1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charles III. (Roman Emperor)

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CHARLES III., the Fat[1] (832–888), Roman emperor and king of the West Franks, was the youngest of the three sons of Louis the German, and received from his father the kingdom of Swabia (Alamannia). After the death of his two brothers in succession, Carloman (881) and Louis the Young (882), he inherited the whole of his father’s dominions. In 880 he had helped his two cousins in the west Frankish realm, Louis III. and Carloman, in their struggle with the usurper Boso of Provence, but abandoned them during the campaign in order to be crowned emperor at Rome by Pope John VIII. (February 881). On his return he led an expedition against the Norsemen of Friesland, who were entrenched in their camp at Elsloo, but instead of engaging with them he preferred to make terms and paid them tribute. In 884 the death of Carloman brought into his possession the west Frankish realm, and in 885 he got rid of his rival Hugh of Alsace, an illegitimate son of Lothair II., taking him prisoner by treachery and putting out his eyes. However, in spite of his six expeditions into Italy, he did not succeed in pacifying the country, nor in delivering it from the Saracens. He was equally unfortunate in Gaul and in Germany against the Norsemen, who in 886–887 besieged Paris. The emperor appeared before the city with a large army (October 886), but contented himself by treating with them, buying the retreat of the invaders at the price of a heavy ransom, and his permission for them to ravage Burgundy without his interfering. On his return to Alamannia, however, the general discontent showed itself openly and a conspiracy was formed against him. He was first forced to dismiss his favourite, the chancellor Liutward, bishop of Vercelli. The dissolution of his marriage with the pious empress Richarde, in spite of her innocence as proved by the judicial examination, alienated his nobles still more from him. He was deposed by an assembly which met at Frankfort or at Tribur (November 887), and died in poverty at Neidingen on the Danube (18th January 888).

See E. Dümmler, Geschichte des ostfränkischen Reiches vol. iii. (Leipzig 1888).

  1. This surname has only been applied to Charles since the 13th century.