1186 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
beginning of the conflict victory seemed to
incline to the banners of Lothaire; but the
forces of Charles and Louis rallied from
their temporary repulse, and inflicted on
their enemy an overwhelming defeat. Hardly
ever in the previous history of France had
such fearful carnage been witnessed. The
overthrow of the old Imperial party was
ruinous to the last degree, and well might the
aged poet of the court of Charlemagne bewail
the irreparable disaster.
Notwithstanding his discomfiture Lothaire
made most strenuous efforts to restore his
fortunes. He appealed to the Saxons and
promised the restoration of paganism if
they would espouse his cause. Several of
the tribes revolted in his favor; but Louis
and Charles were little disposed to lose
by negligence the .fruits of their great victory. The two princes met in a public assembly on the right bank of the Rhine,
between Bale and Strasbourg. Each came at
the head of his army, and there, in the most
solemn manner, they renewed their covenant
against Lothaire. The alliance thus made
was publicly celebrated by the officers and
soldiers of the two armies in a series of games,
military sports, and jousting, the same being,
perhaps, the beginning of those knightly tournaments which became one of the leading
features in the social history of the Middle
Ages. The two kings themselves, dad in
armor, entered the lists, attacked each other,
as if in battle, pursued, retreated, and performed feats of fictitious daring.
But neither the league between Louis
and Charles nor the royal sports which they
instituted for the delight of their soldiers
could overawe the courageous Lothaire. In
spite of the efforts of the allied princes he
made such headway on the side of Saxony
that they were obliged to recognize his
rights and to consent to a new territorial adjustment. The three brothers met in a
conference in the summer of 843, and it was
agreed that Italy, Aquitaine, and Bavaria
should remain in the hands of their present
possessors, and that to Louis should also
be given the three cities of Mayence, Worms,
and Spires, on the left bank of the Rhine.
The eastern part of Gaul, bounded by the
Rhine and the Alps and the rivers Mouse,
Sa6ne, and Rhone, was assigned to Lothaire.
The remainder of the Gaulish territory was
given to Charles the Bald, and to him also
fell the provinces of Vasconia, Septimania,
and the French possessions beyond the
This settlement of affairs made at Verdun,
in the year 843, gave the finishing stroke to
the project of restoring the Empire of the
West. The name 6f Emperor was still retained and has continued for many centuries
as a sort of traditional factor in the politics of
Europe. But it was the shadow without the
substance. The Empire itself became a myth,
into which not even the greatest minds could
do more than breathe the breath of a fitful
and evanescent vitality.
In the midst of the great civil disturbances to which the Frankish kingdoms were
thus subjected the Northern Pirates came
in to reap their abundant harvest of spoil.
They made their way at times to the very
gates of Paris. The abbeys of St. Germain
and St. Denis were captured and sacked.
The outer quarters of the city were several
times in the hands of the sea robbers, to
whom all treasures, both sacred and profane,
were alike. In the year 850, Pepin of Aquitaine
made a league with the Northmen and consented to their capture of Toulouse. The
marauders went from place to place through
the province of Aquitaine, seizing what
they liked and destroying what they would.
Nor did it appear that either Pepin or Charles
the Bald had the courage requisite to scourge
the Northmen out of their territories.
One of the most audacious of the piratical
leaders was the sea king Hastings. Several times he appeared with his fleet in the rivers
and harbors of France. Not satisfied with
the spoils of the western coasts, he made his
way into the Mediterranean. On the shore
of Tuscany he descried a city which he mistook for Rome, but being unable to take the
place by assault, he resorted to stratagem.