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Beginning in the late tenth century the Kingdom of France gradually transitioned into its later loose collection of states. In 987 the kingdom would elect Hugh Capet as the new king of France. The Capets however would fall to establish a stable dynasty, and wars with the Carolingians and their supporters over Capet ascension greatly undermined French stability.
Additionally this page details important background information leading up to the establishment of the Kingdom of France, including the Carolingian Civil War, the empire's subsequent division by the Treaty of Verdun, and the kings of France before the reign of Hugh Capet.
Division of the Carolingian Empire (840 - 888)
First Civil War and Treaty of Verdun
Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and King of the Franks, died on 20 June 840, leading to his eldest son, Lothair I, claimed overlordship over the whole of his father's kingdom. This came in violation of the Salic Law of the Franks, which required division of Louis’ empire among all his sons. Lothair also supported the claim of his nephew Pepin II to Aquitaine, a large province in the west of the Frankish realm. Lothair’s claims were not recognized by his brother Louis the German and his half-brother Charles the Bold, and war soon loomed over Francia.
Charles and Louis assembled their armies and marched against Lothair. At the Battle of Worms Lothair would be defeated, and was forced to grant Charles all the lands of the west, and Louis that of Bavaria and the lands of the east. Lothair was left with the lands he managed to hold, the Kingdom of Italy, and the imperial title. Despite this division, conflict continued, beginning on 24 July 840 when Lothair declared in Strasbourg ownership over the entirety of the empire. Lothair was joined by his nephew Pepin and Girard II, Count of Paris, Lothair's brother-in-law, and marched into the Loire Valley. The barons of Burgundy became split over their allegiances, with Ermenaud III of Auxerre, Arnoul of Sens, and Audri of Autun pledging themselves for Lothair, and Guerin of Provence and Aubert of Avallon remaining with Charles. By March 831 Burgundian forces loyal to Charles and the forces of Guerin had been organized, and by May of that year they had joined Louis of Bavaria and Charles the Marne river.
At the Battle of Fontenoy the forces of Charles and Louis met Lothair and Pepin. Lothair and his allies initiated combat, and took the upper hand against Charles and Louis, until the arrival of Guerin and his army of Provençals. Pepin’s contingent managed to repulse the forces of Charles, while Lothair was slowly pushed back by Louis and the reinforcing Provençals. Lothair was eventually defeated, and fled to his capital at Aachen. After gathering his army Lothair continued raiding, but outnumbered by his brothers was unable to decisively defeat them. In 842 Charles and Louis would sign the Oaths of Strasbourg, declaring Lothair unfit for the imperial throne.
In August 843 Lothair would agree to negotiations with his brothers. The ensuing Treaty of Verdun would officially end the Carolingian Civil War, and would fully partition the former Carolingian Empire. Each of the three brothers retained their already established kingdom: Lothair in Italy, Louis the German in Bavaria, and Charles the Bald in Aquitaine. Lothair retained his title of emperor, and in addition each of the following terms was fulfilled:
- Lothair received the central portion of the empire which later became, from north to south: the Low Countries, Lorraine, Alsace, Burgundy, Provence, and the Kingdom of Italy (which covered only the northern half of the Italian Peninsula), collectively called Middle Francia. Lothair also received the two imperial cities, Aachen and Rome, with his possession of the imperial title recognized. Despite his title Lothair retained only nominal overlordship of his brothers' lands.
- Louis the German was guaranteed the kingship of all lands to the east of the Rhine and to the north and east of Italy, and received the eastern sections of the empire. This land later became known East Francia, and would lay the foundations for the Kingdom of Germany, the largest component of the Holy Roman Empire.
- Charles the Bald received all lands west of the Rhône, which became known as West Francia. Pepin II was granted the kingdom of Aquitaine, but only under the authority of Charles.
Treaties of Prüm and Meerssen
Following the signing of the Treaty of Verdun, Lothair soon ceded the Kingdom of Italy to his eldest son, Louis. Lothair retained control over his remaining kingdom, where he attempted to defend his realm and reconcile relations with his family, in an effort to obtain their support against Norse and Muslim raiders on the outskirts of Frankish territory. Lothair would next engage against Fulcrad, Count of Arles, after he led an armed rebellion against the emperor. Fulcrad would fail in his attempt to seize Provence, and would be forced to surrender to Lothair. Provence had at this time been at increasing risk from outside threats. In 842 Muslim raiders had attacked Marseille and Arles. Later the area would be attacked by Byzantine pirates in 848, again by Muslims in 859, and that same year by vikings. After surrendering to the emperor, Fulcrad would next work alongside Lothair, in order to repel foreign attacks in Provence.
