Final Light: A Carolingian Timeline

CHAPTER 1.VIII: Hastein and the Emirate
Excerpt: Origin and Destruction of the Neustrian Kingdom – Florian Rexroth, Mortenauer Verlag, (AD 1836)


The Wonder of Mâcon of 859 AD would prove to be the turning tide of the so-called “shadow rule” of Louis the German in Upper Burgundy, although many modern historians argue that the name “Wonder of Mâcon” may be misleading as it was not exactly a singular moment that defined the retreat of Louis the German and his personally lead army from Mâcon back to the other side of the Rhine.

The continued desertions, the strong opposition of the local clergy and nobility of Lotharingia and the disaffected East Frankish potentes who will summon him only shortly after his retreat may have persuaded Louis to tactically retreat from this fruitless campaign to depose sick Charles of Burgundy and Gerard II of Vienne. Fact is that only with the Treaty of Baden-Baden both Louis’ recognized the rule of Charles of Burgundy over his kingdom and Lothair II’s right to inherit it in exchange for the integration of Transjurania to East Francia and minor border concessions for both the Kingdoms of Italy and Aquitania. Indeed, the best agreement Louis the German could have achieved in the face of his situation! [1] Charles of Burgundy would prove to continue to be childless, although it is not known whether Charles of Burgundy suffered from epilepsy since his early childhood or if it only developed in his last years as ruler of Burgundy, but his reign would be remembered as one led by a sick, incapacitated man rather than an underage one. He died on Christmas Eve 864 AD and, with him, the Kingdom of Burgundy died as well.

The Division of Auxerre, named after the city of Auxerre where the treaty was approved by both Lothair II, his brother and Emperor Louis II of Italy and Louis the German, would be the final blow to Burgundy, dissolving it and split between the four Carolingian kingdoms.

With this council of Auxerre, some sort of uneasy peace was able to return to the continent, although many problems stayed the same: To the south, the barbarian Saracens from Ifriquiya and al-Andalus continued to raid Italy and Hispania while the savage Scandinavians from the North raided the coasts of Germany, Neustria, and Aquitania as far south as Qadis as seen with the brute beast that was Hastein in 876 AD! [2]


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Excerpt: The Normans – Guðbergur Pálsson, Skálholt University Press, (AD 1978)


Just at the time that the Norwegians in Éire began losing some of the advantages of mobility so too did the Danish groups in Francia. By the late 850s the Viking forces were so numerous and so well-established in the main river valleys of Neustria, that it actually became way easier to contain them. The chaos that followed the early death of Charles the Bald made it easier for many Normans to raid and settle the coastal monasteries and villages which lacked any protection of some sort of temporal power. The appointment of Humfried to become Count of Lisieux in northern Neustria, however, brought back some sort of stability in the areas around the Seine; and the need for the individual Norman leaders to maintain their followers by providing them with profits meant that one group was indeed willing to fight another Norman group, as long as the drawee was able to pay them.

Additionally, the fact that by this time their marauds had been going on for 20 years had also limited the degree of loot easily available to the Normans: some monasteries and larger settlements in the more vulnerable areas appear to have been abandoned, and Norman slaving and ransom-seeking techniques were by now all too well known. Therefore, in 858 one group of Danes established in the Seine agreed to fight for Lothair II against Louis the German, and in 862 Lothair was able to use others then controlling the river Seine to attack the main base of those in the Somme. By such risky maneuvers and also the deployment of new tactics, such as the establishment of fortified bridges across vulnerable rivers in 863 AD, the Neustrians made Viking operations less profitable and more dangerous.

It is therefore hardly coincidental that from this point onwards the Norman attacks on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, East Francia and Aquitania intensified, while those in Neustria decreased.


Description: Viking Leader Hastein during his raid against Luna in Italy in 859 AD.

One particularly Norman marauder named Hastein was discretely being financed by the old duke of Britanny named Erispöe to raid the Neustrians in Rouen. Hastein, however, proposed to raid Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe instead, which was too close to the Breton Duchy, according to Erispöe, and would break the state of peace that the Bretons and Carolingians enjoyed. He backed out of the deal, which in turn enraged Hastein. Hastein ordered his fleet of 62 ships in 866 AD to raid Vannes and kills Erispöe in an ambush, but are nonetheless defeated the next day by Breton forces led by the new Duke Conan of Britanny. The current allowed Hastein to sail south.

He reached the kingdom of Aquitania, not prepared for Viking incursions outside the river Garonne and was only driven out in 872 AD after having besieged both Bordeaux and Bayonne. Louis I of Aquitania, already facing the threat of resentful nobles who might turn against him passed the Edict of Auch in 870 which ought to create a large force of cavalry upon which Louis could call as needed. He ordered all men who had horses or could afford horses to serve in this army as cavalrymen. Hastein was thus defeated north-east of Bayonne during the Battle of Saint-Martin in Seignaux. His remaining ships sail towards the Bay of Biscay to raid the kingdom of Pamplona. But he changed course to raid the neighboring kingdom of León instead, probably after hearing from the small settlement of Santiago de Compostela where pilgrims are flocking to see the shrine dedicated to St. James.

Having raided monasteries near Oviedo, Hastein is then bribed by King Alfonso III of Asturias who was already preoccupied with a Basque uprising to the East and the continued Umayyad raids to the South to attack the European emirate itself. Hastein and his brother Björn initially declined the offer, but after having gotten supplies in manpower returning from Dublin, the Norman marauder set out in 874 AD to raid one of the most important Andalusian ports, Qadis.

Hastein's fleet of now almost 80 Viking ships, according to the, admittedly sometimes unreliable, chroniclers of this age, carrying hundreds of men, entered the outskirts of the city in March and proceeded to raid the countryside. The troubled Umayyad Emir of Cordóba Muhammed I assembled a smaller army in response, but as the Vikings defeated one division, comprising half of the army, the remaining forces retreated. The Vikings reached Qadis at the end of the month of October. After plundering and occupying the city in 876 AD, the Vikings withdrew when they had been paid a large ransom. This catastrophic experience was not caused by the lack of Umayyad manpower, but rather the unwillingness of Berber tribes to support the emirate against the Normans. The period of relief for the Umayyads was short-lived, in the following years the raiders from Neustria turned their attention elsewhere after failing to stay inside the Seine for longer periods, some of which sailed southwards to raid Aquitania and Iberia; the others returned either to Scandinavia or the British Isles or set out to raid Lower Lorraine and the German kingdom.

SUMMARY:

859:
The Wonder of Mâcon. Lothair II is able to expel Louis the German from his domains. The Treaty of Baden-Baden confirms Lothair’s right to inherit Charles of Burgundy’s kingdom.
863: Decline of Viking raids in Neustria after the deployment of new defensive measures.
864: Epileptic Charles of Burgundy dies. His kingdom is split between his relatives with the Treaty of Auxerre in 865 AD.
866: Elderly Erispöe allies himself with Hastein, a Viking marauder, but backs out of the deal after Halstein proposed to raid Châteauneuf-sur-Sarthe. Enraged, Hastein and his forces raid Vannes and are able to kill Erispöe in an ambush, but are defeated the following day by Breton forces. The current allowed the Vikings to sail south.
872: Two years after the Edict of Auch was passed, Hastein is defeated in Aquitania and flees to raid the kingdom of Pamplona instead.
874: King Alfonso III of Asturias bribes Hastein to raid the Umayyad Emirate.
876: The Sack of Qadis. Hastein is able to besiege and occupy the port city of the troubled Umayyad Emirate and only left after a huge ransom was paid, paving the way for a larger Norman presence in the Alboran Sea which would raid the Muslim coastlines for the next decade.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Actually, no. Louis the German’s East Francia was initially one of the most stable states that resulted from the death of Louis the Pious, but as he grew older, more and more nobles and clerics limited his power, similar to OTL. By this point ITTL, Louis the German feared that the Lotharingian branch of the Carolingians may, in fact, root out his kingdom and put it under their sphere of influence.
[2] Some people are biased. Rexroth is biased.
 
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Isn't that "raid" instead of read, @Pralaya? Good update, and waiting for more, of course...
As some may already have noticed, English isn't my first language. I'm thankful for every typo or grammar mistake pointed out, and thankful for every kind of feedback regarding the timeline itself!
 
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CHAPTER 1.IX: Lotharingia, Neustria and Aquitania in the 9th century
Excerpt: A Short Introduction to the History of Gaul – Sébastien Allard, Société des Antiquaires, (AD 1931)

AQUITANIA UNDER LOUIS I


Description: A 14th-century representation of a discussion between Louis I, in the gray suit, and Lambert III of Maine who wears a crown and the fleurs-de-lys, a symbol of the Neustrian aristocracy, foreshadowing the things to come.


Unlike his relatives, Louis I probably never considered the Carolingian dominions after the Battle of Fontenoye as a singular unit, thus he rarely cared about the meetings in Besançon or Attigny which sought to continue some sort of con-fraternal government as envisioned by his grandfather Louis the Pious. Instead, he tried his best at his fortification, both literal and metaphorical, of his rule to let his relatives know that this is his own kingdom, a kingdom which should pass down to his son Louis IV or, in Aquitania, Louis II.
During the fight against his rival Pippin II of Aquitaine and the Normans, Louis I could count on several followers. These included his welcoming brother-in-law Ramnulf I and Count Raymond I of Toulouse, two powerful men who saw Louis I as a useful alternative to Pippin and especially to the deceased Charles the Bald. The young king was aware, however, that he had to come to terms with the other potentes of the country.
Louis swore to continue to respect the treaty of Coulaines which Charles the Bald concluded with the magnates of West Francia, but this wasn’t enough as the potentes of Aquitania were very power-hungry, unreliable and quarrelsome. With courage, cleverness, and agility Louis nonetheless fought on all fronts, despite the apostasy of nobles and clerics, and despite the invasions of the Normans which would climax with Hastein’s invasion in 870. Louis’ Edict of Auch, reforming the military of Aquitania and giving birth to the prominent Aquitanian cavalry which would come in use almost immediately against the Normans and his relatives. This Edict of Auch would also see the first subtle attempts at centralizing the rule of Aquitania by declaring his son Louis II co-regent, effectively monopolizing coin minting and the prohibition of the construction of forts without the approval of the king himself.

