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THE CAROLINGIAN RENAISSANCE: Introduction and Table of Contents

The Kingmaker

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Feb 23, 2008
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“What manner of men were they whom ye slew...? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.” - Judges 8:18


With the advent of CKIII, I’ve returned to AAR-writing. I thought I’d try something new rather than immediately revisiting old ground with the Godwinsons or the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Both of those are still favorites though, and may return somewhere down the line.


This AAR takes place after the Carolingian Empire was divided into three kingdoms by the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Objectives include:

  • To preserve the main Carolingian dynasty at all costs.
  • To maintain a direct line of patrilineal descent from Emperor Lothar I.
  • To reform the Holy Roman Empire under one ruler.
  • To switch to Franconian culture, as it does not appear possible to restore Frankish culture. To do whatever it takes to stop from simply going/staying French.
  • To obtain the “Carolingian Consolidation” achievement.

As the game does not always correctly represent the historical setting, from time to time I will use historical characters and events to try to explain unusual in-game quirks. This AAR will therefore be a combination of in-game events and my internal “head-canon.”

Like all my AARs, it will feature motion picture stills and a soundtrack to liven it up.

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Prologue: The Heirs of Charlemagne


2 November 855
Aachen, Lotharingia

The skies above Aachen were cloudy. “It’ll snow soon,” thought Lothar as he and his guards made their way to the Palatine Chapel.

Travelers often marvelled at their first glimpse of the chapel’s beautiful interior, with its ornate dome, splendid arches and vaulted ceilings, but Lothar strode through the vestibule without a second glance. He had been raised there at the palace, and was so familiar with the chapel that its magnificence had become somewhat ordinary to him.

Lothar might once have thought it remarkable that the chapel clerics were so obliging in granting his request for some solitude in the chapel crypt, but the weight of the crown upon his brow served as a clear reminder that he was now their sovereign king.

Although his great-grandsire’s burial vault remained sealed to the outside world, a small shrine had been erected directly adjacent to it, where the monks were supposedly engaged in regular prayer for his soul. Lothar doubted they were as devoted as they claimed when left to their own devices. The small gilded altar would suffice for his own devotions on this All Souls’ Day, notwithstanding his cynicism.

Lothar scowled. It had been scarcely a month since Lothar’s own father had passed and been interred in the family abbey at Prüm. He had honored his father in life, and he now revered his memory, but he had seldom agreed with his decisions. He lit a few candles before kneeling at his ancestor’s shrine.


“Great-grandfather,” Lothar whispered. The thick stone walls still echoed, even secluded as he was, and everyone knew that most clergymen had itching ears. “Revered ancestor and pater patriæ,” he continued, “You are not merely the patriarch of the house that bears your name, but the father of a mighty nation: one universum regnum. You alone of all your generation had the iron will strong enough to unite all Christendom under your reign. Your memory should be upheld in honored remembrance for all time. Yet I alone appear before you on this holy day.”

Lothar’s eyes wandered aimlessly into the gloom, as if verifying he was indeed alone with the unseen ghosts. He grimaced, then slowly, carefully removed his gloves and let them fall to the cold stone floor. “Your legacy is now in the hands of lesser men, unworthy to bear your name. They care more for filing their coffers than honoring their birthright. They glut themselves on the prosperity of your lands, while your patrimony continues to dwindle.”

Lothar could not even make himself speak the words. He hoped that somewhere, somehow, whether in paradise or purgatory, or whatever else lay beyond this life, his forebear comprehended what had happened to everything he had built. Lothar’s uncles, Louis the German and Charles the Bald, had each carved their own petty kingdoms out of what had once been their grandfather’s grand empire. They had conspired against Lothar’s eponymous father, their elder brother. Francia was riven by civil war until together the three of them finally struck a rude bargain: dividing the realm between them. And so great and mighty Francia was no more. It now lay broken in three: West, Middle, and East. It was the very height of folly.


Lothar did not know what compelled him to dwell on these ugly truths. It was not as if his great-grandfather’s ghost would suddenly appear and chide his wayward descendants from beyond the grave. He felt a little foolish, like a beardless youth reporting ever-wayward siblings to a longsuffering parent.

“It would seem we are all weak fools now,” continued Lothar to his absent audience, “My father tried his best… and now he too is dead, soon to be forgotten. More than anything, he hoped that dividing his own lands before he died would prevent another civil war, as had happened with his brothers. I know he sought to preserve the peace, but he did not see that dividing his realm would only further weaken his heirs.” Lothar’s brow wrinkled. “Or perhaps he did, and still felt he had no other choice.”