In 855 Lothair would fall ill, and arrange for his eldest sons to receive portions of his territory. Following his death, his sons would arrange the Treaty of Prüm, which granted Upper and Lower Burgundy, including Arles and Provence, to his third son Charles of Provence, with his remaining territory north of the Alps to his second son Lothair II, who ruled over the land which would later be known as Lotharingia. This area included Frisia and the parts of Austrasia that remained his father's after Verdun, containing the original realm of the Franks and the capital of Aachen. Lothair's eldest son, Louis II inherited Italy and his father's claim to the Imperial title.
Despite being the senior heir to Lothair's domain, Louis II received comparatively less territory than his brothers, and allied with his uncle Louis the German against his brother Lothair and his uncle Charles the Bald. Lothair eventually sued for peace with his brother and uncle, whereas Charles was so unpopular in his realm that he was unable to field a large army. Charles instead fled to Burgundy, but remained king after the bishops of his realm refused to crown Louis king in the west. Charles would later attempt to invade Burgundy for himself, but would be repulsed.
In 862, in exchange for support of his divorce with his wife, Lothair II ceded Louis II a small amount of land. This agreement would once more lead to conflict with the papacy and his uncles. The following year Burgundy passed to Louis II following the death of Charles of Burgundy. The border would next change with the death of Lothair II with no legitimate heirs. The Treaty of Meerssen was created in 870 as a partition of Lothair's realm. Lothair's heir would have been Emperor Louis II of Italy, but as he was at that time campaigning against the Emirate of Bari, his uncles, Louis the German and Charles the Bald, took his inheritance instead. That same year Charles had himself crowned in Metz, but was forced by his brothers to partition the territory of Lotharingia, as well as the lands Lothair II had acquired after the death of Charles of Provence.
The Treaty of Meerssen, which would now serve to completely replace the Treaty of Verdun. Firstly, the treaty split Middle Francia between east and west, effectively creating two large divisions. At this time however, large portions of the Frisian coast were under control by viking raiders, and the division was largely nominal. The border was largely based on the Meuse, Ourthe, Moselle, Saone, and Rhone rivers, with Louis receiving Austrasia in the north, including Aachen and Mets, as well as most of Frisia. Louis also received most of Upper Burgundy in the south of the empire, with the rest being ceded to Italy. Charles received Lower Burgundy, including Lyon, and a small concession in the western part of Lower Burgundy, which included parts of Portois and Varais, including Besancon. Louis' acquisitions in the north were largely ceded to his son Louis the Younger, while the Duchy of Alsace was later granted to Lothair II's illegitimate son Hugh.
During much of Louis the German's later rule, he was faced with growing trouble from his sons. In 861 his eldest son Carloman revolted, which was followed by a revolt by his second son Louis, supported by his brother Charles, two years later. In 864 Louis ceded the Kingdom of Bavaria to Carloman, which he had similarly once held under the rule of his father. The following year the majority of his lands were likewise divided, with Saxony, Francia, and Thuringia being granted to Louis the Younger, and Swabia and Raetia being granted to Charles the Fat. In 871 Louis seized Bari from the Saracens, but was held hostage by Sergius of Naples, Waifar of Salerno, Lambert of Spoleto, and Adelchis of Benevento, who released him upon promise never to return to Italy.
With news of the death of Louis II of Italy, peace was momentarily called between Louis the German and his sons, who attempted to obtain the imperial crown for Carloman. This report turned out to be false, and Louis the German was combated by the still alive Louis II and Charles the Bald. When Louis II did die in 875, he named Carloman his heir. Charles the Bald, supported by the Pope, contested this inheritance, and was crowned both King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor. While preparing for war, Louis the German died in 876 at Frankfurt. Charles wished to spread his influence into East Francia, and met his nephew Louis the Younger at Sinzig, but Louis refused Charles' plans.
