Page 1182

1182 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD,

the period upon which we now enter is

that to it belong the efforts of the piratical

Northmen to obtain a footing within the limits

of the more civilized states of the South. During the ninth and tenth centuries no fewer than

forty-seven incursions of the Sea kings into

France are recorded. These desperate bands

of corsairs were from Norway, Denmark,

Sweden, and Ireland; and their murderous

forays contributed not a little to check the

civilizing forces which had received so great an

impetus during the reign of Charlemagne.

The formation of North-western Europe was

such as specially to favor the movements of the

pirates. They penetrated the country by way

of the rivers. At first they ascended the

Scheldt, and robbed the hamlets on his banks.

The Seine furnished the next inlet for the

guerrillas of the North Sea, and then the

Loire. Before the middle of the ninth century they had ascended the Garonne and

sacked his villages. In 845 the city of Saintes

was burnt by the sea-robbers; and in the following year Limoges was taken and sacked.

Following up their advantages, the piratical

craft next appeared in the rivers of Aquitaine, and the city of Bordeaux, after making

one successful defense against their assaults,

was captured, plundered, and given to the

flames. Tours, Rouen, Angers, Orleans,

Meaux, Toulouse, Saint Lo, Bayeux, Evreux, Nantes, and Beaubais were sooner

or later pillaged by the insatiable Northmen.

More, however, will be added in detail with

respect to these incursions when we come

to consider the times in which they occurred.

Resuming the narrative, we find Louis,

the third son of Charlemagne, seated on

the throne vacated by his father's death.

He is known in history as. the Debonair,

though by his contemporaries he was called

the Pious. Perhaps the name of the Weak

would have suited him better than either.

He was altogether wanting in that physical

energy and immoral robustness which had

constituted the salient features in the character of his father. It should not be overlooked, however, that in the single matter of moral rectitude, the new sovereign

far excelled his predecessor; but his political incapacity rendered his domestic

virtues of but small or even negative value.

In the beginning of his reign the new

Emperor attempted to institute certain reforms in the manners and habitude of the

court. The excesses of the preceding reign

had been endured because of the magnificent strength with which they were accompanied. A code of austerity was now substituted in the palace, and throughout the

empire some feeble attempts were made to

throw off certain abuses which had flourished

during the preceding administration. The

subjugated, though still sullen Saxons, were

restored to a portion of their liberties. Royal

messengers were sent into various provinces

with authority to mitigate the hardships of

the preceding reign. But none of these

measures were backed with that degree of

administrative energy which was essential to

any real reform.

Before his accession to the Imperial throne

Louis had already been presented by the

queen Hermengarde with three sons, Lothaire, Pepin, and Louis. These princes, at

the date of their grandfather's death, were

already advancing towards manhood, the

elder being nineteen years of age. Three

years after coming to Imperial power Louis

convened a national assembly at his capital, and announced to that body his purpose

of sharing the throne with Lothaire. The

measure was coupled with the assertion

of the Emperor that he did not by any means

purpose to break up the unity of the great

kingdom which he had received from his

father; but the merest novice in statesmanship could not fail to see the inevitable effect

of the joint sovereignty thus instituted in the

empire.

Coincident with the elevation of Lothaire

to Imperial dignity, the other two sons of the

emperor-Pepin and Louis--were crowned as

kings, the former receiving Aquitaine, Southern Gaul, and Burgundy; and the latter,

the countries beyond the Rhine. The rest

of Gaul and Germany, together with Italy,

fell to Lothaire, and the subordinate rulers

were directed to repair to him from time

to time and receive their authority at his

hands. During the remainder of his life

Louis the Debonair was to retain the home

kingdom, having Lothaire as his associate in the government. The two junior

sons of the Emperor, youths as they were,

repaired to their respective provinces and