Lothar I (Franconian Empire)

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Lothar I in a gospel book of Lothar I, Tours , between 849 and 851, today Bibliothèque nationale de France , Paris
Silberpfennig ( Denarius ) with the portrait of Emperor Lothar I.

Lothar I (* 795 ; † September 29, 855 in the Prüm Abbey ) was King of Bavaria from 814 to 817 , Roman Emperor from 817/823 to 855 (as co-emperor until 840), and (sub) king from 822 to 855 of Italy ( King of the Longobards ) and from 843 to 855 King of the Frankish Lotharii Regnum ("Middle Kingdom") .

Bavaria among the Carolingians


Lothar was the eldest son of Ludwig the Pious and his wife Irmingard . He therefore belonged to the Carolingian noble family . From August 814 he ruled Bavaria and in July 817 he became co-emperor when the empire was divided by Ludwig the Pious . In mid-October 821 he married in Thionville with Ermengarde of Tours , daughter of Count Hugo of Tours . In 822 he also received Italy and a year later, at Easter on April 5, 823, the imperial crown from Pope Paschal I.

In November 824 he issued the Constitution of Lothair , Constitutio Romana which the rights of the Emperor and the Pope in Rome and the Papal States firmly set. But when Ludwig the Pious appointed the son Karl the Bald, born by his second wife Judith , at the Diet of Worms Alemannia in August 829 , the three sons from their first marriage revolted against their father and deposed him in 830. In 831 Ludwig was freed again and Lothar lost the reign.

When a new outrage occurred in 833, the parties faced each other on the Rotfeld near Colmar at the end of June , until Ludwig had lost all support and on June 30 was forced to surrender and de facto abdicate. This was followed by a public confession of guilt and the banishment of Judith and her son Karl to a monastery. Due to the closed and broken oaths, the Colmarer Rotfeld was soon simply referred to as the " Liesfield ".

Lothar now believed his rule over the entire empire secure, but now his brothers allied with their deposed father Ludwig and brought him back to the throne. Louis the Pious was reinstated in Saint-Denis on March 1, 834 ; Lothar, who had fled to Burgundy , had to submit to Blois in June 834 ; he only kept Italy as a lower kingdom, which he was no longer allowed to leave without Ludwig's consent.

With the new division of the empire after Pippin's death, Lothar was again accepted for grace and, apart from Italy, received Austrasia without Bavaria (June 839). After his father's death (June 840), Lothar claimed full recognition as emperor. Only Ludwig and Karl beat him at Fontenoy in Burgundy on June 25, 841. In the Treaty of Verdun of August 10, 843, Lothar kept Burgundy and the countries between the Rhine , Meuse and Scheldt up to the North Sea with the two capitals in addition to the dignity of Emperor and Italy Rome and Aachen , the so-called "Middle Kingdom" .

While Lothar stayed in Aachen to consolidate his power, the Arabs devastated his Italian provinces in 848 and the Normans sacked the coasts of the North Sea . The high clergy gained an independent position and the great vassals , following Lothar's example, exercised arbitrariness and tyranny.

Already seriously ill, Lothar I divided his kingdom among his sons on September 19, 855 in the division of Prüm :

  • Ludwig II. (825–875) received the dignity of Emperor and Italy .
  • Charles of Provence († 863) received Provence and the larger part of Burgundy belonging to the Middle Kingdom (the smaller part, the region now known as " Burgundy " ( Bourgogne ) in the center of present-day France , had been part of western France since 843).
  • Lothar II. († 869) received the northern part of the empire named after him ( Lotharingia ).

After the abdication , Lothar I retired to the Prüm Abbey in the Eifel, where he died a few days later, on September 29, 855, and was also buried.


