Lothair I (795-16 September 849) was King of the Franks following the death of his father, Louis the Pious, in 14 October 837 until Lothair's death at the hands of the Vikings on 16 September 849 in Aachen. He was also Holy Roman Emperor from 21 August 843 after the death of his cousin, Bernard I. Lothair's reign as Frankish Emperor was quiet until the First Viking War, which directly led to his death when the Palace of Aachen was destroyed in 849.
Lothair I was born to Louis I and Ermengarde of Hesbaye in 795. Little is known about his early life except for that he was most likely raised in the presence of Charlemagne until the Frankish King began to frequently go to Constantinople, especially after Irene of Athen's death in 806. Lothair was sent to govern Bavaria in 815, not participating in the Unification Wars. When Louis I drew his Ordinatio Imperii, Lothair was named Louis I's principal heir. He was going to be in charge of his brothers, Charles the Bald and Louis the German upon Louis I's death.
Upon Louis' death in 837, Lothair I's brothers immediately attempted to sway nobles to force Louis to split up the Frankish Empire, as was the tradition. Lothair, however, declined. As the two continued to harangue the new Frankish Emperor to grant them their own kingdoms, Lothair continued to decline. The political debates continued until they began to conspire to assassinate Lothair and create their own kingdoms in 841.
Lothair, however, gained word of this and had the two blinded and imprisoned. Charles the Bald died of the procedure shortly after while Louis the German is said to have lived a full year before passing away in prison.
Following his prevention of the attempted conspiracy, the Frankish Empire was at peace for a time. The rebellions over the union of the Byzantine and Frankish Empires had grown less numerous before ceasing in the early 840s. During this time, Bernard I died, leaving the throne of Holy Roman Emperor vacant. The Pope appointed Lothair I as Holy Roman Emperor in 843. Lothair enjoyed two peaceful years of being the Holy Roman Emperor.
First Viking War
In 845, a force allegedly led by Ragnar Lodbrok sacked Paris. The Frankish armies were slow to respond and were unable to prevent the devastation of the city and loss of thousands of pounds of gold and other valuable items. It is said that the loss of life exceeded ten thousand, though this may be an exaggeration. Many people, however, were kidnapped. By the time Lothair I arrived to the scene with his army, the Viking ships were long-gone.
The Franks were outraged by this attack responded by declaring war on the Danes that spring. They spent the spring, summer, and many autumn months invading Jutland before being repelled at Ravning Bridge. They were finally expelled from Jutland during the Battle of Sønderburg in 847. The Franks began suffering a number of defeats, especially during the hit-and-run raids along the Rhine River that resulted in the sacking of Utrecht and Cologne.
After the battle of Cologne, the Vikings sent ships down the Meuss River to attack the Frankish seat of power, Aachen. This battle, unlike the raids of Cologne and Utrecht, would end in the occupation of the city rather than the simple devastation. Aachen was severely damaged in the attack, resulting in the destruction of many buildings, including much of the Palace of Aachen. Lothair was killed when the Palace of Aachen collapsed.
Lothair I is known best as the Emperor of the Franks during the First Viking War. Many people believe that his inaction and poor planning during the war cost the Franks dearly in the initial battles, especially when he is compared to his successor, Atticus I, who repelled the Vikings from Francia and eventually took Jutland. Though Lothair I's heirs were supposed to have ruled the Frankish Empire after Lothair's death, Atticus I disregarded the tradition. While it is remembered today as a turning point in Frankish history, many people were upset, as it was seen as dishonoring Lothair and his wishes.
None of Lothair's descendents became Holy Roman Emperor. His line vanished into obscurity, with no trace of any direct descendants past the beginning of the 11th century.