As such Louis' sons prepared for war against West Francia. Charles launched a campaign into the Rhineland, which culminated in the Battle of Andernach. The battle would prove a decisive victory for Louis the Younger, forcing Charles back from East Francia. Charles fled to Italy, answering the call of Pope John VIII, who urged him to help in combating invading Saracens. Charles' campaign was unpopular among many of his nobles, and reinforcements refused to join his army from France. Carloman likewise entered northern Italy, and Charles, now ill, attempted to flee back to France. While crossing out of Italy, Charles died in 877, ending the war between East and West Francia.
Treaty of Ribemont
Louis the Younger managed to establish a friendship with Charles' successor, Louis the Stammerer, with both kings agreeing to accept the succession of their respective sons in their respective realms. In 879 Louis the Stammerer would die, and a delegation led by the Bishop of Paris would invite Louis the Younger to take control over West Francia, which was under attack by vikings at the time of Louis the Stammerer's death. Louis agreed and invaded West Francia, but retreated after reaching Verdun when his nephews Louis III of France and Carloman of France agreed to cede their share of Lotharingia to him.
At this time Boso of Provence, a Carolingian noble, would declare himself King of Provence. In an attempt to settle this rebellion, the numerous and pronounced viking raids, and other threats to the empire's possessions, the Carolingian kings agreed to meet in Ribemont, creating the fourth and final partition of the Carolingian Empire. Louis the Younger agreed to be neutral in France, whereas the kings of France confirmed Louis' possession of the parts of Lotharingia previously ceded to him by the Treaty of Meerssen and Louis III and Carloman of France. Now no longer in conflict with West Francia, Louis was free to combat insurrection in Provence. Following the treaty at Ribemont the former realm of Louis the Stammerer would be divided between Louis III and Carloman, with Louis III gaining Neustria and Francia, and Carloman gaining Aquitaine and Burgundy. The Kingdom of Italy was granted to King Carloman of Bavaria, but a stroke forced him to abdicate Italy to his brother Charles the Fat and Bavaria to Louis of Saxony.
In 881 the title of Holy Roman Emperor was granted to Charles the Fat. The following year Louis III of Saxony and Louis III of Francia died, allowing Saxony and Bavaria to be united under Charles the Fat, and Francia and Neustria being granted to Carloman of Aquitaine, who had also conquered Lower Burgundy. When Carloman of Aquitaine died in 884 from a hunting accident, his realm was granted to Charles the Fat, effectively recreating the empire ruled by Charlemagne. Charles was unable to secure his kingdom, however, from viking raids. In 886 he paid off the vikings to have them leave Paris, leading to Charles being perceived as cowardly and incompetent by his court. The following year Arnulf of Carinthia, the illegitimate son of King Carloman of Bavaria, and Charles' nephew, rebelled against Charles. Instead of fighting back against his nephew, Charles fled to Neidingen and died the following year.
Carolingian-Robertian Rivalry (888 - 987)
Reign of Odo and Charles III
Charles' death left behind a divided empire, and a succession crisis among various members of the Carolingian dynasty. Arnulf maintained Carinthia, Bavaria, Lorraine, and the remaining portions of East Francia. In West Francia, Count Odo of Paris would be elected king. Ranulf II became king in Aquitaine, Italy went to Count Berngar of Fruili, Upper Burgundy to Rudolph I, and Lower Burgundy to Louis the Blind, the son of Boso of Arles, King of Lower Burgundy and grandson of Emperor Louis II maternally. The remaining portions of Lotharingia became the Duchy of Burgundy.
Odo of Paris, crowned King of France following the death of Charles the Fat, was of the Robertian dynasty, descendants of Robert the Strong, Duke of the Franks and Marquis of Neustria. Odo had inherited the title of Marquis of Neustria from his father, before losing it in 868, when King Charles the Bald granted it to Hugh the Abbot. Hugh's death in 886 returned the title to Odo, who since 882 had ruled as Count of Paris. For his bravery against the vikings during the 885 to 886 Siege of Paris, the nobles of France later elected Odo king after the removal of Charles the Fat, and was crowned at Compiègne in February 888 by Walter, Archbishop of Sens.
A rival faction supporting Charles the Simple, posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer, against King Odo. Charles had been prevented from succeeding to the throne at the time of Louis' death by his half-brother Carloman, when the nobles instead elected Charles the Fat as king. Charles the Simple was likewise prevented from succeeding Charles the Fat by the election of Odo. By 893 however, support for the Carolingians was growing once more, and Charles was crowned at Reims Cathedral in opposition to Odo. Charles controlled relatively little power during Odo's rule, but upon Odo's death in 898, Charles succeeded to the role of king unopposed.
