Reginald III of Mâcon proclaims himself Duke of Burgundy with the support of Archbishop Adhémar of Lyon and a portion of the Cisjuranian magnates. This is immediately contested by King Hugh I of Aquitania.
978: Archbishop Adhémar passes away. Hugh I invested his illegitimate half-brother Odo into the archdiocese in the hopes of limiting support for Reginald III's revolt.
978: Bishop Peter V of Bologna is removed from his office by Duke Engelbert I of Spoleto on account of rebellion against his rule. He invests his ally Theodolf to the Bishopric, instead of the papal choice Stephen. Feeling threatened by this disregard of Papal autonomy, Pope Boniface VIII invites Hugh I to depose Engelbert I.
979: The Siege of Poggio Marturi. Tuscan Counts revolt against Engelbert I after the death of their margrave Adalbert III. Engelbert I decisively defeats the rebellious counts who are, however, mostly forgiven and reinstated into their former possessions in an attempt to forge an alliance with the minor potentates of Tuscany. Engelbert I, in return, proclaims himself Margrave of Tuscany by the right of his wife Bertha of Tuscany, daughter of the deceased Adalbert III.
980: The Battle of Ameliae. Margrave Flambert of Ivrea declares Engelbert I of Spoleto to be deposed and raises an army to defeat Engelbert I. A battle of attrition ensues where Engelbert I is defeated, although at a high human cost for both sides due to a series of blunders and ill-fated strategies. Engelbert I retreats to his duchy of Spoleto to reorganize his rebellion.
980: King Hugh I of Aquitania invades the Kingdom of Italy once again on behalf of Pope Boniface VIII. He receives the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Christmas with the support of the magnates of Northern Italy. There, an alliance of friendship between William III of Friuli and Hugh I of Aquitania is struck.
981: King Hugh I of Aquitania and Margrave Flambert of Ivrea agree to the creation of a new march based around the town of Trent against future Frankish incursions. This meeting and the creation of the Tridentine March, however, laid the foundation of mutual distrust and hatred between the most powerful magnate of Italy and his suzerain Hugh I.
981: Pope Boniface VIII passes away. He is succeeded by Pope Gregory V.
30 October 981: King Hugh I of Aquitania is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Gregory V. Unbeknownst to Hugh I and his contemporaries, this date marks the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.


