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Lothair I (German: Lothar, French: Lothaire, Italian: Lotario) (795 – 29 September 855), was a post-Roman king of Italy (818 – 855) and crowned Carolingian King of (Northern) Italy, Emperor of the Romans and (nominally) was Emperor of the Franks (840 – 855).

Lothair was the eldest son of the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious and his wife Ermengarde of Hesbaye, daughter of Ingerman, duke of Hesbaye. He led his full-brothers Pippin I of Aquitaine and Louis the German in revolt against their father on several occasions, in protest against his attempts to make their half-brother Charles the Bald a co-heir to the Frankish domains. Upon the death of the father, Charles and Louis joined forces against Lothair in a three year civil war (840-843), the struggles between the brothers leading directly to the break up of the great Frankish Empire assembled by their grandfather Charlemagne, and would lay the foundation for the development of modern France and Germany.

Little is known of his early life, which was probably passed at the court of his grandfather Charlemagne. Shortly after the accession of his father, he was sent to govern Bavaria. He first comes to historical attention in 817, when Louis the Pious drew up his Ordinatio Imperii. In this, Louis designated Lothair as his principal heir, to whom his younger brothers Pippin of Aquitaine and Louis the German, as well as his cousin Bernard of Italy, would be subject after the death of their father; he would also inherit their lands if they were to die childless. Lothair was then crowned joint emperor by his father at Aix-la-Chapellemarker. At the same time, Aquitaine and Bavaria were granted to his brothers Pippin and Louis respectively as subsidiary kingdoms. Following the murder of Bernard, King of Italy, by Louis the Pious, Lothair also received the Kingdom of Italy. In 821, he married Ermengarde (d. 851), daughter of Hugh, count of Tours. In 822, he assumed the government of Italymarker, and at Easter, 5 April 823, he was crowned emperor again by Pope Paschal I, this time at Romemarker.

In November 824, he promulgated a statute concerning the relations of pope and emperor which reserved the supreme power to the secular potentate, and he afterwards issued various ordinances for the good government of Italy.

On his return to his father's court his stepmother Judith won his consent to her plan for securing a kingdom for her son Charles, a scheme which was carried out in 829, when the young prince was given Alemannia as king. Lothair, however, soon changed his attitude and spent the succeeding decade in constant strife over the division of the Empire with his father. He was alternately master of the Empire, and banished and confined to Italy, at one time taking up arms in alliance with his brothers and at another fighting against them, whilst the bounds of his appointed kingdom were in turn extended and reduced.

The first rebellion began in 830. All three brothers fought their father, whom they deposed. In 831, he was reinstated and he deprived Lothair of his imperial title and gave Italy to the young Charles. The second rebellion was instigated by Angilbert II, Archbishop of Milan, in 833, and again Louis was deposed and reinstated the next year (834). Lothair, through the loyalty of the Lombards and later reconciliations, retained Italy and the imperial position through all remaining divisions of the Empire by his father.

When Louis the Pious was dying in 840, he sent the imperial insignia to Lothair, who, disregarding the various partitions, claimed the whole of the Empire. Negotiations with his brother Louis the German and his half-brother Charles, both of whom armed to resist this claim, were followed by an alliance of the younger brothers against Lothair. A decisive battle was fought at Fontenay-en-Puisaye on 25 June 841, when, in spite of his and his allied nephew Pepin II of Aquitaine's personal gallantry, Lothair was defeated and fled to Aachen. With fresh troops he began a war of plunder, but the forces of his brothers were too strong for him, and taking with him such treasure as he could collect, he abandoned to them his capital. He met with the leaders of the Stellinga in Speyermarker and promised them his support in return for theirs, but Louis and then the native Saxon nobility put down the Stellinga in the next years.

Peace negotiations began, and in June 842 the brothers met on an island in the Saône, and agreed to an arrangement which developed, after much difficulty and delay, into the Treaty of Verdun signed in August 843. By this, Lothair received the imperial title as well as northern Italy and a long stretch of territory from the North Seamarker to the Mediterraneanmarker, essentially along the valleys of the Rhinemarker and the Rhone. He soon left Italy to his eldest son, Louis, and remained in his new kingdom, engaging in alternate quarrels and reconciliations with his brothers and in futile efforts to defend his lands from the attacks of the Northmen (as Vikings were known in Frankish writings) and the Saracens.

In 855, he became seriously ill and, despairing of recovery, renounced the throne, divided his lands between his three sons (the Treaty of Prüm), and on September 23, entered the monastery of Prümmarker, where he died six days later. He was buried at Prüm, where his remains were found in 1860.

His kingdom was divided among his three sons — the eldest, Louis II, received Italy and the title of Emperor; the second, Lothair II, received Lotharingia; while the youngest, Charles, received Provence.


He married Ermengarde of Tours, who died in 851. The last of his nine children are illegitimate.
  • Louis II (825-875)
  • Hiltrude (826-865)
  • Bertha (c.830-852)
  • Irmgard (c.830-849)
  • Gisela (c.830-856)
  • Lothair II (835-869)
  • Rotrude (c.840)
  • Charles (845-863)
  • Carloman (853)



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