Final Light: A Carolingian Timeline

Certainly better than my maps tough... :p, one of the bad things of do TLs in mobile.
I had an older account here on this forum where I attempted such a TL on mobile. Let's just say I didn't turn out to be that nice to read. I'll respect you even more for having written and still writing two (!) TL with such a handicap.


Hehe boi...Normandy Time? I think it's Normandy Time
I have to thank you here for reading through my TL during the last week. It was very nice to see you filling my inbox with likes!

And yes, the next two updates revolve around Norse affairs. The second one will be one of the main butterflies of this timeline which will mess up a lot of things in the coming centuries, so stay tuned!
 
I have to thank you here for reading through my TL during the last week. It was very nice to see you filling my inbox with likes!

And yes, the next two updates revolve around Norse affairs. The second one will be one of the main butterflies of this timeline which will mess up a lot of things in the coming centuries, so stay tuned!
Don't thank me, it's me that have to thank you for giving us such a good TL ;)

I'll be eagerly waiting for the next update!
 
BEYOND 2.III: Neustrian Adventures
Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)


The story of the Kingdom of Neustria was closely intertwined with the history of the Norse. Neustria and its de-facto viceroys Lambert III and Wipert I of Maine adopted the Aquitanian Edict of Auch in the late 9th century to counter the Vikings’ efforts which mainly consisted of pillaging the Neustrian countryside. The victory of High King Jeremiah I, or Guthrum as he was called before his conversation to the Christian faith, against the Wessexians would further diverge the attention of the Scandinavians to the British Isles. By the early 900s, Norse activity in Neustria died down to such a degree that the archbishop of Rheims, Ursus, younger brother of Adalhelm II of Troyes, close political advisor to the Carolingians and a devout Christian as well, proclaimed in a poem which was noted in the Vita Lothari Magni of Bishop Hermann of Metz:

Then the Danes for their arrogance
left too much land to the Christian people.
Then over cold water Lambert’s son [Wipert I of Maine]
began to call (and all the men listened):
“Now you have room: come quickly to us,
warriors to war. God alone knows
who may master this battlefield.”
And the Christians won the battle,
praised be the Lord, and his son.


The last major and notable raid on Neustrian territory was one of a Northmen named Rollo [1] who came from Bretland after Jeremiah I passed away in 890 AD, only to be succeeded by his infant son Oskytel I. It is known that Rollo was a close friend of Jeremiah I [2] and, despite of his Pagan faith, was noted in multiple chronicles depicting military campaigns of Jeremiah I against both the Anglo-Saxons and the more rebellious Pagan Norwegians and even Danes. It seems that he left Bretland for Neustria after the death of Jeremiah I speculating that this may be the end of the Danelaw there, but his ultimate motivations were lost to history. He overcame initial defenses and bridges and arrived in Rouen which he found to be fortified by bridges and a provisional city wall created by the count of Lisieux, Wolfker I. He has constructed it to protect the city from such a situation and was supported by two brigades sent by the count of Paris Wulfhard I in order to protect the city.

According to the biased account of Bishop Hermann of Metz, Rollo initially asked for tribute from the counts of Lisieux and Paris which was denied. The construction of siege engines and catapults was halted by irregular cavalry advances of Wulfhard I’s forces and, once Rollo led the Danes to an advance against the defenses of the city, he was surprised by one of the brigades from behind and was surrounded and routed. It is delivered that there were Norman mercenaries present who, in the end, decided the Battle of Rouen to the Neustrian favor. Rollo attempted to flee the battle by crossing the Seine with a small ship but was halted by an infantry force led by Wolfker I of Lisieux himself. He was, however, able to halt the Frankish charge by laying out traps for the horsemen. Thus, it quickly devolved into a stalemate. Negotiations with Rollo were opened and were eventually concluded into the Treaty of Chartres which was signed under the supervision of Wipert I of Maine.




Description: The Battle of Rouen as depicted by a tapestry scene. Notable is the Anglo-Saxon influence on the depicted armor of the Neustrians.

The Treaty of Chartres was signed on 29 August 907 between the French viceroy Wipert I of Maine, Wolfker I of Lisieux and Rollo, the Earl of the Normans. This contract, which hasn’t been written down nor mentioned in contemporary sources, is the birth certificate of Normandy and the bud of which the duchy of Lisieux would arise in the coming decades. Wipert I, on behalf of Lothair III, ceded the area between the Cotentin and the Pays d’Auge to the control of the counts of Lisieux, while the Norman chief would receive the area between the Pays de Caux and Ponthieu, at the cost of Maine, Campania, and Flanders. These areas included the counties and bishoprics of Rouen and Évreux. Rollo was baptized, married Adelais, an illegitimate daughter of Wipert I and swore fealty to the emperor of Christendom, from whom Rollo, in turn, received his country as a fief, and took on the task of defending the country against attacks by other Northmen, quite particularly the Danes from Bretland. The planned ceremony caused complications because Rollo refused to kneel in front of Wipert I and kiss his foot. Nonetheless, a compromise was found that one of Rollo's servants raised the duke’s foot so far up that Rollo didn't have to kneel. It is reported, from Ursus of Rheims, that the viceroy lost his balance and fell to the ground [3]. This treaty is indeed the source of the rivalry between the Humfriedings of Lisieux and the House of Normandy as it failed to lay down more any concrete borders and how their children had to behave in terms of the emerging Christian Neustrian feudal society. Therefore, after the death of Rollo in 921, one of his two sons [4] named Ragnarr, member of the House of Hrólfrsson would return to Sussex to seek a life devoid of the constant infighting and power politics of the Neustria of this era, but his fate had something different in mind.

Meanwhile, the Widonids, now lead by Adalhard I of Maine, one of the two surviving sons of Wipert I of Maine who died after a severe case of diarrhea in 918, were on the ascendancy at the cost of Carolingian control over the Neustrian Kingdom and in particular the duchy of Maine. But Adalhard I wasn’t the only person questioning the authority of Lothair III; to the East of Le Mans, which acted as the seat of government of Neustria ever since aging Count Gauzbert of Maine created a regency council for five-year-old Louis the Stammerer in Le Mans in early September 851 AD [5], grew another powerful county under Count Theobald I of Troyes who officially combined the counties of Troyes, Meaux, and Vermandois through inheritance and the absence of Emperor Lothair III who was preoccupied with the Lombards. Thus, the larger county of Campania [6] with its huge agricultural output was born which was at odds with Maine, especially because of a dispute over the county of Paris where a small, hunchbacked old man with a white beard, the aforementioned Wulfhard I, member of the Girardids, was ruling over the city which was ravaged during the Norse raids of the previous decades and has blood ties to both the Widonids and the Robertians of Campania [7], being the maternal uncle of Adalhard I of Maine and the brother-in-law of Theobald I. Yet, Wulfhard I himself never had any known children, except for a child which died during a hunting accident near Blois in the 890s. Thus, he is about to die heirless with two rival families technically able to claim the large county of Paris for themselves. While it should have been ultimately decided by Lothair III, his interest in administrative affairs only sprung up during the 920s which meant many minor and major counts and dukes technically had a free hand over their dynastic, political and economic affairs. In the long run, this was the largest flaw of Lothair the Great which inevitably let to the demise of the Carolingian dynasty in Neustria.

Thus, on a cool Summer evening in 918, fragile Wulfhard I took ill and died in his residence with no visible last will. Though initially disinterested in such court intrigues, Archbishop Ursus of Rheims, member of the Campanian noble family, seems to have decided to move in his nephew’s favor and declared Theobald I of Troyes to be the new Count of Paris, of course, on the behalf of Lothair III. In a vainglorious ceremony, Theobald I was given the city on the Seine in September 918 by his paternal uncle. Almost immediately after his coronation, Theobald I made his nine-year-old son Herbert a co-ruler over his vast domain stretching from Paris to Troyes. He apparently sought to contain the abilities of his maternal cousin Adalhard I, duke of Neustria, who was beyond enraged to hear from these steps to claim Paris for himself. After all, the city grew quite wealthy due to the reviving trade and the protection of the Counts of Lisieux and Rollo, the Norman outsider and it was one of the few large cities of rural Neustria. This new acquisition to Campania could be a decisive step to end the hegemony of Le Mans and, therefore, the Widonids over large swaths of the kingdom.

To consolidate his authority on this secular matter further, Ursus sought to establish some basis for legitimacy which in medieval Neustria could only be articulated within a Christian context. Hence, in addition to the deals he struck with local nobles, he sent representatives of his archbishopric to the Lateran in Rome, proposing the conversation of the Seine valley into a fiercely Christian region with Theobald I as its devout governor and Ursus himself as the representative of Papal interests in the region. He also dabbled in Normandy and even welcomed some Norse converts into his church in Rheims as a means of raising local support. Nonetheless, as sensational as his early successes were, Ursus’ revolt against the Widonid hegemony over most of Neustria was all but doomed.

Ursus was perhaps most famous for his dangerous friendship with the Bishop of Le Mans, a man named Raoul of Beaumont, brother of the local count Mainard I of Beaumont.
It was the year 920, as the story goes, and Raoul and Ursus met each other near Paris. On the opposite bank of the Seine at a place now called Evrey, or Aivriacum as it was called in earlier sources, sat the army of Adalhard I of Maine. He had the confirmation that Lothair III was soon to arrive in Neustria to collect homages of the local nobles and to celebrate the birth of his son Henry, named after the grandfather of his mother Johanna of Franconia, in Le Mans. The cruel archbishop, as the legend fancifully claimed, had marched to the city with the banner depicting a red lion on a white background, a common element of the personal coat of arms of various Campanian noblemen, despite Theobald I refusing to allow his uncle to appropriate his crest. Although outnumbered, Ursus stayed confident as his victory has been presaged in a dream.
Ursus fell from his horse. Raoul tried to perform an exorcism in the name of Jesus Christ as he knew that his friend was possessed by demons who worshiped not God, but only pure power. And as the Widonid army swept into the city, Ursus’ body suddenly burned up, creating a stench of brimstone and “satanic fire”.

Unsurprisingly, the legend was not written in living memory of the events and only surfaced in the 13th century in face of a succession crisis in Maine, written by the bishop of Le Mans Hoël II of Ruaudin, one of the early figures to condemn and demonize the authority of the archbishopric of Rheims in local politics and the conflicts with the Holy Roman Empire [8]. Additionally, the Campanian family crest was only first mentioned in the late 1100s in the Codex Benedictus, a pseudepigrapha usually attributed to Pope Benedict IX which was intended as an anthology of details and advices for pilgrims following the Way of Santiago or St. James Matamoros, “the Moor Slayer”, and the Via Francigena, a pilgrim road to Rome.

What actually occurred in this faithful year was only mentioned in a minor note in the Annals of St. Vaast [9] as so often for very crucial events in the Middle Ages, it is only known that Ursus “died in this year” and “Theobald moved back to Troyes”. Whatever happened, Ursus of Rheims was succeeded by Raoul of Beaumont as archbishop of Rheims with his disciple and archdeacon of the Church of Rheims, Guy of Maine, younger brother of Adalhard I of Maine, succeeding Raoul’s position in Le Mans.

Lothair III arrived in late 920 in Paris where Adalhard I would pay homage to him as duke of Neustria, Maine, and count of Paris. The last time a Widonid bowed before a Carolingian.