The Death of a King


[1] An Anscarid which ITTL stayed in the Burgundian area and rose to prominence there instead of Italy as in our world. He was invested as count there by Louis III in a bid to weaken the late Bosonids in the region.
[2] Unlike IOTL, where Richard the Justiciar secured the Duchy of Burgundy almost a century again compared to the years this update is concerned with.
[3] We will shed light on the personality and achievements of Hugh I and other important figures so far (such as the Counts of Fornovo and an updated list of popes so far) in the next updates. The recent updates are focused on the political machinations for a good reason, otherwise, it would get a bit bloated, so I am sorry for my rather blunt writing. These addendums will also most likely consist of a way more in-depth look at the culture, religion, administration, and economy of the emerging Holy Roman Empire at the time of Hugh I, including (finally) a map of the entirety of Europe where we also get some updates on the happenings elsewhere since the recent intermissions. Stay tuned!
[4] We will look at some of the religious changes and current streams of thought in this world in some of the aforementioned “in-depth” updates, just note that the Florian Principles are not “just” an analogy to the Cluniac Reforms of OTL.
[5] I have found some sources that gave a more detailed record of the Roman aristocracy of the 10th century which made it clear that an underlying fear has been realized: I made a mistake regarding the plausibility of some of the names I have used so far. It essentially only affects the first Count of the former Giacomii, Giacomo, whose name doesn’t fit that time period nor Rome who has been therefore retroactively renamed to Theodorus to fit the common naming scheme of Rome at that time. Thus, the dynasty he established is called Fornovani, “from the County of Fornovum/Fornovo”, or Theodori, which can be used interchangeably. I have already corrected the previous entries in that regard, though nothing in terms of events was touched because of this. For the sake of transparency, I wanted to make that clear to reestablish some context to the posts outside of the individual updates which included the old term Giacomii. I will also focus on them in an upcoming update, since they do differ from the OTL Tusculani in various points, especially in terms of long-term impact.
[6] Galeria was a town just outside of medieval Rome in Latium that was seized by the Tusculani IOTL which was able to maintain its independence and political presence here.
[7] Latin for Auvergne.
[8] 130 years after the initial singular point of divergence, Europe and its neighbors have changed significantly. It started with the early death of Charles the Bald, the subsequent destruction of West Francia by his scheming half-brothers, and a completely different Carolingian succession which, in the end, favored the Lotharian branch which endured to this day in Aquitania which now ascended to the Holy Roman imperial title. Unbeknownst to Hugh I, it was not just another Carolingian king to succeed in Rome whose death would splinter the newly created empire further, as we will see in Chapter 2, though it will most definitely not be as stable as or even somewhat analogous to the Ottonian or Salian HRE of our world. A web of intrigues, the rise and fall of dynasties, and a quite diverging history of the Christian West will follow. This doesn't mean that we will only keep our eyes on Aquitania and Italy, however: England and Scandinavia are significantly more divided than in our timeline and asking for a hegemon to fill the power vacuum, Wislania, Polania, and Hungary are awaiting their Christianization, the Umayyads of al-Andalus now have a resurging Holy Roman Empire at their footstep while the Maghreb is involved in a multipolar power struggle involving the already declining Ifriquiyan Fatimids, the Saffarid suzerainty over the Abbasid Caliphate is ailing, and a storm is emerging from the steppes of Central Asia which will surely destroy the balance of power in the emerging Kyivan Principalities of Rus' and the Persian and Arab stateless of the Middle East. Chapter 1 might be finished, but the timeline will continue. Before that, however, especially to set the stage for Chapter 2, we will go more in-depth and look at the religious, cultural, economic, and administrative changes of Italy, Aquitania, and Europe as a whole, as mentioned in Footnote [3] and [5], and we will start with a more in-depth explanation of the now often mentioned Florian Principles and a continuation of the list of popes of Chapter 1.XXVIII, and end with a final map of Europe and its immediate surroundings as of 981 AD.
Thank you for all your support in the form of likes and comments so far, as every kind of feedback helps (and motivates) immensely. Therefore, I will reiterate here that I'm open to every kind of question, criticism, suggestion, and so forth. See you soon!
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Congrats on reachingthe end of the First Chapter! It's been a wild ride so far and I look forward to seeing how things develop going forward. I'm particularly interesting in seeing how the Christianization of Poland and Hungary develop, as well as other regions along the periphery of the Carolingian world. If I may ask - with England more fragmented, what are the states of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, currently? I would expect the prior and the later to be as divided as ever - but am completely willing to be pleasantly surprised :D
The ramifications of a Carolingian -- and one in more accessible Aquitaine instead of Germany over the Alps -- pulling an Otto will be interesting. The Flambertings seem themselves primed to be a force against royal power and towards the local devolution one expects from a disputably holy, vaguely roman, kind-of-an empire...

Given their antagonisms with the Frankreich, I wonder if Bulgaria will end up being a major source of Christian proselytism to the Wislanians, Poles, Magyars (and perhaps the Russians?) That being said, using the Arabo-Persian-derived name Abdaikl for the new author suggests a more Islamic Russia may be in the cards...
Congrats on reachingthe end of the First Chapter! It's been a wild ride so far and I look forward to seeing how things develop going forward. I'm particularly interesting in seeing how the Christianization of Poland and Hungary develop, as well as other regions along the periphery of the Carolingian world. If I may ask - with England more fragmented, what are the states of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, currently? I would expect the prior and the later to be as divided as ever - but am completely willing to be pleasantly surprised :D
I intended to do some "short stories" for ´the individual regions outside of Aquitania and Italy for the eventual map update, though so far only Wales out of three was completely finished which I'll post as a teaser down below (I'll reuse it for the map update, so don't be surprised once you'll see the text again there). As for Ireland and Scotland: I can say that Ireland won't diverge that much at first as internal conflicts within Norse Dublin and the decentralized nature of Ireland at that time won't allow for much change, even with different personalities there, though, inspired by the success of the Danes of the High Kingship of Anglia, once the Norse return to Dublin, they may start to view Ireland less as a place to pillage and raid, but more of a place in which they could develop and rule as an elite class, especially when more settlers happen to arrive from Norway after collapsing into never-ending turmoil, though these ambitions will most likely stay ambitions, at least for a while. Alba, on the other hand, will consolidate as a kingdom along similar lines as IOTL, though there won't be a long reign under Constantin II in the world of Final Light which will break the string of unbelievable luck for the Kingdom of Alba. While Alba, later Scotland, might have to suffer from this, another minor kingdom named Strathclyde might live for at least a day longer, maybe more... :) Thank you for the compliments!

