Siege of Paris 845 AD || History Of Paris 845

Siege of Paris 845 AD || History Of Paris 845 || TV 25 Urdu

The deeds of the renowned Charles the Great have faded over the last thirty years, as the empire he created was constantly weakened by both internal and external threats. Charlemagne’s only living son and heir Louis the Pious struggled to maintain power and control over the unruly regional lords, but even considering his talents, Louis was simply a monarch of a smaller calibre compared to his famous father. His reign was marked by a series of exhausting civil wars and border quarrels,

and while Louis did much to retain his power and secure the future of the Carolingian Empire, the results of his efforts were meagre. Louis the Pious eventually died in 840 at the age of 62 and his three living sons, being unable to follow their father’s wishes, raised their banners to fight over Louis’ inheritance. Yet again the Frankish Empire plunged into civil war, which lasted for the next three years and eradicated any remaining trace of unity between the belligerents. In 843 the war came to an end and the Treaty of Verdun was signed,

which essentially divided Charlemagne’s empire into three distinct parts ruled by the three sons of the late emperor Louis the Pious. In such circumstances, Louis’ youngest son, Charles the Bald became the very first King of West Francia, the westernmost part of the divided empire. His initial position was hardly enviable. Although the dynastic dispute between the brothers seemed to be settled at least for a time,

Charles wasn’t too popular within his own domain and just a few vassals pledged loyalty to him. His rule over regions such as Brittany and Aquitaine was in fact only nominal with those areas on the verge of open rebellion. But Charles’ most impending problem was an external one. His early rule coincided with the expansion of Scandinavian raiders – the Vikings, who since the end of the eighth century began ravaging the coasts of the British Isles and Western Europe, in search for wealth and glory.

The Norsemen were well oriented in the local politics of the Frankish states and exploited their lack of unity, even sailing up major rivers and pillaging riverside settlements. Frankish rulers, who were so busy fighting amongst themselves, did little to strengthen their countries defences against seaborne raids. The rough-and-ready solution to decrease the countries vulnerability to Viking attacks was to allow them to settle along the northern Frankish coasts and rivers in the hope that they would protect the mainland against other Norsemen. It wasn’t an extensively popular tactic among the Vikings in first half of 9th century,

but still, some temporary settlements were established. In 841 one of the Norse chieftains, named Ragnar was awarded land in northern Francia and nominally became a vassal of Charles the Bald. It is still subject to debate, but there’s a slight possibility, that the man King Charles gave land to, was the near-legendary Ragnar Lothbrok, a famous Viking hero and ruler. But since there’s barely any evidence to support this theory, we’ll refer to this character, as just Ragnar. Anyway, a few years later,

Ragnar lost his bridgehead in northern Francia along with the favour of King Charles. This led the Norse chieftain to seek revenge and punish the Frankish king for his supposed lack of support and cooperation. In early spring of the year 845, Ragnar led more than one hundred longships up the river Seine and swiftly attacked and burnt the city of Rouen. Upon hearing this,

Charles hastily gathered an army, a couple thousand strong and sent it west to defend rich settlements and monasteries lying along the river Seine and the strategically important city of Paris. Norse and Frankish forces clashed in the middle of March some kilometres north of the city. As the Franks were divided into two contingents, occupying both banks of the river,

Ragnar took the advantage and stormed the weaker detachment. Battle ensued, but the Danes were far more numerous and quickly overwhelmed their enemy. The Frankish unit was eradicated, and those who remained on the battlefield, were taken into captivity. Watching the course of the encounter from the other side of the river, the morale of the second Frankish detachment plummeted and Charles’ men abandoned their plan to stop the invaders, and scattered in chaos.

The King’s makeshift effort to stop the Danish raiders proved to be futile. Thanks to this initial victory, Ragnar’s men had the road to the riches of Paris wide open. The Danes reached the outskirt of the city on the 28th of March and began preparing for the siege.

Hoping to terrorize the defenders morale, Ragnar moved the prisoners he had taken in victorious skirmish a few days earlier to the island on the Seine River and had them hanged, much to citizens’ dread. The city was largely undefended and not truly prepared for either an assault or prolonged siege. Ragnar was most likely aware of this and early the next day, on Easter Sunday, he attempted to storm the walls. The undermanned garrison and poorly maintained fortifications couldn’t pose a meaningful threat to 5,000 voracious Norse invaders,

leading to a quick and brutal assault. Ragnar’s men eventually breached into the city and soon an exhaustive plunder of Paris’ churches and monasteries began. King Charles was in trouble, as his relief force was swiftly defeated and he lost one of the most important cities in his kingdom to the Danish invaders. He could have tried to assemble an army big enough to fend off Ragnar’s party, but this solution required the support of the nobles of West Francia, among which, Charles wasn’t too popular and their loyalty was questionable at best.

Instead, Charles decided to use the royal treasury to pay Ragnar a ransom and thus save Paris from being destroyed. It wasn’t an ideal solution, but Charles had hardly any other choice. He bought himself some time to unravel the most pressing issues of the new kingdom and perhaps prepare his realm better for the possibility of future Norse raids in the years to come. More than 5,000 pounds of gold and silver was transported to Norse-occupied Paris to placate the invaders. A possible factor that could have influenced Ragnar’s decision was that upon taking the city, the Vikings were stricken with plague, whittling his fighting force.

Anyway, Charles’ offer was generous enough for the Danes to agree to depart with the city reasonably intact. Although Ragnar’s forces pillaged the Frankish countryside on their way back to the shore, for a time Charles the Bald was rid of the Norse raiders. The Sack of Paris was probably one of the most resounding events of the early Viking Age. Taking such an important city made the Frankish rulers realise how vulnerable their realms were against this new Scandinavian threat, which from the middle of the ninth century became a major concern for every Frankish ruler for the next two hundred years.

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