SUMMARY:

907:
The Treaty of Chartres. It is the foundational document of the Duchy of Normandy, establishing Rollo, a Norse warlord, and Viking leader, as the first Duke of Normandy in exchange for his loyalty to the viceroy of Neustria. The duchies' borders are for the first time defined, disrupting the structures of Neustria and creating new rivalries between various dynasties of the area.
918: Wipert I of Maine passes away. He is succeeded by his son Adalhard I of Maine.
918: After a succession crisis, Archbishop Ursus of Rheims proclaims his nephew Theobald I of Campania to be the new count of Paris, further accelerating the growing influence of the House of Troyes.
920: Adalhard I of Maine storms Paris to reclaim the city for the Widonids. Ursus of Rheims is killed and is succeeded by Raoul of Beaumont, a loyal ally of Adalhard I.
920: Lothair III arrives in Neustria to renew the sworn fealties of his subject. The Treaty of Chartres is officially recognized.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Here he is, in all of his glory.
[2] It is known through Dudon of Saint-Quentin, a Norman historian, that Rollo was a friend of a certain Alstem who was apparently king of England. Historians are nowadays quite convinced that he mistook Guthrum with his baptismal name of OTL, Aethelstan. Since I like friendships and Normandy, I’ll let this slide into my timeline.
[3] Happened IOTL with Charles III of France. Some things don’t change.
[4] Butterflies, I’ve said.
[5] Le Mans, la ville lumière.
[6] As the Champagne in France was called during Merovingian and Carolingian times. Seems appropriate to use Campania instead of Champagne in a timeline where we’ve got this entity a couple of decades prior.
[7] Related to the Robertians of OTL, yet he descended from Robert’s older brother Odo I of Troyes. The dynasty is named after their shared father named, you guessed it, Robert III of Worms.
[8] In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find... another chapter of this unpopular timeline about the Sacrum Imperium Romanum.
[9] The Annales Vedastini were continued for another three decades ITTL, instead of ending the late 9th century. The Normans, once again, had their fingertips in here!
 
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Love the timeline and this update! One minor quibble - in heraldry there really is no such thing as a family crest. The 'crest' refers to the bit that sits above the helmet on the armorial achievement. Also, at least in the Franco-English traditions of OTL, the entire achievement did not belong to a family, but only to individuals (although a son might choose to carry over elements of his own achievement from his Father, he was not required to - and he could not have identical arms to anyone else).

Now, that being said, heraldry hadn't really developed in the 9th century yet - so in this timeline it Could evolve into a system where it is inherited amongst families (and there were places in OTL that it did). So, really, the only issue is the term family crest ;)
 
Love the timeline and this update! One minor quibble - in heraldry there really is no such thing as a family crest. The 'crest' refers to the bit that sits above the helmet on the armorial achievement. Also, at least in the Franco-English traditions of OTL, the entire achievement did not belong to a family, but only to individuals (although a son might choose to carry over elements of his own achievement from his Father, he was not required to - and he could not have identical arms to anyone else).

Now, that being said, heraldry hadn't really developed in the 9th century yet - so in this timeline it Could evolve into a system where it is inherited amongst families (and there were places in OTL that it did). So, really, the only issue is the term family crest ;)
Thank you for the insight, I'll change it as soon as I'm back home, I don't see a reason why it would develop differently in this timeline.
I wanted to introduce the first coat of arms once we reached the 11th or 12th centuries, similar to OTL, yet for another reasons I have planned.

The compliments and the criticism are much appreciated!
 
BEYOND 2.IV: Map of Neustria as of 925 AD



FOOTNOTES
The spheres of influence of the major counties and duchies of Neustria. Not as fancy as the other maps, since exams take a lot of time.
As for the future of this TL, I have already written the next two and a half chapters, yet, as said before, the next two weeks will be quite stressful for me and my procrastinating nature. So please don't expect the weekly updates for the next two weeks. But I'll promise that I'll return with some juicy Norwegian action and family drama and some not-so juicy administration problems for the Carolingians. And Magyars.
 
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The spheres of influence of the major counties and duchies of Neustria. Not as fancy as the other maps, since exams take a lot of time.
As for the future of this TL, I have already written the next two and a half chapters, yet, as said before, the next two weeks will be quite stressful for me and my procrastinating nature. So please don't expect the weekly updates for the next two weeks. But I'll promise that I'll return with some juicy Norwegian action and family drama and some not-so juicy administration problems for the Carolingians. And Magyars.
Good luck for the exams:):)
 
BEYOND 3.II: The Battle of Barkåker
Excerpt: Medieval Scandinavia: The Node of Europe – Vilhelm Ingels, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1900)


Harald I Fairhair’s newly-built empire of Norway would not outlive his reign; his sons’ strife towards the position of their shared father would hinder any proper cohesion of the newly formed kingdom. His attempts at reconciliation between up to twenty sons [1] wouldn’t resolve the rivalries, in fact, they were only magnified after his favorite son, Eirik Bloodaxe, was declared to become his successor. This was the dominant theme of many sagas, including the Heimskringla, which pointed out that Harald I appointed most of his sons who didn’t emigrate to Bretland as client kings over the various regions of the kingdom, most notably Eirik’s half-brothers Haakon in Hordaland, Olaf Geirstadalf in Vingulmark and Sigrød in Lade, in order to appease his disgruntled offsprings. Yet, it only led to a suppression of their shared distaste of their father Harald I and their most hated brother, Eirik I.

Harald I died in 930 at the age of 77 after succumbing to pneumonia. Eirik, now High King Eirik I of Norway, ruled for about a year and some months over his half-brothers. While the sagas weren’t precise over the actual proceedings of his rule, it was clear that Eirik I infuriated most of his subjects to such a degree that most rose to fight their half-brother. It is suggested that his mismanagement of the yielded crops of a particularly cold winter and his lack of power outside of his base near Hordaland was at least partially responsible for such a quick outburst of his subjects.

To understand why Norway and the Scandinavia as a whole succumbed to such a degree of chaos and disorder during its early recorded years, one needs to look South to the Carolingians. This Frankish dynasty were the lords of considerable estates, from which an important part of their revenues was derived. These estates were endangered by the Norse raiders, along with those of their subjects, and thus it is not surprising that the royal dynasty reacted to the general threat in much the same way as did the lesser dynasties. Almost without exception, the later Carolingians were ready to take the field when they could against the Vikings. Louis the Pious, Charles the Bald and Lothair II (835-894, victor of the Battle of Thimeon [2]) are good examples. Wipert I of Maine, Duke of Neustria, and, by extension, Emperor Lothair the Great, who in 907 agreed with the Danish chieftain Rollo to surrender a large area of land for permanent settlement on certain terms, acted in no craven spirit. Both were warriors of distinction, but especially the former saw that where he lacked the means to eject it would be wiser to welcome. The Carolingians fought the Vikings when they could. But there was no real defense against incessant attack in force from the sea. A national host, such as was raised from time to time, could meet a major threat. The losses of the various Wessexian kings' strategies in Bretland did not really have their counterpart in Francia; indeed, the Frankish and Wessexian kings saw clearly that the Danish threat was common to both sides of the Channel, but only the Carolingians seemed to learn something from the subdued Anglo-Saxons about defense methods as well as about the best means to keep their subjects loyal.

But when the threat was not concentrated, there was little that kings could do. Some, like the Widonid dynasty in the north, fought like true marcher lords. Others did not. Yet, by the beginning of the 10th century, the Carolingians under Lothair the Great considered themselves as defenders of Christendom from the Norse Pagan menace from Bretland and Scandinavia. Force was applied to repel Norse settlers outside of Normandy, and not too few willingly let go in favor of Bretland. Or back to Scandinavia.

Thus, according to the Icelandic and Anglian sagas, during the latter half of Harald Fairhair's reign, Norway was quite disturbed by the return of many restless Norse men from the Carolingian Empire, Iceland, and Bretland which led to the aforementioned disaster in Norway under its new king Eirik I.

Olaf Haraldssøn, in particular, was driven by many dissenting voices of the returning Norse and those (half-)brothers who were left behind during the factual partition of Norway to make a move by declaring himself king of Viken, in clear opposition to Eirik. Olaf's own brother Bjørn Farmann, a client king to Eirik I in Vestfold, joined Olaf’s cause by 932. Strengthened by the prospect of loot and riches in Hordaland, Olaf would soon march towards Hordaland where Eirik I resided.

Both Sigrød, king of Trondheim and Lade and Haakon, sub-king of Hordaland, would also rebel against Túnsberg, the de-facto capital of Norway which is generally regarded to be one of the oldest still standing cities in the entirety of Scandinavia. Haakon, in particular, is an interesting case as he was possibly only around 16 years old at the time and was raised in the Mercian court at Oxford in Bretland, which is why he was oftentimes referred to as Haakon Adalwolffostre after his foster-father Aethelwulf I of Mercia [3]. Harald may have sent him there during the calming situation in Bretland to protect him from the violent strife and intrigues of medieval Scandinavia. His absence in Norway, however, meant that he had no real ties to any of the local lords or his half-brothers outside of Sigrød of Lade who knew of the precarious situation of Haakon and knew how to exploit it. He invited his younger half-brother to enforce his titular claim on Hordaland. Another curiosity of Haakon is his possible conversion to Christianity before his arrival in Norway which could explain his coming shaky rule over Hordaland and the distrust of many local lords including Olaf I Geirstadalf Haraldssøn with whom he clashed multiple times in the following years.

The Battle of Barkåker in 936, just outside of Túnsberg, was the culmination of the struggle between Eirik I and his half-brothers for the crown of Norway. The situation of Eirik I may seem grim, but he could count on many lords of Western Norway, such as Ragnvald of Hadeland [4], who began to oppose his traditional ally Sigrød of Lade after conflicting claims on Oppland weren’t dissolved between the two. Therefore, despite modern popular belief, the outcome of the battle was not predisposed nor could it have been predictable. We can never be certain of what was happening back then. But we can often guess what contemporaries thought was happening.

According to the Heimskringla, part of which was written from Eirik’s perspective, news came from the West that the people of Hordaland and Lade were gathering weapons while the East openly declared hostility towards Eirik’s reign by 935. Eirik was therefore moved to gather a large army himself which mostly consisted of returning raiders and soldiers from Vestfold and Hadeland. He strengthened his position near Túnsberg by creating large fortifications made out of wood and piled-up dirt as was usual in Scandinavian defense tactics. Eirik had the advantage of having a swamp protecting his Eastern flank and has stationed his troops behind his dirt wall in preparation for the coming attack from both the East consisting of Olaf and his brother Bjørn and the West consisting of Sigrød and Haakon.

Apparently, the coalition that has formed against Eirik I was quite surprised to find his prepared army. Eirik I, knowing of his superior position, thus lured the contingent from Trondheim into attacking the fort while Olaf Geirstadalf was forced to go around the swamp to effectively attack the high king. Yet Haakon hesitated to attack the construction, knowing of their superior position. A surprise attack from the swamp targeting Olaf was repelled at the cost of Bjørn Farmann’s skull being smashed by a club. This enraged Olaf to such a degree that he has ordered an assault towards Eirik I’s fort. Seeing Olaf’s men storming towards the fort probably convinced Haakon and Sigørd that it was the perfect timing for an attack on the soon-to-be exposed flank on the West.

The sagas only tell of a massacre on both sides, with heavy losses for Olaf Geirstadalf in particular. Yet, the coalition was overwhelmingly successful, especially once they had driven Eirik’s forces past the improvised fort. Left with nowhere to retreat outside of Túnsberg itself, many were slaughtered with Eirik narrowly escaping death. Eirik I would soon flee with his remaining army towards Bretland where High King Oskytel I granted him refuge [5].

The Battle at the fields of Barkåker led, contrary to the expectations of Olaf Geirstadalf who proclaimed himself in Túnsberg the new king of Norway, to a collapse of a central authority in Western Scandinavia with Viken, Hordaland, Vestfold, Møre and Lade becoming their own domains despite claiming to serve a king of Norway. This disaster for Eirik I also led to a new wave of violence and therefore emigration towards both Iceland where the Althing, a parliament at þingvellir ("Thing Fields") where chieftains from various Icelandic tribes assemble for two weeks to settle disputes and arrange marriages, was established by 930 and Bretland where Oskytel I, almost cornered by Ragnarr I of Sussex, Ceolwulf III of a resurging Mercia, Aethelhelm the Younger of Wessex and some rebellious Danish lords of the Danelaw, was only too eager to invite some potential mercenaries to combat the growing threat for his Kingdom of Anglia.

Although most scholars currently tend to regard the migration processes and state-building of (Western) Scandinavia as a process lasting centuries, rather than being the result of a single battle, the Battle of Barkåker ranks high in the popular imaginations of the Nordic nations. It was the conclusion of King Harald I of Norway's dream to unite the troubled region of Norway under his sole rule. This battle also may very well have been the largest in Norway up to that time and for a substantial time afterward. Therefore, the importance of the Battle of Barkåker cannot be understated while exploring the history of both Bretland and Scandinavia in the medieval period.



