NameLouis I (The Pious) Holy Roman Emperor
BirthAug 778, Casseneuil, Lot-et-garonne, France
Death20 Jun 840, near Ingelheim, Rhinehessen
BurialAachen Cathedral, Aachen, Rheinland, Prussia
MotherHildegarde of Swabia (758-783)
Misc. Notes
He was crowned as co-emperor in 813 and became emperor in 814 on his father's death. Twice deprived of his authority by his sons (Lothair, Pepin, Louis, and Charles), he recovered it each time (830 and 834), but at his death the Carolingian empire was in disarray.

Louis was the fifth child of Charlemagne's second wife, Hildegard the Swabian. From 781 until 814 Louis ruled Aquitaine with some success, though largely through counsellors. When Charlemagne died at Aachen in 814 and was succeeded by Louis, by then his only surviving legitimate son, Louis was well experienced in warfare; he was 36, married to Irmengard of Hesbaye, and was the father of three young sons, Lothair, Pepin, and Louis (Louis the German); he had inherited vast lands, which seemed to be under reasonable control; there was no other claimant to the throne; and on Sept. 11, 813, shortly before his father's death, Louis had been crowned in Aachen as heir and co-emperor.

Louis' first task was to carry out the terms of Charlemagne's will. According to the Frankish chronicler Einhard, Louis did this with great scrupulousness, although other contemporary sources tell a different story.

Louis next began to allocate parts of the empire to the various members of his family, and here began the difficulties and disasters that were to beset him for the remainder of his life. In August 814 he made Lothair and Pepin nominal kings of Bavaria and Aquitaine. He also confirmed Bernard, the son of his dead brother Pepin, as king of Italy, which position Charlemagne had allowed him to inherit in 813. But when Bernard revolted in 817, Louis had him blinded, and he died as a result of it. Louis sent his sisters and half sisters to nunneries and later put his three illegitimate half brothers--Drogo, Hugo, and Theodoric--into monasteries.

At the assembly of Aachen in July 817, he confirmed Pepin in the possession of Aquitaine and gave Bavaria to Louis the German; Lothair he made his co-emperor and heir. Charlemagne had been in his 70s and within a few months of death before naming his heir, and for Louis to give such premature expectations to a youth of 22 was to ask for trouble. Moreover, Louis did not anticipate that he would become father of another child: the empress Irmengard died in 818; and four months later Louis married Judith of Bavaria, who, in June 823, bore him a son, Charles (Charles the Bald), to whom the Emperor gave Alemannia in 829.

Backed by his two brothers, Lothair rose in revolt and deposed his father. The assembly of Nijmegen in October 830, however, restored Louis to the throne; and, the following February, at the assembly of Aachen, in a second partition, Lothair was given Italy. In 832 Louis took Aquitaine away from Pepin and gave it to Charles. The three brothers revolted a second time, with the support of Pope Gregory IV, and at a meeting near Sigolsheim, in Alsace, once more deposed their father. In March 834 Louis was again restored to the throne and made peace with Pepin and with Louis the German. Later in 834, Lothair rose again, but alone, and had to retreat into Italy. Encouraged by his success, Louis made over more territories to his son Charles at the assemblies of Aachen and Nijmegen (837-838)--a move the three brothers accepted but with bad grace. In 839 Louis the German revolted but was driven back into Bavaria.

Meanwhile, Pepin had died (December 838), and, at the assembly of Worms (May 30, 839), a fourth partition was made, the empire being divided between Lothair and Charles, with Bavaria left in the hands of Louis the German. Toward the end of 839 Louis the German marched his troops for the last time against his father, who once more drove him back. The Emperor called an assembly at Worms on July 1, 840. Before it could meet, however, Louis the Pious died at Petersaue, an island in the Rhine near Ingelheim. He was 62 and had ruled for nearly 27 years. He was buried in the Church of St. Arnulf in Metz by Bishop Drogo, his half brother.

The empire he had inherited in peace, Louis left in disarray. He had engaged in no serious external conflict, although the Danes and others had continued to make inroads into the empire. From 829 his four sons had been a constant source of disruption; the quarrels among Lothair, Louis the German, and Charles the Bald were to continue for decades after his death. In many ways Louis seems to have been an estimable person. He was presumably given the epithet the Pious because of his devoutness, his liberality to the church, his interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and the good education he had received. Contemporary historians vary little in their judgment: the Astronomer of Limousin stresses his continued courage in the face of adversity; Thegan, bishop of Trier, gives a long and admiring description of his person, his talents, his Christian charity, his devoutness, and his skill as a hunter; and the poem of Ermoldus Nigellus is full of adulation.

Like his father, Charlemagne, Louis the Pious is depicted in several of the chansons de geste of the 12th century, notably the Chanson de Guillaume, the Couronnement de Louis, and the Charroi de Nîmes: he appears as a kindly ruler but a weak and vacillating one.

The only surviving son and successor to Charlemagne. Louis took the title of Emperor and was determined to unify his kingdom. Unfortunately, Louis had three sons by his first wife and a fourth by his second wife. Salic (or Frankish) law decreed that a ruler partition is kingdom equally between all sons. In 817 (before the birth of his son Charles) Louis broke with this law and decreed:

Lothar, the eldest: Sole imperial heir
Pepin: King of Aquitaine
Louis the German: King of Bavaria

Emperor, 814-840. He m. (1) 794-5 Irmengarde, dau. of Ingram, Count of Haspen. Louis I died on an island in the Rhine River near Ingelheim and is buried in the Church of St. Arnulf at Metz; Encyclopaedia Britannica (1950; 14:410) states that Lotha(i)r was his son by Irmengarde. Louis I is also known as "le Debonaire". He was King of France (814-840), King of Germany (814-40), and King of Aquitaine (781-840).

References: [AR7],[Theroff],[WallopFH],[Moncreiffe],[RFC], [Weis1]
Birthabt 778, Hesbaye, Liege, Belgium
Death8 Oct 818, Angers, France
ChildrenLothaire I (795-855)
 Rotrude (803-860)
BirthAltdorf, Bavaria
Death19 Apr 843, Tours, France
FatherGuelph I Count of Altdorf (787-~819)
MotherEdith of Saxony (->833)
MarriageFeb 819
ChildrenCharles II (The Bald) (823-877)
 Gisela (820-874)
 Adilheid (~824-855)
 Louis (The German) (804-876)
Last Modified 6 Jul 2003Created 4 Sep 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh