Birthday: April 16, 778
Nationality: French, German
Emperors & Kings
Died At Age: 62
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Louis I, Louis the Fair
Born Country: France
Born in: Chasseneuil-du-Poitou
Famous as: King of Aquitaine, King of Franks & Co-Emperor (Holy Roman Empire)
Spouse/Ex-: Ermengarde of Hesbaye, Judith of Bavaria
mother: Hildegard of the Vinzgau
siblings: Pepin of Italy
children: Adelaide, Charles the Bald, daughter of Louis the Pious, Gisela, Hildegard, Holy Roman Emperor, Lothair I, Louis the German, Pepin I of Aquitaine, Rotrude
Died on: June 20, 840
place of death: Ingelheim am Rhein
Louis I, who was also called Louis the Pious, inherited the throne of the Frankish Empire from his father Charlemagne. He wanted to do two things: 1) rule a Christian empire and 2) have a united empire. To accomplish the first goal, he held ecclesiastical councils in Aachen that would formulate rules to reform, govern, and strengthen the Catholic Church. He mandated that all monasteries abide by the Benedictine Rule, which stressed humility, obedience and industry. Similarly, he wanted all clerics to adopt monastic standards. He also enforced religious morality in his home by sending his unmarried sisters to nunneries. He defended the borders of his empire against hostile forces like the Moors in Barcelona. He also wanted to keep the empire together, despite the difficulty presented by having multiple sons, three of whom would outlive him. To compound the problem, his second wife had a son, and she naturally wanted him to inherit part of the empire. As that would result in their own shares of the empire being shrunk, the three older sons objected. The last remaining years of Louis' life would be devoted to civil wars with his own sons. The succession problem would not, in fact, be settled until after Louis' death.
Childhood & Early Life
Louis I was the third son of Charlemagne and his second wife Hildegarde. His brothers were Charles and Pepin.
He was born in 778 in Carolingian villa of Cassinogilum and spent most of his youth at Aquitaine. He was given a clerical education.
In 781, he was made the King of Aquitaine. He and his brothers were all raised in the realms they would rule to ensure they would know local customs and traditions. Each brother was also responsible for guarding the frontier bordering their realm. Louis had to keep an eye on the Spanish March, a buffer zone between Aquitaine and the Moors in Al-Andalus.
In 801, he conquered Barcelona by defeating the Moors. They had seized it two years earlier.
In 806, Charlemagne divided his empire three ways and assigned a realm to each son. He again named Louis the King of Aquitaine which included Burgundy and the Spanish March. Over the next few years, Charles and Pepin died, leaving their realms to Louis.
In 813, Charlemagne named Louis his co-emperor, a tradition borrowed from the Byzantines. The following year, Charlemagne died, leaving Louis the sole ruler of the Frankish Empire.
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Louis I established himself at the court of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). He named Benedict of Aniane his chief advisor on religious matters and also made him the abbot of the Kornelimünster monastery, which was nearby. Bernard of Septimania and Ebbo the Archbishop of Reims were also among his senior advisors.
In 816, he asked the Pope to recrown him as Emperor. That encouraged the idea of papal supremacy and began the tradition of having the Pope personally crown Emperors. The same year he held the first of a set of councils designed to reform and strengthen the Catholic Church.
In 817, he divided his empire between his three sons, and named the eldest, Lothair, his heir. In doing so, he followed both his father's example and Frankish traditions. He also confirmed his nephew, Bernard of Italy, as the rightful heir to the Italian throne.
Bernard wanted to rule independently and thus turned against Louis. When Louis marched against him, Bernard surrendered. Instead of executing him for treason, Louis had him blinded, but Bernard died from the resultant trauma. Louis, horrified, performed a penance before the Pope in 822.
Louis's queen Judith wanted him to re-divide the empire to ensure that her son Charles got some land. In 829, he did so and gave Charles, who was then around six years old, much of Germany. His other three sons revolted and Lothair sized the crown. Squabbling between the brothers enabled Louis to take back the crown.
In 832, Lothair revolted again. The Pope sided with Lothair and Louis surrendered the crown to him again. His other sons sided with Louis enabling him to retake the crown.
Pepin died in 838 and Louis re-divided the empire among his living sons. The last partition gave his son, Louis the German, just Bavara, while the rest of the empire was divided equally between Lothair and Charles. Lothair got Italy and the land east of the Rhone-Saône valley, while Charles got western France.
Ordinatio Imperii (Ordinance of the Emperor) Written in 817, the Ordinance was Louis's attempt to divide his empire peacefully between his three sons. He divided his empire into sub-kingdoms that each son would rule. If any of them had sons of their own, those sons would inherit. If they died without issue, their realm would go to the oldest surviving brother, who would eventually become the Emperor.
Awards & Achievements
In 816, Louis and his advisors reformed and clarified Church discipline through legislation called Canones, or Instituta patrum. These laws ensured the safety and independence of the Church's possessions.
In 817, Louis and his advisors issued the first code for monks, the Capitulare institutum. It stressed strict observance of the Benedictine Rule.
Personal Life & Legacy
Louis I married Irmengard in 794 or 795. He had three sons by her: Lothair I, Pepin of Aquitaine and Louis the German. Irmengard died in 819.
He married Judith of Bavaria in 819, a few months after Irmengard's death. She gave him a fourth son, who would become known as Charles the Bald.
After winning the last civil war against his own sons, he soon fell ill. He went to his summer hunting lodge where he died on June 20, 840.
His son Pepin predeceased Louis. His oldest son, Lothair, tried to claim the entire empire after Louis I died, and Louis the German and Charles naturally resisted. The result was a civil war that lasted three years. At the Treaty of Verdun in 843, the three brothers agreed who would rule which kingdom. Lothair got the Central Frankish Realm, Charles got the Western Frankish Realm, and Louis the German got the Eastern Frankish Realm which would one day become modern Germany.
Louis I was also called Louis the Pious, Louis the Fair, and Louis the Debonaire.