Charles "the Bald" II, Western Emperor

Charles the Bald

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Charles II was also known as:

Charles the Bald (in French Charles le Chauve; in German Karl der Kahle)

Charles II was known for:

Being the king of the West Frankish kingdom and, later, Western Emperor. He was the grandson of Charlemagne and youngest son of Louis the Pious.


King & Emperor

Places of Residence and Influence:


Important Dates:

Born: June 13, 823
Crowned emperor: Dec. 25, 875
Died: Oct. 6, 877

About Charles II:

Charles was the son of Louis's second wife Judith, and his half-brothers Pippin, Lothair and Louis the German were pretty much grown when he was born. His birth precipitated a crisis when his father attempted to reorganize the empire to accommodate him at the expense of his brothers. Although matters were ultimately resolved while his father still lived, when Louis died civil war broke out.

Pippin had died before their father, but the three surviving brothers fought amongst themselves until Charles joined forces with Louis the German and made Lothair accept the Treaty of Verdun. This agreement divided the empire roughly into three sections, the eastern portion of which went to Louis, the middle portion to Lothair and the western portion to Charles.

Because Charles had little support, his hold on his kingdom was tenuous at first. He had to bribe the Vikings to stop attacking his lands and deal with an invasion by Louis the German in 858. Still, Charles managed to consolidate his holdings, and in 870 he acquired western Lorraine through the Treaty of Meersen.

Upon the death of the emperor Louis II (Lothair's son), Charles went to Italy to be crowned emperor by Pope John VIII. When Louis the German died in 876, Charles invaded Louis's lands but was defeated by Louis's son, Louis III the Younger. Charles died a year later while dealing with a revolt by another of Louis's sons, Carloman.

More Charles II Resources:

Charles II in Print

The links below will take you to a site where you can compare prices at booksellers across the web. More in-depth info about the book may be found by clicking on to the book's page at one of the online merchants.

(The Medieval World)
by Janet L. Nelson
The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe
by Pierre Riché; translated by Michael Idomir Allen

Charles II on the Web

Charles the Bald: Edict of Pistes, 864
Modern English translation of the edict at Paul Halsall's Medieval Sourcebook.

The Carolingian Empire
Early Europe

Index by Profession, Achievement, or Role in Society

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Snell, Melissa. "Charles "the Bald" II, Western Emperor." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Snell, Melissa. (2020, August 26). Charles "the Bald" II, Western Emperor. Retrieved from Snell, Melissa. "Charles "the Bald" II, Western Emperor." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).