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The Treaty of Verdun

traité de Verdun

The Treaty of Verdun

The Treaty of Verdun

The Treaty of Verdun was signed in 843 and was the first major European treaty. In fact, for many historians, this division represented the birth of modern Europe.

Division of the empire

Under the reign of Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, various plans to divide the Carolingian Empire were set out.

Following the death of Louis the Pious in 840, trouble broke out between his three sons, Lothair (795-855), Louis (806-876) and Charles the Bald (823-877).

In June 842, having defeated their brother Lothair, Louis the German and Charles the Bald formed an alliance by means of the Oaths of Strasbourg. The principles of division were ratified and 120 commissioners were appointed and gathered in Metz to consider an egalitarian division.
After three years of fighting, struggling and negotiations, they settled the inheritance left by their father, Louis the Pious, in Verdun in 843.

‘The principle of the division was well-known: Charles (the Bald) would become King of West Francia, bordered to the east by the Rhone, the Saone and the Meuse, Louis (the German) had control of East Francia, beyond the Rhine, and Lothair would get a long, thin territory, spanning from Frisia down to Jura, incorporating the two capitals of Rome and Aix and including Burgundy and Italy’.

Verdun’s part in the division

Verdun was, in fact, part of the kingdom belonging to Lothair and this division would shape its history for over seven centuries.

The Verdun of 843 was a prosperous city and bustling commercial hub as a result of its traders operating in southern Spain, in the Elba region and the Danube Regions.

The city was in a position to supply troops for all three kings and also to ensure that both man and beast were well provided for.

The division of the empire would be sanctioned in the eyes of God, represented in this case by Bishop Hilduin (824-847), an acquaintance of Louis the Pious, in Verdun Cathedral and Verdun would become a cornerstone of European history.

There is no original version or copy of the famous Treaty of Verdun; all information was provided by Nithard, one of Charlemagne’s grandsons.