This is part of the Medieval European History Metanode.

The Carolingian Empire ended the period of disunion and strife that characterized the early Frankish Empire. Pepin III ("the Short"), son of Charles Martel, wrote to the Pope in 751, asking to be king. The Pope did not give Pepin his support, so Pepin shaved the king's head and put him in a monastery, effectively deposing him. St. Boniface annointed Pepin king, and in 734, Pope Stephen II personally annointed him. Pepin returned the favor in 755 when he went to defend Rome from the Lombards and donated the Ravenna area to the Pope, which was the foundation of the Papal States.

Pepin died in 768 and left his kingdom to his son, Charlemagne. Charlemagne was a great warrior, defeating various and sundry Germanic tribes in his day. On Christmas Day in 800, the Pope crowned Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor at St. Peter's Basilica. Charlemagne organized his kingdom into 300 "counties", and organized his administration for optimal efficiency. Perhaps his greatest contribution was the Carolingian Renaissance. He decreed that schools should be opened in monasteries and churches across his kingdom, so that the Empire would have a good supply of educated clergymen and administrators. These schools attracted some of the leading scholars of his day, including Alcuin of York, Paul the Deacon, Theoduff of Spain, and Einhard. The curriculum of these schools was divided into:

1. Trivium, the study of Latin, grammar, poetry, and prose, and
2. Quadrivium, the study of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. These schools were the basis for the universities that sprang up in Europe in the 11th century.

The Empire declined after Charlemagne's death in 814. His son, Louis the Pious, left the kingdom divided among his three sons (you'd think these guys would learn!) Charles the Bald inherited France, Louis the German inherited - you guessed it - Germany, and Lothar inherited the central kingdom, from the North Sea down through Italy. Charles and Louis ganged up on Lothar with the Strasbourg Oath, in which they pledged allegiance to each other. Before they could defeat Lothar, he died, and left his kingdom divided among his three sons (he should've read his history). Charles and Louis divided up their nephews' inheritance, and civil war continued. By 884, all direct descendants of the Carolingians were dead except for Charles the Fat, who was deposed after only three years on the throne. The nobles made kingship elective thereafter.

Part of the reason for the decline of the Carolingian Empire was invasion. The Vikings sailed up the rivers during the summer on longboats, plundering the churches and monasteries along the way. Serious raids began in 840 and continued into the 10th century. Some kings decided to pay the Danegeld, or money in exchange for peace. Charles the Bald attempted to stop the Vikings by force by creating fortified bridges on the rivers, and he had but limited success. During the reign of Charles the Fat, the Vikings laid seige to Paris from November 885 until September 886, and Charles convinced them to lift the seige by giving them permission to ravage Burgandy until March of 887. This was one of the reasons he was deposed. Soon, the Vikings' seasonal raids ended as they began to stay in mainland Europe for the winter. Finally, Charles the Simple and the chieftan Rolf signed the Treaty of St. Clair-sur-Epte in 911. Rolf became the Duke of Normandy in exchange for his conversion to Christianity and peace. The Vikings quickly became French.

Following the collapse of the Carolingian Empire, the power of the kings went to the local nobles. Feudalism set in, and the kings would rule only the Ile-de-France.

The Line of the Carolingian Dynasty
Pepin the Short (751-768), married to Bertha "the Large Foot"
Charlemagne (768-814), married to Hildegard
Louis I the Pious (814-840), married to Judith of Bavaria
Charles II the Bald (840-877), married to Ermentrude
Louis II the Stammerer (877-878), married to Ansgarde and Adelaide
Louis III (879-882)
Charles the Fat (884-888), married to Princess Richard of Scotland

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