Why was the Treaty of Verdun signed?

The Treaty of Verdun is a historical event that marked the beginning of the Empire’s dissolution; it was signed due to the necessity of dividing European parts into separate independent states.


In 843 August 11, Europe took the first significant step towards those state orders that determined its entire history. The three sons of the emperor Louis the Pious signed a treaty in the city of Verdun, according to which the united Western Empire was divided into three parts. The Western Empire arose in 800 when Carolus Magnus was on the throne of the Frankish power. After his death in 814, the vast state created by him passed to his son Louis the Pious. Below are some historical events that have led to the Treaty of Verdun sign.

The new emperor had three sons: Lothair, Pippinus, and Charles the Bald. To strengthen the power of the dynasty, Louis decided to make the eldest of his sons, Lothair, his co-ruler. Louis gave him significant territories spread out in Germany, Italy, and France. Two other sons were forced to be content with smaller lands, which, of course, caused their discontent. At that time, the influence zones of the brothers were vaguely outlined: Pippinus received a part of France, Charles inherited Germany, but Lothair’s possessions were too divergent. The benefits of each of them were halved, which led to internecine wars, in which three sons usually acted as a united front against the father. After six years, the emperor passed away, and only his three sons entered the struggle.

For many years, Lothair strove for individual power and did not want to share it with anyone. Therefore, immediately after the death of Louis, he opposed both brothers, trying to capture them and their kingdom. Anyway, the forces of the new emperor were not unlimited. In 841, he was defeated in the general battle of the Fontenay village. However, the brothers could not develop their success, since Lothair was under the Catholic Church protection as a bearer of the imperial title. Therefore, it was decided to appeal to a peaceful solution to the issue. Finally, in 843 in Verdun, it was decided to sign an agreement; and after accepting the Treaty of Verdun, continental Europe was divided into three parts.

Lothair, as the eldest son of Louis, retained the imperial throne and received the lands that made up the so-called Middle Kingdom: Lotharingia, Burgundy, Provence, and Italy. This new state formed a thin line from the North to Italy, lodged between the possessions of Pippinus and Charles – France and Germany. For some time, Lothair managed to hold power in his hands. However, gradually private lands went out of control, and large feudal lords, primarily Italy, openly opposed their official lords.

The Treaty of Verdun was an agreement between new states that acquired that development vector along which they moved many subsequent centuries. In the middle of the 9th century, the rulers began to realize that they were not united. The most striking indicator of a change in this unified imperial consciousness was that the Verdun Treaty was the first document written, in addition to Latin, in French and German. In the 19th century, French historians declared the Treaty of Verdun the division of the Empire on a national basis. They evaluated this fact as the emergence of nation-states – France, Germany, and Italy.

Researchers note that the evidence of the natural-national principle of dividing the Empire both in the fragility of the Middle Kingdom and in the failure of the attempt to restore a single empire. Thus, the collapse of Carolus Magnus Empire a natural manifestation of the feudalization process and the formation of ethnically homogeneous kingdoms as the beginning of a long process of nation-states formation.

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