SUMMARY:

936:
The Battle of Barkåker. Norwegian central authority completely breaks down after King Eirik I Bloodaxe is forced to flee from Scandinavia towards Bretland.

FOOTNOTES
[1] The amount of sons varies throughout different accounts, but it is certainly in the range between 11 and 20.
[2] This battle resembles the same battle of OTL, with only marginal differences such as different kings present and a smaller amount of Viking raiders in Wallonia.
[3] Son of Aethelred II of Mercia. Mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon update!
[4] He was killed by Eirik I IOTL prior to the Battle of Haugar, because of his hotheaded nature.
[5] Destroying Northumbria with intrigues and axes. It'll get quite interesting on the Isles.

I finished with my exams and, oh boy, am I happy that this stressful time is finally over. Expect more frequent posts. Questions or criticism regarding the timeline or the state of Europe and its immediate surroundings are, as always, quite welcome.
By the way, if somebody knows how to properly resize the pictures I've used during the course of the timeline, please inform me how to do it, I did notice most of them are a bit too large...
 
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CHAPTER 1.XVIII: The Beginning of the End
Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)



PART V

The End of the Carolingian Empire




Description: Lothair III, painted by Tristan Duras.


Despite Charles Martel never adopting the title of king of the Franks, modern historians usually ascribed his rapid rise to power in the Frankish Empire in 718 as the beginning of the ascendancy of the Carolingian Dynasty. His son Pepin III, also called Pepin the Short, was the first Carolingian King of the Franks by 751, establishing the Carolingian family at the forefront of Western European politics. His son Charles I, referred to as Charlemagne or Charles the Great, expanded the Frankish state and was proclaimed Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III in 800. Louis the Pious was the penultimate emperor of a united Frankish Empire. Despite his accomplishments, his reign was the beginning of a slow decline of the Carolingian world and his death in 840 would ultimately shatter Francia into three. Yet, it was not the end for the Carolingians and this partition led to a more dynamic and more bloody conflict between the various rulers of Carolingian descent. Charles the Bald’s death in 851 ended West Francia not with a bang but with a whimper; the aspirations of Louis the German and his older brother Emperor Lothair I were fulfilled to different degrees in the fields of West Francia where their sons did reign. After a short period of peace and the subsequent deaths of Lothair I and Louis the German, however, renewed dynastic squabbles ensued. There was cooperation and friendship, as seen with the Treaty of Auxerre which formalized the division of the short-lived Kingdom of Burgundy under its epileptic King Charles I, son of Lothair I, but there were battles fought and blood dropped over the never-answered questions of power and prestige. The Empire was lost, as many contemporaries were convinced.

But in the twilight of the great Frankish Empire, the Lotharian Branch of the Carolingian Dynasty was chosen. Due to their skill, strength, and, most importantly, luck, the Carolingian Dynasty lived through a new Golden age during its last decades on Earth. King Odo I and Emperor Lothair III were the embodiment of this development. But this too shall pass.

The early years of the rule of Lothair III were dominated by his military campaigns in Aquitania, Italy, and Meridia. After these, however, he became more secluded and restricted his temper with a more rationalistic approach to governmental policies.

We are now closing in on the last years of Lothair III’s reign, the last years of the Carolingian Empire.



+ + +


He returned to Burgundy from the Meridian campaign by late 919 where Duke Bivin I invited him to reside in Arles for a while. This, of course, was a move to approach the emperor to formalize his self-proclaimed ducal title over the corpse of the Burgundian kingdom. The Bosonids accumulated many treasures during their reign over Provence, most of which stem from the Rhoman possessions in Italy, Meridia, and Epirus, many others from Constantinople itself; the last years of the Amorian Dynasty saw a steady economic decline of the Purple which ended in the selling of many national relics. Byzantine influence in the courts of Burgundy, be it Arles, Toulon or Marseille, was therefore quite strong; It was Bivin’s son Boso I of Burgundy who married Anna, an illegitimate daughter of Rhoman Emperor Nicholas I in an effort to normalize relations between the “civilized” Eastern Rome and the “Barbarian” Western one.

One such treasure was the Sacra Lancea, the Holy Lance, which is said to contain a victory-bringing nail from the Cross of Jesus Christ. How it had been acquired is completely unknown, studies of the University of Kaiserswerth show that it was modeled after a typical Carolingian winged lance and was created only during the 8th century.

It was nonetheless acquired by Lothair III in early November 919 in exchange for Bivin’s ducal title being officially recognized as such through a royal charter [1]. Its potency as a symbol of divinely ordained rule comparable to Charlemagne’s crown and the imperial orb was heightened throughout Lothair III’s reign and would become part of the royal and imperial insignia.



+ + +


To understand the history and administration of the succeeding nations, one must understand the basic structure of the late Carolingian Empire.

For most of the Empire’s existence, imperial governance was guided by the prevailing ideal of good kingship. All dukes, kings and even emperors had to react to circumstances and improvise, but they should not be at the mercy of events. Lothair III deliberately displayed both courage and wit in battle and secured victories against most of his enemies which provided evidence of true faith and divine favor. Nonetheless, direct participation in warfare was very risky, as demonstrated by Charles the Bald’s defeat at Jengland-Beslé in 851 where he ultimately paid with his life.

Lothair III was aware of that, yet only crowned his oldest son Charles co-emperor after his Meridian Campaign in 919, at the tender age of seven. Co-kings and co-emperors emerged as a way to stabilize the state by resolving doubt over the succession of the crown ahead of the monarch’s death. It usually also followed a spread of the burden of being ruler over vast estates without delegating too much power to those outside of the inner royal circle. Yet, Charles was too young to handle the matters of Italy effectively; he was therefore quickly surrounded by trusted servants of Lothair III, including Margrave William I of Friuli, who should “advise” Charles’ decision-making once he would return to Italy in 926 to govern the Italian Kingdom, falling under the influence of Ottwin I of Ivrea. In the meantime, Lothair III would also release the Capitulary of Limoges in 920 which, in retrospect, may very well have been one of the most important charters of the emperor. The most notable sections dealt with the tasks of the nobility and reacted on the reality of the Frankish Empire: Most offices and riches inherited by the sons of the potentates, despite the de-jure prohibition of this without the consent of the king. However, according to this capitulary which was most likely crafted as a reaction to discovering that his absence has fundamentally changed the empire, these held offices and riches would be now also officially passed on to their sons, although these successions should not happen automatically, but through a renewed pledge of allegiance to the king. It is stated that the vassals of royal vassals, in this case, the vassals of his counts, are included in this regulation. This part of the capitulary is of fundamental importance for European constitutional history and it is often regarded as an essential building block of feudalism: the capitulary of Limoges is a document which reflects the growing royal acceptance of the inheritance of fiefs, something which is by that point in time only beginning to become the norm in Western Europe.

The Carolingian Empire was divided between dukes, the highest-ranking officials of the empire behind the king and emperor who governed their assigned provinces and led (local) military expeditions, and counts whose main task was to maintain peace and uphold justice. The latter remained “free”, in the sense that the counts were directly subject to the emperor despite owing certain obligations to the dukes. By the end of the 920s, there were around 20 officially recognized ducal titles held within the empire roughly evenly distributed across it while there were more than 700 known counties, of which more than half were situated in Francia and Lotharingia alone. Most counties in Neustria, Aquitania, and Italy were created as a secular subdivision of local dioceses, the importance of the Latinate Church in both administration and networking devices for the emperor should therefore not be understated. Developments prior and across Lothair III’s reign saw both ducal and county positions fluctuate between royal appointments and hereditary possessions, with an overall trend favoring the latter over the former. Yet, it should be remembered that what was being held hereditarily as a title and its associated functions, not necessarily a distinct territory. Most counts and dukes would swear their fealty to the emperor at least once in their lifetime personally, despite increased use of documents to keep track of these acts.

While the Empire never matched the papacy’s use of writing to document claims and extend influence, Lothair III issued 510 known documents and charters, the annual average being a little bit more than 24 per year. There are also around 100 documents attributed to him which, however, mostly consist of forgeries and misattributed charters. Charlemagne, in comparison, issued only a hundred charters during his lifespan resulting in an annual average of only 2 per year. This growth of writing in imperial governance showcase the increasing complexity of the empire and the growing hardships in finding a solution to it. It must be stated that only very few charters are meant to be regarded as universal laws or even laws spanning only a specified sub-kingdom of the Empire, general laws were at that time considered to be fixed by moral and religious absolutes that could not be altered by mere charters. Most documents issued in the name of the various Carolingian kings and their successors before the end of the medieval era were only charters which either approved or disapproved of the aspirations of local counts and dukes in their quest to expand their power; These charters should be understood as a regulating force in the empire instead of a legal one. They additionally illustrate how much of the royal activity was reactive, rather than planned; the Treaty of Chartres, for example, was only royally sanctioned once Lothair III had arrived in Paris only to encounter a new quadripolar Neustria. Yet Lothair III’s reign didn’t see written documentation replacing other forms of legitimation like custom. Another issue present in almost every century of the medieval era was the practice of destroying letters after the receiver has read them, in contrast to later eras where even the most mundane things happen to survive the test of time. However, the relatively low volume of such papers allowed for some inconsistencies between official and real boundaries of influence of the noblemen of the empire to slide away from the public focus which, in turn, oftentimes secured peace in the respective regions.

Success under these political and administrative circumstances depended therefore on securing acceptance or, even better, support of the royal policies. Royal assemblies oftentimes provided the main mechanism to achieve such a consensus among the noblemen and the local clergy. In the Carolingian era, these were usually held on very prominent religious holidays such as All Saints’ Day. For instance, it was a convent or synod near Le Mans on 1 November 920 where the Neustrian incidents between the Counts and Dukes of Lisieux, Normandy, Maine, and Campania were diplomatically resolved, for the time being. Another convent exactly a year later, this time in Évreux, would see the Count Wolfker I of Lisieux be elevated to the position of a duke in the face of a revived Viking activity on the Channel after Anglia fell to the forces of Sussex and Wessex by Christmas 920. This was a consequence of the failure to repeal the Vikings once and for all. In this convent, Rollo’s oldest son William Lackland [2], was also recognized to be the new duke over the area which was given to his father through the Treaty of Chartres. As part of the procedure, William paid his homage to Lothair III in a ceremonious play eagerly documented by the bishop Robert of Lisieux whose allegiances became clear once William’s epithet had come into action after the end of Lothair III’s reign.

In 922, Lothair III continued to tour the empire by visiting the Rudolphings in Lunéville where the bishops of Metz and Straßburg were constructing a fortress on behalf of duke Herbert I of Upper Lorraine, a young child supervised by these two men. By November of the same year, he visited Eberhard I of Lower Lorraine, a secluded duke pursuing some studies of the written word of God together with the Bishop Gérard of Liège which culminated in the so-called Lotharingian Renovatio, a revival of cultural activity in the Low Countries and the Rhineland which would outlive both Lothair III and Eberhard I. Lothair III, as pious as he might have been, was never interested in lengthy studies of the holy book and scriptures accompanying it. Yet, his presence in Lotharingia proved to be sufficient enough to end the quarrels within the Frankish and Lotharingian church regarding issues in Northelbingia or Nordelbien and to fertilize new intellectual growth in the region, thus extending the Carolingian Renovatio for the last time. [3]

By 923, he was back in Aachen where he organized a large assembly inviting the dukes of Francia. A large banquet was held after the present nobles renewed their pledge of allegiance. Here, he met Liudolf II, duke of the Saxons, with whom he would develop a lifelong friendship (amicitia) which allowed the emperor to widen his small inner circle beyond his immediate relationships and people he knew ever since he was an infant such as Bishop Hermann of Metz. This friendship, according to the Annals of Stade, included not only the usual alternations between playing the host and the guest of such banquets but also reciprocal gift-giving, deliberate public displays of the two together and hunting together in the forests near Münster. These friendships were politically important for both sides as well, as it increased the prestige among their subjects and allowed for favors to be asked from both sides.

