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Atticus I (29 June 819-4 May 863), also known as Atticus Baitelle, was the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire from 24 February 840 until his death in 4 May 863. Upon the death of Lothair I of the Frankish Empire, he directly intervened and placed himself on the throne of the Frankish Empire, bypassing Frankish traditions in order to further unify the Carolingian Union during a time of crisis. While the move was highly controversial at the time, it is seen as a turning point in an otherwise 'self-destructive tradition'.
He is one of the most cherished Holy Roman Emperors for his bravery and excellent leadership skills, especially against the Vikings. For his ferocity against the Vikings raiding the Rhine settlements, he earned the surname 'Baitelle' posthumously.
Atticus I was born to Bernard I and Juliana on 29 June 819 in Constantinople during Bernard's tenure as king of Italy, though his father's reputation was thought to have prevented Bernard's children from earning a respectable position in politics. Unsure of Atticus' eligibility for the Byzantine throne, Bernard trained Atticus to fight from a young age, hoping he would become a more important strategos and carry on his father's soiled reputation. During this time, he was tutored by multiple tagmatas and strategoi, many of whom were veterans of the Unification War.
On 24 February 840, Pepin I died. Without any other suitable heirs, his illegitimate son, Bernard I, was crowned Byzantine Emperor. Atticus was placed in charge of the Thracia theme. During this time, he was tutored in leading people through a crisis and was partially in charge of the establishment of the new Croatia, Serbia, and Slavian themes.
Bernard I's relatively short rule ended on 24 February 840, leaving Atticus I next in line for the Byzantine throne. The twenty-year-old had some experience under his belt. He took a proactive role in establishing new routes from the Byzantine Empire into the Frankish Empire. The Carolingian Union existed in relative harmony for half a decade until the Raid of Paris in 845. Atticus, deciding it would be best not to lend men to that cause, kept his troops home for some time.
When the Rhine Raids in the Frankish Empire began, devastating Cologne and Utrecht before the raids began to occur down the Meuss River. In a surprise attack, the Vikings sacked Aachen in the First Battle of Aachen, which devastated the Frankish capital. In the battle, Lothair I was killed when the Palace of Aachen collapsed.
First Viking War
Atticus I, unwilling to allow Francia to suffer more defeats and potentially fracture, bypassed several traditions and customs to become the Frankish Emperor. Doing so was seen as a dishonor to Lothair I and his children, but Atticus disregarded the controversy for another time. Lending several fleets and Byzantine tagmata to the Franks, Atticus I retook Aachen in the Second Battle of Aachen. The Rhine Raids became a wild goose hunt. Atticus was too late to prevent the sacking of Verdun before he was able to meet and stop the Vikings at the Battle of Liége. Utilizing Greek fire, the Byzantines were able to counter the Viking fleets in the area.
The Battle of Liége in 850 began a series of counterattacks known as the Rhine Campaigns. While not exclusive to the Rhine River, the Rhine was the most threatened area of Francia. The subsequent Frisian campaigns expelled the Vikings from the Rhine. It was the last naval battle in a Frankish river during the First Viking War. As Byzantine fleets engaged the Swedes, Atticus led an army back to Jutland. In the famous Battle of Hammaburg Castle, Atticus I kills Ragnar Lodbrok in combat. The Danish defeat marked the expulsion of the Vikings from Frankish soil.
For his actions at Hammaburg Castle, the Pope overlooked Atticus' disregard for Frankish tradition and crowned him Holy Roman Emperor, a symbolic title at this point in the war. A temporary stalemate was reached in the First Viking War later that year, with neither side making any meaningful gains. Atticus was forced to return to Constantinople for a time to oversee both the First Viking War and the Moravian War from afar in 853. Following the death of Rastislav and the destruction of the Moravians in 855, Atticus oversaw the creation of the Duchy of Bohemia.
In 856, Atticus was able to return to the First Viking War with another themata at his side. His invasion of Jutland began the Danish Campaigns, a five-year campaign into the peninsula that resulted in the destruction of many towns and the subjugation of many other Danish cities. The campaigns ended with the disintegration of the Danes in 861. The war became a series of naval battles with Danish remnants and Swedish forces that ended with the Treaty of Hammaburg, officially ending the war.
Atticus, unfortunately, was unable to live to see the Carolingian Union defeat the Vikings officially. A campaign in northern Jutland compromised his health and he fell gravely ill. He was taken to Aachen in 863, where he signs the Treaty of Aachen. This treaty created a new policy mandating that the Franks and the Byzantines share a king rather than the empire be split every time a king died. Atticus I passed away on 4 December 863. His body was taken to Constantinople for a funeral.
Atticus I is a celebrated king remembered for his ferocity against the Vikings. He was posthumously named 'Atticus Baitelle' in a manner similar to Charles Martel, his ancestor. He is also widely recognized for ending the tradition of Frankish kings splitting their kingdoms among their sons upon dying, securing the position and longevity of the Frankish Empire until its complete merge with the Byzantine Empire a few decades later. The Treaty of Aachen is seen as a precursor to the Magnam Europae charter.