To gain allies inside various parts of his kingdom, he transferred extensive powers of command to reliable nobles, from whom he could at least increase loyalty. During these difficult years, the division of Aquitania into smaller areas of powers began, especially with noble houses of the Ramnulfids in Gascony and Raymondians in Toulouse and Septimania. The latter was successfully able to expand his areas of control by marriage and conquest to include Limoges, Rouerge, Albi, Toulouse, and Nîmes becoming the most powerful duke of Aquitania in a matter of years. However, after his death in 870, his small kingdom inside a kingdom was split up among his sons Bernard II, Fulgaud and Aribert with his third-oldest son Odo dying before his father’s death. Fulgaud, in particular, was a very ambitious noble who hated the interventions of the German king in Aquitanian internal matters with passion. He schemed an assassination plan, some modern scholars suggest that the Ramnulfids in Gascony might have helped, which spectacularly fails: His plot was discovered weeks in advance, and he was swiftly imprisoned and executed under Louis’ only surviving son Louis II in 881 AD. Louis I, having pursued the iron crown of the Lombards for the past few years, reached an agreement with his brother Carloman that the crown would pass to him once he inevitably dies. In a cruel twist of irony, Louis I perished after a short illness he caught while returning from the council of Nice, only one year before the Saracens ravaged the city in 880 AD. The crown of Aquitania passed down to Louis II without much trouble, many nobles noticing that Louis II is much quieter than his predecessor, later on, earning him the suffix of Louis II the Lazy, although he will be the one who almost gained the imperial title.


LOTHARINGIA-NEUSTRIA UNDER LOTHAIR II


Description: King Lothair II

Even with his regency over Neustria, Emperor Lothair I thought that it was better for his son’s political relations to the Mediterranean counties to marry Teutberga in 855. Yet, it can’t be stressed out enough that the first few years of his reign were occupied with Lothair’s efforts to divorce the infertile Teutberga, sister of the Count of Arles, and to instead marry his mistress Waldrada. Therefore, Lothair II as a ruler didn’t leave much of an impact initially. Neustria, by far not the richest of the six Carolingian kingdoms, was ravaged by the Viking pillages and the only ambitious counts that wanted to change the status quo were the Widonids or Guidonids, loyal allies of Lothair II which reigned in Neustria as the de-facto viceroys during the absence of Lothair II who usually resided in Aachen or other Lotharingian cities. That constellation also explains why the Widonids refused to exploit the shifting alliances of the decades after 856. The Widonids needed a strong state, for their landholding was extended across so much of the North that only the state could guarantee the peace that they needed to keep it all. Not much has therefore changed in Neustria.

Only with his father’s death in 856 and the forced divorce of his wife Teutberga in 857, things started to move in the united kingdom of Lotharingia-Neustria. For the first time, Lothair II was not occupied with petty disputes with his uncle in Francia, his cousin in Aquitania, his brothers in Italy and Burgundy, or the clergy, in particular, Hinkmar of Rheims, inside his kingdom. The marriage of Waldrada was officially recognized by the Pope, who could challenge it now? Outside of the hot debates between abbots and bishops, his first son Hugh, born in 855, was now legitimized, as was his second son Odo in 865, both legal claimants to the throne of Lotharingia and Neustria.

One of his first acts in Neustria was to divide the area between the Seine and Loire among some rulers. This policy was urgently needed because Lothair II had to fight here against the Normans and Bretons. The history of the Norman invasions can not be described in detail here, but it must be remembered that since the middle of the century the kingdom has been regularly attacked by these pirates, the family who gained the most was unsurprisingly the aforementioned Widonid house.

Since 856, the incursions have taken on a new dimension. In 858, the Normans succeeded in capturing Abbot Louis of Saint-Denis, who was, through his mother, Rotrud, a grandson of Charlemagne. For his ransom, an enormous sum had to be raised. Lothair II besieged the island of Oscellus, one of the largest Viking footholds in Neustria, but could not conquer it, because his uncle Louis the German had invaded both Burgundy and Lotharingia. The Norman invasions caused panic everywhere, causing monks to flee laden with treasures and relics, and forced the rulers to levy extraordinary taxes to pay the tribute. But two certain counts, Balduin I of Flanders and Humfrid of Lisieux, would rise to prominence during their defense against the Normans, Balduin I being granted for his outstanding achievements several counties in Flanders and Toxandria, creating the title of Margrave of Flanders for him.

The Bretons, on the other hand, had never really accepted the Carolingian rule. Louis the Pious had made some punitive expeditions and even nominated the Breton Duke Nominoë as a missus. Nominoë was able to exploit the change of throne and the fratricide in order to become independent and to form an alliance with the Widonids, to whom the Breton Mark had been entrusted under Charles the Bald. But Nominoë's son Erispöe was able to defeat Charles the Bald during the Battle of Jengland-Beslé where Charles the Bald was wounded and later on, died. With the Treaty of Angers, Erispöe’s daughter Argantel and Charles’ son Louis the Stammerer were to be married in order to initiate a rapprochement between these two sides, but Lothair II, regent of Louis the Stammerer canceled the marriage and instead married Louis the Stammerer to an unnamed Burgundian noblewoman, to force Louis into his sphere of influence. The Bretons could not strike back however as a civil war between Erispöe and his cousin Salaün broke out over the control of Brittany, establishing some weird state of peace between the two nations.

Lothair II was during the times of peace not the greatest, but not the worst statesman, building several monasteries and abbots to appease the clergy while granting several newly created titles among his loyal allies. He also was an exceptional mediator between two parties, even mediating between Louis I and his brother Carloman to prevent a war over Italy between the two. But outside these minor victories, Lothair II tried to be a role model for a good father and husband for his family.

Many modern scholars view his reign as some sort of placeholder for his more profiled sons Hugh and Odo, the former becoming a very ruthless and unforgiving man by his father’s death in 894 AD, while his younger brother Odo was gifted with intelligence and piety. With Lothair II’s death, a tumultuous chapter ends, only to herald a new era of chaos.
 
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BEYOND 1: The Photian Schism
Excerpt: Born into the Purple: A Short Introduction to the Christian Orient – Abdenbi El Yaacoubi, Walili Publishing Company (AD 1976)


Michael III, Rhoman Emperor, was growing up, perhaps rather too fast. In 855 at the age of fifteen, he took a mistress; but his mother forced him to cast her aside in favor of one Eudocia Decapolitana, in whom he took no interest. He obeyed unquestioningly, but his suppressed resentment may well have made him sympathetic to the conspiracy which was soon to bring about Theodora's downfall. The Empress's brother, Bardas, had never forgiven Theoctistus for out-maneuvering him in 843; and for twelve years he had waited for his chance. With the assistance of the High Chamberlain Damianus he easily persuaded Michael that his mother and Theoctistus were determined to cling to power and that any attempt to assert himself might be fatal. Once assured of Michael's support, Bardas acted quickly. On 20 November 855, the Logothete was walking through the palace when he was set upon by Bardas and a group of his fellow officers. Quickly overpowered, he was hustled to the Skyla – a small antechamber which led directly into the Hippodrome. It was Michael III himself who gave the order to kill him. Dragging him out from under a chair, the guards held him fast while their captain ran him through.

With the death of Theoctistus, Theodora's power was ended; and in March 856 her son was proclaimed sole Emperor, in which capacity he was to reign for the next fourteen years. But Michael III was a man with a weak soul, thus he gave in to alcohol and other pleasures, and casting aside the politics of an ancient realm. Therefore, the matters of the state passed from the careless and irresponsible hands of Michael III to his uncle Bardas, stimulating a new golden age for the Rhoman Empire of the East.

One of the first victories of Bardas was the triumph over Emir Omar ibn Abdullah of Malatya who was killed in a desperate battle near the Halys River. Another decisive victory to the East of the empire was the victory over the Saracen governor of Armenia. That being so, the tides turned for Constantinopolis and the defensive war against Islam turned into an offensive one.

But with this newfound confidence arose a new type of arrogance.

The wise old Patriarch Methodius had been succeeded in 847 by Ignatius, one of the three castrated sons of the deposed Emperor Michael I, a blinkered and impatient bigot, ousting his rivals from the church with Gregory Asbestas, Archbishop of Syracuse, a moderate and therefore his arch-enemy, being the most prominent one. Six years after his ascension, he had Gregory deposed and excommunicated.

Gregory appealed to two successive Popes, Pope Leo IV, and Adrian II, for reinstatement; but Ignatius, whose mind has been too narrow to encompass any but the simplest doctrines, had always upheld papal supremacy and the Holy See had no wish to antagonize him. The leader of the moderates Gregory was then succeeded by a man named Photius, one of the most learned scholars of his century. But Photius' greatest flaw was rather simple: He was not a churchman, but that too was easily solved. On 20 December he was tonsured; on the 21st he was ordained lector; on the 22nd, subdeacon, on the 23rd, deacon; on the 24th, priest; and on Christmas Day he was consecrated bishop by his friend Gregory Asbestas, after Ignatius himself was put under arrest and banished, without trial, to his monastery, after refusing to shave the heads of Theodora, mother of the Emperor, and her daughters. Photius' enthronement as new Patriarch followed.

