- Rudolph of France
Rudolph (also Radulf, Ralph, or Raoul) (died
15 January 936) was the duke of Burgundybetween 921 and 923 and king of France from thereafter to his death. Rudolph inherited the duchy of Burgundy from his father, Richard the Justiciar. He married Emma of France, daughter of Robert I of Franceand Béatrice of Vermandois.
He was elected king of France by an assembly of nobles, to succeed his father-in-law, and crowned by
Walter, Archbishop of Sens, at St Médard in Soissonson Sunday, 13 July 923. Assuming the crown, he passed Burgundy to his younger brother, Hugh the Black, after only two years as duke. Charles III was still living and claiming the kingdom at the time, but Rudolph's brother-in-law, the CarolingianCount Herbert II of Vermandois, who was married to Emma's sister, tricked Charles, a fellow Carolingian, into meeting him and took him prisoner. Rudolph's first act as king was to lead an army against King Henry I of Germany, who had made a compact with King Robert at Jülichearlier in the year. Trying to annex Lorraine, the German monarch met Rudolph and a considerably-sized army and made peace again. Though, in 925, Henry attacked the waffling Gilbert, Duke of Burgundy, constantly changing sides, and wrested control of Lorraine from France permanently, Rudolph then being in no position to resist.
At about this point, 924, the
Vikingsmade a fresh series of raids into West Francia. From the Loire Valley, they threatened Hugh the Great, brother of Emma, his wife, but Rudolph did nothing. Soon they had attacked Burgundy, domain of his own brother and were repulsed, moving to Melun, where they threatened the royal demesne. Joined only by his ecclesiastic vassals and Herbert, he recruited troops in Burgundy, while Hugh the Great was convinced to join him. The Vikings left, but the Normans, whom Charles had legally implanted around Rouenin 911, began ravaging that whole region. Herbert and Arnulf I of Flandersjoined him this time and they took Eu, but were ambushed near Fauquemberguesand the king was wounded, the Count of Ponthieukilled, and many Normans left dead on the field. Also in that year, Rudolph conversed with Louis the Blind, king of Provence, over the Magyars, the newest migrants to Europe, then menacing Louis. In 930, the Magyars invaded the region around Rheims, but left before the king could engage them. In 935, the Magyars invaded Burgundy and Rudolph brought a large army against them, causing their retreat without battle. France was temporarily safe from both Viking and Magyar at Rudolphs's death.
Herbert, however, was not to continue to be one of Rudolph's partisans. He used his royal prisoner as a bargaining tool to secure the
archbishopric of Rheimsfor his son Hugh in 925 and the county of Laonfor his other son Odo in 927. The protestations of Rudolph led Herbert to bring Charles before William Longsword, son of Rollo, the duke of Normandy, for homage and thence to Rheimsto press Charles' claim on Pope John X. In 928, Herbert finally got possession of Laon, but the next year, Charles died at Péronneand Herbert lost his leverage against Rudolph. By defeating the Vikings of the Limousin, Rudolph received the allegiance of the Aquitainians and the homage of William Longsword, now duke.
In 929, Rudolph started trying to reduce the power of Ebalus,
count of Poitouand duke of Aquitaine. He withdrew from him access to Berry, then, in 932, he granted the title of prince of Gothiato the count of Toulouse, Raymond Pons, and his brother of Rouergue, Ermengol. He also transferred the title Count of Auvergneto Raymond. Moreover, the territory of the march which was under the control of the lord of Charrouxwas transformed into an independent county. Later, however, he was campaigning with Ebalus in the south to eradicate the last Viking strongholds there. He then proceeded aggressively against Herbert, marching into Rheims and replacing Hugh with Artald (931). Then, joined by Hugh the Great, Rudolph burned Herbert's fortresses and cornered him in Château-Thierry, where he had first imprisoned Charles, from 933 to 934. The two made peace in 935 and Rudolph fell ill, dying a few months hence on 14 or 15 January 936.
This Rudolph is frequently confused with his uncle
Rudolph I of Burgundy, who was the second King of Upper Burgundy.
Dukes of Burgundy family tree
*Gwatking, H. M., Whitney, J. P., et al. "Cambridge Medieval History: Volume III—Germany and the Western Empire".
Cambridge University Press: London, 1930.
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