The Cymry still largely stand in the shadow of Rhodri the Great who ruled over most Welsh principalities and with his natural death in 880, two years later than IOTL where he was most likely killed in battle with the Mercians under Ceolwulf of Mercia, prevented ITTL partially due to the success of the Great Heathen Army and partially because of butterflies in general. His domain was subsequently split up between his four sons according to Welsh inheritance law just like IOTL, though it begins to diverge when Anarawd ap Rhodri returns from a Battle against the Mercians in the early 890s disfigured and thus unfit to continue to rule Gwynedd which swiftly passed to his brother Cadell, ignoring Anarawd's oldest son Idwal, who in turn betrayed his brother Merfyn based around Powys in a time of peace between the Welsh, the Foreigners (Norse Vikings) and the Mercians. Unlike IOTL, this invasion was partially repelled by an alliance between Merfyn's son Haearnddur, his uncle Tudwal whose epithet will not be "the Lame" ITTL, and the Viking Ingimundr of Dublin: This brothers' war ended with Merfyn being slain, though his lands ending up in the hands of his son Haearnddur. Cadell would shortly after pass away with Gwynedd and Seisyllwg being inherited by his son Hywel ap Cadell. Having grown up under his defeated father Cadell and the disfiguration of his brother Clydog at the hands of the Norsemen, his lifework would be the inheritance and subjugation of most of Wales, concluding with Morgannwg in 939 AD after a brutally acquired victory against the West Saxons at the almost legendary Battle at the River Wye where a rare alliance of ill-prepared Norse mercenaries from Dublin, Aethelric II "the Warrior" of Wessex, a ruthless and cunning king who defeated a revolt of the autonomous Sussex and Kent and reintegrated them fully into Wessex just months preceding the battle, and a small brigade of Mercians led by the earl Aelfgar, were vanquished. This battle lasted reportedly for almost seven hours and unsurprisingly came with a high death toll on both sides, including the death of the heir to the estates of the oldest heir of Hywel named Clydog, named in memory of his youngest brother. The increased presence of Norse raiders after the Battle of Barkåker in the only short-lived Kingdom of Norway and the threat of Mercian invasions forced the four brothers to continue to cooperate against the rulers of the remaining statelet of Wales, Gwent which managed to free itself from Hywel shortly after the Battle at the Wye, and the surviving Mercian Kingdom of the East. Hywel's remaining years were one of patronage of the church, his monetary support for it also reached the Cymric Bishop named Mordaff of Bangor whose chronicles are the main source for not only Wales in this time period, but also for the Old Cymric language. Hywel "Redsword" or "the Generous", depending on whether one researched him in Anglo-Saxon or Cymric chronicles, passed away in 951 AD, having fully established the House of Dinefwr as hegemons over Cymru, including Pengwern for the time being, against the Norse and Mercians, though his realm split between his two sons Gruffydd and Owain, with Gwent falling to the latter's rule in 962 AD, technically uniting Wales under one dynasty, though Owain was slain by a Norse raiding fleet by 964 AD, reverting parts of the South to his older brother Gruffydd ap Hywel and the former kingdoms of Glywysing and Gwent to the pretender Arthfael ap Morgan who submitted to Wessex for protection against Gruffydd who managed to forge an alliance with the King of Anglia Jeremiah II. Gruffydd's reign over much of Wales was marked by his attempt at consolidating the kingdom, though the Kingdom of Dublin and York would prove to become a thorn to his side. These raids, however, had the positive effects of improving his legitimacy as capable and effective "commander-in-chief", an important asset in a region marked by a landed warrior aristocracy, as some grumpy Anglo-Saxons might describe the region. Gruffydd ap Hywel married Angharad ferch Arthfael in the hope of eventually inheriting Gwent from the otherwise infertile Arthfael ap Morgan. Evil tongues thereby sometimes imply that Angharad is not even a genetic daughter of Arthfael though groomed to be one at the Gwenhwys court, though that will most likely never be verified. This plan worked out for Gruffydd who invaded Gwent in 979 AD after the geriatric Arthfael ap Morgan had the roof of a church collapsed on him, suffering fatal injuries in the process. Wessex denied this claim, however, and small skirmishes ensued, though Winchester was preoccupied with securing London from Anglia whose importance as commerce town and political center of Britain steadily declined as the city mostly only served as a battleground, periodically being besieged and razed by the West-Saxons or the Danes of Anglia. Gruffydd thus reunited Wales once more by 981 AD, though it remains to be seen whether the lack of Anglo-Saxon dominance will allow for Wales to stay united or to be divided again, either through domestic rebellions, the dissolution of the kingdom as according to Welsh inheritance law, or from a foreign threat.