The banishment of Ignatius was however not recognized in Rome and the diocese would send two commissioners to Constantinople who would only report to Pope Adrian II to investigate the removal. Adrian II would also remind the Eastern Church to move the Italian and the dioceses of the Haemus from the jurisdiction of Constantinople back to that of Rome.

After the Rus' Vikings terrorized Constantinople with more than 200 ships on 18 June 860, Photius emerged from the crisis with increased prestige after urging his flock to implore the Theotokos to save the Rhoman capital. Ignatius wasn't as lucky as he was thrown into a prison where he was beaten until two of his teeth were knocked out. He was then transferred to Lesbos where the Rus' Vikings attacked the monastery where he resided, Ignatius barely survived this event. But Ignatius escaped with his life and now hoped that the Papal delegates may finally bring divine justice back to Constantinople.

The two commissioners, Zachary of Anagni and Nicholas of Rieti [1], arrived in Constantinople in April 861 and found themselves under pressure of both Emperor Michael III who hinted that their return to Rome is dependent on his benevolence and Photius who bombarded both of them with gifts and pleasures to distract them from their actual goal there. Hence, by a combination of cajolery and veiled threats, it was made clear to the commissioners which side they should support. They were not allowed even a glimpse of Ignatius until he was led into the church to answer the charges. But Bishop Nicholas of Rieti, a zealous man and a fierce defender of the papal supremacy, would not bow down to the demands of Rhomania. He would deny signing a formal document confirming the deposition of Ignatius, together with his companion Zachary of Anagni and ask for a visit to Ignatius.

Photius was furious and left the unfortunate prelates in no doubt of his displeasure. The question of whether or not to give back the bishoprics of Southern Italy and the Haemus to the control of Rome was denied as well. Hence, these Papal delegates were sent back with empty hands, informing Pope Adrian II of the state of affairs in Constantinople. Even the humble and often, maybe too often, reserved Pope was enraged to hear of this.

Meanwhile, Ignatius was arrested once again to force him to sign an abdication. He was tortured until being barely conscious, according to a certain Theognostus who arrived in Rome to describe the iniquity of Photius and the unfairness of this whole ordeal. After Ignatius was pressed to sign the abdication, the Pope held a synod in Rome in April 863 AD, Adrian II declared Photius to be excommunicated and nominally restored Ignatius.

But the Photian Schism and its complications weren’t the only events in Rhomania that concerned Emperor Michael III and de-facto Patriarch Photius. No, Photius was also concerned with the conversions of the Slavs to the north of his patriarchate, especially with the conversion of Great Moravia, a Slavic state increasingly falling under East Frankish and therefore Papal influence. To the court of Rastislav of Moravia, he has sent two men of exceptional talent called Methodius and Cyril, the latter being the namesake of the Cyrillic Alphabet which Cyril has invented to write down the Slavonic language.

The Moravian mission was of great importance, both Great Moravia and the Bulgar Khanate were in an almost perpetual state of war against East Francia or each other, financed by King Lothar II to hinder Louis the German from exhibiting any power outside of his realm. To Photius, here was a huge opportunity to project the power of the Eastern Church outside of the Rhoman Empire.

To destroy the influence of Lothar II and Louis the German on the Haemus peninsula, Photius tried to convince Michael III the drunkard to attack the Bulgarians to force the end of the Frankish alliance and the conversion of the Bulgars to the Orthodox faith. Michael III only reluctantly agreed, not wanting to interrupt the series of victories against the Saracens to the East for a more difficult campaign in the West. But the weather turned around, and winter came, forcing Photius to postpone the campaign by some months. Meanwhile, the army and fleet were being prepared. Then, they sailed up the Bosphorus into the Black Sea and dropped anchor off the Bulgarian coast in February 864 AD. The timing couldn’t have been worse.

The Bulgar forces returned from a campaign against the Magyars in the summer of the last year, while the south of the Khanate recovered from a heavy drought. Boris, the khan of the Bulgarian Empire, immediately sent envoys to his main army to combat the small Rhoman contingent. The Bulgars narrowly defeated the Rhoman army during the Battle of Varna, a great catastrophe for both Photius and Emperor Michael III, the latter of whom wants to end the campaign against the Bulgars. Boris had been thinking of converting him and his people to Christianity ever since he assumed the throne of the khan of the Bulgars, and now, fully aware of the possibility of playing off the Patriarch against Pope, he sent an envoy to the Lateran, where he asked to be baptized and if the establishment of a Bulgar archbishopric was possible. Pope Adrian II agreed with almost unseemly haste. In September 865 AD, a delegation arrived in Pliska to baptize Boris who adopted the name David.


The Baptism of Khan Boris I of Bulgaria​

SUMMARY:

847:
Empress Theodora appointed Ignatios, a staunch opponent of Iconoclasm, to succeed Methodios I as Patriarch of Constantinople.
855: Theoctistus is assassinated, ending the influence of Theodora over her son Emperor Michael III.
858: Patriarch Ignatius of Constantinople is deposed by Photius, the former’s removal is not recognized in the Lateran in Rome. Two commissioners are sent to investigate the coup.
860: Siege of Constantinople. The Rus’ Khaganate’s forces pillage the suburbs of the city, but retreat soon after which is ascribed the deliverance of Constantinople to a miraculous intervention by the Theotokos.
861: The Papal delegates, Zachary of Anagni and Nicholas of Rieta, arrive in Constantinople to investigate the whereabouts of deposed Ignatius. Bishop Nicholas of Rieta protests against the injustice suffered by Ignatius, but is rejected by both Photius and Emperor Michael III.
862: The Papal delegates and Theognostus report the misconducts of the Eastern Church in Rome.
863: A synod is held in Rome excommunicating Photius and his closest allies while nominally restoring Ignatius to his former position as patriarch.
863: Delegates of the Moravian prince Rastislav ask for the conversion of the Moravians to the Orthodox faith in Constantinople. Cyril and Methodius are send out.
864: Photius’ attempt to force the end of the Frankish alliance and the conversion of the Bulgars fails after a Bulgar contingent is able to defeat a Rhoman army near Varna, ending the campaign after Michael III refocused on the war against the Arab emirs to the East.
865: Incensed, Boris asks for a conversion of the Bulgars and himself according to the Latin rite. He is baptized in early September and took the name David.


FOOTNOTES
[1] ITTL OTL Pope Nicholas I is not elected in 858 AD due to Hadrian II's very early election in 855 AD. That being so, Nicholas became the successor of bishop Colo I in the Bishopric of Rieta, instead of becoming a close a friend to Benedict III IOTL.
 
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Interesting. A Latin-Rite Bulgaria. It'll be really interesting to see how the Bulgars become integrated in the rest of Latin-Rite Europe. It's exciting.

I can't wait to see how this will reshape Europe and the rest of the World.

However, if the Patriarchs are still subject to papal authority, will there still be future antagonism between the Eastern and Western Church? I mean the Bulgars became Catholic after Photius' failed attempt to get them to be Orthodox.
 
Interesting. A Latin-Rite Bulgaria. It'll be really interesting to see how the Bulgars become integrated in the rest of Latin-Rite Europe. It's exciting.

I can't wait to see how this will reshape Europe and the rest of the World.

However, if the Patriarchs are still subject to papal authority, will there still be future antagonism between the Eastern and Western Church? I mean the Bulgars became Catholic after Photius' failed attempt to get them to be Orthodox.
We're actually still not finished in Bulgaria, Boris I and Photius still have some aces in their sleeves. The Bulgarians aren't that fond of the Latin church and its practices, and Photius would sell his left leg to get Bulgaria back under the thumb of the Byzantine Patriarchs.
The schism between the East and the West has already begun, too many problems arose between the two during the last few decades and even before the PoD, in particular, the Filioque and the question of Papal supremacy, both despised by the Eastern patriarchs. From this point onwards, it's rather a question of when not if.
And maybe... who will come out on top?
Thanks for your interest, I'm always up for questions regarding my timeline!
 
CHAPTER 1.X: The Fate of the Charles' Children
What ultimately happened to the sons of Charles the Bald?
Wanted to explain it later on, but might as well do it now. Most of the children and her wife will ultimately share the same fate, as usual in the Carolingian dynasty.