So now Middle Francia too was no more. Lothar’s elder brother, Louis, had received Italy as his inheritance, plus the imperial crown (for what little value that was worth these days), while the youngest, Charles, had received Burgundy and Provence. Lothar himself had inherited the rest, a hodgepodge of counties inhabited by Franks, Frisians, Rhinelanders, some Burgundians, even a few Alemanni.

Lotharingia was the name the monks were starting to use to describe the lands he’d inherited when drafting their many writs and charters. They’d named it after him, or perhaps his father. The realm of Lothar. His realm. An unholy, disunited mess.

“Yes, he meant well,” Lothar sniffed, “But to what a miserable end! And now his prized stallion is yoked to a mule! The true cost of that brideprice may yet be the whole of this kingdom.”


Lothar forced himself to put all thoughts of his petulant, barren wife out of his mind. That was a battle he would have to fight another day. He was done commiserating with the dead; it was time for action.

He raised his arm to the square and formed the gesture of the Schwurhand, raising his first two fingers and extending his thumb. “This day, before the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, I swear I will restore everything you built. I will see all of Francia’s glory restored. I swear it! I will do whatever is necessary to ensure this world never forgets the name of Charlemagne.”

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Glad to see you are back, my friend! :D
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Popcorn ready! :):)
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A great start, I can't wait to read more.
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But please @The Kingmaker , don't abandon this like the excellent Iberian AAR you did last time. :)
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What an intro! Love it - looking forward to more. :)
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Great start! Time to reunite to Carolingian lands. Consider me suscribed!
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Very nice intro - Lothair has his work cut out for him sure enough.
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Lothair will have to work hard to restore Carolingian glory. Still, there are worse starts for the Carolingians...

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@Nikolai: Ever grateful for your support, my friend. I do hope to see this one through to completion, now that my wife and I are no longer dealing with the sleeplessness and other vicissitudes of infant care. (Then again, there’s always the terrible twos!) But CK3 is a young game, and I’m very pleased to be aboard from the start.

@Kurt_Steiner: Haha, glad you approve! I do hope to entertain.

@SirDraco: Thanks, old friend.

@DensleyBlair: Thank you! Always grateful for your continued support!

@The Number 9: Thank you!

@Pied-Noir: I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Hopefully I’ll have more soon.

@Capibara: Thank you, and glad to have you aboard!

@stnylan: Thank you. Hopefully, both Lothar and I are up for the challenge.

@HistoryDude: Very true. There are of course a couple of major hurdles that need to be overcome first, before the playing field is properly leveled.

@Hootieleece: A Welf supporter, eh? Well, we’ll not hold that against you. (Waiblingen! ;))
@Emissary of the Prophets: Thanks for reading! I hope you're having fun with CK3. It's in sore need of a patch, but I'm still thoroughly enjoying it.

@ All: I expect to have the next update posted shortly. Please keep your eyes peeled!
Chapter One: A Chronicle of Misery


Music: The Abbey of Saint-Denis

22 February 866
Saint-Denis, West Francia

Things had not worked out quite as King Lothar had planned.

"But that is the way of things in this fallen world," thought Brother Remigius. He had transcribed enough historical texts throughout his career to be well-acquainted with the many vicissitudes encountered by would-be monarchs.

As for himself, Remigius was content to spend his days safely behind the abbey walls, writing about politics rather than engaging in them. The life of a simple clerk suited him just fine. He contented himself with his craft, having achieved a high degree of excellence in the Carolingian minuscule script used in official documents, not to mention other forms of calligraphy.

Most days, he spent his time sequestered in the scriptorium, copying manuscripts under the aegis of John Scotus Eriugena, the eccentric Irish theologian who served as head of the palace school. Today, however, he had been assigned to work with Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims, who had come to the abbey scriptorium to dictate an important document. At least, the old primate called it dictation. It was mostly up to Remigius to compose a coherent narrative out of Hincmar's long-winded blustering.


The manuscript Hincmar was preparing was a special chronicle for his patron, King Charles the Bald, one which outlined the many struggles of his most hated nephew, King Lothar. Hincmar confidently expected to one day record the young king’s downfall.

“Read that last part back to me again!” demanded the Archbishop.

It was always like this with Hincmar. “Never mind that I’ve already read it to you three times today,” thought Brother Remigius, “I promise it hasn’t changed in the past half hour.” Keeping his own counsel, the long-suffering monk merely cleared his throat. “Certainly, my lord,” he said meekly, and began to read.

“Anno Domini 855 - In this year, the Emperor Lothar I obtained the hand of a worthy bride for Prince Lothar, his second son and namesake. She was a lady of high birth and noble bearing by the name of Teutberga, a daughter of Count Boso the Elder of Turin and Valois. It was said that young Lothar objected to this marriage most vociferously, as he had already chosen a bride of his own. Nevertheless, he did as his father bade him.

