Carolingian Dyn.

The East Frankish Kingdom, 887-918

CHARLES THE FAT, king in Alemannia since 876, sole king of the East Franks in 882, king of the East and West Franks 885-887, had proven incapable if dealing with the Viking threat. In 887 he was deposed, and the East Frankish nobility, while electing ARNULF OF CARINTHIA new king (887-899), reformed the Kingdom's constitution.
Main changes included : (1) the theoretical union with the other Carolingian kingdoms which once formed a part of Charlemagne's kingdom (the West Frankish Kingdom, Italy, Lower and Upper Burgundy) was terminated. (2) the East Frankish kingdom was to be hereditary within the ruling dynasty. However, the kingdom was indivisible, the oldest son was to inherit; thus, the kingdom was politically stable and better able to meet military threats from outside. (3) In case the king died without a son, his successor was to be elected (by the country's leading men, yet no specific rules were drawn up).

Arnulf had proven his leadership as Duke of Carinthia and seriously dealt wity the Viking problem. From then on, the Vikings were no more a serious threat, only a nuisance. However, a new threat appeared in form of the Magyars who in 895 had taken possession of the Hungarian plain and from there staged raids into central and western Europe.
The Vikings, Saracens and Magyars had proven so threatening, because they were highly mobile (on ship/horseback) and the countryside - the Frankish kingdom was largely agricultural - was not prepared for defense. The new policy therefore promoted the construction of castles, bridges (to stop Viking fleets sailing upriver) and walled cities.
Regional forces such as the Frisians who had defeated the Vikings on their own, were rewarded by special privileges - noble status for their free population, immediate status (i.e. no other lord between them and the king; FRISIAN LIBERTY).

During the 9th century, the language border between the areas speaking Germanic and Romance dialects emerges. The East Frankish Kingdom has a clear majority of people speaking Germanic dialects, but there are Romance dialect (Lorraine), Slavic dialect minorities (Carinthia, along the middle Elbe).
Historiography later, from the Renaissance onward, uses the expression German Kingdom. However, historical sources refer either to a Frankish Kingdom or to a ROMAN KINGDOM - the fact that the city of Rome was not a part of it notwithstanding, for Charles the Fat (881) and Arnulf of Carinthia (896) had been crowned Emperor and ever since, only the king of the East Frankish kingdom could claim the imperial crown.

East Frankish Kings, 887-918
Arnulf of Carinthia
Louis the Child
Conrad I,


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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