Charles III of West Francia

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Henry I (Heinrich I.), King of the East Franks (left) meets Charles III, King of the West Franks on 7 November 921 on the Rhine on a moored ship; both conclude the Treaty of Bonn (Treaty of Bonn 921).

Charles III (German: Karl III. der Einfältige; 17 September 879 - 7 October 929), also called "The Simple", was a Germanic nobleman of the Franks and member of the Carolingian dynasty who ruled as King of West Francia from 893 to 922/923. He settled Vikings in Normandy.


He was the posthumous son of King Louis the Stammerer and his third wife Adelheid von Friaul (Adelheid of Paris). Charles first married Frederonne who died in 917 and then Eadgifu, the daughter of Edward the Elder of England, on October 7, 919. As a child, Charles was prevented from succeeding to the throne at the time of the death in 884 of his half-brother Carloman or at the time of the deposition of the Holy Roman Emperor, his uncle Charles the Fat, in 887. Instead, Odo, Count of Paris, succeeded Charles the Fat. Nonetheless, Charles was crowned by some nobles in 893. Charles became sole king at the age of nineteen upon the death of Odo in 898.

In 911, Charles gave the lower Seine area, eventually known as Normandy, as a fief to the Norse leader Rollo in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, thereby ending the series of Viking raids into Frankia. In 921, he signs the Treaty of Bonn. In it, Charles waives all inheritance claims of his dynasty concerning the East Franconian territory. This means that the western border of Henry's empire can be secured for the next 250 years, which is also due to the fact that the western Frankish kings rule a divided country and are largely condemned to impotence. Because of his compliance, chroniclers gave Charles III the poisonous nickname "Le Simple" (the simple-minded), which is unfair, however, because Henry I would have destroyed him militarily.

In 922, some of the barons (including Herbert II of Vermandois) revolted and crowned Robert I, brother of Odo, king. In 923, at the battle of Soissons, King Robert was killed, but Charles was also defeated. Rudolph (Radulfus), Duke of Burgundy was elected king, and Charles was imprisoned.


Charles died on 7 October 929, in prison at Péronne (Somme, West Francia) and was buried there at the L'abbaye de St-Fursy. His son with second wife Eadgifu, daughter of Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Elder and sister of Eadgyth, wife of Otto the Great, would eventually be crowned in 936 as Louis IV of West Francia (which would eventually become France) and his daughter Gisela (Gisla), from his first marriage with Germanic nobelwoman Frederuna (with whom he had six daughters), was married in 911 to Rollo of Normandy.

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