Middle Francia


Middle Francia
Frankish Empire divided, the Middle Frankish kingdom of Lothair I - Lotharingia, Burgundy and Italy - shown in green

Middle Francia (Latin: Francia media) was an ephemeral Frankish kingdom created by the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which divided the Carolingian Empire among the sons of Louis the Pious. Situated between the realms of East and West Francia, Middle Francia comprised the Frankish territory between the rivers Rhine and Scheldt—later known as Lotharingia—the Frisian coast of the North Sea, the former Kingdom of Burgundy (except for a western portion, later known as Bourgogne) and Provence, as well as the Kingdom of Italy.

Middle Francia was that portion of the Frankish Empire that fell to Lothair I, the eldest son and successor of Emperor Louis the Pious, after an intermittent civil war with his younger brothers Louis the German and Charles the Bald. In acknowledgement of Lothair's Imperial title, Middle Francia contained the imperial cities of Aachen, the residence of Charlemagne, as well as Rome. Middle Francia had no historical or ethnic identity to bind its varied peoples.

In 855, on his deathbed at Prüm Abbey, Emperor Lothair I again partitioned his realm amongst his sons. He bequeathed the Kingdom of Italy with Rome to his eldest son, Louis II the Younger, crowned emperor since 850. Most of the lands north of the Alps passed to Lothair II and consecutively were named Lotharingia. Provence and Burgundy passed to Charles, upon his death in 863 his realm was divided among his brothers. After Lothair II had died in 869, Lotharingia was partioned by his uncles Louis the German and Charles the Bald in the Treaty of Meerssen.

Unlike East and West Francia, the precursors of Germany and France, Middle Francia remained only a brief episode. Over the next centuries its lands were incorporated by the Holy Roman Empire—Lotharingia by the 880 Treaty of Ribemont, Italy in 951 and Burgundy (Kingdom of Arles) in 1033. By the 15th century, the Dukes of Burgundy had acquired a number of Imperial and French territories stretching from Upper Burgundy to the Low Countries reminiscent of the Middle Frankish realm. Duke Charles the Bold's ambitious plans to create a new middle kingdom however finally shattered with his death in the Battle of Nancy (1477).

Literature

  • John M. Riddle: A History of the Middle Ages: 300-1500. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008.
  • Timothy Reuter‎ (ed.): The New Cambridge Medieval History, III: c. 900–c. 1024. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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