Lothair III’s foreign policy lacked any form of interventionism Charlemagne might have had, indeed, he was more laid back than his predecessors. Vratislaus' son Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, the sole surviving child [4] of his father who ruled from 921, was already accepted as the head of the Bohemian tribal union; however, he had to cope with the enmity of his neighbor Duke Louis of Bavaria and his mighty ally, the Carolingian emperor Lothair III. Wenceslaus had to outmaneuver the crumbling, yet resilient Great Moravians led by its last prince Mojmír III, son of Svatopluk II [5], whose attempts at revenging his strife for independence and continued Magyar invasions towards Bohemian territory proved to be a huge burden on the young Bohemian nation whose local rulers sometimes sprung up to revolt against the apparent inability of Wenceslaus I to put an end to the dying Moravian Empire. He maintained his ducal authority by submitting to Lothair III in 929 in Ratisbon or Regensburg in Bavaria who, in turn, assisted Wenceslaus I, militarily with a small Bavarian contingent [6]. Wenceslaus I is known to be a devout Latinate Christian who spent most of his resources to Christianize most of the majority-pagan Bohemian lands with immigrating German monks and proved to be ineffective to counter the growing Magyar threat. Lothair III’s limited interventions in Bohemia saved the young duchy from total collapse, yet Wenceslaus I’s inability to do something against the continued Magyar incursions into Bohemia would inevitably lead to the catastrophic Battle of Wenzelbach of 932.

Another issue of the foreign policies of Lothair III was the lack of a serious presence beyond the Pyrenees in the Spanish March. Alerm II or Adalhelm II, an Aleranid Count of Barcelona, declined to swear fealty to Louis II of Aquitania, the predecessor to Lothair III, by 900 and was not punished nor replaced. The count was probably motivated by Louis II's failure to address Alerm's petitions for assistance against the revived Andalusi raids of emir Hisham II and his sons al-Hakam and Ubayd Allah I [7] against the remaining Christian states in the North. Lothair III dispatched an embassy to Córdoba demanding the emir to put a stop to the attacks, a request that reflected the prestige the emirs have achieved by that point and the lacking will of Lothair III to engage in another confrontation with the Muslims. An embassy of Galician King Ordoño II Bermudez and its elaborate display and explanation of the internal weaknesses of the Umayyads which sought to convince Lothair III in trying to lift the siege of Barcelona arrived in the 920s in Aachen, but to no avail.



+ + +


Thus, Lothair III’s remaking of the empire resembled in some way the earlier Carolingian achievements of Charlemagne in that it followed a series of victories against “heathens and pagans” such as the Muslims of Ischia or the Magyars from Pannonia and the victory against internal disruptive forces such as the Unroachings of Friuli. Lothair III was quite aware of the fragile situation of the gargantuan empire and conscious of his predecessors’ precedents. Therefore, he presented his reign as a revival of imperial authority instead of a continuation of the Carolingian status quo which, for example, resulted in a carefully staged imperial coronation in Rome that mirrored that of Charlemagne who is still widely venerated across Western Europe. Yet, above all, it was the critical judgments of contemporaries from the leading intellectual circles of the empire that shaped the judgment of historians of the coming centuries. Abbot Samuel von Hochseeburg justified his influential judgment on Lothair III in his (biased) account of the late Carolingian period called The History of the Honorful Babenberg Dynasty of Francia, published by 1341 AD. He criticized the lack of a “national consciousness” encompassing all of the noblemen and clerics of the Carolingian Empire and accused Lothair III of being unrealistic in his expectations and too “divulged in fantasies of a reborn Rome”. Furthermore, according to von Hochseeburg, Lothair III frivolously gambled away a great legacy, chased pipe dreams, and surrounded himself with too many clerics and foreigners, meaning people from Aquitania, Italy or Neustria.

Lothair III, going down in history as Lothair the Great, was the last ruler of a united Carolingian Empire. His classification by later Neustrian and Frankish accounts as a religious, cloistered fanatic who sought to renovate the old Carolingian institutions is not entirely unjustified, and modern research takes a much more critical stance on his suffix which was added to his name by his four surviving sons, the popes following John XI, and Aquitanian and Italian intellectuals. Yet, under his reign the Frankish Empire flourished for one last time, both economically and culturally, and was stabilized from the inside and the outside. Unlike his predecessors, Lothair III had created an outstanding personal network that carried his effective rule almost everywhere. As almost all sources of time emphasize, the emperor succeeded in unifying and stabilizing the Carolingian Empire which he found torn apart when he succeeded his father Odo I. In addition, he had extended his sphere of influence to Meridia where he humiliated the Eastern Roman Empire and had shown great and brutal strength against the Italian rebels like Unroach IV and the Ischian Muslims.

Thus, Lothair III laid the foundations of the late medieval period of Europe.
One should accordingly not be surprised that whether or not Lothair III should be called “the Great” is a matter of discussion among scholars and layman alike to this day. Arguments of fanatic defenders of either side of this naming dispute should always be encountered critically.


Despite the disputes over the nature of Lothair III and his reign, it is universally agreed upon that with Lothair III’s death in 932 AD, the Carolingian Empire dramatically collapsed, for one last time.


SUMMARY:
919:
Lothair III's oldest son Charles is proclaimed co-emperor with noble backing.
919: Bivin I gains the recreated ducal title of Burgundy.


FOOTNOTES
[1] IOTL it was sold to Henry I of Germany by Rudolph II of Burgundy in 925 in exchange for OTL Swiss territory around Basel.
[2] I think his epithet might mean something...
[3] The Lotharingian Renaissance will be the last era of the Carolingian revival of the arts and intellectual pursuits in the church. A minor butterfly which would change how this world would look back on the Carolingians.
[4] No Boleslaus the Cruel ITTL. Yay!… unless…
[5] If you haven’t noticed it in my map update for Francia, Great Moravia is still alive, well, at least sort of. As a minor butterfly, it was able to live a bit longer, yet, as you can see, even the butterflies couldn’t save the nation. I’m sorry, little one.
[6] IOTL, this small Bavarian contingent would have assisted the Moravians against the Magyars. Not here, though. A grave mistake.
[7] An update is coming. Al-Mundhir I stays for a bit longer, I can tell you that.
 
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BEYOND 4.I: Ibn Hafsun and the Golden Age of al-Andalus
Excerpt: The Land Without Rust and Snow: A History of the Spains – Hisham Al-Ahmadi, Moonlight Press (AD 1976) [1] [2]


In the hot summer of 895, a macabre spectacle played out in front of the royal palace of Qurtubah. One corpse, already rotting and creating such a bad stench that the citizens of the city were avoiding it, was hoisted onto a cross in a scene that mockingly evoked the image of the biblical crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This horrifying public show would last for another ten years until the corpse has rotten off to be unidentifiable and was discarded unceremoniously.


Umar Ibn Hafsun in the History of All Spains, released 1826.

Umar ibn Hafsun, the muwallad potentate who had led a rebellion against the Umayyad amirs in southern Al-Andalus that lasted almost two decades, had to go through this grisly fate. His posthumous execution should mark the end of a nearly fatal ninth century.

His uprising began in the late 870s, the last years of Muhammad I’s long reign over the amirate, when, in addition to the countless rebellions in the frontier provinces, the various raids of both Alfonso III and later even his former ally Bermudo I and the court intrigues perpetrated by the growing factionalism in Qurtubah between the Syrian Arabs, Muwallads, Berbers and now the Saqaliba, the amir suddenly had to fight with a wide variety of uprisings across the South.

The causes of the Southern Uprisings are debated to this day. The modern narrative of a populist figure defending the exploited from the authoritarianism of the monarch, as some would have it, is incorrect, nor was it a clash of civilizations between the old Visigoths and the Arabs as others presumed. It is nowadays widely accepted that it was indeed a rebellion of the Muwallads of the South whose loss of power was only accelerated once the Norse raiders attacked multiple possessions of the areas around Malaqah and Al-Meriyah [1] and the introduction of Saqlab governors in the region such as Ali Iqbal Ibn Muhammad of Isbili [2] whose patronymic didn’t derive from his actual father, but rather the amir Muhammad I who had him tutored for administrative positions in the amirate.

Ibn Hafsun’s origins, similar to those of the majority of the Saqaliba, are unknown. What can be said for sure that he was certainly of muwallad origin and likely from the areas of and around Gharnatah [3]. He was landholder and enjoyed much influence over the area even prior to his revolt. The origins and goals of the revolt itself are also shrouded in mystery. It is said by contemporaries that he fled into Rustamid North Africa after murdering a rival. He soon returned to his fortress at Bobastro which served as his seat of power and would evolve to the epicenter of the entire revolt. Thereafter, he raised an army of local disgruntled muwallad and local Christians whose discontent over the levied heavy taxes fueled the rebellion and declared the independence of the Southern heartlands of Al-Andalus. Muhammad I reacted immediately and sent Hashim ibn Abd al-Aziz, the amir’s favorite and general, to bring the rebel to heel [4]. The general’s behavior in the South only further deteriorated the situation, however, as his stance on non-Arabs allowed for much fiscal and physical abuse in the region. Ibn Hafsun’s revolt was only halted by 886 after four years of revolt and much blood dropped after which his family and he himself were relocated to Qurtubah where Ibn Hafsun served for a year as a capable military general against Alfonso III’s incursions.

Yet, as soon as amir Muhammad I passed away in late 887 [5], the rebellion reignited in Malaqah after Ibn Abd al-Aziz levied another tax for the muwallads and dhimmis, possibly to discredit Muhammad I’s son and the new amir al-Mundhir I who Ibn Abd al-Aziz saw as a rival even before the old amir’s death. Shortly after, Ibn Hafsun fled to his fortress at Bobastro, revived his uprising and demands of fiscal and political freedom of the South, and denounced his former masters at Qurtubah.

It is known that Ibn Hafsun, from there on, had dabbled in his search for new allies in other schools of Sunni Islam or other branches of said religion overall by, for example, inviting one Kutama da’i [6] with the purpose of exchanging gifts and introducing Ibn Hafsun and some of his followers to Isma’ili Shia thought. It was propagated by the Kutama Berber tribe of Numidia which was now led by the eleventh imam Sa’id ibn Al-Husayn. Ibn Al-Husayn was fighting a secret war against the weakening Aghlabids in Ifriquiya and his control over North Africa would soon threaten Umayyad and Abbasid interests in the region. It is also delivered that he tried to send an envoy to the Abbasid court at Baghdad of al-Mu’tamid in order to gain his patronage and blessings for his doings.
Nonetheless, what Ibn Hafsun’s end-goals were in terms of his political and religious policies are to this day entirely unknown [7].

One of the first actions of the new amir al-Mundhir I was to stamp out the rebellion of the South. Thus, he launched a violent campaign against Ibn Hafsun to finally put an end to his intrigues. He moved towards Bobastro in 888 and started to besiege the fortress. Soon after, however, Ibn Abd al-Aziz joined the siege with characteristic retaliatory violence against the walls of Bobastro and the surrounding villages, angering both the amir and local population which rose up to rebel against the injustice of the governor of the South. Thus, after six weeks, the siege was given up by the forces of al-Mundhir I which returned to Isbili to prepare a new offensive [8].

This didn’t go unnoticed by the opportunist Ibn Hafsun. He declared the total independence of a new nation of the territories below the Al-Kabir [9], claiming to be the new amir with the blessings of the caliphate in Baghdad. This aimed to stir up the rural potentates, regardless of faith, who felt marginalized by the Syrian-Arabic elite of Qurtubah whose arms, in particular the obnoxious one named Hashim ibn Abd al-Aziz, have intervened in local affairs too often and too harshly.