  • Ermentrude of Orléans. She was around twenty-eight years old when her husband died. As a widow, she ultimately lost her position in the West Frankish court and was sent to the Avenay Abbey, an abbey she enjoyed close relations with during her reign as the wife of King Charles the Bald, where she, as a pious woman, eventually became an abbess. She died around 869, similar to OTL.
  • Judith of Flanders. She was around eight years old when her father died. As a female orphan, she also had practically no choice, but to pursue a religious career. She quickly found herself in Chelles Abbey, where her quite strong character of OTL was trimmed down a little bit. She would become an abbess in 861 as well and enjoy a close letter-relationship with her mother. She died in 875, lived a little bit longer as IOTL, probably due to a less action-rich life for her. Her absence in royal politics and intrigues would change the fate of Wessex and Flanders forever, you will see soon why.
  • Louis the Stammerer. Louis would be the only child of Charles who would see any sort of kingship transferred to them. He was a five-year-old boy who was set up to become a puppet king in Neustria, first under the Rorgonids with the quite powerful and ambitious Count Gauzbert of Maine as its head of his regency, until the aforementioned Treaty of Quierzy and Treaty of Orléans which would see the change of the regency towards a Widonid-dominated one under the control of Lothair II. Once he (and Robert the Strong for that matter) was deposed, however, he was tonsured and sent to an abbey as well. There are still some nobles who would like to see the return of Louis to temporal politics, but the world is cruel, but, on the bright side, he wouldn't fall ill due to his attempt at halting Viking campaigns and would only die in 890 as the Bishop of Auxerre. Not that bad.
  • Charles the Child. Similar to Louis, he was quickly sent away to a monastery. But, unlike Louis, he was a bit more ambitious. A lot more, in fact. Charles would follow OTL Carloman's way to power, being tutored by abbot Wulfad, then becoming deacon and abbot of some monasteries of North-eastern Neustria. As he would grow older, he became more disgruntled about his stripped away inheritance and gathered a following among the potentes against Lothair II. He would however never even try to attack Lothair II's rule and was instead rewarded, probably with some help of Bishop Hincmar of Laon, the county of Laon in 871, resigning from the episcopal world to regain his worldly powers. From there on, not much happened to him as he died in 883, with a son named Louis I of Laon, continuing a minor branch of the Carolingian dynasty in Laon. His strong-willed character which he would prove IOTL with repeated actions against his father and his followers in Aquitaine would prove to be quite useful ITTL, and he would avoid being accidentally struck down by a sword in 860s, a nice butterfly. Charles I of Laon would be the only child to hold any temporal powers ITTL.
  • Lothair the Lame. Sadly, not much could be done about his physical deformities. He would be sent to a monastery even before the PoD and would probably die around the same time as in OTL, that is, in 865.
  • Carloman. His ambitions would bear no fruits ITTL as well, as his older siblings all have no or only little power to deal with. He would become the successor to Adventius, Bishop of Metz and die around 890, the PoD would butterfly his blinding as well.
The children born after 851 are butterflied away.
 
I know this question might be a bit premature, but what is the linguistic landscape of the Carolingian realms as of the present date in the timeline. Ultimately, do the Aquitanian and Neustrian nobles speak a Romance dialect.
 
I know this question might be a bit premature, but what is the linguistic landscape of the Carolingian realms as of the present date in the timeline. Ultimately, do the Aquitanian and Neustrian nobles speak a Romance dialect.
Yes, by the time of the PoD, Vulgar Latin was already in common use in both Neustria and Aquitania, with Old French and Old Occitan beginning to take roots in the population of that time, the Langues d'Oïl and the Langues d'Oc being the generic term for the language families of these two kingdoms respectively. For that matter, Frankish still existed in Austrasia, although in a steep decline, while the German dialects are beginning to take form with the third phase of the High German Consonantal Shift taking place during the later Carolingian period. In fact, the Oaths of Straßburg of 841 where Louis the German and Charles the Bald would swear allegiance to each other (against their older brother Lothair I), were written down in both Old French and Old High German, which is why it is one of the most important early medieval texts not only for historians but linguists as well. I don't think much will change for now in terms of linguistic, but we're still at the beginning, so expect some changes in the next few decades or centuries!
 
Yes, by the time of the PoD, Vulgar Latin was already in common use in both Neustria and Aquitania, with Old French and Old Occitan beginning to take roots in the population of that time, the Langues d'Oïl and the Langues d'Oc being the generic term for the language families of these two kingdoms respectively. For that matter, Frankish still existed in Austrasia, although in a steep decline, while the German dialects are beginning to take form with the third phase of the High German Consonantal Shift taking place during the later Carolingian period. In fact, the Oaths of Straßburg of 841 where Louis the German and Charles the Bald would swear allegiance to each other (against their older brother Lothair I), were written down in both Old French and Old High German, which is why it is one of the most important early medieval texts not only for historians but linguists as well. I don't think much will change for now in terms of linguistic, but we're still at the beginning, so expect some changes in the next few decades or centuries!

Love the timeline, a few thought to this comment.

Honestly a few aspect I could see.

Increase Norse influence in coastal Neustria. In OTL the Norman assimilated fast at least when we talk about languages, here the increased instability results both in a lower population and a longer time for Norse to run the show without having to deal with being French nobility. It could have three results.

1:Norman French having even greater Norse influence
2:Norse speaking Normandy (potential assimilation into Frankish/ German in the long term)
3:A mix; Norse survive on the channel islands and on a few coastal settlement, while a greater Norse influence Romance dialect develop in the rest of the region.

Frankish in general doing better and becoming a separate language from German instead of just several German dialects. The survival of Lotharingen as a independent state could pretty much keep a clear Frankish identity versus a German identity alive.

Of course there’s also the aspect whether the Danes succeed in breaking Wessex. A earlier Danish conquest would likely replace the petty Anglo-Saxon kingdom permanent with Danish petty kingdoms instead, likely with England ending up speaking a Scandinavian language.

East Frankish conquest of Denmark would pretty much transform continental Danish into a German dialect.
 
Very well-written timeline! I'm very much liking piecing together bits of future history going off the book titles listed - not only are indications of preserved Incan independence present, but also of Volubilis/Walili remaining an important city (the capitol of Morocco?) into the present rather than being abandoned.

The Eastern Church's ambitions in Moravia also bear potential for some interesting fruit. Shifting the Western/Eastern axis that far into central Europe will do much to keeping both churches highly relevant in European geopolitics, and would also make Eastern-rite conversion of the Rus' and Poland substantially more sure/secure.

Looking forward to seeing this continue!
 
BEYOND 1.I: The Death of an illiterate Armenian
Excerpt: Born into the Purple: A Short Introduction to the Christian Orient – Abdenbi El Yaacoubi, Walili Publishing Company (AD 1976)


The Bulgar Khan was growing dangerously restive. The conversions weren’t going as smoothly as expected and the Latin rites confused many Bulgars. Consequently, Boris had accordingly written to Pope Adrian II requesting the appointment of a Bulgarian archbishop. The Khan also listed some Latin customs that conflicted with local traditions, suggesting that, if these customs were allowed to continue to exist, the conversions would rapidly accelerate as the resistance to this foreign faith might be overcome.

Photius, eager to reclaim the Bulgar’s attention, made many concessions which were within the laws of the Orthodox church, before the Bulgar delegate reached Rome. The patriarch dispatched two Greek priests to deliver answers for his questions. Turbans and trousers, for example, are allowed outside of the church. Bigamy, on the other hand, was out of question, explaining the reasons for his refusal on certain topics.

Boris, disappointed by the ban on bigamy, was nonetheless impressed and satisfied by Photius’ concessions and ordered the delegate back to Pliska. The Khan cheerfully swore allegiance to Constantinople, ousting the Latin missionaries out of his kingdom and inviting various Armenian and Greek priests to continue the conversion of his kingdom.

Pope Adrian II realized that, due to his inaction, he has driven the Bulgars to the Orthodox camp. Worse still, the Rhomans are spreading heresies among the Bulgars: Denying papal supremacy and the removal of the Filioque, a Latin term added to the Nicene Creed. Whether or not the Filioque was added, it had important implications for the Holy Spirit and the understanding of the Biblical Trinity. The Filioque was adopted by the Latin church as early as the early sixth century, but rejected by the Greek church of the East.

This was too much to bear for the very pious Pope in Rome, and for the former patriarch Ignatius and his followers, the Ignatians, who think that Photius’ concessions went too far and alienated the Greek church. But an opportunity arose when Boris demanded the appointment of an independent Bulgarian patriarch. But Photius refused his request and dismissed it. Khan Boris, a vivacious man, turned his back on the Greeks and asked for the Latin missionaries to return to Bulgaria which satisfied both Pope Adrian II and Lothar II of Neustria.

Emperor Michael III was very displeased by the banishment of the Rhoman priests and held a religious council in Constantinople in order to tackle the Bulgar problem in 867 AD where Pope Adrian II, Formosus of Portus, head of the Latin mission to Bulgaria and king Lothar II, ally of Boris.

The Bulgar Khan reacted accordingly and asked Pope Adrian II to declare Formosus of Portus the new archbishop of Bulgaria. His bet that the Lateran may prove more cooperative than Constantinople proved to be very successful. Adrian II, knowing that this may very well be the last chance to create a Bulgarian Diocese, agreed. Hence, the archbishopric of Pliska was created in early 868 AD which was moved to Preslav, the soon-to-be new capital of Bulgaria, a decade later, definitely putting Bulgaria in the Latin sphere of influence and resolving the Bulgarian crisis of the ninth century.

It was at this point that Photius’ and Michael’s popularity plummeted as the Rhoman prestige took a heavy toll during the loss of Boris to the Latin Church of the West. Michael III, lacking any sort of will and wasting his time with alcohol, was never truly in control of the ancient empire, in his days of his infancy, it was the eunuch Theoctistus, then his maternal uncle Bardas, a great statesman who was universally accepted to become the next Basileus, emperor. While the Byzantine Church failed to capitalize on the Bulgar’s unwillingness to adopt Latin rites, Bardas revived the army, the front against the Saracens and the university of Constantinople.

But Michael III had the atrocious habit of keeping his favorite friends very close, often too close, to the emperor. For this reason, an illiterate Armenian peasant called Basil rose up the ranks of the aristocracy, Basil’s promotion from a horse tamer to the high chamberlain of Michael III was swift. In order to let his longtime mistress Eudocia return to the palace, Michael persuaded Basil to marry Eudocia. It is for that reason not known if Leo, the child of Eudocia, was a child of Basil or Michael.

