A Brief History
On December 12, 884, the King of West Francia, Carloman II, son of Louis the Stammerer (Louis II), died in a hunting accident. Carloman was only 18 years old at the time, which goes to show you being King is no guarantee of a long happy life.
In the convoluted manner of the time (no convenient DNA tests back then) the succession to the throne was contested in 879 when the Stammering old King died. Carloman and his brother, Louis III, ended up both being elected King despite disputed paternity, and split the throne of West France in 2 halves. Intrigues and fighting followed, and when Carloman died accidentally in 884, wounded by a boar, his cousin, Charles the Fat (only 48 when he died, known in life as fat and lazy and prone to illness) united the kingdoms and became sole King of France.
But what of Louis III? Why did he just not succeed Carloman? Because he had died in 882 when he hit his head falling off his horse while chasing a girl with lust in his loins. Perhaps you can forgive his obsession with the fairer sex if you know he was only 17 or 18 when he died.
Meanwhile, the other Carloman (yes, another one, this time Carloman I of the Carolingian Frankish Kingdom) was having his own problems, losing his throne of Italy to his uncle, Charles the Bald (who was actually quite hairy, hence the joke, like calling an idiot “Einstein”), in 875, only to retake Italy in 877. (Note: Bald Chuck’s dad was Louis the Pious.) Carloman I died at age 50 in 880 after suffering a stroke in 879, causing him to abdicate his throne of Bavaria to Louis the Younger and his throne of Italy to Charles the Fat. Carloman I had been dubbed “Bellicosissimus” by Notker of Saint Gall, which means “real ass kicker.” Hey, at least that is a cool name! Not surprisingly, Charles the Bald had a son called Charles the Child who was King of Aquitane from 855 to 866. (No kidding, real history here.) Charles the Child also died in a hunting accident at the age of 18 in 866, this time by being struck in the head with a sword during mock combat in 864, dying 2 years later mentally incapacitated from brain damage. At least this guy did not have any sons.
This tiny segment of European History concerning Kings with goofy monikers and premature deaths is meant to stoke your interest in the wacky world of European Royalty. Once you know the background, it will make you wonder why people are so fascinated by these “noble” people today! Question for students (and subscribers): What goofy stories of European royalty can you share with us? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Riché, Pierre. The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe. Translated by Michael Idomir Allen. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.