Isbili was after Qurtubah the largest city on the Iberian peninsula and served as an important link to the North African tributaries such as the Idrisids in Maghreb al-Aqsa. It was damaged by Norse raids into the city and Ibn Hafsun’s looting of the hinterland, nonetheless, the rule over the city was hotly contested between the urban elite, in particular the Banu ‘l-Hajjaj and the Banu Khaldun [10]. The Banu ‘l-Hajjaj can be traced back to the Syrian era of the Umayyad dynasty, although it has experienced a significant Visigothic influence through marriages. Ibn Abd al-Aziz relied on the support of the Banu Khaldun, in particular, Kurayb ibn Khaldun who used the unrest to expand his estates outside Isbili and to gain an edge against the Banu ‘l-Hajjaj. To counter Ibn Hafsun’s growing popularity, however, al-Mundhir I had his hated general move to the Northern, depopulated, frontier, away from the hotspot of the conflict, fulfilling one of the many demands of the locals.

This was a bitter setback for Ibn Khaldun who feared that his hegemony over the city might collapse once al-Mundhir I set out to attack Bobastro again. The only way to extend his rulership of the city was to keep the local potentates in disarray, a task unthinkable without an alliance with Ibn Hafsun. He left the town and made alliances with other dissidents such as Muhammad Ibn Ghalib, a notable muwallad who opposed Umayya Ibn Abd al-Ghafir, the Umayyad governor of Qurtubah, and Ibn Hafsun himself who Ibn Khaldun has invited to ambush the amir once he has fully taken control over the city.

Thus, Ibn Khaldun had invited many of the Banu ‘l-Hajjaj and several notable muwallad families such as the Banu Angelico or Banu Savarico to a dinner to settle the dispute. Though much of the exact numbers and proceedings have been lost to time, it is generally assumed that around 60 potentates were present in his mansion in al-Djaraf just outside of Isbili [11]. Given the strained atmosphere, it is not unlikely that Ibrahim ibn al-Hajjaj, patriarch of the family, and others have secretly carried weapons to the banquet.
Once the feasting and festivities were done, a brutal tussle between the various potentates ensued. Ibn Kurayb, son of Ibn Khaldun, was remorselessly clubbed to death and the Banu Angelico was exterminated. Ibn Khaldun narrowly survived and fled first towards Qadis, then towards Idrisid Fez, and then back to Qurtubah by 895 where he was pardoned and installed as a local administrator of Gharnatah. Ibn al-Hajjaj, on the other hand, appeared to have taken undisputed control over the city as a result of the dinner-time massacre after which negotiated with Qurtubah. In exchange for his recognition as the ruler of both Isbili and Qarmunah [12], Ibn al-Hajjaj recognized al-Mundhir I as his superior and was forced to pay an annual tribute and uphold an alliance formed against Ibn Hafsun, the official “perpetrator” of the attack on Ibn al-Hajjaj’s life.

Despite many similar rebellions taking place at the same time, Ibn Hafsun remained the most dangerous enemy the amirate must face. And despite the setback he has experienced in Isbili, he has reached the height of his power in 890 when he established a new outpost near Medina Astidjia [13] to raid the immediate surroundings of both Isbili and, most importantly, Qurtubah. In the next year, he almost reached the city-walls of the capital itself but was halted by a joint offensive led by the aforementioned governors of Isbili and Qurtubah, Ibn Muhammad al-Isbili and Ibn Abd al-Ghafir, the latter being rewarded for his exceptional military capabilities by al-Mundhir I. Ibn Hafsun’s defeat in that year reduced his power by a significant amount as more and more muwallad and Berber potentates leave his movement, the latter being awarded territories in Awsaya Batalyaws which was firmly in the hands of the Berber Banu Danis, now led by the energetic Awsaga ibn Adanis who established a small but cultured court in Marida and had a standing army of around five-hundred to protect his influence in the West of the amirate.

Ibn Hafsun, in his desperation, tried to make or renew alliance inside and outside of al-Andalus, ranging from Ibn al-Hajjaj in Isbili, Ibn Abd al-Aziz in the North to Ibn Adanis in Marida, informing even the Aghlabids of Ifriquiya that he is in dire need of support of Abbasid Baghdad. There, the largest flaw of Ibn Hafsun becomes visible: He was no long-term planner nor did he had a strategic masterplan he had followed throughout his revolt. He was an opportunist first and foremost which would bring his end when Ibn al-Hajjaj was thrown out by the city which invited Ibn Hafsun to take power.
What the adventurer didn’t know is that this was staged. Amir al-Mundhir, Ibn Abd al-Ghafir and other notable military personnel such as two unnamed members of the Banu Abi ‘Abda (most likely it was the current patriarch Ahmad Ibn Abi ‘Abda and his oldest son ‘Isa), known for their dedication to defending the amirate, were waiting outside the road leading to Isbili. On the morning of an early August day, the battle between the amirate and Ibn Hafsun began with the al-Kabir visible from the battle site according to some primary sources. The amir planned to outflank the rebellion's right wing in order to detach and isolate Ibn Hafsun's personal guard. Ibn Hafsun concentrated his most powerful forces in the two cavalry wings and left the center relatively weak in order to surround the enemy when the center would yield to the attacks of the amir. Ibn Abd al-Ghafir himself was in charge of the cavalry reserves hidden behind the hills which were intended to strike the final blow.

The attacks of Ibn Hafsun were fierce and it was not long before the amir began slowly to retreat toward Isbili. Yet, the cavalry charged the infantry in the center killing many rebels. The position of Ibn Hafsun became desperate as they could not manage to hold the heights to the south of the river and began a hasty retreat to the east where he came from. From there on, Ibn Abd al-Ghafir came out of his hiding place and started a bitter chase. The battle formations of Ibn Hafsun soon began to break, especially as Ibn Hafsun fell from his horse when he began to flee. At this point, al-Mundhir I, who had detected the disarray in the formation, ordered his army to return to support Ibn Abd al-Ghafir and his chase. The confused enemy who immediately bent under their attack, panicked, and took to their heels.
What happened to Ibn Hafsun is not clear as most sources are quiet surrounding his fate. He was most likely killed during the battle and brought to Qurtubah where his corpse would hang as a warning against the enemies of the amirate.

The death of Ibn Hafsun didn't change the political landscape of medieval Iberia itself but stands as the beginning of a revitalization of royal authority in the heartlands of al-Andalus. Other rebellions would, of course, still occur, yet would for some time not reach the extent Ibn Hafsun's rebellion had. With other established strongmen such as the Banu Qasi or the Tujibids of Saraqusta declining in power more or less rapidly, open opposition to the amirate died down almost completely. By the next century, al-Andalus would enter a Golden Age under al-Mundhir I's sons Hisham II and Ubayd Allah I who would take the amirate from the defensive into a renewed offensive stance against those who didn't recognize the power of the Banu Umayya.


SUMMARY:

887:
Emir Muhammad I of Córdoba passes away. He is succeeded by his son al-Mundhir I.
892: The Revolt of Ibn Hafsun is put down and the instigator killed.
901: Emir al-Mundhir succumbs to a stroke. He is succeeded by his son Hisham II.
927: Emir Hisham II passes away. He is succeeded by his son al-Hakam II.
934: Emir al-Hakam II is killed during a palace coup. He is succeeded by his younger brother Ubayd Allah I.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Málaga and Almería. Names can be whatever I want.
[2] Seville.
[3] Granada.
[4] As opposed to al-Mundhir IOTL. Small changes.
[5] He lived a bit longer this timeline. This extra year won’t change that much in the long run.
[6] Missionaries.
[7] He didn’t live long enough for his Christian conversion IOTL. Or for the emergence of the myth of his Christian conversion. Still debated among scholars. Either way, ITTL he definitely stayed Muslim, although which branch he followed is unclear, just as IOTL.
[8] We evaded an early death of al-Mundhir I here.
[9] The Guadalquivir, the second-longest river of Spain, the heart of Cádiz, Seville, and Córdoba.
[10] Very distant ancestors of Ibn Khaldun of OTL. Please don’t confuse this Ibn Khaldun, who also lived IOTL, in case you didn’t know, with the Moroccan Ibn Khaldun.
[11] El Aljarafe.
[12] Carmona.
[13] Écija.
 
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BEYOND 3.III: The British Crisis of the 10th Century
Excerpt: Medieval Bretland: The Vase of Europe – Vilhelm Ingels, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1904)


When High King Jeremiah I died in early 890, Oskytel became his successor in both East Anglia and as rex anglorum et saxonum, the hegemon over the British island. Though according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, he was still a child at the time of his rise to the Anglian thrones, the Witan who should supervise his early actions did not leave as much of an impact on recorded history as one might expect from later regency councils of Bretland. Wærferth, Bishop of Worcester, stood out the most and influenced the later decisions of Oskytel I to such a degree that the High King of Anglecynn was sometimes called Oskytel Waerferthfostre in Scandinavian scholarly resources. The bishop, although nominally a subject to the will of archbishop Plegmund of Canterbury, played an active role in the political stage of Bretland as tensions between the Anglo-Saxons and Danes rose. His active role was a result of a newly formed coalition between the Kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia to the West of Anglia.

The mother of Aethelhelm I of Wessex, Wulfthryth, played a crucial role as the de-facto head of the regency of his young son. The long phase of her regency remained largely free of open conflicts, partly because of the weariness of most noblemen. During her regency, she tried to reinstate Bishop Wulfsige into the diocese of Sherborne, which he had abandoned during the raids of Guthrum and she also established the coalition with Aethelred II of Mercia, in case of a revived wave of raids against the remaining Anglo-Saxon possessions of Bretland, although the Bishops Wighelm of Selsey and Denewulf of Winchester [1] were the main negotiators of the treaty. Through regular interventions, both bishops almost became co-regents, yet, the regency over Aethelhelm I was lifted with the early death of Wulfthryth in 884 who continued the efforts of his mother to forge a lasting alliance with the Mercians and to reclaim lost revenue from the territories now under Danish control.

Aethelred II of Mercia, in contrast, an elderly man with two sons, wasn’t ready for closer cooperation. He released charters ordering the re-establishment of independent production of coinage, denouncing the earlier agreement between Wessex and Mercia to develop a joint coinage. It was certainly not entirely unjustified, considering that Lunden or London, the minting center of Bretland, and other major minting places such as Rochester fell under Danish influence by the end of the 9th century, yet it proves that there was a certain unwillingness to cooperate with the Wessexians in the face of their common enemy in the East. Only when he was assassinated in 888 because of his unpredictable nature, arbitrary torture and death sentences by conspirators consisting of some of the earldormen and bishops of Mercia, including Bishop Wilferth of Lichfield who was later blinded by the very person whose claim to the throne he has supported as a reaction to an investigation of the Lateran into the Mercian intrigues. Aethelwulf I, the older son, was a tactician by nature and as such he fortified border villages of Mercia. Until the end of the regency of Oskytel I in 900, further attacks by the Danes did not take place, which gave Aethelwulf I of Mercia the time he needed to raise a new army to counteract the inevitable renewed offensive by the Vikings. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles show that he had built at least thirty new fortified sites in Mercia. This included the renovation of ancient wall castles and settlements that emerged from old Roman camps and colonies, as well as the construction of city walls for cities and towns that emerged later. These newly fortified sites were financed by newly levied taxes carried by the peasants. Additionally, he renovated the military structure of Mercia which he now divided between those who actively serve as garrison forces and the fyrd, reserves from the different shires which can be mobilized in times of war. By 890, Aethelwulf I, in attempt to revive the local economy, pulled back the attempted coinage reforms of his father and established a new minting center in Chester where he issued new silver pennies depicting a cross which would become the standard across both Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and hints at the importance of the potential of coinage as an instrument of propaganda. Finally, Aethelhelm I of Wessex and Aethelwulf I would finalize a treaty in April 892 where the Wessexians and the Mercians agreed to militarilly support each other which expressed the growing Anglo-Saxon solidarity of the time. Aethelwulf I of Mercia had some advantage in fostering a new minting center in his own territory, yet, it is not known if Aethelwulf I had contemplated the importance of that maneuver at the time. Henceforth, Aethelwulf I made the first steps at reviving an Anglo-Saxon resistance against the Danes who were in an almost constant state of disarray due to infighting and court intrigues.

