Charles II, 'the Bald' (Emperor of the West, from 875 - 877, King of the Western Franks from 843 - 877), was born June 13, 823
, in Frankfurt
. He was the son of Emperor Louis I
, 'the Pious' and his second wife Judith
, 'the Fair Maid' of Bavaria
. When Charles was born, his older half-brothers had already been given their own mini-kingdoms by their father Louis. When Louis tried to give Charles a kingdom of his own, first Alemannia
and then the country between the Meuse and the Pyrenees in 839
, at the expense of his half-brothers Lothair and Louis, those two half-brothers began an uprising against the emperor.
Louis's death 840 was the signal for the outbreak of war between all of his sons. Charles allied himself with his brother Louis ('the German') against Lothar, and these two allies conquered him at Fontenoy-en-Puisaye on June 25, 841. The war was brought to an end by the treaty of Verdun in August 843. The tready gave Charles the kingdom of the western Franks, as far as the Meuse, the Saone and the Rhone, with the addition of the Spanish March as far as the Ebro.
The first years of Charles' reign, up to the death of Lothar I in 855, were relatively peaceful. The brothers, sons of Louis I, would periodically hold "confraternal government" meetings, where they would discuss the needs of their realms.
In 858, the fragile peace amoungst the brothers ended. His brother Louis was asked by disaffected nobles to get rid of Charles for them, so he invaded Charles' western Frankish kingdom. Charles fled to Burgundy and was helped by the bishops there and by the Welfs, who were related to his mother, Judith.
In 860 Charles attempted to seize the kingdom of his nephew, Charles of Provence, but was defeated. When his nephew Lothar II died in 869, Charles tried to seize Lothar's realm, but was unsuccessful. In 870 the treaty of Mersen declared that Charles must share the realm with his brother Louis.
As if all of these family feuds weren't bad enough, Charles had to struggle against the constant rebellions in Aquitaine and the Bretons. The Bretons were led by their chiefs Nomenoe and Erispoe, and they defeated Charles at Ballon in 845 and Juvardeil 851. Charles also had to battle the Normans, who devastated the country in north Gaul, the valleys of the Seine and Loire, and around the borders of Aquitaine. Charles tried to buy the Norman invaders off; he led several expeditions against them and tried to create a barrier between the Normans and his kingdom by having fortified bridges built over all the rivers. Despite all these measures, he wasn't very successful in any of his attempts to keep the Normans in check.
In 875, after the death of the Emperor Louis II, Charles invaded Italy (with the help of Pope John VIII), and received for his efforts the royal crown at Pavia and the imperial crown at Rome. His brother Louis was also a candidate for the succession of Louis II, and was a little annoyed at not being made Emperor. He got even with Charles by invading the Frankish kingdom and generally laying waste to everything in his path. This forced Charles to return to his realm early to deal with Louis, who died (I'm sure, much to Charles' relief) in August of 876. When Louis died, Charles decided to take Louis's kingdom. However, he was defeated at Andernach in October 876.
While Charles and Louis were busy trying to steal each others kingdoms, the Saracens were busy picking on Rome and Pope John VIII. The Pope begged Charles to come to back to Italy and rid him of the Saracens. Charles was all for helping the Pope, but his nobles were less than enthusiastic. They refused to join the imperial army as it attempted to cross the Alps. However, Carloman, son of his brother Louis, did make it into northern Italy, so Charles, sick and tired and unhappy about not being able to help the Pope, started on his way back to his kingdom. He died while crossing Mont Cenis in October 877.
Somehow, in the midst of all this warfare, Charles managed to find time to marry and sire several children. His first wife was Ermentrude of Orleans, and they were married in December 842, in Crecy, France. They had eleven children: Judith, Louis II 'The Stammerer', Charles of Aquitaine, Prince Carolman, Prince Lothar, Princess Rotrude, Princess Hildegard, Princess Gisele, Abernade, Duchess of Lorraine, Drogo, and Pippin. Ermentrude died in 869 and Charles married Richildis of Metz in November 870. Together they had two children, Rothild Carolingiens of Neustria and Charles.