Louis the Pious

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Louis the Pious (778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire,[1] was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor (as Louis I) with his father, Charlemagne, from 813. As the only surviving adult son of Charlemagne and Hildegard, he became the sole ruler of the Franks after his father's death in 814, a position which he held until his death, save for the period 833–34, during which he was deposed.

During his reign in Aquitaine, Louis was charged with the defence of the Empire's southwestern frontier. He reconquered Barcelona from the Muslims in 801 and re-asserted Frankish authority over Pamplona and the Basques south of the Pyrenees in 813. As emperor he included his adult sons—Lothair, Pepin, and Louis—in the government and sought to establish a suitable division of the realm between them. The first decade of his reign was characterised by several tragedies and embarrassments, notably the brutal treatment of his nephew Bernard of Italy, for which Louis atoned in a public act of self-debasement. In the 830s his empire was torn by civil war between his sons, only exacerbated by Louis's attempts to include his son Charles by his second wife in the succession plans. Though his reign ended on a high note, with order largely restored to his empire, it was followed by three years of civil war. Louis is generally compared unfavourably to his father, though the problems he faced were of a distinctly different sort.

Contents

Birth and rule in Aquitaine

Louis was born while his father Charlemagne was on campaign in Spain, at the Carolingian villa of Cassinogilum, according to Einhard and the anonymous chronicler called Astronomus; the place is usually identified with Chasseneuil, near Poitiers.[2] He was the third son of Charlemagne by his wife Hildegard.

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