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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The Norsemen came down upon his coasts


of the three monarchs received unrestricted sway over his realm. They agreed, however, upon a common line of policy in the interest of the dynasty, and admitted the right of inheritance to each other's sovereignty, in the absence of direct heirs. The Treaty of Verdun, therefore, marks the beginning of Germany and France as distinct nationalities; and now, after following the Germanic races over the greater part of Europe for so many centuries, we come back to recommence their history on the soil where we first found them. In fact, the word _Deutsch_, "German," signifying _of the people_, now first came into general use, to designate the language and the races--Franks, Alemanni, Bavarians, Thuringians, Saxons, etc.--under Ludwig's rule. There was, as yet, no political unity among these races; they were reciprocally jealous, and often hostile; but, by contrast with the inhabitants of France and Italy, they felt their blood-relationship as never before, and a national spirit grew up, of a narrower but more natural character than that which Charlemagne endeavored to establish.

Internal struggles awaited both the Roman Emperor, Lothar, and the Frank king, Karl the Bald. The former was obliged to suppress revolts in Provence and Italy; the latter in Brittany and Aquitaine, while the Spanish Mark, beyond the Pyrenees, passed out of his hands. Ludwig the German inherited a long peace at home, but a succession of wars with the Wends and Bohemians along

his eastern frontier. The Norsemen came down upon his coasts, destroyed Hamburg, and sailed up the Elbe with 600 vessels, burning and plundering wherever they went. The necessity of keeping an army almost constantly in the field gave the clergy and nobility an opportunity of exacting better terms for their support; the independent dukedoms, suppressed by Charlemagne, were gradually re-established, and thus Ludwig diminished his own power while protecting his territory from invasion.

[Sidenote: 858.]

The Emperor, Lothar, soon discovered that he had made a bad bargain. His long and narrow empire was most difficult to govern, and in 855, weary with his annoyances and his endless marches to and fro, he abdicated and retired into a monastery, where he died within a week. The empire was divided between his three sons: Ludwig received Italy and was crowned by the Pope; to Karl was given the territory between the Rhone, the Alps and the Mediterranean, and to Lothar II. the portion extending from the Rhone to the North Sea. When the last of these died, in 869, Ludwig the German and Karl the Bald divided his territory, the line running between Verdun and Metz, then along the Vosges, and terminating at the Rhine near Basle,--almost precisely the same boundary as that which France has been forced to accept in 1871.

But the conditions of the oath taken by the two kings in 842 were not observed by either. Karl the Bald was a tyrannical and unpopular sovereign, and when he failed in preventing the Norsemen from ravaging all Western France, the nobles determined to set him aside and invite Ludwig to take his place. The latter consented, marched into France with a large army, and was hailed as king; but when his army returned home, and he trusted to the promised support of the Frank nobles, he found that Karl had repurchased their allegiance, and there was no course left to him but to retreat across the Rhine. The trouble was settled by a meeting of the two kings, which took place at Coblentz, in 860.

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