Basil’s rise to prominence in the imperial court wasn’t met with much fondness, especially Bardas proved to be a fierce critique of Basil. After the Bulgarian crisis was resolved in a manner that left Rhomania with nothing, Bardas grew increasingly more hostile against his nephew Michael as well, not without reason as Basil poisoned the mind of Michael III, convincing him that Bardas might try to overthrow him, thus turning his own nephew against him.

Bardas was preparing a major expedition against the island of Crete, which, after its brief recovery by Theoctistus, was once more in Saracen hands. Sometime during the winter of 865, however, word reached him of a plot against his life, in which both Michael and Basil appeared to be involved. He seems to have faced his nephew squarely with his suspicions, for on 21 April 866 we find Emperor and chamberlain putting their signatures, in Basil's case a simple cross, to a formal declaration swearing that they had no hostile intentions against the Caesar. This proved to be the last straw for Bardas.

Similar to the many other realms of Europe, Africa, and Asia, the use of eunuchs to guard and serve the grand rulers isn't uncommon in Constantinople. The prominence of the eunuchs in the Rhoman Empire was practically guaranteed by the development of the imperial court by reserving many key positions to them. The parakoimomenos, leader of the serving eunuchs of the palace, slept across the door of the bedchamber of the emperor, and the protovestiarios looked after his wardrobe, and those in charge of the dining rooms, both becoming more and more influenced by Bardas. The weak emperor and his power-hungry drinking friend from Macedonia must be removed, to preserve the empire. A mission which gained some traction in the palace, even among those who seek to use the opportunity to gain new powers.

The two Emperors and Basil were dining together in the Palace of St Mamas in early 868. Towards the end of the meal, Bardas made an excuse to leave the room and hurried to Basil's chamber, where the parakoimomenos and Bardas bent back the bolts of the door in such a way that it could not be locked. He and the eunuch then returned to the table until Basil, now as usual, drunk, staggered off to bed and immediately fell into a deep alcoholic slumber, similar to his old drinking companion, the emperor himself. In his drunkenness, he had noticed the condition of the bolt, and was still lying anxiously awake when he heard footsteps: there stood Bardas, with six of his friends.

Basil was left dying in a pool of his own blood, changing the fate of the Rhoman Empire forever.


SUMMARY:

866:
Patriarch Photius appealed to the Bulgar Khan Boris I to adopt the Orthodox rites, this time making large concessions, to the dismay of the Ignatian faction and Pope Adrian II. Boris is satisfied with the concessions and ousts the Latin missionaries.
867: Boris I requests the appointment of a Bulgarian patriarch, but is dismissed by Photius. Boris is furious and invites the Latin missionaries back, ousting the Armenian and Greek priests.
867: Emperor Michael III holds a religious council in Constantinople to excommunicate Pope Adrian II, King Lothair II, ally of Boris I, and Formosus of Portus, head of the missionary activity in Bulgaria.
868: Pope Adrian II creates the archbishopric of Pliska with Formosus of Portus as its first archbishop, resolving the Bulgarian Crisis in favour of the Lateran in Rome.
868: Basil, a drinking companion and high chamberlain of Emperor Michael III, is assassinated by Bardas.
 
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BEYOND 2: Frankish Adventures
Excerpt: The History of the Honorful Babenberg Dynasty of Francia – Samuel von Hochseeburg, AD 1341



With great fury and a battle-hardened cry did Karlmann, Holy Roman Emperor, king of Italia and Francia Orientalis, ride out against the Saracens to liberate Rhegion in the year of the lord 879 [1]. He is accompanied by Niketas Öryphus’ successor Nasar, a close friend of Emperor Bardas I [2] as a sign of friendship and peace between the two Roman emperors, united in their claim to defend Christendom from the Mohammedan masses of the South, yet are separated by blood and the specific features of the true faith.

Thus did Karlmann leave Francia [3] which was to be protected by the nobles. As God has given man free reign over its mind, many chose the path of greed and ignorance, fighting each other while the heathen armies from the kings of the North ravaged through the countryside, destroying monasteries in Frisia and the countryside of the Elbe, their savagery displayed by their looting of the archbishopric of Bremen and the monasteries of Verden. Saint Rimbert died a martyr death by defending his church until his last breath, punishing the Danes with a storm that lasted forty days and forty nights [4], taking the souls of many of those barbaric men.

The temporal protector of this church was the father of the Brunonids, Bruno himself, who failed to protect the stem duchy of Saxony from the renewed offensive of the heathens. No, Bruno was obsessed with fantasies of Saxon control of the Sorbian march in Eastern Francia, only further propelled by the absence of the emperor. Thus, as a wild beast would do, he waged war against Poppo II, Duke of Thuringia and the Sorbian march. But Bruno was sharp in his mind, and to disrupt the family ties of Poppo II, he used his brother Egino to turn against him.

A bloody war among brothers was fought, but all bad things must end; Egino and his allied Slavic tribes were decisively beaten. Immediately Egino was cast out and expelled from the lands of the Thuringians in much disgrace so that all the devotees of the faith could see the immense victory achieved by Poppo thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the house of Babenberg succeeded in securing the independence of the infant Thuringian stem duchy which would later emerge.

But this would not have been possible without the support Poppo received from his older brother Henry. With his wise father, he used to frequent a particular holy man who used to preach much to the faithful by the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost, this man strongly affirmed that he would climb to the top; for he noticed how great was his beauty and how his mind’s sweetness glistened. The bishop was right about the gifted boy as Henry was declared princeps militiae in the year 865 in Aquitania where Ludwig, king of Francia Orientalis, son of Ludwig the Pious, and grandson of Karl the Great, had banished him and his father years before. His exceptional military talent helped the Aquitanian counts and clerics to defend their belongings from the heathen army occupying the Garonne and its tributaries, and thus, served in the kingdoms of Lothar II, where he was almost trapped by a hole dug by the Danes to savagely kill him, and Ludwig and his son Karlmann, who urged him to return to his soil to protect the Franks in the years after 885.

Henry, a man of wondrous beauty and size, was rewarded for his services for the Carolingian kings first margrave, then duke of the Franks by Karlmann in the year of the lord 888. But not all would look up to the duke, a family who has intermingled with the affairs of the Babenbergs for multiple years, even decades, grew increasingly more jealous. The Konradines, headed by Konrad the Elder, Count of Oberlahngau, a perverse man with bad intentions. Therefore, it should not be as a surprise for any person that Henry would try to persuade the king of Francia, Karlmann, to depose him and his vile family. But Karlmann, already incapacitated by a stroke, but endless in his wisdom, advocated for peace among his followers [5]. Consequently, Henry, keen in appearance and yet keener in mind, tried to weaken already established Konrad the Elder and his hateful, but tragically powerful family where he could, to preserve the peace of his Franconian duchy, and he deposed the Konradines and their repulsive allies where he could, replacing them with men of shared blood and friends of his cause.

But Konrad opposed. He opposed the measures imposed by Henry and called for justice. What is justice for a man who would have destroyed justice if he could? Konrad poured oil into the fire and escalated the precarious situation in the year of 892. Karlmann, convinced by the righteousness of Henry’s cause [6], deposes a man called Eberhard, Konradine in blood and thought, in Niederlahngau and Ortenau and installed his own younger brother Poppo II to the counties while Henry’s second-oldest son, a young boy named Adalhard, is appointed to become the new bishop of Würzburg. The Konradines would try to revenge these acts whenever they could, but only in 897AD, the Konradines and the Babenbergs met for the first time in a battle with the siege of Dietkirchen, a small village under the control of the Poppo II, under attack from the Konradines with their calamitous violence.

But God is righteous, and those who follow him in their hearts are righteous; The siege was hard-fought, but the House of Babenberg emerged as the victor which meant death for three Konradines: Konrad the Elder was killed with a sword blow just before the gates of the village, Konrad the Younger [7], son of Konrad the Elder, was seriously injured during the melee and died several days after the fighting has ceased while Konrad the Elder’s youngest brother Rudolf [8] first lost his left eye by a blow in the face, then captured and then beheaded by the Saxon mercenaries.

At the imperial assembly at Forchheim in 898 AD concerning the troublesome succession of the Frankish crown in Francia Orientalis after Karlmann died a sudden death in 896 AD, the majority of the present Franconian nobles and clerics supported the radical measures imposed by the House of Babenberg to end the Konradine menace. The possessions of the surviving Konradines, including Eberhard and Gebhard, were confiscated and redistributed among the allies of Henry I. Henry I of Franconia, father of the House of Babenberg, was by then an old man, having seen the many facets of Aquitania, Neustria, and Francia, and with his dying breaths declared Arnulf, illegitimate son of Karlmann, to be the new king of the kingdom of Francia, securing the support of Franconia against the Saxons under Bruno, the same Bruno who wanted to turn brother against brother in Thuringia and who now wanted to turn Francia against itself.