Charles ended the conflict with viking raiders, when in 911 they besieged Paris and Chartres. The Bishop of Chartres, Joseaume, appealed to the nobles of France for assistance against the vikings, and was joined by Robert, Marquis of Neustria; Richard, Duke of Burgundy; and Manasses, Count of Dijon. At the ensuing Battle of Chartres, the French army would defeat the forces of Rollo and the vikings, despite the absence of Charles the Simple and much of France's army. The victory allowed Charles to negotiate with the invaders, creating the Treaty of Saint-Claur-sur-Epte. Led by Hervé, the Archbishop of Reims in negotiations, the French granted the vikings all the land between the river Epte and the Atlantic, which included the independent country of Brittany, which had been unsuccessfully invaded by France previously. Rollo guaranteed the king his loyalty, agreed to be baptized, and married one of Charles' daughters.
That same year the King of Germany, Louis the Child, died, and the nobles of Lotharingia previously loyal to Germany, under the leadership of Reginar, Duke of Lorraine, declared Charles their king. In Germany Conrad of Franconia was elected, and Charles worked to win the Lotharingians favor over Conrad. Charles would marry several of his family members to Lotharingian nobles, and would defend the region from Conrad, King of the Germans. Charles' influence faded after Conrad's reign however, and as a result many supported Henry the Fowler, the next German king, over Charles. A revolt across his realm in 920 resulted in Charles' capture, but would be released after negotiations by Archbishop Herveus of Reims. A second revolt in 922 of the French nobles, led by Robert of Neustria, broke out. Robert was the brother of the previous king Odo, and was crowned king in opposition to Charles, who fled to Lotharingia. Charles returned to France with a Norman army, but was defeated in 923 near Soissons. Robert died in the battle however, while Charles was captured and imprisoned. Robert's son-in-law Rudolph of Burgundy was elected as Robert's successor, and in 925 Lotharingia became part of Germany. Four years later Charles died in captivity.
Reign of Rudolph and Louis IV
Upon his election as king, Rudolph passed the Duchy of Burgundy to his younger brother Hugh the Black. As king he led an army against the Henry the Fowler, the German king. Henry met Rudolph with a sizable army, and eventually peace was declared. In 925 Henry would break this peace when he attacked the Duchy of Lorraine, temporarily removing Lorraine from French possession. In 924 the vikings began another campaign of raids into West Francia. Rudolph did not react, and soon the vikings had reached Burgundy, where they were repulsed. The vikings threatened Rudolph at Melun, where he was joined only by his ecclesiastic vassals and a small army recruited from Burgundy. When the vikings left France proper, the Normans likewise began raiding, targeting much of northern France. Rudolph was joined by Herbert and Arnulf I of Flanders, managing to take Eu, but were ambushed near Fauquembergues where Rudolph would be wounded, the Count of Ponthieu killed, and many Normans left dead on the field.
That same year Rudolph joined Louis the Blind, King of Provence, against the Maygars, who had begun menacing the eastern regions of France. In 930 the Magyars invaded near Rheims but withdrew, returning five years later to Burgundy. Rudolph responded with an army, causing them to retreat. Herbert ransomed royal prisoners back to Rudolph in exchange for the archbishopric of Rheims being granted to his son Hugh, and the county of Laon to his other son Odo. Herbert managed to secure the allegiance of the Normans to Charles the Simple, who marched on Rheims to secure his claim to the French throne. Herbert managed to secure Laon, but Charles' death the following year removed Herbert's leverage. When Rudolph managed to repulse the vikings from France, he also received the support of the nobles of Aquitaine, as well as the allegiance of Normandy.
Rudolph sought to reduce the power of the Duke of Aquitaine, beginning by withdrawing him access to Berry. In 932 the title of Prince of Gothia was bestowed upon Raymond Pons, Count of Toulouse, and his brother Ermengol, Count of Rouergue. The County of Auvergne was also granted to Raymond, while the territory under the control of the lord of Charroux was transformed into an independent county. Despite his rivalry with the Duke of Aquitaine, Rudolph would later seek the duchy's aid in eradicating the last viking strongholds in the south of France. In 931 Rudolph campaigned against Herbert, marching into Rheims and replacing Herbert's son Hugh with Artald. Rudolph and his allies successfully cornered Herbert at Château-Thierry. In 935 the two would reach peace, with Rudolph dying the following year.