High grave of Emperor Lothar I in the church of the Prüm Abbey

Lothar's bones were reburied in the new high altar when the abbey church was rebuilt in 1721 and found again in 1860. In 1874 a new tomb was created with the financial support of Kaiser Wilhelm I. The epitaph of Hrabanus Maurus was carved into the grave slab :

“Continet hic tumulus memorandi Caesaris ossa, Hlotharii, magni principis atque pii. Qui Francis, Italis, Romanis praefuit ipsis, Omnia sed sprevit, pauper et hinc abiit. Nam bis tricenos monachus sic attigit annos, Et se mutavit, ac bene post obiit. III. Cal. Octob. "

“This grave contains the bones of the unforgettable emperor, Lothar, the great and godly ruler. Who ruled over Franks, Italians, even Romans. Despised everything and then went away poorly. As a monk, he was just turning sixty. He changed and passed away happily on September 29th [855]. "

The saying Tempora mutantur goes back to Lothar .


In the narrative sources Lothar is mostly portrayed as being driven by ambition and without any reason of state. This downright negative reputation is also taken up and reproduced by numerous scientific studies. It should be noted, however, that the main sources at that time all come from the environment of Lothar's brothers Karl and Ludwig. A work of history from his own environment, in which he would undoubtedly have been portrayed in a more positive light, either did not arise or has not been passed on. The traditionally negative image of this ruler should therefore not do him justice. A more recent representation of his person and rule that takes this into account is missing so far.


Lothar had nine children from his marriage to Irmingard:


  • History Association Prümer Land eV (Ed.): Lothar I., Emperor and Monk in Prüm - On the 1150th year of his death (= publications of the History Association Prümer Land. Vol. 55). History Association "Prümer Land" e. V., Prüm 2005, ISBN 3-931478-19-X .
  • Mathias Geiselhart: The capitular legislation of Lothar I in Italy (= Freiburg contributions to medieval history. Vol. 15). Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2002, ISBN 3-631-38943-4
  • Hans-Werner Goetz : Lothar I . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 5, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1991, ISBN 3-7608-8905-0 , Sp. 1223 f.
  • Maria Schäpers: Lothar I (795-855) and the Franconian Empire (= Rheinisches Archiv. Vol. 159). Böhlau Verlag, Cologne 2018. ISBN 978-3-412-50126-6 .
  • Theodor Schieffer:  Lothar I. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 15, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-428-00196-6 , pp. 210-216 ( digitized version ).

Web links


  1. Annales regni francorum , GHPertz (ed.), Annales regni francorum inde a. 741 usque ad 829, qui dicuntur Annales Laurissenses maiores et Einhardi (MGH SS rer. Germ. In us. Scholar. Separatim editi 6), Hannover 1895, a. 817, p. 146
  2. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11514a.htm
  3. Annales Fuldenses for the year 846: "DCCCXLVI. Gisalbertus vassallus Karli filiam Hlutharii imperatoris rapuit et in Aquitaniam profectus in coniugem accepit. Hludowicus occidentem profectus 5 mense Martio cum Karlo placitum habatis, in quo uter quoduis filiae Hlutharii iungeretur, ut his auditis Hlutharius facilius placari potuisset. " - "846. Giselbert, a vassal of Charles [the Bald], robbed a daughter of Emperor Lothar and went to Aquitaine, where he married her. Ludwig [the German] moved west and held a court day with Karl in March, where both testified publicly that it was not their will that Giselbert associate herself with Lothar's daughter so that Lothar could be appeased more easily if this became known. " The name of the stolen daughter is given in later sources as Ermengard, which probably led to a mix-up ( Erich Brandenburg , The Descendants of Charlemagne, Leipzig 1935, reprint 1998, plate 1 page 2 and notes p. 112)
predecessor Office successor
Charlemagne (Sub) King of Bavaria
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious Roman Emperor
817 / 823–855 (as co-emperor until 840)
Ludwig II.
Louis the Pious ( Sub ) King of Italy / King of the Lombards
Ludwig II.
--- King of the Frankish Lotharii Regnum
Lothar II ( Lotharingia )
Charles of Provence ( Provence and Burgundy )
Ludwig II ( Italy )