The ramifications of a Carolingian -- and one in more accessible Aquitaine instead of Germany over the Alps -- pulling an Otto will be interesting. The Flambertings seem themselves primed to be a force against royal power and towards the local devolution one expects from a disputably holy, vaguely roman, kind-of-an empire...

Given their antagonisms with the Frankreich, I wonder if Bulgaria will end up being a major source of Christian proselytism to the Wislanians, Poles, Magyars (and perhaps the Russians?) That being said, using the Arabo-Persian-derived name Abdaikl for the new author suggests a more Islamic Russia may be in the cards...

I'd be a bit more wary about this set-up. Otto I and his successors IOTL could fall back onto one of their own major duchies such as Saxony for Otto I which the Karlings of Aquitania ITTL definitely lack. Furthermore, Aquitania is even more disintegrated than Germany was in that time period, in both our and this world. Though, it does have its advantages, as you will see; for one, elections will work a bit differently and Hugh I will start with an Italy whose counts were decimated in numbers after more than a decade of constant infighting, though Flambert, as you have noticed, will surely try to halt Hugh I and his silly ideas.
Regarding Francia, not to brag, but I'm quite proud of having switched the place of Francia that radically compared to OTL. That said, to your actual comment, let's just say it will be quite interesting, Frankish weakness compared to OTL with a less interested Saxony and a surviving Thuringia which weakens the place overall will lead for more breathing air for the Polabians and I've already dropped more than one hint in the most recent update regarding Poppo IV of Thuringia, writing a small biography on him instead of the other figures was not a coincidence. ;)
Also you've stumped me with the last comment of yours, I am definitely giving out too many hints. You're right in the wrong way, but that's something that we'll explore in Chapter 2 (and most likely really focus on only after it).
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I like how Marinus's Emperor Hugh is so deferential to the Church in every unfalsifiable way.
Totally not inspired by the totally neutral chronicles of Liutprand of Cremona of our timeline. That said, these kinds of contemporary biographies will become more common than in our timeline, partially because it has established itself as a Carolingian tradition after Charlemagne and Lothair III and partially because it is an effective and easy-to-use tool for propaganda. I hope nobody takes these biographies too seriously :p
ADDENDUM 1.I: The Florian Principles
Excerpt: The Florian Principles – "Occidental Roman History", Anonymous; Datalinks Archive (AD 2025)

The Florian Principles or the Ainoldian Reforms were a clerical reform movement of the Catholic Church of Rome during the High Middle Ages that began in the Auvergnat Benedictine monastery of Sant Flor and that, at first, encompassed monastic life and then the papacy after a period of radicalization of demands. This reform movement originated in the perceived moral decline of the church during the so-called saeculum obscurum (also known as the “dark age”) of church history when serious grievances had developed within the Catholic Church of Rome after the end of the Carolingian Empire between 932 and 951. […]