In 936 Louis IV, a Carolingian was elected as king. Upon the death of his father Charles the Simple, Louis was only two years old, and had been taken to England by his mother Eadgifu. In England Louis lived in exile, in the household of King Æthelstan, until the death of Rudolph, when he was summoned back to France. Louis was highly supported by the nobles of France, including Hugh the Great, who even organized to prevent Herbert II or Hugh the Black, the late king Rudolph's brother, from taking the throne for themselves. When Louis returned to France he was crowned Louis IV, by the Archbishop of Rheims in Laon. Louis' sovereignty was largely limited to a few towns in the north, his power challenged by numerous feuding nobles.
Hugh the Great, who had originally supported the king, began to quarrel with Louis. In 938 Louis began attacking fortresses and lands in France formally owned by his family, including those at the time ruled by Herbert II of Vermandois. The following year he attacked Hugh the Great and William I, Duke of Normandy, but a truce would be called later that year. As a result of Louis' aggression, numerous nobles of France, including Hugh, Herbert II of Vermandois, Arnulf I, Count of Flanders, and Duke William Longsword, aligned with Emperor Otto the Great of the Holy Roman Empire, who supported them against Louis. Louis would be captured in 945, and released the following year in exchange for the young Richard I, Duke of Normandy, and the surrender of the fortress of Laon. At church council was held in 948 at Ingelheim, featuring bishops almost exclusively from Germany, that excommunicated Hugh, and returned Reims to the archbishop. Hugh responded by attacking Soissons and Reims, receiving a second excommunication from a council held in Trier. Soon later Hugh would make peace with Louis IV, as well as the church, and his brother-in-law Otto the Great.
Reign of Lothair and Louis V
In 954 Louis IV fell from his horse and died at Rheims. He was succeeded by his son Lothair, and with the help of his mother Gerberga, would be recognized by Hugh the Great. In exchange Hugh was granted rule over Aquitaine and much of Burgundy. That same year Giselbert, duke of Burgundy, swore fealty to Hugh and betrothed his daughter to Hugh's son Otto-Henry. The following year Lothair and Hugh campaigned together and took the city of Poitiers by siege. Upon Hugh's death in 956, Lothair became educated by his uncle Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne. With his guardian's advice, Lothair successfully negotiated an agreement between Hugh's sons, granting Hugh Capet the city of Paris and the ducal title, and later Otto the Duchy of Burgundy.
In 962 Baldwin III of Flanders, the heir and co-ruler of Arnulf I died, and Arnulf instead granted Flanders to Lothair. Upon Arnulf's death in 965, Lothair invaded Flanders to press his claim to this inheritance, but was eventually repulsed by Arnulf's grandson, Arnulf II. Lothair would take several cities during his invasion however, temporarily ruling over Arras and Douai. Lothair also began attempts to increase his influence in Lorraine, which had been previously held by his family. In 978 Lothair and Hugh Capet launched an invasion into Lorraine, against Emperor Otto II. Upon French forces crossing over the Meuse river, Otto fled. The imperial palace at Aachen was sacked by Lothair, who reversed the bronze eagle of Charlemagne, previously turned to the west to symbolize that the German cavalry could beat the French whenever they wanted. The following autumn Otto took his revenge when he invaded France. He reached as far as the city if Paris, also stopping at Reims and Soissons. After three days of raiding in eastern France, Otto was driven back by Hugh Capet, and then decisively defeated by Lothair's own forces near the Aisne. Peace would finally be concluded between Otto and Lothair in 980.
In 983, when Otto II died, Henry II, Duke of Bavaria abducted his three year old son Otto, in the hopes of being proclaimed king himself. Lothair was asked to take charge of the situation by the archbishop of Rheims, but by 984 Otto had been rescued by his mother Theophanu and the Archbishop of Mainz. Two years later the caliph of Córdoba, Al-Mansur, invaded the Hispanic March and sacked Barcelona. Lothair received the envoys of Count Borrel II at Verdun, but was ill at the time and could not respond to the invasion. This caused a rift between Barcelona and the French crown, and by this point Lothair's power began to be eclipsed by that of Hugh Capet. The archbishop of Rheims began to press Hugh Capet to ally with Otto III, claiming that he was more an effective king than Lothair. In 986 the archbishop would be called to an assembly at Compiègne by Lothair, where he attempted to arrest the bishop for treason. Hugh Capet's army arriving caused the council to disperse before a verdict could be reached. Soon after Lothair died at Laon.