The following years seem to have brought the Danes to the brink of destruction, while the Anglo-Saxons were slowly recovering their losses. Yet, Oskytel I would finally leave behind his regency council by the beginning of the 10th century and begin a new age for Bretland. It must be noted that the transition to the independence of Oskytel I did not take place in a demonstrative act or on a specific date, but through the gradual loss of influence of the Anglian Witan. His connections to the ecclesiastic upper class of Bretland and his fascination for the Christian faith had an impact on his first royal ambitions, following the example of Charlemagne, Oskytel I had numerous monasteries founded early on. By creating new monasteries in East Anglia, Danish Mercia, and Danish Wessex, he promoted the cultural and intellectual pursuits of the emerging clergy of his kingdom. At the age of 21, he learned Latin [2] and has invited numerous scholars from the Frankish Empire to his court in London or Lundenburg; and he himself compiled the legal code of the Danelaw in the so-called Leges Inae et Oscyteli, further consolidating his rule over the Southern parts of the Danelaw.

Far from everything was perfect, however, and there were renewed battles against rebellious Danish ealdorman near York, with Oskytel I allegedly almost being captured himself. His father’s rule over Northumbria and York was legitimized with the pledge of allegiance of Halfdan Ragnarsson [3], yet, many Pagan Danes, rogue mercenaries and other remnants of the Great Heathen Army refuse to cease their hostile activities and continue to oppose his shaky reign. Oskytel I finally had to flee to Norwich after a catastrophic defeat in the Fenslands in 903, where he raised another army and gathered troops. In 904, he went on the attack and was able to inflict a serious defeat on the remaining internal enemies at Lincoln. His defeated opponent Ingimundr [4] was then forcefully baptized and retired to his settlement in Wirral in Northern Mercia where he would soon defend the Norse village from the wrath of Aethelwulf I of Mercia. The great crisis was over, at least for now.

In the summer of 906, however, the short-lived peace ended. A rogue army raided the countryside of Chester which prompted a response of Aethelwulf I who returned to the village of Warrington with a large invasion force, with which he raided the Kingdom of York. In winter, he moved South across the River Don and to Leicester, which he occupied and had, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, a prominent Dane killed there. In the spring of 907, he moved further south to attack London with the support of his ally Aethelhelm I. An army of Oskytel I managed to break this siege of London but was defeated by Aethelhelm I’s army at the Battle of Oxford at the end of the same year. Cornered by the two kings, Oskytel I shifted his focus to Scandinavia and Neustria where he started to hire a number of mercenaries, the most notable ones being a number of Gauts who were soldiers under led by Björn Eriksson, which, however, fled the field after a disastrous defeat against the King of Norway Harald I Fairhair, and Ragnarr, son of Rollo, the Duke of Neustrian Normandy. He was more or less voluntarily exiled by his father and older brother in Rouen and only narrowly survived a storm raging during his voyage towards Dover which he reached in 908. This voyage became an event popular in the imaginations of the people of Bretland and found use in the philosophical works of Jon Drake and Marcel Seigner and in the novel “L’Armée à lui tout seul” of Jean Ferro where he imagined a world without Ragnarr arriving at Dover [5]. In our world, he reached the port city and quickly became a mercenary chief of the Danish and Norwegian veterans. From there on, Ragnarr led a vicious campaign against the local Wessexians with huge success.

The new (Great) Heathen Army, as this new wave of mercenaries for the Danish King of Anglia was called in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, surprised Aethelhelm I of Wessex not insignificantly and he was forced to abandon his campaign at Norwich to reclaim Canterbury which fell to the Norse Christians under Ragnarr. This effectively meant that hostilities between Danish Anglia and Wessex were put on ice, leaving Mercia and his king Aethelwulf I as the sole defender against the Danes of York. Supply lines ran short and a desperate Mercian attempt to push North towards Leicester was blunted by the notorious Cadmean victory of Aethelwulf I at the Battle of the Avon in 911 where he successfully fought a Danish surprise attack at the cost of his own life and up to ten ealdorman of Mercia.

In Mercia, he was officially succeeded by the husband of his only child, a young lady named Aethelfleda, Aelfheah I, an ealdorman in northern Mercia of Wessexian origin and a staunch warmonger in the modern sense of the word as he tried to return to war against the Danes by raising an entirely new army to push back and possibly expel the jarls of York. In order to secure his kingdom in the event of an untimely death abroad as it eventually happened, Aethelwulf I persuaded the feudal lords to recognize Aelfheah I as a legitimate claimant to the Mercian throne by 907. Thus, most swore fealty and obedience to Aelfheah I, to the dismay of the brother Aethelwulf I named Ceolwulf who was only entering adulthood when his brother’s campaign against the Danes began. During his brother's absence, Aelfheah I dropped in popularity as he burdened the noblemen with additional taxes and began to be known for his misrule over the Kingdom of the Angles. It didn’t take long until conspirators met to decide to install a more favorable king than Aelfheah I.

Despite all of this, Ceolwulf's situation remained uncertain; almost all of his protectors died by force once Aelfheah I caught wind of this conspiracy. An ealdorman named Wigbert, a supporter of Ceolwulf’s claim to the throne, “unexpectedly” died in 913 whereupon Aethelstan of Buckingham took over as chief guardian of the Ceolwulf. But, alas, he was killed a few months later as well with his brother Eadwig being killed almost simultaneously. After this, open revolt against Aelfheah I started around Chester where coins now bore the name of the new king Ceolwulf III. With the passing of Aethelwulf I, it seems that there was only turmoil in Mercia. The fact that Ceolwulf III survived in the first place was attributed to the policies of the Wessexian king Aethelhelm I who closely monitored the situation. When Aelfheah I took office, Aethelhelm I demanded Aelfheah I and his successors’ rights to the kingdom in the event that Aelfheah I dies, for which he would express his support and recognition for Aelfheah I’s reign over Mercia. Aethelhelm I was also able to demand guardianship and protection of Ceolwulf III which also made Aelfheah I responsible for its safety. Nonetheless, this War of Mercian succession lasted for another three years until Aelfheah I was imprisoned and exiled to Oskytel I’s court in Anglia. It left the kingdom incapable of a return to the martial policies of Aethelwulf I, although most of his defensive fortifications were spared by the Norse, due to the economic disarray it has caused. To cement his shaky rule and the peace between Mercia and Anglia, Ceolwulf III organized an exchange of prisoners in 923 and married Oskytel I’s daughter Gunhild, forestalling any retaliation of the Norse.

This development didn’t end Mercian opposition to the Kingdom of Anglia, as the Danish union between the kingdoms of York and East Anglia came to be known by contemporaries, and raids continued devastating many towns and fields on both sides of the shifting border.

Looking back at Wessex, Ragnarr continued to cause chaos in Kent and Sussex as far West as Hastings. Not much has been delivered about the Norman and his personal motives, yet he was a man with exceptional military talent and was quickly proclaimed to be the new duke or earl of Sussex and Kent by the Danish fleet stationed near Dover and Canterbury [6]. Subsequently, Ragnarr recognized Oskytel I as his superior and the rightful ruler over Bretland as the High King of the Anglecynn. Ragnarr, therefore, was the first quasi-independent ruler of the South-Saxons since Ecgberht acquired the region around 827. In the early years after his landing in 908, he appeared to have faced an uprising by some of his own mercenaries who thought he was too friendly towards the Saxons. The following years are, however, shrouded in the dark. It was only in 910 where Ragnarr reappeared in historical records where he was involved in a renewed war with Aethelhelm I, which soon mingled with the other conflicts of the reign of Oskytel I. He was killed by some followers of Ceolwulf III of Mercia during a meeting with Papal delegates who tried to settle the conflict in 931. His corpse was buried at Headleage, which is usually identified as Hadleigh in Suffolk.

The role of Ragnarr in the Crisis of the 10th century in Bretland can’t be exaggerated. Despite the relative obscurity of his person in historical records, it appears that Oskytel I and Ragnarr, similar to Jeremiah I and Rollo, understood each other very well and were capable enough to block new attempts of the Anglo-Saxon reclamation efforts.

Oskytel I and Aethelwulf I are one of the few medieval Bretlandic kings for whom there is at least a fragmentary biography written by a contemporary, the only manuscript of their lives was preserved by Lotharingian Bishop Hermann of Metz. The biographer was a Cymric Bishop named Mordaff of Bangor, whose texts were clearly inspired by and imitated the biography of Charlemagne of Frankish scholar Einhard. Especially Oskytel I and his role in the Bretlandic power dynamics were known across Carolingian Europe where he was known mostly for his piety and his efforts to convert the Pagan Norse and the establishment of new monasteries across his realm.

His reign, from a scholarly point of view, was one of consolidation and stabilization of the Kingdom of Anglia he inherited from his father in a rather precarious situation. Although many gargantuan issues remained even after his reign ranging from the lack of serious support from the local Anglo-Saxon noblemen to the large amount of sometimes unpaid Norse mercenaries, Oskytel I laid down the foundation of the future Kingdom of Angland after he had stylized himself as the primate over the Pagans, the Angles and the Saxons. As historian Christian Knuth put it, High King Oskytel I “was and still is one of, if not, the most precious rulers of Bretland, for he has accomplished a task none other had succeeded in since the arrival of the Saxons from the other side of the North Sea. Oskytel I, and his father Jeremiah I to some extent, came not only to rule over foreign lands, but they have built a new land. A new kingdom which would forever lay in the shadows of the 10th century in which it was created from blood, intrigues and sheer human willpower.”




High King Oskytel I in the Life of St Hadrian, written and painted ca. 1050 by an unknown Benedictine monk. In the earliest surviving portrait of Oskytel I, he is presenting a book to Pope Nicholas I (918-921). That he didn't personally meet the pope in his actual life is very likely.



SUMMARY:

884:
The regency over Aethelhelm I of Wessex ends.
888: Aethelred II of Mercia is assassinated. He is succeeded by his oldest son Aethelwulf I of Mercia.
892: The Kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia agree on an alliance against the Danish Kingdom of Anglia.
906: A Mercian campaign led by Aethelwulf I of Mercia against the Danes starts, Aethelhelm I of Wessex soon organizes raids against Oskytel I's realm as well.
908: Ragnarr, son of Neustrian Norman duke Rollo, lands in Dover and is proclaimed to be the new duke of Sussex and Kent.
911: The Battle of the Avon. King Aethelwulf I of Mercia is killed, sparking a succession crisis in Mercia.
931: Ragnarr of Sussex is killed by Mercian loyalists.


FOOTNOTES
[1] Denewulf of Winchester is a popular character in many writings and essays on Alfred the Great because an entire legend has developed around him. According to some 12th and 13th-century chroniclers, he was originally nothing more than an illiterate peasant whose pleasant nature surprised the benevolent king and sponsored an education program for him. As you can tell, I’ve found no source which gave credibility to such a story. Therefore, even in a timeline without Alfred the Great, Denewulf would most likely still become Bishop of Winchester.
[2] Alfred the Great is turning in his grave. Someone else could also have learned Latin?
[3] One of the major butterflies of a successful Danish conquest in the late 9th century is that Guthrum is able to return for the Danelaw in order to reclaim York/Jórvík from his friend Halfdan Ragnarrson, although only after forcing Halfdan to recognize his authority after minor skirmishes in Northumbria. This means that York is, at least nominally, also under the control of the Kings of (East) Anglia, although in reality Halfdan and his successors will have the final world in this area. Relations are a bit frosty, expectedly.
[4] Wirral is still settled by Norsemen ITTL. Yet, he might have angered Oskytel I by claiming the Northumbrian throne through family ties to the aforementioned Ragnarrson.
[5] What a childish fantasy.
[6] One should remember that the position of a duke wasn’t only political, but also served a purpose in military affairs.
 
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CHAPTER 1.XIX: The Magyars in Francia
“When the Magyars come, their empty husks become visible to the Christians. They are merely empty shells without the light of the lord. They live as they look like, for the words they spoke and the things they did came from wilderness.”

- Bishop Hermann of Metz (✝ 15 May 938 AD)



Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)


Magyar Horsemen first appeared as mercenaries for Emperor Lambert I in the years after their migration across the Carpathians. However, after their advances into Bavaria were temporarily stopped by the skillful diplomacy of Arnulf I of Bavaria, they started an invasion of Italy in 899, in which they inflicted a heavy defeat on the army of the Italian King Lambert I. This was only the beginning, however, and a series of penetrative raids to the west of Pannonia followed.