A singular moment in history after which the state of monasticism deteriorated is generally assumed to not exist, but rather a consequence of independent socio-political developments in the Occident. But it is agreed upon by most historic and contemporary scholars that monasticism had suffered greatly from Norse invasions, Saracen piracy in Aquitania and Italy, Magyar incursions which went as far as the Bèze Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Abbey of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif in Neustria, a state of perpetual civil war between the petty nobility as well as major potentates, and the tumult of the Pontificate. Hence, beginning possibly around the late 9th century and evident by the early 10th century, the monastic system in Carolingian Europe was in a state of disarray, though oftentimes exaggerated in contemporary sources such as the chronicles of Marinus of Farfa in Italy or Wideric of Corvey in Francia. […]

Another arising matter was the ascent of so-called lay abbots and the increasing “ennobling” of the clergy at large, in particular in the West and South of the Empire. While the secular aristocracy there had strengthened its support and encouragement of the establishment of new monasteries on their lands through endowments of arable territories or the construction of new buildings for local abbeys, it also led to an increased dependency of the aforementioned monasteries on the lay nobility for funds. It was consequently not uncommon for local lay counts or dukes to fund such monasteries with the expectation or even perception of some natural right to install one of their kinsmen, which may or may not have undergone religious studies, as abbot to keep the donated lands and the subsequent revenues within the family. Indeed, the lay potentates hardly had a true desire to wholly lose the value of the area they had provided before. These aristocrats that were installed as local abbots, who grew up with the luxuries of the privileged few of that time, were typically clerics only in name and refused to abide by the monastic principles of humility and austerity as propagated by the Benedictine Rules. These lay abbots amassed vast wealth and secular power in their lands, to the point that their decadence reached infamy such as the Lobbes Abbey or the Lagrasse Abbey which by the 10th century ruled over vast assets and acted as counts in all but name. […]

The Abbey of St. Flor was founded as a Benedictine monastery on 23 July 910 by Count William I of Auvergne [1]. The territory it was gifted included vineyards, woods, waters, serfs, and fields both cultivated and uncultivated. The current abbot of the decaying monastery of St. Peters in Mauriac named Fulgaud was granted the right by the count to found such an abbey, taking some of the monks of Mauriac with him. The responsible Bishop Adalhard of the diocese of Clermont then founded the Abbey of St. Flor, named after the patron saint of the region, which was to be twinned to the St. Peter's Abbey of Mauriac. They were subordinate to different dioceses, however, Mauriac answered directly to the Archbishop of Sens and St. Flour to the aforementioned Bishop of Clermont; both, nevertheless, acted relatively independently. Already with the first abbot Fulgaud of St. Flor, a turn to old monastic ideals according to the Rules of St. Benedict of Nursia and the Anianian Reform under St. Benedict of Aniane began. […] The first goal of Fulgaud was to enforce the freedom of election of the abbot of the monastery against the rights of the Raimundid Counts of Auvergne, to only limited success as such free abbatial elections were only allowed for the monastery of St. Flor [2]. Abbot Fulgaud of St. Flor was succeeded in the Abbey of St. Flor by the later sanctified Ainold in either 933, 935, or 938. St. Ainold continued to uphold the Regula Sancti Benedicti, the Benedictine Rule, at St. Flor just as Fulgaud had done before and expanded upon the ideas of his predecessor. In the face of the Aymardian Revolt in which the abbey initially remained neutral and in a counter-movement to secular interferences and increasing ennobling of the abbeys and dioceses of Aquitania, St. Ainold increased the focus on asceticism and mysticism. Consequently, the liturgy was moved to the foreground of his abbey again; and at its center lay St. Ainold’s warning about the vanitas, the transience of worldly phenomena and the certainty of death, of the world. This renewed focus on the vanitas also brought back the emphasis on neglected practices such as the collectio capitularis, the washing of the feet and hands of the poor by the monks on Holy Thursday, a ritual which was already advertised in the works of St. Benedict of Nursia. […] These principles of self-empowerment and the restoration of an ideal of monasticism which had been endangered by lay abbots and the secular nobility also led to the call of restraining the proprietary interest of the lay patrons of monasteries who usually had no interest in losing the sometimes enormous revenues of the monasteries.

