Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth Century: Charles the Fat and the End of the Carolingian Empire

By Simon Maclean | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
UN-FRANKISH ACTIVITIES: CHARLES
THE FAT IN THE EYES OF
CONTEMPORARY ANNALISTS

From the reams of pages which have been devoted by historians to the practice of Carolingian kingship, perhaps only Charles the Fat has emerged with the reputation of a ‘failed king’.1 This judgement is all the more striking in the similarity of the terms in which it has been postulated. The uniformity of opinion has proved remarkably impervious to changes in time, fashion and historiographical genre. Thus while the tone of William Stubbs’s rather extreme judgement, that Charles was ‘dangerous and unmanageable; a diseased, idiotic raving madman…who was probably put out of the way for his own good’ could easily be put down to Victorian sensibilities and ideas about the asylum, it is significant that judgements of Charles even in vastly more subtle and sophisticated recent studies have been expressed using a similar idiom.2 Likewise, specialised articles on the reign are no less likely to comment negatively on Charles’s personality and abilities than textbook summaries of the period.3

This generally held belief in the personal inadequacy of Charles to fulfil the office of king is expressed in terms of three quite specific major criticisms which are met again and again in the modern historiography. These are: firstly, that he was dominated by his advisers, especially his archchancellor Liutward of Vercelli; secondly, that he was incapable in his dealings with the Vikings; and thirdly, that he was sickly, inactive and immobile, a do-nothing king.4 What evidence is there for these claims? In this chapter it will be argued that each of these three main criticisms is

1 G. Tellenbach, ‘From the Carolingian Imperial Nobility to the German Estate of Imperial Princes’, in Reuter (ed.), The Medieval Nobility, pp. 203–42, at p. 209; R. Schieffer, ‘Karl III. und Arnolf’, in K. R. Schnith and R. Pauler (eds.), Festschrift für Eduard Hlawitschka zum 65. Geburtstag (Kallmünz, 1993), pp. 133–49, at p. 134.

2 W. Stubbs, Germany in the Early Middle Ages 476–1250 (London, 1908), p. 65; Fried, Der Weg in die Geschichte, p. 423.

3 Cf., for instance, J. Dunbabin, France in the Making, 843–1180 (Oxford, 1985), p. 15; Riché, The Carolingians, p. 217; Schieffer, ‘Karl III. und Arnolf’, p. 134.

4 E.g. Keller, ‘Zum Sturz Karls III.’, p. 338; C. P. Wormald, ‘Viking Studies: Whence and Whither?’, in R. T. Farrell (ed.), The Vikings (London and Chichester, 1982), pp. 128–53, at p. 140; C. R. Bowlus, Franks, Moravians and Magyars. The Struggle for the Middle Danube, 788–907 (Philadelphia, 1995), p. 209.

-23-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth Century: Charles the Fat and the End of the Carolingian Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 266

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.