Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine
Charles of Lorraine was the son of Louis IV of France
Louis IV of France
Louis IV , called d'Outremer or Transmarinus , reigned as King of Western Francia from 936 to 954...

 and Gerberga of Saxony
Gerberga of Saxony
Gerberga of Saxony was a daughter of Henry the Fowler, King of Germany, and Matilda of Ringelheim.-Marriages:She married first Gilbert, Duke of Lorraine. They had four children:...

 and younger brother of King Lothair
Lothair of France
Lothair , sometimes called Lothair IV, was the Carolingian king of West Francia , son of Louis IV and Gerberga of Saxony.-Regency:...

. He was a sixth generation descendant of Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. Charles was excluded from the throne of France, and the German Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 Otto II, made him Duke of Lower Lorraine in 977.

His father probably gave him royal powers in Burgundy
Kingdom of Arles
The Kingdom of Arles or Second Kingdom of Burgundy of the High Middle Ages was a Frankish dominion established in 933 from lands of the early medieval Kingdom of Burgundy at Arles...

, but Lothair took them back upon reaching his majority. In 977, he accused Lothair's wife, Emma, daughter of Lothair II of Italy
Lothair II of Italy
Lothair II , often Lothair of Arles, was the King of Italy from 948 to his death. He was of the noble Frankish lineage of the Bosonids, descended from Boso the Elder...

, of infideility with Adalberon, Bishop of Laon
Adalberon, Bishop of Laon
Adalberon, or Ascelin was a French bishop and poet. He was a son of Reginar of Bastogne, and a nephew of Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims.-Life:...

. The council of Sainte-Macre at Fismes (near Reims
Reims , a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies east-northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire....

) exonerated the queen and the bishop, but Charles maintained his claim and was driven from the kingdom, finding refuge at the court of his cousin, Otto II. Otto promised to crown Charles as soon as Lothair was out of the way and Charles paid him homage, receiving back Lower Lorraine.

In August 978, Lothair invaded Germany and captured the imperial capital of Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, but failed to capture either Otto or Charles. In October, Otto and Charles in turn invaded France, devastating the land around Rheims, Soissons
Soissons is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France, located on the Aisne River, about northeast of Paris. It is one of the most ancient towns of France, and is probably the ancient capital of the Suessiones...

, and Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

. In the latter city, the chief seat of the kings of France, Charles was crowned by Theodoric I, Bishop of Metz. Lothair fled to Paris and was there besieged. But a relief army of Hugh Capet's forced Otto and Charles to lift the siege on 30 November. Lothair and Capet, the tables turned once more, chased the German king and his liege back to Aachen and retook Laon.

As he had been a vassal also of Lothair, Charles' acts on behalf of Otto were considered treason and he was thereafter excluded from the throne. On Lothair's death (986), the magnates elected his son Louis V
Louis V of France
Louis V , called the Indolent or the Sluggard , was the King of Western Francia from 986 until his early death...

 and on the latter's death (987), Hugh Capet. Thus, the House of Capet
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

 came to the throne over the disgraced and ignored Charles. Charles' marriage to the lowborn daughter of a vassal of Hugh was championed by his opponents as a cardinal reason to deny him the throne. In order to have free hand towards France, he resigned his duchy to regency of his eldest son Otto. Charles made war on Hugh, even taking Rheims and Laon. However, on Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels...

991 26 March, he was captured, through the perfidy of the Bishop Adalberon, and with his young second son Louis imprisoned by Hugh in Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

, where he died a short while later, in or before 993.

In 1666, the sepulchre of Charles was discovered in the Basilica of Saint Servatius
Basilica of Saint Servatius
The Roman catholic Basilica of Saint Servatius, situated in Maastricht at the Vrijthof square, is a mainly Romanesque church dedicated to Saint Servatius.- History :...

 in Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

. His skin appears to have been interred there only in 1001, but that is not the date of his death, as some scholars assumed. Though Charles ruled Lower Lorraine, the Dukes of Lorraine (Upper Lotharingia) counted him as Charles I of Lorraine.


Charles married firstly (970) a daughter of Robert of Vermandois
Robert of Vermandois
Robert of Vermandois was Count of Meaux after his father, Heribert II, Comte de Vermandois and his wife, Adele of France....

, count of Meaux and Troyes
Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses survive in the old town...

He married secondly Adelais, the daughter of low-ranking vassal of Hugh Capet.
He may have married thirdly Bonne, daughter of Godfrey I, Count of Verdun
Godfrey I, Count of Verdun
Godfrey I , called the Prisoner or the Captive , sometimes the Old , was the count of Bidgau and Methingau from 959 and the count of Verdun from 963 to his death. In 969, he obtained the margravate of Antwerp and Ename...

His children with his second and first wives were:
  • Otto, succeeded him as Duke of Lower Lotharingia
  • Adelaide
  • Gerberga of Lower Lorraine
    Gerberga of Lower Lorraine
    Gerberga of Lower Lorraine, Countess of Louvain, was the daughter of Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, himself the son of Louis IV of France and Gerberga of Saxony. She married Lambert I, Count of Louvain and had a daughter, Matilda or Maud, who married Eustace I, Count of Boulogne....

    , countess of Brussels
    Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

    , who married Lambert I, Count of Leuven
  • Louis, followed his father to France and died in prison
  • Charles (b. 989)
  • Ermengarde, married Albert I, Count of Namur
    Albert I, Count of Namur
    Albert I was the son of Robert I, Count of Lomme. He became Count of Namur in 998.He married Ermengarde, daughter of Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, and had three children:*Liutgard of Namur*Albert II, Count of Namur...

     (various sources assign paternity of Ermengarde alternatively to Charles, or to his son Otto)



  • Gwatkin, H. M., Whitney, J. P. (ed) et al. The Cambridge Medieval History: Volume III. Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 1926.
  • Settipani, Christian
    Christian Settipani
    Christian Settipani is the Technical Director of an IT company in Paris and a genealogist and historian.He has a Master of Advanced Studies degree from the Paris-Sorbonne University and is currently preparing his doctoral thesis, while he often gives lectures to students undergraduates at the...

    . La préhistoire des Capétiens. 1993. ISBN 2-9501509-3-4
  • FMG on Charles, Duke of Lower Lotharingia
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