By the emperor’s command, a treaty was enacted at Prüm dividing his kingdom between his three sons. Louis, the eldest, received Italy and the imperial crown. To the youngest, Charles, the lands of Burgundy and Provence were given. The younger Lothar received the lands between the Meuse and the Rhine. Ten days thereafter, the Emperor Lothar I was gathered to his fathers.

Anno Domini 856 - Aided by the false Archbishops of Cologne and Trier, King Lothar II sought to set aside his lawful wife and queen, because he had already carnally lain with their kinswoman Waldrada and conceived a son of illegitimate birth.

Anno Domini 857 - King Louis of Italy allied himself with his uncle, Louis the German in pursuit of the lands held by his brother north of Italy.

King Lothar moved to put away Queen Teutberga after most shamefully accusing her of carnal incest with her brother, the lay Abbot Hucbert of Saint-Maurice.”

“What a horrid mess these fool kings have made of their family!” thought Remigius, "Better to just let the young man choose his own bride and be done with it." Queen Teutberga was by no means an ugly woman. She had high cheekbones, long raven-dark tresses and a stately bearing. Most noblemen would be proud to have such a wife. But it was also said that she was demanding and cruel, traits which were only exacerbated once she wore the crown. Worst of all, she had proved to be quite barren. She was said to be an endless source of misery for her husband.

And then there was Waldrada. Remigius had seen her only once, when he had attended the funeral of Lothar I as a retainer of Archbishop Hincmar. After almost two decades of monastic life, Remigius had felt he had grown immune to the charms of the fairer sex, but after beholding the vision that was Waldrada the Golden-haired, even he had felt… impure stirrings. Next to her, the other beauties of the court seemed downright plain.


Remigius had been thoroughly embarrassed by his thoughts, until he had noticed Archbishop Hincmar unequivocally leering at the woman, despite his holy calling. That was the moment he had decided to ask for reassignment to the palace school. As for King Lothar, Remigius could not help but sympathize. What red-blooded man would not seek to move heaven and earth for the love of such a woman?

“Remigius?" chided the Archbishop, "I did not bid you to stop reading.”

Remigius blinked. It seemed he had allowed himself to get carried away in his memories.

“My apologies, my lord.” Remigius continued to read from the manuscript.

“Anno Domini 858 - King Lothar obtained his brother Louis’ support for his divorce through the concession of border territories. Abbot Hucbert took up arms against the king, who had dealt so shamefully with his sister. Queen Teutberga’s champion endured and passed the ordeal of boiling water, and King Lothar was compelled to restore his blameless queen to her rightful place.

Anno Domini 859 - In this year, the courageous forces of King Charles of West Francia defeated the army of his brother, King Louis the German, at Saint-Quentin.

Anno Domini 860 - An assembly of unworthy bishops and abbots led by Günthar of Cologne and Theutgaud of Trier held two synods at Aachen and viciously compelled Queen Teutberga to confess that her brother Hucbert had violated her before she was wedded to the king.”

“Now we’re getting to my favorite part!” the Archbishop cried with glee. Remigius subtly rolled his eyes. Having already become more familiar with this manuscript than he had ever wanted to be, Remigius had expected as much.

“As a rebuke to those false bishops, the saintly and venerable Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims--” Remigius made sure to appropriately emphasize the name, “--composed a most scholarly treatise, De divortio Lotharii regis et Theutbergae reginae, defining the legalities of the sacrament of marriage and the duties of kings and bishops pertaining thereto, and discussing whether such a holy sacrament can ever be lawfully ended by divorce. King Charles of West Francia, the most wise and honorable prince of all his kinfolk, gave the treatise his royal endorsement as a true explication of both Frankish and canon law.”

“You don’t think that section to be a bit much, do you Remigius?” asked Hincmar, “One does not wish to be accused of the deadly sign of pride.”

“No, my lord,” Remigius lied, “In fact--”

“Good, good,” Hincmar continued, “Read on.” It seemed the Archbishop did not require much persuading concerning his own modesty.

“Anno Domini 861 - Based on the queen’s unlawfully obtained confession, King Lothar set her aside and confined her to a convent. His brothers, King Louis of Italy and King Charles of Burgundy, unlawfully recognized Hugo the Bastard, King Lothar’s misbegotten child by his concubine Waldrada, as his father’s legitimate heir.

Anno Domini 862 - A third synod was held at Aachen, at which Archbishop Günthar of Cologne pronounced the king’s marriage to Teutberga dissolved, and permitted him to desecrate the sacred precincts of the church with a most salacious and unholy marriage to his concubine, Waldrada.