This heightened stress on spiritualism brought him in conflict with the new leader of the remaining monks of St. Peter's Abbey of Mauriac, Joscelin, speculated to be an illegitimate son of Aymard I of Auvergne. Joscelin of Mauriac opposed the efforts of the Abbey of St. Flor vehemently and refused to part from the decadence it was locally known for. Abbot Joscelin of Mauriac sought to recruit the local potentate Count Aymard I of Auvergne for the deposition of St. Ainold in 955 during the height of the latter’s rebellion against King Louis III. Joscelin attempted to gain control of the abbey of St. Ainold by force, but Pope Benedict V sent a letter to Louis III to intervene on behalf of St. Flor. This experience shaped and expanded the Florian Principles, articulated by St. Ainold during the revolt of Aymard I, by some explicitly political demands such as the idea of the principles of Pax Dei and the Treuga Dei, the Peace and Truce of God. St. Ainold felt that the Church as an institution was increasingly threatened by the private wars of the lay nobility and their attacks on church property and the subsequent intervention in perceived domestic affairs. So, through the enforcement of this principle, the Church could gain a positive influence on the political life by participating in the maintenance of peace, in the interests of the worldly well-being of the faithful and to stop unjust bloodshed. However, it is important to note that the church did not seek to change the existing rulership. The Pax Dei, according to St. Ainold, should continue to consist of decisions made by the bishops in communion with the secular ruler of the region and affirmed by oath. It was, nevertheless, demanded that the petty potentates shall cease such interventions into ecclesiastical matters, as it would undermine such a Peace of God. This peace was to be secured by the threat of church punishment, excommunication in particular, and the willingness of the lay nobility to punish violations by force if necessary. St. Ainold intended to therefore strengthen the position of the rex over his dominion through legitimizing such interventions with this new set of administrative rules. Indeed, he saw within Louis III a patron of the Church, as the Carolingians are credited in his works with a stronger clergy within the remains of the Frankish Empire, in part due to a conscious and preserved policy as the episcopalian support was a strong feature of their own legitimization ever since the notorious coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope in 800. The Treuga Dei, which was added as one of the last entries of the Principia de Abbatia Sancti Flori of St. Ainold, forbade any warfare on various days of the week (Thursday to Sunday) or on special days of the year (in particular on Easter or the feast days of local saints). These two principles also led to the demand of limiting or ending the proprietary interest of the lay patrons of monasteries who usually had no interest that the revenues of the monasteries to be cut off from the lay lordship.

Despite the opposition of several other clerical dignitaries and with the support of Duke Theobald of Burgundy, he subsequently fought the laxity of clerics of the Burgundian Romainmôtier Priory and replaced them with monks of the St. Peter’s Abbey of Mauriac of which he became abbot after Joscelin was “persecuted and expulsed [from] Auvergne”. When Theobald of Burgundy agreed to let the Florian reformers renovate the various monasteries of Burgundy, he did so, among other reasons, to recover control over a number of institutions situated in the recently conquered Alpine border regions of the duchy. A second and third wave of reforms inspired by both the Florian Principles and the Mechlinian Reforms of the late 960s which evolved independently of the Ainoldian reform efforts of Aquitania spread across the remainder of Aquitania, Lotharingia, and parts of Neustria and Francia during the following years and decades and sparked new reformation efforts which were distinct from the principles set by the Abbey of St. Flour and the St. Rumbold’s Abbey of Mechelen in Lotharingia. This royal support has recently been interpreted as being inspired at least partially by a desire to regain control over well-off monasteries from the hands of petty counts and to establish closer ties with those local potentates who had occupied the lay offices of these establishments. […]