Description: Henry I of Franconia with the Babenberg coat of arms as displayed in the St. Suitbertus Abbey in Düsseldorf, created ca. 1520

SUMMARY:

879:
Holy Roman Emperor Carloman and Nasar, a Greek admiral, liberate Reggio from a Saracen siege.
881: A war between the margrave of Thuringia and Sorbia Poppo II and his younger brother Egino is won by the former, leaving the Saxon sphere of influence.
888: Henry, princeps militiae of Aquitania and Francia, and older brother of Poppo II, is declared first margrave, then duke of the Franks by Emperor Carloman I.
892: Henry is lobbying for the deposition of the Conradines in Franconia. Count Eberhard is deposed in Niederlahngau and Ortenau, Henry’s son Adalhard is meanwhile appointed to become next bishop of Würzburg.
896: Carloman I dies after a second stroke. His illegitimate son is rallying around East Francia to proclaim himself ruler of the Germans while in Italy Louis II of Aquitania is invited to Pavia to take the crown, a move that is challenged by Berengar of Friuli.
897: The Conradine feud reaches its climax with the siege of Dietkirchen where Conrad the Elder, his brother Rudolf and Conrad the Younger, who would have become king of Germany in another world, are killed.
898: Conradine possessions were confiscated at an imperial assembly in Forchheim where the majority of the Frankish potentes vote in favor of Arnulf while the Saxons proclaim their duke Bruno I as the new Frankish king sparking a civil war.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Karlmann is the German version of Carloman, for those who couldn’t tell.
[2] Once again, stay tuned. Bardas isn't finished with Michael III the Drunkard!
[3] von Hochseeburg meant East Francia, and therefore OTL Germany.
[4] He isn’t really subtle here, is he?
[5] After being described as ass-kicker by Eric Goldberg or a warrior by Notker of St. Gallen, it is weird to read that, but a Carloman, who lives longer and whose first stroke wasn’t that bad, would probably see a change of behavior, especially after getting into the administration of an empire that stretches from Hamburg to Rome.
[6] Probably rather the fact that Arnulf married Hedwiga of Babenberg, daughter of Henry of Franconia, to strengthen his ties to the Franconians, much to the disaffection of the Saxons.
[7] OTL Emperor Conrad I of Germany. This is how to kill a dynasty off, quite literally.
[8] Who would have been appointed Bishop of Würzburg IOTL.
 
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CHAPTER 1.XI: Hugh the Cruel and Bruno the Warrior
Excerpt: Phransiya – Akllasumaq Kichka, Quitu Scholastic Press (AD 1982)


The reign of Lothair II was exceptionally long and, unlike his relatives to the South and the East, he was not prone to strokes, sudden fevers or mysterious hunting accidents after returning from longer campaigns. If that saved his united kingdom of Neustria and Lotharingia is still discussed among modern scholars.

As already stated, Lothair II was engaged in the process of annulling his first marriage with Teutberga throughout the first years of his reign. Under these circumstances, he could not earnestly care for the administration of his realm in Lotharingia and Neustria, but left a free hand to the secular and episcopal magnates, which the nobility used to split abbeys and episcopal territories among themselves. But with the death of Teutberga in 857 AD would prove to be the turning point of his reign, finally legitimizing his former bastard son Hugh. Another son, Odo, was born in 865 AD.

But he abdicated in 894 AD and died at the respectable age of 59 after his health steadily declined, probably due to cancer, as modern historians now suggest. In Carolingian tradition, his realm of Lotharingia-Neustria was split up among his sons, with Hugh being granted Neustria while his brother Odo received Lotharingia.

Hugh’s reign was short and bloody, earning him the nickname “Hugh I the Cruel”. Not much can be said about him and his short reign of just a little bit over two years, but Neustrian chroniclers described him as austere and virtuous, but without “piety and the love of God and Christ”. He tried to enforce strict discipline on the nobles and clerics of Neustria, punishing any who tried to circumvent the authority of Hugh I. He also poisoned his wife Itta, daughter of Lambert III of Maine and Adelaide of Paris [1], a Widonid, after she turned out to be not as fond of him as expected and, as if it wasn’t bad enough for Hugh, infertile as well. This very questionable act promptly turned the most powerful nobles against him. He tried to suppress the opposition, but he was killed in an ambush involving both Lambert III and his own brother Odo I in 896 AD who, according to contemporaries, “did not love his brother as brother, but rather as a rival”. Thus Odo I assumed the throne of Neustria as well, reuniting Lotharingia with the short-lived independent Neustrian kingdom, which wouldn’t have been possible without the Widonid’s strong support of Odo I.

Odo I shortly before his father’s death married Théodrate of Troyes [2], a strong-willed woman whose influence on the courts of Aachen and Le Mans was noticeable. She adviced her husband, a well-educated man, on the matters of state, for example, jointly denying any sort of intervention in both Italy and Francia after Carloman’s death in 896 AD. Since Carloman had no legitimate son, Odo I and Louis II alone were entitled to inherit the crown. Louis the Pious had already thought of such a case in 817 in the ordinatio imperii: If one of his sons died without a legitimate successor, his kingdom should go to one of the surviving brothers. But since Carloman was king and emperor, succession had to be prepared for both offices. Therefore Louis II followed the events south of the Alps with great attention, Francia on the other hand, didn’t interest him as much. Arnulf’s legitimacy is denied by the Saxon stem duchy ruled by the Brunonids who instead proclaimed Bruno I, the duke of Saxony, as the new king of the Germans while the House of Bonifacii and its head, Adalbert II the Rich of Tuscany, the Spoletan Widonid dukes, this time headed by Lambert who was at the time still trying to convince Pope Boniface VI to crown him emperor, and a certain margrave named Berengar of Friuli who was distantly related to the Carolingian dynasty, all denied Louis II of Aquitania’s claims to the crown of Italy.

Louis II would eventually succeed in persuading Adalbert II to switch his allegiance and rally for his cause and in 897 AD, after his initial success in 896 AD where he was able to occupy Pavia, Berengar of Friuli was taken hostage by seventeen year-old Hugh of Provence [3], a Bosonid, and gets blinded after renouncing all his claims. He was however allowed to continue to rule Friuli.

The stage was set. Everything seemed perfect. Louis II marched from Florence towards Siena to reach Rome where he was expected to be crowned by Pope Boniface VI who, during the conflict, ensured the neutrality of the church.
The Pope was able to make this remarkable step back because like his predecessors John VIII and Hadrian II, he believed that he could crown anyone on his own initiative. Besides, he sought a candidate for the throne, who was powerful enough to protect the Papal States from the Saracens.

But Louis II and his small contingent were surprised by an ambush orchestrated by Lambert, the aforementioned duke of Spoleto. The Battle of the Via Cassia was disastrous for the Aquitanian faction.

Being outnumbered almost two to one, Louis II is forced to take up a defensive position in an area surrounded by woods and marshy terrain. Lambert of Spoleto, however, prepared this attack days in advance and surprised Louis II with Italian mercenaries which attacked from the woods. Louis II’s army suffered heavy losses and was eventually routed, and during the fierce hand-to-hand-combat, margrave Adalbert II was surrounded and imprisoned. Standing with a dwindling group of survivors, Louis II quickly surrendered.

Both Adalbert II and Louis II were eventually released from their imprisonment, but only after they swore an oath of loyalty to the new king of Italy and Emperor Lambert I, the first non-Carolingian Holy Roman emperor.

The civil war in Francia, between Arnulf, the illegitimate son of Carloman, and Bruno I of Saxony was still taking place, although hostile contact between the two sides was decreasing due to a particularly harsh winter and the Conradine feud leaving Franconia in turmoil. Meanwhile, Arnulf’s health was steadily decreasing. A Magyar raid sponsored by Emperor Lambert I would further distract him.

The Magyars who arrived in 895 AD in the Carpathian basin are enlisted to raid Bavaria. They overran Styria and Carinthia all the way to Salzburg. Arnulf tried to assemble a large army against the Magyars and confronted them near the Danube River. Daunted at the strong force, Árpád, head of the confederation of the Hungarian tribes, offered to make peace and restore much of what they've taken, if they are permitted to leave Bavaria unmolested. Arnulf, seeing no way he could survive a battle against the Magyars and the Saxons, agrees. The Magyars leave to raid Lambert’s kingdom instead. This wouldn’t be witnessed by Arnulf however. He died after a second stroke in 899 AD.

Bruno I used this event to proclaim himself as the new king of East Francia. A grave mistake for the Brunonids as Odo I would use this chance to claim the kingdom for his six-year-old son Lothair III. After consulting both Théodrate and a council of nobles and clerics, including Lambert III’s son Wipert I of Maine, he would muster a large army to invade Francia in 900 AD.


Description: A 13th-century depiction of the "warriorking" Bruno I of Saxony.

Odo I crossed the Rhine at Cologne in April. He was welcomed by archbishop Hermann I, an Ezzonid and loyal to the Lotharingian kings. He sent out messengers to the dukes of Francia in order to persuade him to join his campaign against the Saxons and reminded them of their obligation as good Christians to support the rightful king instead of the usurper Bruno I. After resupplying in Cologne, he moved along the Rhine and layed siege to Kaiserswerth where the brother and pretender as the current count of Keldachgau Erenfried I, Adolph, was residing. He swore allegiance to Bruno I who promised him the counties along the right bank of the Rhine. The siege was successful, earning Odo I some new allies along the Frankish counties along the Rhine. In June, he moved north in order to encounter Bruno’s forces in a battle.

After minor skirmishes, the large and decisive Battle of Greven, a minor village near the Münstersche Aa, was fought between the Saxon and Lotharingian army. The Lotharingians stayed there and met up with a small scouting garrison when they were attacked by the Saxons with a small banner depicting archangel Michael, the standard of the kings of Francia [4]. The Saxons rode out with the best cavalry available to attack the flanks, but the Lotharingian struck the weakened left of the Saxons to route them. As they fled, the Saxons suffered heavy casualties, to such a degree, that Bruno I was forced to “abdicate” from the Frankish throne and proclaimed Odo I to be the new king of Francia. This was not recognized by the other German dukes initially but after the powerful Babenbergs in Franconia offered Johanna, daughter of Adalbert, Duke of the Franconians, as the new wife of Lothair III, his rule was increasingly more accepted throughout the kingdom and he was officially anointed with the holy oil by the archbishops of Mainz and Cologne in 902. Meanwhile, Louis, son of Arnulf, was installed to become the new duke of Bavaria under the regency of Luitpold, margrave of Bavaria. When Odo I returned to Aachen, his wife Théodrate surprised him with a new-born second son, Pepin, younger brother of Lothair III and his sister Béatrice.

