Charles the Bald and the defence of the West Frankish kingdom against the Viking invasions 840-877
The aim of this dissertation is to establish the nature and effectiveness of the defence of the West Frankish realm against the Vikings during the reign of Charles the Bald. The work is divided into three distinct but interrelated sections, which together build up a composite picture. The first section consists of a re-examination and reappraisal of the primary sources to produce a substantially revised history of the Scandinavian raids and the Frankish response between 840 and 877. The second section then considers the West Frankish armies which opposed the Vikings, evaluating their composition and organization, their armament, and their strategies and tactics. Charles the Bald is shown to have made strenuous efforts to organize resistance at both national and local levels, and the reasons for the Franks' repeated failure to exclude or expel the Vikings are considered in detail. The concluding section discusses the broader defensive strategies of tribute payment and fortification construction. The King's reasons for offering tributes, the methods employed to raise them and their military, political and economic consequences are all examined in chapter seven. The final chapter then demonstrates that Charles the Bald built considerably fewer fortified bridges than has previously been supposed, and undertook only a limited programme of urban fortification. This suggests that the King perceived the Vikings to be a less serious menace to his rule than has generally been believed. The overall effect of the dissertation is to portray Charles the Bald in a fundamentally new and positive light. The King is shown to have been resolute and resourceful, constantly seeking to oppose the Vikings but continually hampered by the unreliability of the army and internecine Frankish feuds. Nevertheless, the study demonstrates that by the end of his reign Charles had succeeded in expelling all but a handful of the invaders, and bequeathed to Louis the Stammerer a well defended and largely peaceful kingdom.