Mechlinian Reforms
The Mechlinian Reforms arose in a roughly similar timeframe independently from the Florian Principles out of the St. Rumbert's Abbey of Mechelen in Southern Toxandria under Abbot St. Florbert of Antoing between 957 and 963 and are thus often part of comparative studies. […] The Florian Principles share a number of values with the Mechlinian Reforms such as the rekindled emphasis of the Benedictine rules, in particular the Anianian interpretation, and spirituality. However, in contrast to the Mechlinian Reforms, the Ainoldian Reforms emphasized a decentralized association of like-minded abbeys where secular authorities function as guardians and are kept in check by a monarch. In fact, while the Mechlinian Reforms attempted to create a centralized system of authority in which the individual abbeys that adopted the reform became subordinate to the abbey of Mechelen to prevent the laity from influencing perceived domestic issues [3], the Ainoldian Reforms attempted to safeguard the individual independence of the monasteries that participated in the Florian Principles, creating instead a network of affiliated monasteries connected to each other in a very flexible way, based on different hegemonial centers such as the St. Michael's Abbey of Tulle, St. Peter’s Abbey of Mozac, Subiaco Abbey or the Abbey of Farfa. Florian monasteries encouraged the submission of themselves to secular authorities, as long as these authorities are given clear guidelines to abide by, regularly and actively controlled by a monarch, such as the Aquitanian king and later Holy Roman Emperor, rather than to some sort of supreme monastery in a fear of giving rise to the same decadence, which is observed in lay hierarchies, a notion that is clearly opposed by the Mechlinian Reforms. Truly, this Florian perception can be explained by the relationship between St. Ainold and King Louis III of Aquitania during the Aymardian Revolt, the latter being henceforth remembered as “a friend of the monasteries of the kingdom”. The Florians were hereafter less suspicious of a strong royal power allied to the Church than the Mechlinians, and more openly welcomed the role of a singular lay protector of the Church, an ambiguous nod to the deteriorated Carolingian-Papal alliance [4]. This discrepancy in their stance on secular authority between the Florians and Mechlinians likewise mirrored the structural disparities between the Holy Roman Empire and Lotharingia at this time. Aquitania managed to maintain a central authority despite its substantial domestic strife, in particular in Gascony and Burgundy. Lotharingia, on the other hand, had become a battlefield between two kingdoms without ever having a strong royal presence itself, with each of the three entities slowly dissolving into its constituencies as the kings are forced to submit their authorities to the local levels of power into a state christened as feudal anarchy. As a consequence, while the Florians saw the use of petty lay counts as guardians for the monasteries, both in terms of funding and defense, who were to be kept in line by a strong and faithful autocrat to ensure harmony between the two swords, the Mechlinians were more distrustful in their outlook and tried to remove themselves from the lay power structure wholly by building a hierarchy of their own, under the eyes of a strong Bishop of Rome. […]

Florian monasteries became renowned for their discipline and spiritual expertise well beyond the borders of Aquitania and the Holy Roman Empire. […] Initially as a consequence of these reforms in the Auvergne, above all, greater security and an improvement of the convents were achieved, not only from a spiritual, but also an economic point of view. Donations from noble families and from the surrounding areas continued under the patronage of Louis III’s son Hugh I and for a long time provided for the well-being of the monasteries. But Hugh I was not sympathetic to the cause of free abbatial elections of St. Ainold and, generally, abbots documented during his reign are recorded as appointees, both in Aquitania and in Italy. […]

The Ainoldian reform efforts spread to Rome before 963 when St. Hubertus of St. Flor, a monk at a time, was tasked with the renovation of the Farfa Abbey by the senator Lucian II of Fornovo who by then succeeded his father as the patriarch of the Theodori family which held Rome as their allegorical possession. These efforts were most openly embraced by the Fornovani, not because of their piety, as the reported abstain in the worldly sins by both Theodorus, Lucian and his son Lucian II might suggest, though this claim is most likely a product of contemporary propaganda efforts; the Fornovani held most temporal positions of the Pontificate, indeed, sometimes even the position of Bishop of Rome itself, and hoped that the monasteries of the Latium or even Italy as a whole could be placed directly under the control of the Pope and, thereby, in the hands of his vestararius, a Roman office which can be used as a synonym to the Patriarch of the Fornovani by the 960s. The frequent presence of the exempted monks in Rome where the monks restricted by worldly rulers, in particular King Wipert I of Neustria whose estates in Maine and around Paris were in substantial parts owned by monasteries, now found a Pope, who was by no means free from such political curtains as a spiritual head of his church. Namely, the election and insertion of the pope were almost completely in the hand of the Roman nobility. The battle against these influencing factors, against simony and nicolaitism, clericalized the once monastically embossed reform, and thus grew increasingly political, though most nuances were maintained between the various streams of monastic reformism. The Florian Principles in particular were championed as a more pragmatic approach to this issue, though it remained impractical to implement, especially in regard to its enforcement among the petty nobility. As such, the Florian Principles served as a foundation for various other reform efforts that developed upon these principles such as St. Ainold’s successor to the abbey of St. Flor, St. Hubertus, or the interpretation of the abbeys of Farfa or Fleury. […] Hugh I and his son Louis IV/III [5] would go on to host various reformist monks and abbots and indeed showed a desire for reform if only to improve their own royal position. Undeniably, however, especially Louis IV/III desired a blend between the various streams which could profit him the most, though their support was usually insufficient to spread such a Carolingian interpretation beyond the traditional centers of power, though he was supported by a number of native Aquitanian reformers who, inspired by the Florian Principles, turned to the king in a time of need for their respective abbeys. [...]


