Robert I of France

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Robert I (15 August 866 – 15 June 923), King of Western Francia (922–923), was the younger son of Robert the Strong, count of Anjou, and the brother of Odo, who became king of the Western Franks in 888. West Francia evolved over time into France; under Odo, the capital was fixed on Paris, a large step in that direction. His family is known as the Robertians.

He was present at the Siege of Paris in 885. Appointed by Odo ruler of several counties, including the county of Paris, and abbot in commendam of many abbeys, Robert also secured the office of Dux Francorum, a military dignity of high importance. He did not claim the crown of West Francia when his brother died in 898; but recognising the supremacy of the Carolingian king, Charles the Simple, he was confirmed in his offices and possessions, after which he continued to defend northern Francia from the attacks of the Norsemen.

The peace between the king and his powerful vassal was not seriously disturbed until about 921. The rule of Charles, and especially his partiality for a certain Hagano, had aroused some irritation; and, supported by many of the clergy and by some of the most powerful of the Frankish nobles, Robert took up arms, drove Charles into Lorraine, and was himself crowned king of the Franks (rex Francorum) at Rheims on 29 June 922. Collecting an army, Charles marched against the usurper and, on 15 June 923, in a stubborn and sanguinary battle near Soissons, Robert was killed, according to one tradition in single combat with his rival. His army nonetheless won the battle, and Charles was captured.

Robert was married twice. Through his first wife, Aelis, he had two daughters. Each married powerful lay vassals of their father: Emma of France (894–935) to Rudolph, Duke of Burgundy, and Hildebranda (895–931) to Herbert II of Vermandois. Through his second wife, Béatrice of Vermandois, daughter of Herbert I of Vermandois, he had his only son, Hugh the Great, who was later dux Francorum and father of King Hugh Capet, and a daughter Richilda. He may have had other daughters.

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