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The Carolingian response to the revolt of Boso, 879–887

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Abstract:

The decade leading up to the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire in 887–8 is traditionally characterised by historians as a period when royal authority was in terminal decline, crippled by the deaths of three great rulers in the mid-870s and by the attempt of the non-Carolingian rebel Boso of Vienne to seize a throne in 879. This article challenges the conventional view, and argues that Boso's revolt actually inspired the four surviving Carolingian kings to enter into a period of successful and effective cooperation. They came to a sworn agreement which sealed a new mutually guaranteed succession plan and resolved several outstanding territorial disputes. The end of the empire was brought about neither by internal conflict nor by loss of faith in the royal house, but rather by the premature deaths of a series of heirless rulers and the failure of the last emperor Charles the Fat to organize his succession in 887.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0254.00078

Affiliations: Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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