Upon Lothair's death he was succeeded by his son Louis V, by his wife Emma, daughter of Lothair II of Italy. Louis inherited a rivalry between his own family's line and the house of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, who as defender of Rome had reserved to right to name clergy in Carolingian territory, often not supportive of the Carolingians. The archbishop of Rheims had been appointed by Otto I, and had tried to negotiate an alliance between the two houses during the reign of Lothair. This attempt failed however, and further made impossible when Lothair attempted to arrest the archbishop for treason in 986. After only a year as king, Louis died from a fall while hunting near the town of Senlis.
Reign of Hugh Capet (POD)
In West Francia the Carolingians would continue to rule until the late 900’s. The last Carolingian king, Louis V, died on 21 May 987 after he fell while hunting near the town of Senlis, Oise. Louis had no legitimate heirs, and as such it was expected that his uncle, Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, would be nominated as his successor. Instead the clergy, led by Louis’ enemy Adalberon, archbishop of Reims, who Louis had been investigating for treason, and Gerbert, who later became Pope Sylvester II, argued on behalf of Hugh Capet. Hugh Capet was son of Hugh the Great, Duke of the Franks, and Hedwige of Saxony, daughter of the German king Henry the Fowler. Through his mother, Hugh was also the nephew of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor; Henry I, Duke of Bavaria; Bruno the Great, Archbishop of Cologne; and Gerberga of Saxony, Queen of France, wife of Louis IV, King of France, and mother of Lothair of France and Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine.
Since the late ninth century the nobility of West Francia had argued that the monarchy was elective, as they had previously elected two Robertians over Carolingians; Odo I and Robert I, who became indispensable in leading the nation. After the death of Rudolph of Burgundy, King of the Franks, and Hugh the Great’s brother-in-law, he had chosen not to claim the throne for himself, as that would risk an election against Herbert II, Count of Vermandois, father of Hugh, Archbishop of Reims, who was himself allied to Henry the Fowler, King of Germany; and with Hugh the Black, Duke of Burgundy, brother of the late king. Nevertheless Hugh had become one of the most powerful and influential people in West Francia, leading to Louis IV granting him the title of dux Francorum and declaring him "the second after us in all our kingdoms."
In 987 Hugh Capet was elected King of the Franks, and almost immediately after his coronation, began to push for the coronation of his son Robert. The archbishop of Reims however, wary of establishing hereditary kingship in the Capetian line, said that two kings cannot be created in the same year. Despite the king’s claims that he planned a campaign against the Moorish armies at odds with Borrel II, Count of Barcelona, a vassal of the French crown, these requests would be denied.
The Carolingian heir, Louis V’s uncle Charles of Lorraine, contested the results of the election. With support from the Count of Vermandois, a cadet of the Carolingian dynasty; and from the Count of Flanders, loyal to the Carolingian cause, Charles took Laon, the seat of the Carolingian royalty. In response Hugh Capet and his son Robert besieged the city twice, but would both times be repulsed.
After the death of Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims, his position was contested by Gerbert and Arnulf, illegitimate son of the Carolingian king Lothair of France. In an attempt to end hostilities between supporters of the Carolingians, Hugh chose Arnulf as archbishop, after having him swear an oath of loyalty. Despite his oath, Arnulf supported his family, and opened the city of Reims to Charles’ forces. An attempt to broker peace failed after Hugh unsuccessfully attempted to capture Charles during negotiations. As a result many of the southern cities of West Francia refused to recognize Hugh after his betrayal, allowing Charles to gain greater power.
Following his betrayal at Reims, Hugh called on Pope John XV to depose Arnulf, but was embroiled in a conflict with the Roman aristocracy. Hugh instead settled for a domestic council to be convened, which deposed the archbishop and chose Gerbert as his successor. The pope refused to recognize these results, and called for a new council in Aachen, but the French bishops chose to stand by their decision. Another attempt to call a council between German and French bishops at Mousson would fail, when Hugh prevented his bishops from attending. The deposition of Arnulf would later be pronounced illegal, contested by Gerbert. The bishops who had elected Gerbert were excommunicated, leading to them declaring Gerbert antipope Sylvester II, in order to counter the German dominated papacy.