HISTORY: CHARLEMAGNE AND THE MEROVINGIAN KINGS
Pippin died in 768, leaving the kingdom to his two sons, one of whom, Carlomanno, died soon (771), leaving the only king Charles (the future Charlemagne) who soon came to Italy, conquered the kingdom of the Lombards and in Easter in 774 he entered Rome, where Pope Adrian I gave him solemn welcome. Subsequently Charlemagne used his forces against the Saxons and after about thirty years of struggle he subdued the entire territory by forcibly Christianizing the residents. From the conquests and alliances with the papacy the Holy Roman Empire was born, of which Charles was crowned emperor on Christmas Eve of the 19th century. Charlemagne was succeeded, in 814, by his son Ludovico known as the Pious. Charlemagne had divided the empire between three sons while he was still alive: Ludovico had received Aquitaine, Pepin Italy and Charles Germany. Due to the untimely death of Charles (811), however, Ludovico the Pious on the death of his father already reigned over the Aquitani and the Alamanni and in 817 he divided his territories between his three sons: Lotario, Pipino and Ludovico. The eldest, Lothair, was associated with the empire. Aquitaine fell to Pepin and Bavaria to Ludovico (nicknamed the Germanic). Years of struggles followed between Ludovico il Pio and his sons, due to the former’s claims to reorganize the partition in order to create a kingdom for his son Carlo as well. (later nicknamed the Bald), and after the death of Ludovico, among his sons, until in 843 the Treaty of Verdun sanctioned the subdivision of the empire. Ludovico il Germanico retained Germany, Lothair had Italy and retained the title of emperor, Charles the Bald, since Pippin had died in 838, received Gaul between the Ocean, the Schelde, the Meuse, the Saone and the Ebro. This vast territory constituted the kingdom of France proper of which Charles the Bald was actually the first king. After Charles the Bald, the succession to the French throne was ensured with a certain continuity to the Carolingians, but their power, also due to the ineptitude with which they faced the events that troubled the country, was almost nil while that of the aristocracy increased and, at the inside, of the counts of France. Louis II known as Il Balbo, son and successor of Charles the Bald, a dull and insignificant character, he reigned for only two years. His sons, Louis III and Carlomanno, took up his succession (879) and reigned together. After them the throne passed by decision of the Assembly of the great to the son of Ludovico il Germanico, Carlo called il Grosso (884) who was the last of the Carolingians to reunite all the imperial dominions. Incapable and cowardly, he did not know how to defend the kingdom from the advance of the Normans, who had besieged Paris (he bought their retreat with money) and was dismissed by the Assembly of the great (887), who preferred Odo. Duke of France (i.e. of the region known as Île-de-France), defender of Paris against the Normans. In 896 Odo, after three years of struggle against Charles who had taken advantage of his absence to be proclaimed king, again recognized the royal power of a Carolingian, contenting himself with his ducal title. Charles, the posthumous son of Louis the Balbo, nicknamed the Simple by his subjects, remained on the throne for almost a quarter of a century. The only significant event of his unhappy reign was the treaty concluded at Saint-Clair-sur-Epte with the Norman leader Rollone, to whom he ceded the Maritime Neustria, which thus became the Duchy of Normandy (912).
CULTURE: LITERATURE. THE OTHER EXPRESSIONS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
The French nineteenth century has many notable figures for religious and political struggles and for scientific activity. We remember Lamennais (1782-1854) and the religious polemics, Michelet (1798-1874) and Quinet (1803-75) and the opposition to the Second Empire, Tocqueville (1805-59) and his liberal affirmations, Renan (1823- 92) and religious history, Fustel de Coulanges (1830-89) and ancient and medieval history. The schools, the movements, however, were not limited to prose. Poetry from Romanticism onwards sought new formulas and if Baudelaire (1821-67) stands by itself and offers us a very high poem with Les fleurs du mal (1857), the tormented lament of a soul, nevertheless constitutes a meeting point between Parnassians, singers of themes drawn from science or of motifs inspired by human belief, without personal participation, among which excel, in addition to Th. Gautier, Leconte de l’Isle (1818-94) and J.-M. de Heredia (1842-1905), and symbolists, who try to penetrate the reader’s soul with their poetry to instill the poet’s sensitivity, inviting them to consider things from within to understand their deeper meaning. Poetry full of charm, implemented in the musical search for a phrase linked to the suggestion of verse no longer bound only to rhyme, but to assonance, to the rhythm of breathing, to the wisest and most seductive play of the image. There are poets such as P. Verlaine (1844-96) and J.-A. Rimbaud (1854-91), whose work Verlaine himself combined in the collection Les illuminations (1886), and S. Mallarmé (1842-98), the author of Après-midi d’un Faune (1876), leader and theorist of the movement, and P. Valéry (1871-1945) of the Cimetière marin (1922). Other authors who enriched the nineteenth-century literary landscape deserve at least a mention: J.-P. Béranger (1780-1857), E. Fromentin (1820-76), J. Laforgue (1860-87), Gérard de Nerval ( 1808-55), Villiers de l’Isle-Adam (1838-89).