Thus Odo I controlled a territory stretching from the Bay of Borgneuf to the Elbe river. This development surprised many contemporary and modern scholars, especially the Lotharingian potentes, who accused Odo I of having pacted with a "foreigner", the Babenbergs. But, in fact, this kind of politics was quite commonplace among the Carolingian rulers. As in the 9th century with the dissolution of West Francia, the potentes changed their allegiance without hesitation. Just as the vassals of Charles the Bald had gone over to Louis the German or Lothair I and had paid homage to them, so did the Frankish think only of their own advantage when they entered the realm of a rex Francorum, only too willing to leave it once the next opportunity arrives. In 902 Odo I met with the increasingly disgruntled nobles and clerics of Lotharingia, who felt left out in the cold during Odo’s adventures to Neustria and Francia, in Visé on the Meuse and gave them increased sovereignty over Lorraine. The Edict of Visé would soon spread to Francia and Neustria as well, beginning a process which would see the power of the kings increasingly limited, in favor of noble houses which already owned larger estates, like the Widonids in Neustria or the Babenberger and Brunonids of Francia, and archbishoprics in all three subkingdoms. That being so, there was no reason to challenge the kingship of Odo I anymore. The potentes need the king to legitimize their rule over their counties, while the king needs the potentes to legitimize his own rule over them and to administer the growing territories of Odo I. This edict would lay the foundations of the emerging feudal system of the empire.

SUMMARY:
893:
Odo I marries Théodrate of Troyes.
894: King Lothair II dies. He is succeeded by his sons Hugh and Odo in Neustria and Lotharingia respectively.
895: The Magyars arrive in the Carpathian basin.
896: Hugh the Cruel is killed after a scheme involving both Lambert III of Maine and Hugh’s younger brother Odo I of Lotharingia. Odo I is proclaimed king of Neustria, reuniting Lothair II’s kingdom.
897: Berengar of Friuli is captured and blinded by Hugh of Provence.
897: Lambert III of Maine dies. He is succeeded as Marquis of Neustria and Duke of Maine by his son Wipert I of Maine.
898: The Battle of the Via Cassia. Lambert, Duke of Spoleto, surprises King Louis II of Aquitania and Margrave Adalbert II of Tuscany with an ambush where both are imprisoned. Lambert is proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor and king of Italy in Rome, both Adalbert II and Louis II are forced to swear an oath of loyalty to the new emperor.
898: Emperor Lambert I enlists the support of the Magyars to raid Bavaria to prevent Arnulf from claiming the Italian throne. They are however stopped near Salzburg and raid Croatia and Italy instead.
899: Arnulf, already incapacitated by a stroke, dies, never controlling the entirety of East Francia. The Brunonids lead by Bruno who escaped an early death in 880, are elected by other East Frankish nobles King of East Francia as Bruno I of Germany which is denied by both Pope Boniface VI, Emperor Lambert I of Italy and Odo I.
900: The Kingdom of Francia is invaded by King Odo I to claim it on behalf of his infant son Lothair III.
901: Battle of Greven. The Brunonids are defeated, Bruno I abdicates in favor of Odo I and Lothair III, the former being crowned king of Francia one year later.
902: Edict of Visé. Concessions are made to the potentes of Lotharingia.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Who would marry Louis the Stammerer IOTL.
[2] Same name as IOTL, but a different person with a different personality ITTL.
[3] Similar to [2], don’t be confused, he may have the same name as Hugh of Provence, but he is nonetheless a different man, a less ambitious one.
[4] OTL the banner depicting archangel Michael was used as a German Imperial banner until the 11th century.
 
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BEYOND 3: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Excerpt: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle


A.D 871: This year the heathen army came to Reading in Wessex; and three days after this, two of their earls rode forth. Then Æthelwulf the ealdorman met them at Englefield, and there fought against them, and got the victory: and there one of them, whose name was Sidrac, was slain. About three days after this, king Æthelred and Ælfred his brother led a large force to Reading, and fought against the army, and there was great slaughter made on either hand. And Æthelwulf the ealdorman was slain, and the Danish-men had possession of the place of carnage. And about four days after this, king Æthelred and Ælfred his brother fought against the whole army at Ashdown; and they were in two bodies: in the one were Bagsac and Halfdene the heathen kings, and in the other were the earls. And then king Æthelred fought against the division under the kings, and there king Bagsac was slain; and Ælfred his brother against the division under the earls, and there earl Sidrac the elder was slain, earl Sidrac the younger, and earl Osbern, and earl Frene, and Earl Harold; and both divisions of the army were put to flight, and many thousands slain: and they continued fighting until night. And about fourteen days after this, king Æthelred and Ælfred his brother fought against the army at Basing, and there the Danes obtained the victory. And about two months after this, king Æthelred and Ælfred his brother fought against the army at Marden; and they were in two bodies, and they put both to flight, and during a great part of the day were victorious; and there was great slaughter on either hand; but the Danes had possession of the place of carnage: and there bishop Heahmund was slain, and many good men: and after this battle there came a great army in the summer to Reading. And after this, over Easter, king Æthelred died; and he reigned five years and his body lies at Winburn-minster.
Then Ælfred the son of Æthelwulf, his brother, succeeded to the kingdom of the West-Saxons. And about one month after this, king Ælfred with a small band fought against the whole army at Wilton, and put them to flight for a good part of the day; but the Danes had possession of the place of carnage. And this year nine general battles were fought against the army in the kingdom south of the Thames, besides which, Ælfred the king's brother, and single ealdormen, and king's thanes, oftentimes made incursions on them, which were not counted: and within the year nine earls and one king were slain. And that year the West-Saxons made peace with the army.

A.D. 872: This year the army went from Reading to London, and there took up their winter-quarters: and then the Mercians made peace with the army.

A.D. 873: This year the army went into Northumbria, and took up their winter-quarters at Torksey in Lindsey: and then the Mercians made peace with the army.

A.D. 874: This year the army went from Lindsey to Repton, and there took up their winter-quarters, and drove king Burhred over sea about twenty-two years after he had obtained the kingdom; and subdued the whole country: and Burhred went to Rome, and there remained; and his body lies in St. Mary's church at the English school. And that same year they committed the kingdom of the Mercians to the keeping of Ceolwulf, an unwise king's-thane; and he swore oaths to them, and delivered hostages that it should be ready for them on whatever day they would have it, and that he would be ready both in his own person and with all who would follow him, for the behoof of the army.

A.D 875: This year the army went from Repton: and Halfdene went with some of the army into North-humbria, and took up winter-quarters by the river Tyne. And the army subdued the land, and oft-times spoiled the Picts, and the Strathclyde Britons. And the three kings, Guthrum, and Oskytel, and Anwind, went with a large army from Repton to Cambridge, and sat down there one year. And that summer king Ælfred went out to sea with a fleet, and fought against the forces of seven ships, and one of them he took, and put the rest to flight.

A.D 876: This year the army stole away to Wareham, a fortress of the West-Saxons. And afterward the king made peace with the army; and they delivered to the king hostages from among the most distinguished men of the army; and then they swore oaths to him on the holy ring, which they never before would do to any nation, that they would speedily depart his kingdom. And notwithstanding this, that part of the army which was horsed stole away by night from the fortress to Exeter. And that year Halfdene apportioned the lands of Northumbria: and they thenceforth continued ploughing and tilling them.
And in this same year the army of the Danes in England swore oaths to king Ælfred upon the holy ring, which before they would not do to any nation; and they delivered to the king hostages from among the most distinguished men of the army, that they would speedily depart from his kingdom; and that by night they broke.

A.D 877: This year the army came to Exeter from Wareham; and the fleet sailed round westwards: and then a great storm overtook them at sea, and there one hundred and twenty ships were wrecked at Swanwich. And king Ælfred with his forces rode after the army which was mounted, as far as Exeter; and they were unable to overtake them before they were within the fortress, where they could not be come at. And they there delivered to him hostages as many as he would have, and swore many oaths: and then they observed the peace well. And afterwards, during harvest, the army went into Mercia, and some part of it they apportioned, and some they delivered to Ceolwulf.

A.D 878: This year, during midwinter, after twelfth night, the army stole away to Chippenham, and overran the land of the West-Saxons, and sat down there; and many of the people they drove beyond sea, and of the remainder the greater part they subdued and forced to obey them, except king Ælfred: and he, with a small band, with difficulty retreated to the woods and to the fastnesses of the moors. And the same winter the brother of Hingwar and of Halfdene came with twenty-three ships to Devonshire in Wessex; and he was there slain, and with him eight hundred and forty men of his army: and there was taken the war-flag which they called the Raven. After this, at Easter king Ælfred with a small band constructed a fortress at Athelney; and from this fortress, with that part of the men of Somerset which was nearest to it, from time to time they fought against the army. Then in the seventh week after Easter he rode to Brixton, on the east side of Selwood; and there came to meet him all the men of Somerset, and the men of Wiltshire, and that portion of the men of Hampshire which was on this side of the sea; and they were joyful at his presence. On the following day he went from that station to Iglea, and on the day after this to Heddington, and there fought against the whole army, put them to flight. Many man were killed, during the battle, Ælfred fought feraciously, but he was struck down by the heathens and died a martyr death; and he reigned seven years and his body lies at Saint Helen's Chapel in Colchester [1]. In Heddington, the army fought against the West-Saxons, put them to flight, and pursued them as far as their fortress: and there the heathen army sat down twelve days.
Then Æthelric the son of Æthelbald [2], his nephew, succeeded to the kingdom of the West-Saxons, and then the West-Saxons made peace with the army.