Description: St. Ainold of St. Flor [Unknown Painter]
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The Abbey of St. Flour is founded in Auvergne. Abbot Fulgaud of the St. Peter's Abbey of Mauriac, renowned for his piety, becomes its first abbot.
958: Abbot Fulgaud's successor, the monastic reformer St. Ainold, finishes the last chapter of the Principia de Abbatia Sancti Flori, the Florian Principles. St. Ainold and his book advocated for a series of changes within medieval monasticism to restore the traditional monastic life as propagated by the Benedictine Rule. This monastic reform movement would increasingly clericalize in the following years, especially in Rome.

[1] This Count William is the same one who accompanied Lothair III to Italy in previous updates and afterward became the Margrave of Friuli, with his county of Auvergne going to his son William II.
[2] Already the first major difference to the OTL Cluny Abbey. IOTL, William I renounced any power over the monastery and ruled out any interference of secular or ecclesiastical potentates in the internal affairs of the monastery and made directly subject to the pope. In particular, it was not used for economic purposes or, as contemporary patrons normally did, for the advancement of one’s one bloodline where it was expected to install one of their kinsmen as abbots which also held a not marginal amount of secular authority. For the conditions of the 10th century, the Cluny Abbey was definitely a novelty and these two major innovations, exemption from secular authority and free abbatial elections contributed substantially to the development of the Cluniac Reforms of OTL. St. Flor is already a victim of a less generous lay potentate which will reflect in this particular reform movement of the ATL.
[3] The Mechlinian Reforms are thus closer to what was achieved IOTL with the Cluniac Reforms.
[4] This is what completely moves these Ainoldian Renovation efforts away from the OTL Cluniac Reforms. St. Odo of Cluny IOTL made no secret of his feelings towards secular authorities as he did not want any, and he means any, lay influence on monasticism which he perceived as an almost corrupting force. Though he wasn’t as much of a scoffer as I portray him to be in this footnote, indeed he did engage with the lay authorities of West Francia and Italy multiple times, most notably as a mediator in conflicts between the various factions of Rome and Italy.
[5] Minor spoilers: King Louis IV of Aquitania and Holy Roman Emperor Louis III are the same person.

OOC: The first of some addendums to explain some of the stuff that has been mentioned in this timeline so far without additional explanations, to set the stage for Chapter 2. In the next addendum, the next batch of popes will get their own little biographies, as an addition to Chapter 1.XXVIII to make it a subseries of this timeline, similar to the irregular map updates (the next one will be part of the small addendum entries, pinky promise). As to why the chapters come irregularly in themselves, I have to admit that the reasons vary from time to time, be it a lack of motivation or self-confidence, real-life stuff, or comparable issues. I hope it gets better, but I can't make any promises, I regrettably fear. That said, I'm, as always, open to any kind of criticism and questions which would be answered relatively quickly, given that I don't have to conform to some self-imposed schemes such as for the entries for the timeline.
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Interesting new chapter. I appreciate that you're taking the time to really delve into Church topics - too often many timelines focuses primarily upon the political and treat religion as an afterthought. ANd don't worry about the irregular chapters: I really need to get back to my own timeline after a year off, so you're far more regular than I am. real life happens, after all!