Anno Domini 863 - A most climacteric year. The childless King Charles of Burgundy perished miserably. His brother-kings of Lotharingia and Italy greedily divided his lands between them.

Queen Teutberga escaped to West Francia and took refuge at the court of the magnanimous King Charles the Bald.

His Holiness, Pope Nicholas II, having sent two papal legates to resolve the matter of King Lothar’s marriage, it was decided a fourth synod would be held at Metz. Although the Holy Father’s emissaries were first minded to adjudicate the matter righteously, King Lothar shamelessly bribed them both, and they instead approved his unlawful divorce.

Disturbed by his legates’ failure, the Holy Father held his own synod at the Lateran basilica. The unfaithful Frankish bishops were called before his tribunal. Their faithless ruling was overturned, and every one of them was excommunicated and deposed from his see. King Lothar’s unholy marriage to Waldrada was declared invalid.”


“My lord,” Remigius paused in his recitation of the text, “Do you not think it to be perhaps... imprudent to describe such scenes of factionalism and corruption? WIll it not reflect poorly on our Holy Mother Church?”

“My dear Remigius,” Hincmar was clearly annoyed, as he only ever used terms of affection when he meant them the least, “How else are we to underscore the righteousness of King Charles and the Holy Father? Goodness, you do show your ignorance with such questions. And please refrain from interrupting yourself! It is most unseemly. Now do continue.”

Remigius bristled at the Archbishop’s overt condescension, but he did his best not to show it. “As you say, my lord.”

“In defense of their sacrilege, Archbishops Günthar and Theutgaud prepared a most calumnious missive, which they delivered not only to the Pope but also brazenly sent to Patriarch Photios of Constantinople, whom the Holy Father had denounced.

Anno Domini 864 - King Lothar declared he would send an armed host to compel the Pope to decide in his favor. In concert with his brother, King Louis of Italy invaded the patrimony of the Holy Father itself in support of Lothar’s wickedness. The Lord struck Louis with a deadly fever and he was compelled to make peace and withdraw to his own lands.

The false bishops appeared before the Holy Father late in this year to beg to be released from excommunication and restored to their offices. Their plea was denied.

Anno Domini 865 - Threatened with excommunication by his Holiness, King Lothar was compelled to once again take back the lady Teutberga as his rightful queen.

Anno Domini 866 -”

“Well?” asked Hincmar, "Go on."

“What do you mean, my lord?” asked Remigius.

“You’ve stopped reading yet again,” complained Hincmar, “I thought I told you not to do that!”

“But that is the end of the manuscript,” said Remigius. “And not a moment too soon,” he added mentally.

“Do you mean to tell me that this is it? This is all you’ve written since I began my dictation?” Hincmar’s bushy grey brows looked like they were about to conjoin in the middle of his forehead.

“This is all your Excellency has dictated so far,” answered Remigius, burying his irritation as deep as he could. He could feel his left eye start to twitch.

“But you’ve left out the best part! You must describe the ignominious downfall of King Lothar! How he and his harlot were both excommunicated, and how his mighty uncles, King Charles and Louis the German divided his miserable kingdom between them!”


“But my lord,” Remigius protested, unsure how best to frame his response, “Those events haven’t actually come to pass yet! How am I to record a chronicle of events which are yet to occur?” He did not wish to seem rude, but this had to be one of the stupidest things Remigius had ever been asked to do.

“What nonsense!” sniffed Hincmar, “I doubt half the rot you scribble in this dusty little place ever took place on God’s green earth! Besides, I know for a fact that King Charles and King Louis are planning to divide Lothar’s lands between them as we speak. Why, I personally oversaw the drafting of a charter to that effect in the royal chancery less than a fortnight ago!”

“Even so,” Remigius could not help but object, “That does not mean their plan has actually succeeded yet--”

“Tut, tut, Remigius,” said Hincmar, “Do you doubt the prowess and ingenuity of King Charles? His Highness accomplishes whatever he puts his mind to. And how exactly do you expect that fool Lothar to resist the combined might of both his uncles’ armies at the same time?”

“How indeed,” thought Remigius, “If I were King Lothar, there’d be a lot of people I’d want to kill right about now.”

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Poor Lothar, shot by all sides near enough. The fact that this Hincmar is positively loathsome doesn’t do much to persuade me against the king, either. Very good stuff, great way to set the scene. Obviously rooting for the fairytale ending for Lothar and Waldrada.
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I don't like this AAR - the characters are too mean and there is too much skullduggery, even from the priests! :(

RIP Lothar in advance! :p

Nice work, Kingmaker.
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