A.D. 879: This year the army went to Bryctow from Chippenham and from Heddington to Winburn, and sat there one year; and the same year died Ceolwulf king of Mercia. And that year a body of pirates drew together, and sat down at Fulham on the Thames. Æthelric and his loyal followers retreated to Athelney; and from this fortress, he planned to restore the kingdom of the West-Saxons, the South-Saxons and the Kentish-men. And that same year the sun was eclipsed during one hour of the day, some preachers out in the lands began to speak in the ravaged villages of the second Coming.

A.D 880: This year the earldorman of the North, South and the East submitted to the army, though some still conspire against the king of the North Guthrum. This year Odda, earldorman of Devon, fought against the army and against Wulfhere earldorman of Wiltshire, loyal to the heathen army, at Bath. There Odda was slain with all his band.

A.D 881: This year the army went from Winburn to East Anglia, and settled in the land, and apportioned it and, after Easter, Guthrum redistributed noble titles. And that same year the army, which previously had sat down at Bryctow, went to Athelney; and, on a moonlight night, there was a great battle and there was great slaughter made on either hand; and of the Saxons there were more slain, though they had possession of the place of carnage. Æthelric fought daring and fearless but was exterminated with a sword and a spear by the army. Æthelhelm, nephew of Æthelric, and son of Æthelred, succeeds him to the kingdom of the West-Saxons [3] under the supervision of the Witanagemót and Wulfhere [4]. And he made peace with the army the following week.
Now Guthrum had the submissions of the lords and the peasants and proclaimed himself king of East Anglia, and high king of the Anglecynn [5], and all the people received the message with fear. Æthelhelm, son of Æthelred, was appointed king of the West-Saxons and earldorman Wulfhere was appointed king of the South-Saxons in a great ceremony.


A.D 882: This year high king Guthrum received the faith and the baptism by archbishop Æthelred and Wulfhere; and he greatly honoured the attendees and his companions with gifts [6]. He accepted the name Jeremiah. The same year another fleet arrived from the North with more settlers for Northumbria [5]; and earldorman Æthelred was anointed to become lord of the Mercians [7].



Description: A 17th-century depiction of the baptisation of Guthrum I.

A.D 883: This year the army split; one army went to York and sat there one year, the other army went to Aylesford to defeat the rebelling earldorman named Ælfred. Guthrum was welcomed in Canterbury by Æthelred, archbishop of Canterbury. He was advised to protect the church from raiders from beyond the sea.

A.D 884: This year Jeremiah built monasteries in Ipswich and Wilton, and he was given the hand of Æthelthryth. So that the marriage was now fulfilled, as God had foreordained, and it could not be otherwise, as he says in the Gospel, that not a sparrow falls to the ground, without his foreshowing. The prescient Creator knew long before what he would do with her namely that she should increase the glory of God in this land, lead the king out of the wrong into the right path, bring him and his people to a better way, and suppress all the bad customs which the nation formerly followed. These things she afterwards accomplished. The king therefore married her, though against her will, and was pleased with her manners, and thanked God who had given him such a wife. And being a prudent man he turned himself to God and forsook all impurity of conduct, as St. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, says: "Salvabitur vir,” which means in our language "Full oft the unbelieving husband is sanctified and healed through the believing wife, and so belike the wife through the believing husband." The queen above-named afterwards did many things in this land to promote the glory of God, and conducted herself well in her noble rank, as always was her custom. She was sprung from a noble line of ancestors, and her father was king Æthelred, son of Æthelwulf. This Æthelwulf was the son of Ecgberht, who was the son of Ealhmund; and so on in that royal line. The same year Jeremiah built two fortresses in Chester and one fortress in York. [...]

A.D 890: This year abbot Bernhelm carried the alms of the West-Saxons and of king Æthelhelm to Rome. And Guthrum the Northern king died, whose baptismal name was Jeremiah; he was high king of the Anglecynn, and he abode in East-Anglia, and first settled that country. His body rests at Wilton at a monastery he has built. And then his son Oskytel [8] succeeded to the kingdom of East Anglia, though he was still a child.
And that same year the fore-mentioned army went from the Thames to Gwynedd, which is between Seisyllwg and Mercia; and the Welsh fought against them. And they had the victory, and drove the army out into the sea, and drowned many of them. Then the army was scattered. This year Plegmund was chosen of God and of all the people to be archbishop of Canterbury.


SUMMARY:

859:
After the controversial marriage of Æthelbald and Rotrude, a son named Æthelric is born.
871: King Æthelred of Wessex dies. He is succeeded by his brother Ælfred.
878: The Battle of Eddington. King Ælfred is fatally wounded and his men defeated. He is succeeded by his nephew Æthelric.
880: The ealdorman submit to Guthrum, a Viking leader in control of the newly formed Danelaw. Æthelric is preparing a final offensive against the Norse intruders.
881: The Battle at Athelney. King Æthelric is killed during the combat and the Wessexians defeated. He is succeeded by his cousin Æthelhelm who recognizes the authority of Guthrum, the latter proclaiming himself high king over the Anglo-Saxons.
882: Guthrum converts to Christianity to consolidate his rule and adopts the name Jeremiah I.
890: High King Jeremiah I dies and is succeeded by his young son Oskytel I.


FOOTNOTES
[1] He has met a terrible fate, didn't he? Due to a completely different spread of Norman military forces and nobility due to Charles the Bald not passing the Edict of Pistres which would somewhat successfully defend West Francia from the Normans IOTL, the fate of Britannia and Scandinavia will change drastically. Another update on that will come.
[2] Remember Rotrude marrying Æthelwulf? Yeah, similar to OTL, after Æthelwulf's death, Æthelbald would marry his step-mother in order to get his share of the Carolingian prestige. Only this time, he was actually able to get a son, named Æthelric, born 859 AD. Of course, this marriage is still controversial, to say the least, but the Anglo-Saxons had more important things to do as you can see.
[3] Æthelhelm was glossed over in the succession after his father’s death due to his young age. But time has passed and Ælfred’s oldest Edward (who has only the name in common with OTL Edward) is around seven years old while Æthelhelm is closing the gap to the 20s.
[4] This ealdorman here is probably one of the reasons for the surprising attack of the Danes back in 878 AD and it is thought that he already has gone over to Guthrum’s side in order to secure himself a royal title. Outside of that, not much is known about him, outside of his ambitions and that he was stripped from his privileges after Guthrum was defeated IOTL. The main problem of writing a timeline beginning in the 9th century is more often than not the vagueness of many reports and how some of them even contradict each other. Did I mention there were two Wulfheres, both collaborating with the Danes, but the one is an ealdorman of Wiltshire, the other one the archbishop of Jórvík? Anglo-Saxon England is quite confusing which is why I have waited a little bit to make this update on this troubled island.
[5] This might sound like a total conquest of England, but it is the very opposite, since the Norse in England generally kept the old political structure in place only with them in top: Mercia is in an internal power struggle between the various earldoms while Wessex, although still the most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom, is degraded under a rule of Æthelhelm the Normal, not the Great. Meanwhile, the Danelaw has expanded way beyond the Thames, although Guthrum’s powerbase is limited to be around East Anglia and Essex with Jorvik being divided by the classic power struggles that resulted from the very unclear succession rules of the Norse immigrants. With Guthrum’s victory over Wessex, we have effectively butterflied away any united England (or Angland, Bretland, Saxland, Britannia, Albion or whatever name arises to be the most prominent ITTL since Englaland was a name coined by the Wessexians which were struck down here, we may very well have a different name for this region ITTL) for a longer period of time. This, in turn, will make England much more interesting for would-be Vikings who would set out to Iceland, the Carolingian Empire or even the Rus’ IOTL, especially with the increasing fortification of the coasts of the Carolingian kingdoms. England is evolving into a new base for Vikings to raid Europe. But it will get better once the situation stabilizes some time in the future. I hope.
[6] Guthrum isn’t stupid. Many paint him as some sort of evangelical Pagan proto-irredentist, but he couldn’t have imported sufficient numbers of Norse pagan settlers and/or deconstructed the highly efficient Christian institutions of the British Isles, IOTL or ITTL. Guthrum just defeated Wessex, but the latter is still alive and somewhat well under the rule of Æthelhelm. In order to consolidate his role, he would have to convert to Christianity as IOTL, just as many other Norse would do, just to get the powerful of Britannia appeased to some degree. Otherwise, you would see his rule quickly collapse after his death.
[7] Æthelred's origins are unknown, but he was a member of the witanagemót of Ceolwulf II, so he was already a very prominent character in the political intrigues of the time. And ITTL, he is forced to accept the authority of the Danelaw.
[8] Without Ælfred annoying him too much, Guthrum is able to marry someone ITTL and leaving a legitimate heir to the throne. But don’t get your hopes up, Oskytel is controlled by the witanagemót, in this case, a regency council headed by the archbishop of Canterbury and the Norse rulers of the Danelaw. The decentralized rule of the Danelaw allows for minor and major lords, kings and chieftains to sort their rivalries out. But this will change somewhat soon, so don’t worry.
 
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And the butterflies continue to flap their wings. Lovely update. English for one is going to have a lot of variation with even more North Germanic influence in some parts.

I wonder how Iberia is going to fare in the near future with all these butterflies. Increased Norse raiding?

Maybe a class of Norse-Iberians analogous to the Normans will form ITTL.

Duque Rolfo de Normandia? Except Normandia is in the western half of Asturias?
 
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