Charles the Fat Biography

(Emperor of the Carolingian Empire)

Birthday: June 13, 839 (Gemini)

Born In: Donaueschingen, Germany

Charles III, also called Charles the Fat, was an emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888. He was the third son of Louis the German and his wife, Hemma. He is remembered for being the last Carolingian emperor of legitimate birth as well as the last to rule over all the territories of the Franks. According to historical sources, he is believed to have been lethargic and inept. He suffered from poor health and was susceptible to repeated illnesses. He probably suffered from epilepsy. As the king, he acquired most of his lands due to a series of unfortunate deaths. Later on, he was unable to secure the empire against the Viking invasion. He purchased peace with the Viking raiders twice, including at the infamous Siege of Paris, which is considered the reason for his downfall. Due to his failures and incompetence, he was an unpopular ruler. His ambitious nephew Arnulf of Carinthia led a coup against Charles the Fat and took over the government. Thus, Charles was deposed and forced into retirement. He passed away at the age of 48, in Neidingen, East Francia, the Carolingian Empire.
Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In June

Also Known As: Charles III

Died At Age: 48


Spouse/Ex-: Richardis (m. 862 AD)

father: Louis the German

mother: Hemma

siblings: Carloman of Bavaria, Louis the Younger

children: Bernard

Born Country: Germany

Emperors & Kings German Men

Died on: January 13, 888

Cause of Death: Natural Causes

Accession & Reign
In 859, Charles was made the Count of Breisgau, an area in southern Lotharingia. His older brother Carloman, who was of a rebellious nature, revolted against their father, Louis the German. This was followed by a revolt by his other brother Louis the Younger. Charles decided to join him as well. Eventually, Carloman was given Bavaria and much of what is today known as Austria. Louis the Younger got Franconia, Saxony and Thuringia, while Charles received Alemannia and Rhaetia, which later became known as Swabia.
Louis the German passed away in 876, following which the inheritance was divided after a conference at Ries. However, Charles received less than what he had anticipated. A few years later, his brother Carloman took ill and passed away, after which Charles obtained his kingdom as well. Pope John VIII felt that Charles would be helpful in defending the papacy from Arab threats, and supported his claim to the throne. Thus, Charles the Fat was crowned as the Carolingian emperor on 12 February 881. Eventually, Louis the Younger also passed away, after which Saxony came to Charles’ hands as well. After the West Frankish kings Louis III and Carloman passed away, Charles the Fat acquired the empire of Charlemagne, with the exception of Provence, which was taken by the usurper Boso.
Charles the Fat began the construction of a palace at Selestat in Alsace. It was modeled by him after the Palace at Aachen, which had been built by Charlemagne. It was more centrally located as compared to Aachen.
Charles was a sickly king, and he didn’t possess the ambition or the passion that his predecessors had to build and maintain the empire. He was also concerned about the Viking invasions, but he failed to stop them. He signed a treaty with them in 882, and allowed them to settle in Frisia. Later, he also paid a tribute to an aggressive group of Danes who had threatened Paris in 886. However, none of the solutions was beneficial to Charles in the long run, and the Danes eventually pillaged much of Burgundy.
Despite his generosity, he was unable to deal with the nobility on his own. He was also heavily influenced by Liutward, bishop of Vercelli, who was much hated. Though Liutward was eventually dismissed by Charles, his inability to deal with the invaders combined with Liutward`s unpopularity, made him an easy target for insurrection. Eventually, Arnulf, who was the illegitimate son of Carloman, his eldest brother, started a rebellion in the summer of 887. Arnulf found support from many, and Charles the Fat was forced to abdicate. He retired to an estate in Swabia. Charles passed away on 13th January 888.
Family & Personal Life
Charles the Fat was born on 13th June 839, in Donaueschingen, East Francia, the Carolingian Empire. He was the youngest of three sons of Louis the German, the first King of East Francia, and his wife Hemma from the House of Welf. There was an incident of demonic possession in his youth, which is said to have greatly affected him and his father.
Charles was married to Richgard, the daughter of Erchanger, Count of Nordgau. Their marriage was childless, and it ended after Charles accused her of having an affair with his chief minister. She proved her innocence and left for a monastic life. She became known as Saint Richardis. She passed away on 18th September 895.
Charles the Fat had an illegitimate son with an unknown concubine. He was named Bernard. Charles wanted to make his son the king of Lotharingia. However, this was opposed by several bishops. Charles still found support from Pope Hadrian III, whom he invited to an assembly in Worms in late 885. Unfortunately, the pope passed away just after he crossed the river Po. Charles made a few further attempts to make Bernard the king but failed in all of them.

See the events in life of Charles The Fat in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Charles the Fat Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor Biography
Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
(German, Italian)
Wilhelm II Biography
Wilhelm II
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor Biography
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
(German, Hungarian)