Already in 881, there was an attack by the Magyars near Wenia which probably referred to the modern city of Vienna or Wien river [1]. The Marcha Orientalis, also called Osterland or Eastern March, of the Duchy of Bavaria was at that time divided by domestic struggles, in particular a dispute over claims to various territories and offices between the Wilhelminers who just lost the Pannonian March to the Magyar tribes and Aribonids which held important positions across the Eastern March. The Pannonian conquests of Charlemagne had already been lost to this feud.

After the death of King Arnulf I, the Magyars invaded the Marchfeld in the Danube valley of Lower Bavaria. A Bavarian army under the supervision of the son of the Bavarian Margrave Luitpold I, a man named Arnulf of Nordgau, and Bishop Richard of Passau succeeded in killing a unit of a thousand warriors in 901 on the north bank of the Danube, although the majority of the Magyars had already returned to the Carpathian basin with their acquired loot. The situation, however, changed in the following year, when the Magyars again struck the army of the Bavarians on their way back from the Fischa, a tributary of the Danube. However, their greatest victory came in 906 when Richard of Passau fell victim to an ambush by Kende Kurszán, killing him in the proceeding battle.

The Magyars smashed the Moravian Empire and invaded Thuringia. Inspired by their past victories, the Bavarians in 909 dared an invasion of Magyar territory, which ended in a total disaster for them. The army was encircled and destroyed in the Battle of Pressburg which was fought with the help of the dying Moravian Empire. Count Arnulf of Nordgau and, with him, many of the most important dignitaries of Bavaria fell in this battle. It is unclear whether and to what extent the death of one the most important leaders of the Magyar tribes, Kurszán, in the same year is related to this battle.

Unimpressed by this, the new Duke of Bavaria, Louis the Good, son of Duke Arnulf I and who was installed by King Odo I of Neustria as the new duke of Bavaria under the supervision of the powerful Luitpoldings, immediately started setting up a new army against the Magyars. For this, he introduced a new obligation for the potentates of the stem duchy, according to which every secular or ecclesiastical landlord had to provide one horseman for every ten farmers they possessed, but especially the clergy refused to do so. When the Magyars returned from ravaged Thuringia and Lusatia in 911, they raided Bavaria again in the following years and advanced as far inland as to Freising and Eichstätt. Louis the Good, who by then most likely left the regency headed by margrave Luitpold I, used the inhibited maneuverability of the Magyars who, on the way back, were loaded with the loots of monasteries of central Francia. He hit them and their leader chief Szabolcs on November 3th near St. Pölten and scored a success against them.

This defeat could not have been very significant, however, since the Magyars invaded a few months later once again and destroyed a Bavarian and a Swabian army, in which the Count Palatine Gozbert was badly wounded, and in July defeated the Franconian army under Henry of Franconia, brother of duke Adalbert I of Franconia, on the Lechfeld near Augschburg. Henry and his Franconians managed to defeat a unit of the Magyars during the winter of 913, but the year was clearly overshadowed by their earlier failure on the Lechfeld. It was only in 915 when some sort of agreement between the Louis the Good and the Magyar tribes came to be in which the former was spared from further raids into the region in exchange for annual tributes and an exchange of prisoners. This unstable peace lasted only for seven years in which the Magyars used to raid the Bulgar Empire to South and the Italian Kingdom which proved to be a hard nut to crack as the three Battles of Aurisina near Trieste in 914, 916, and 921 proved.
When the new emperor Lothair III returned to Francia, he used his time there and his relations to the various stem duchies of the country to carry out an army reform and build new fortresses across Bavaria and Thuringia. But it did not stop the Magyars who turned to southern Francia again. In 926 they stormed Augschburg, which was defended by its Bishop Ulrich. In the same year, they looted the city and the monastery of Basel in Swabia. Lothair III, who was now in Bavaria in order to say goodbye to his oldest son who marched towards Pavia, was forced to buy peace by paying tribute again.

Lothair III, for the first time challenged since his Meridian campaign in the early 910s, was, once again, agitated and decided at the Assembly of Passau in 928 to act together with the Frankish dukes against the Magyars. Thus, Emperor Lothair III refused to pay tribute to the Hungarians in the following year which effectively was a declaration of war. On 2 April 930, an army consisting of “many men from the corners of the empire of the Franks” met the Magyars at Graz in the Eastern March.

The army of the Magyars consisted of light cavalry. They were excellent archers, whose tactic was to charge the enemy in small groups, shoot deadly arrows, and then disappear just as quickly. So far this tactic of the Magyars had almost always been successful.
According to Hermann of Metz, Lothair III’s troops used a tactic that was probably developed in the previous wars: lightly armed warriors were supposed to challenge the enemy army to attack by appearing defenseless. The Magyars did actually attack the soldiers which were sent ahead but turned to retreat as soon as they saw the fully equipped army. The only thing left for the Frankish army to do was to loot the opponent's camp and to free the prisoners made by the Magyars. There was an unceremonious escape by the Magyars who would prepare to strike back at the empire.

Thus, the battle ended with a Carolingian victory. The Magyars were driven off the battlefield and the Eastern March as a whole. Lothair III emerged victorious from this struggle and decided to dismiss an offer of the Magyar tribes to repay tribute to them rather than to challenge his luck again. A tragic error.
By 930, the armed conflicts between Magyars and the Carolingian Empire lasted for around 40 years. In December, Lothair III held an assembly in Arnstadt in Thuringia, in which he invited the dukes of Francia. This and the aforementioned military reforms of Francia created the domestic political prerequisites for the coming conflict with the Magyars. Envoys arrived at the court of Lothair III at Regensburg in the spring of 931, ostensibly to affirm their friendly disposition. But their task was most likely to spy on the strength of the new army after the Arnstadt Assembly. In any case, shortly after their departure, it was reported that the Magyars had crossed the borders of the empire and were demanding a battle against the emperor.




The Battle of Graz as depicted in the Bavarian World Chronicle, written and painted between 1260 and 1300 by Rutger of Ammendorf and Meinhard of Sekau.



SUMMARY:

909:
The Battle of Pressburg. A decisive defeat for the Moravians and Bavarians which enabled the Magyars to raid Thuringia and Saxony.
930: The Battle of Graz. Lothair III lifts the Magyar siege of the city and emerged as the victor in an ensuing battle, but he wasn't able to create a lasting peace with the Magyar tribes.

FOOTNOTES
[1] Happened IOTL as well.
 
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The formation of this multi-ethnic Bretland seems almost Holy Roman. No England here but an Anglodane Anglia, Wessexo-Norman southern coast, couple of Walian kingdoms, and an Alba-Northumbria it seems.
 
The formation of this multi-ethnic Bretland seems almost Holy Roman. No England here but an Anglodane Anglia, Wessexo-Norman southern coast, couple of Walian kingdoms, and an Alba-Northumbria it seems.
In our timeline, England was only (nominally) unified once our favourite king Æthelstan met the kings Constantin II of Scotland, Howell the Good of Deheubarth/Wales, Eógan I of Strathclyde and Ealdred, the Ealdorman of Bernicia on July 12, 927. The latter recognized the supremacy of Æthelstan and Wessex, which is nowadays considered to be the foundation of the Kingdom of England.

ITTL, Guthrum tried to achieve some sort of Danish hegemony over the others by claiming the title of High King of the Anglo-Saxons. So, whether or not we'll see an unified England (or Angland) in the future of my timeline really depends on the Danish will and suceess in subjugating the remaining Anglo-Saxons.
But you're definitely right considering the diversity of Britain which will most likely make their history in the next couple of decades and centuries a bit more turbulent than IOTL.
 
CHAPTER 1.XX: The Battle of Wenzelbach
“Come not between the Magyar and his wrath. For Death is a fearful thing and must be avoided.”

- Playwriter György Szemereyné (✝ 27 February 1774 AD)




Excerpt: The Carolingian World and how it functioned – Godwin Albertsson, Whitewell Publishing (AD 1899)


Initially, the Magyar troops moved into the Bavarian region between the Danube and the Alps to Freising, where they probably set up their main camp at the Dachau gravel plain [1]. From there, they started with the siege of the city of Regensburg.
This siege of Magyars is quite unusual considering their previous behavior on the battlefield, their usual tactics of quickly conquering or bypassing large cities didn’t apply here. Apparently, they were not interested in a quick raid and the profitable sacking of towns, but they were trying to gain lasting control over the stem duchy of Bavaria. It can also be assumed that they were called for help by some of Lothair III's domestic opponents which he had accumulated over his reign. The city was poorly fortified, and the Magyars knew that from the previous raids. Yet, the inhabitants managed to repel the Magyars. The most fiercely contested place was the southern gate of the city whose defense was personally monitored by Bishop Tuto of the city who had held the city against the Pannonians in 914. It was only when one of the leaders of the Magyars fell that the attackers stopped attacking.

The names of leaders of the Magyars weren’t delivered by contemporaries as historical records stopped after the death of Árpád, leader of the Magyar tribes, somewhere between 910 and 917 [2] with a man named Zoltán following his steps, although that as well is uncertain.

The following night, Bishop Tuto sent an envoy to Lothair III informing the emperor of the current situation. The next day the Hungarians appeared at the gates with a siege engine. Otakar II of Chiemgau, opposing a continued presence of Lothair III, had warned the Magyars of the approaching Frankish army who now gathered for the battle before the gates. For their part, the inhabitants of the city sent every man they could to distract the Magyars from the approaching Franks.

The decisive battle, about the course of which almost nothing is known, was fought according to the contemporary sources near the Lechfeld in Augschburg. It is assumed that the Hungarians, in accordance with the tactics of the steppe peoples, had avoided a head-on collision with the much better equipped Bavarians and instead had continually pressured them with quick rider attacks, in which they showered their opponents with a hail of arrows from afar. Yet, the Franks seem to have succeeded in encircling the Magyar army and forced them to retreat, although at a heavy cost of lives. According to other, less popular, opinions, three different battles are said to have taken place near Regensburg instead of only one with the Frankish army divided according to their respective origins, with the Bavarian and Swabian army marching separately north and south of the Danube, with the help of a Moravian army fighting off the Magyars at the other gates of the city. According to this interpretation, the final demise of the Moravian Empire is also connected with the Battle of Regensburg as this army was missing in the final defense of Great Moravia against the Bohemian tribal union and the Magyars.

Either way, the Eastern and Northern Marches of Bavaria had to be abandoned by the Magyars without a new confrontation after the battle with the raids in this area largely came to a standstill and the Magyar territory was again open to Carolingian advances. Duke Louis I of Bavaria was able to contractually prevent new incursions into Bavaria for some months, but Lothair III managed to provoke the Magyars with new “latent danger” for the coming months and has sent multiple envoys demanding that the March of Pannonia should be returned to the Carolingian Empire. The Magyars, thus, shifted their focus onto Bohemia in which disastrous raids were conducted as many archaeological findings near Prague prove.

Meanwhile, Lothair III demanded that Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, who had submitted to Lothair III in 926 at Regensburg, returned to the court of Lothair III to return a Bavarian army he received from the emperor. Yet, Wenceslaus I not only returned it, but also asked the emperor if it may be possible to support his mentor against the Magyars who were now becoming an active threat against the young duchy.

To understand this move, one should remember that Carolingian influence on Bohemia can’t be understated; because the Carolingian Empire always was a serious threat to Bohemia and because the loose association of tribes and especially the small Central Bohemian fields under direct Přemyslid rule did not stand a chance against Carolingian troops, Wenceslaus I's predecessors had submitted to Duke Louis the Good already in 895 and were committed to continue to pay tribute to free themselves from the sovereignty of Great Moravia which was seen as the greater evil. In Wenceslaus I's time, it was primarily intended as a Bavarian pledge of protection from the Thuringians and Franconians, which played an increasingly important role in the association of tribal duchies. Frankish raids into the "barbaric" east opened up a new source of income for many rogue Thuringian counts as they plundered the duchy to gain wax, horses, and slaves. The Bohemian upper class itself had already entered the lucrative slave market a decade ago by raiding the Vistulans [3], which brought Caliphal, Bulgar and Rhoman money into the country. This money was used to sponsor rebellions and raids against the secluded Bohemian duke whose reign relied on Bavarian support. The Magyar storm, however, meant that the duke was unable to pay more tributes to Louis the Good, if the Magyars continue to weaken his role in the region. Missionary efforts from Bavaria in Bohemia sponsored by Wenceslaus I were also threatened by these pillagers.

