Franks & Rus
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The Frankish Empire and the Rus are quite different in their history, and in their development. The Frankish Empire was a largely prosperous empire and one of the strongest in its military might in Europe at the time. The Rus were in parts of Eastern Europe and it was not a highly developed place in comparison to Western Europe. This article will discuss the most important people in these regions according to our textbooks.

Louis the Pious
Charles the Bald
Louis the German

Charles the Simple


The Franks

Frankish king who tried to take over Saxony in the 770's. Defeated Saxon chieftain Widukind in 777 [1]. Charlemagne later renewed the Saxon Wars in 798 and sent an envoy to Sigfred to refuse any offers of refuge to the Saxons. It was later revealed that Charlemagne carried off noble children as hostages and sent them to Denmark [2]. Charlemagne eventually conquered Saxony in 804 [3]. In 810, Charlemagne was planning to go on an expedition to defeat Godfred (who was also trying to take over Saxony) until he heard that a giant fleet of 200 ships and defeated the Frisians. Charlemagne created a giant army to go back and defeat Godfred until he discovered that Godfred was already dead. [4] Charlemagne later died in 814 [5]

Louis the Pious:
Louis the Pious was the heir to Charlemagne when he died in 814 . He was terrible at making peace with Denmark by accepting a rival named Harold who was just exiled by Godfred's sons. He sent him to Saxony and this angered the Danes . Louis tried to have Harold restored to the throne in Denmark in 815, and this was a failure. The Danes countered this with a fleet of 200 ships. The result was Harold becoming a co-ruler with Godfred's two sons in 819 [6]. In 820, a bunch of pirates from Nordmannia attacked Flanders, the mouth of the Seine, and western Poitou. Louis was angered and sent Archbiship Ebo of Rheims to start a missionary drive to Denmark, but this failed [7]. Throughout the 830's Godfred's sons have wreaked havoc in Frisia and this fractured Louis' political position, but he finally recovered his power in 834. He then went and tried the increase his defenses. This didn't work when more attacks happened in 839 [8]. In 836 King Horik sent envoys denying he attacked Frisia and claimed he captured and killed the ones who were guilty, but Louis was angered by this. Louis later died in 840 which sparked a succession dispute [9].

Charles the Bald:
After a civil war between his brothers, Charles became ruler of the western portion of the Frankish kingdom in 840 [10]. This region was a huge problem for Charles, it was easy to invade and his brother, Louis the German, invading in 858 did not help. In the 860's, Charles spent a lot of effort trying to defend against the Vikings and his brothers by fortifying bridges. The large amount of trouble in Charles' kingdom caused him to pay off the Vikings with the danegeld. Sadly for Charles, this encouraged more Viking raids [11].

Lothar was another of Charlemagne's sons who was also involved in the succession disputes with his brothers [12]. Lothar's Kingdom, that consisted of Frisia and the Rhine, was also a target of frequent Viking raids. Lother decided to settle this by granting lands to the Vikings if they agreed to the condition of keeping other Vikings out [13]. He gave Harold the pirate the island of Walcheren and some neighboring regions, but this angered his brothers because Harold was a pagan and these lands should be ruled by a Christian [14].

Louis the German:
Louis the German was another of Charlemagne's sons who was involved in the succession disputes with his brothers [12]. Louis controlled the far eastern portion of the Frankish empire, and it had a short coastline, so he suffered very little viking raids [15]

Charles the Simple:
Charles the Simple was the successor to Odo in 898 of West Frankish Kingdom. He set up the pirate chief Rollo at Rouen to defend the maritime parts, which is the beginning of Normandy. Later Charles and Rollo set up a formal treaty that allowed Rouen to be incorporated into the West Frankish Kingdom. [16]

The Rus

Oleg was a ruler of the Kievan Rus, who left their original home of Novgoro and took over Kiev c880 by killing two of Riurik's followers [17]. He then raided the Byzantines by attacking Constantinople from c907-12 and other regions in Greece and around the Black Sea. The result was the Byzantines agreeing to allow the Rus to trade in Constantinople, which allowed the Rus to grow in Power. They still attacked Byzantine towns until they were destroyed by the Byzantine navy. [18]

Vladimir was the one who converted Norvorod as the center of Rus power after Ladoga and Riurikovo [19]. Vladimir also hired Scandinavians on his conquests to become grand prince [20].

Iaroslav also recruited Scandinavians to defeat his brother Mstislav. In 1024, Iaroslav's mercenaries were defeated by his brother's nomadic auxiliaries. His famous house guest was Harald Hardrata. Hardrata fled Scandinavia in 1031 and lived with Iaroslav. In 1029, Iaroslav also gave refuge to St. Olaf of Norway and his son. His wife was also the Princess Ingigerd, daughter to Swedish King Olof Skotkonung. [21]

[1] Sawyer p.20
[2] Sawyer p.20/21
[3] Sawyer p.21
[4] Sawyer p.21
[5] Sawyer p.22
[6] Sawyer p.22
[7] Sawyer p.22-23
[8] Sawyer p.23
[9] Sawyer p.24-25
[10] Sawyer p.25
[11] Haywood p.56, Sawyer p.30
[12] Sawyer p.24-25
[13] Haywood p.56
[14] Sawyer p.25
[15] Haywood p.56
[16] Sawyer p.31
[17] Sawyer p.148
[18] Sawyer p.148-149
[19] Sawyer p.152
[20] Sawyer p.155
[21] Sawyer p.155

Haywood, John. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings. Penguin Books: London, 1995.

Sawyer, Peter. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings. Oxford Univeristy Press: New York, 1997.

This page was created by James Kennedy.