It should, therefore, be understandable that Wenceslaus I had an active interest in the survival and well-being of Bavaria and the Carolingian Empire as a whole.

After the Magyars had raided the Bohemian countryside, they returned to the Eastern March by February 932 to fight a decisive battle again the Carolingians to establish their dominance over Bavaria.
The emperor gathered his Bavarian retinue and hurriedly departed from Augschburg, sending envoys to the other stem duchies of Francia and the Italian marches to recruit soldiers in the name of the empire. Lothair III would encounter Wenceslaus I and his entourage on the go, the latter informing Lothair III that he was already unsuccessfully ambushed by the Magyars. Initially, it seems that they have avoided the direct confrontation against the Magyars, but then set up their troops on in a strategically favorable position near the Wenzelbach. Although the sources are vague about the exact location of the Wenzelbach, it is clearly stated by Hermann of Metz, our most important chronicler of the 10th century, that a Bavarian army moved from “Carinthia to Salzburg to Osterland” to get to the Wenzelbach. Another hint might be the name of the site of the battle itself. It is commonly accepted that Wenzel is the Germanized version of Wenceslaus with bach usually describing a creek or a brook, although it is sometimes used to describe a river. Thus, one can assume that the site was at least partially under the control of the Bohemian duke. It is sometimes proposed that the Wenzelbach was a fortress constructed by Wenceslaus I in an effort to defend his duchy. Nonetheless, it is nowadays assumed that the site was somewhere between Linz and Krems, cities located near the Danube.

The Emperor’s personal magnetism was undimmed, and the morale of the Carolingian army was high. Lothair III carried around his Holy Lance he had acquired from Burgundy, signifying his confidence in victory. His forces were probably about 10,000 men strong, with Wenceslaus providing another 1000 men. Many noblemen were present, with Duke Louis the Good and Duke Erchanger II of Swabia playing the most prominent role in the ensuing battle and raising the morale once again.
Yet, it did suffer a heavy hit after the Saxon troops did not come to the agreed meeting point, causing confusion and frustration among the Carolingian army.

Little is known about the chain of events of the actual battle. An encouraging speech by Lothair III and him rushing forward to attack the Magyars appear to be fiction. After all, we learn from the sources that he commanded his troops from behind. That the soldiers attended mass, surrounded by relics, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have been a lie, as it has been delivered that such martial masses, which certainly emulated those of Charlemagne during his Saxon Wars, were held during the Meridian Campaign of Lothair III as well. Therefore, the prevailing theory reconstructed the battle like this:

The Battle at the Wenzelbach started on the morning of August 6, the feast day of the transfiguration of the Lord, after the Frankish and Bohemian soldiers assured loyalty to one another in case of an ambush and set off for the battlefield. A route towards the Wenzelbach was chosen to get a better view of the immediate surrounding which was covered by trees to protect the marching army from the arrows of the Magyars. Yet, in a surprising turn of events, a Magyar scouting force managed to bypass the Bohemian army at the forefront and rolled up from behind, causing panic and chaos in the Franconian and Swabian units which had left behind their supplies in their attempt to flee. The Magyars started looting these supplies after their success, which prompted Duke Erchanger II of Swabia to ride back with his cavalrymen to attack the disarrayed Magyar horsemen. His charge, however, was an utter failure; after a faint retreat of the Magyars forced Erchanger II to enter the open field, he was fatally hit in the chest by an arrow after which a brutal slaughter of the Swabian unit followed. This further encouraged Wenceslaus I to move towards the aforementioned Wenzelbach. Violent skirmishes between the troops of the Christians and Pagans started soon after.
Heavy losses at the Wenzelbach forced Lothair III to deploy the heavy cavalry swiftly. But the Magyar cavalry withdrew and placed themselves under the protection of their archers.

Louis the Good was killed in this first phase of the fighting after his troops were cornered by the Magyars. However, Lothair III managed to maintain morale by showing the fighting army Louis’ corpse and stating that his sacrifice shouldn’t have been in vain.
At the end of the battle, the Frankish units, especially the Saxons and the remaining Franconians, were on the retreat – and so numerous (at least around 10,000 men according to Hermann) that the scouting force which just had slain Erchanger II initially assumed they would attack again when the riders rushed towards their camp. Hermann of Metz reports of the brave resistance of some Bohemians, who could no longer turn the battle. Gerhard of Augschburg reports “that those who saw the Magyars coming from the body of Erchanger who ruled Swabia believed that they would continue looting during the struggle until they saw that they were passing their army to hurry to the remaining army at Wenzelbach.” Therefore, one might assume that some Carolingian military leaders had managed to flee the battle and avoid complete annihilation, or that the retreat was only faked to lure the Magyar warriors out of their positions how the Carolingian army had already succeeded in the Battle at Graz. If the latter was actually the case, the plan certainly did not work out this time.

Thus, the Bavarian army and Lothair III’s personal guards were fighting alone. At this moment, a Magyar commander gave a signal to his cavalry and they charged the Carolingian flanks which were fighting on the hill. The Magyar light cavalry could charge at incredible speed, and could successfully attack, retreat, regroup and attack again. This mobility gave them an upper hand on the Carolingian heavy cavalry, resulting in a rout of the Carolingians. They attacked the flanks and rear of the Franks who rested at the Wenzelbach and started encircling it. The main body of the Magyar army resumed the attack against the Carolingian front, while at the same time extending its flanks to join with the cavalry and completely surround them. The army of Lothair III was caught in a trap and could not escape. Recoiling from the assaults that came from all directions, the Frankish army gathered in an unwieldy mass, unable to use their weapons freely. The morale in the Carolingian camp finally collapsed completely in the face of a now uncertain outcome in a battle that seemed almost won after Erchanger II rode towards the scouting force. The Bohemians retreated cautiously, fearing the Magyars who may pursue them. The Annals of St Gallen even report a second battle in which the Magyars defeated the departing Bohemians.

A trap laid by the Magyars – Hermann of Metz reports great cowardice among the Magyars – could have been decisive for the battle so that the Carolingian army was attacked from all sides by the dangerous bows of the horsemen. However, this event is not mentioned in other contemporary sources, where one could have assumed that fighting started after Wenceslaus I had reached the Wenzelbach. Overall, it seems likely that the Magyar horsemen had learned from their previous defeat and followed a new tactic to counter that of the emperor at the Battle of Graz, where, to get the Magyar horsemen within range of his heavy cavalry, he lured them by presenting the nomads only lightly armored men. This implies that the same men who were present at Graz had fought at Wenzelbach.

Anyhow, all theories and speculation had one in common. The battle was over, with heavy casualties inflicted on the Carolingians. Lothair III had lost a great legacy recklessly, chasing after the pipe dream of a defeat of the Pagan Magyars and other phantasms. His lifeless body was found near the Wenzelbach with an open wound near his diaphragm. The Holy Lance and his body were recovered by a Bavarian scouting unit two days after the initial battle. Due to these circumstances, many scholars assume that the Magyars did not recognize Lothair III on the battlefield nor did they seem to have open interest in looting the corpses they have left behind. Lothair III was buried unceremoniously in the Tegernsee Abbey of St. Pölten in September 932. The burial of this remarkable figure ended the Frankish Empire.




~



Lothair's feet made convulsive movements. He had not moved them, but in his mind, he was running, and running, and running. He was at the castles, he held his father’s cold and swarthy hand, he saw his mother crying then his wife, he looked up again and suddenly saw the sky. The Lord! He coughed. He saw a red stain somewhere, but he didn’t pay much attention to it. His mind was running, processing, cheering. He was in Limoges, Arles, Pavia, Rome, the great cities of this side of the world. He felt his power even after he has lost it, like a memory of dry hay combusting into flames. It was blood leaking from his ribs. There was a disruption. Whether in his mind or his body, he didn’t know. He liked the power, he didn’t want to give it away, it was too early, wasn’t it? His mind was running. Christendom against which the hordes of Islam dashed themselves in vain! He thought how ten minutes ago – or was it years – there had still been something in his heart as he wondered whether he would achieve something in his life. Ah, he had fallen! He was in the lands of the Lombards, he was defeating a Greek. He restored the true Roman Empire and reclaimed its legacy. Much had changed in him since that first day of his rule. His mind was running, processing, cheering. He looked down and saw the green hills and a lonely tree stump. The foul smell of iron penetrated his nose.

The voice inside his head was still pouring forth its tale of might and right, but the sky had interrupted his chain of thought. Some two clouds were passing by, like feathers in the wind. One of them approached him. Lothair, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention to his loss of consciousness. He didn’t know that this stream of thought wasn’t coherent, he didn’t notice. There was no iron to smell there. He was still running, processing and cheering. His index finger on the left hand twitched. The pain in his chest moved far away, a scream somewhere in the forest behind him. He was back in Aquitania, with everything gained, his soul victorious over his enemies. He knew he was unpopular in the mosaic South and the tribal North. He tried. He collected homages and pledges. He renewed the system. He knew his sons were too young. His beloved children. He coughed. He thought he loved them. Didn’t he? Charles was in Italy. Louis is there, too. His mind was running, processing, but stopped cheering. Henry and Odo are still in Regensburg. His mind raged against the dying light. He saw the young face of Odo. Odo had the beautiful eyes of Johanna. His children are too young, he noticed. They will kill him. He had lost. But what did he lose? His mind was running and processing down a black corridor, with the feeling of bliss and terror, and a never lived life at his front. A future he will never see. He coughed again. There was blood. He was wounded. Badly. He was terrified.

Lothair III, the last ruler of the Carolingian Empire, gazed up at the sky for one last time. He closed his eyes and tried to change this outcome somehow. This couldn’t be it. He was afraid. He didn’t want to be in the hands of God. He didn’t want to lose control. Yet, he had lost. Everything. Lothair saw one final ray of light. Then, one final, slow, and shaky breath.

Then, his mind stopped running and processing.



The Battle of Wenzelbach as depicted by fundamentalist painter Harald Blanik, painted in 1874.


SUMMARY:
6 August 932: The Battle of Wenzelbach. Lothair III is defeated by the Magyars, reigniting the Hungarian invasions into Bavaria and Bohemia. Lothair III passes away without having an appointed successor.

FOOTNOTES:
[1] The Munich Gravel Plain IOTL.
[2] IOTL, many pieces of information regarding the Hungarians in their early years in the Carpathian basin stemmed from the De Administrando Imperio written by OTL Emperor Constantine VII which, as you can tell, wasn’t written ITTL. Thus, this world knows even less about the Magyars than our one.
[3] The butterflies continue to flap their wings…

OOC: I wanted to thank those who have nominated me for the 2020 Turtledoves, it's definitely an honor for me!
 
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Brilliant update. I really like the depiction of the battle, and I love how you worked in the vagueness of the surviving sources: that's something I strive to do in my own early medieval timeline.

Can't wait to see how this all plays out. Let's hope the Magyars can eventually be dislodged from Bavaria: but I fear that the remnants of the Empire may be busy fighting amongst themselves for a few years and so otherwise distracted.
 
Brilliant update. I really like the depiction of the battle, and I love how you worked in the vagueness of the surviving sources: that's something I strive to do in my own early medieval timeline.

Can't wait to see how this all plays out. Let's hope the Magyars can eventually be dislodged from Bavaria: but I fear that the remnants of the Empire may be busy fighting amongst themselves for a few years and so otherwise distracted.
This timeline is obviously written from the perspective of TTL's present. I never really warmed up with omniscient narrators for timelines, that's why I want to keep it somewhere familiar.

Thank you, I really appreciate your kind words. And yes, the empire is definitely in disarray for now, we'll see if it is able to recover.
 
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