History With Crusader Kings: Charles ‘The Bald’


Charles brings an intermediate challenge for players. Though starting with a territory spanning the kingdoms of West Francia and Aquitaine, that will bring its challenges. Inheriting a powerful realm, Charles will have to face administrative and diplomatic challenges. Threat looms from Spanish Moors and ambitious Vikings. Claimants to your realm will plot and scheme against you. How would you fare in navigating this political landscape?


His high learning score likely refers to the King’s efforts in bringing back the Carolingian renaissance, alongside close collaborations with the church. Charles, having been born much later in his family, did not have any lands to call his own. His father would attempt to grant him land but would be met with resistance. His landless origin would be what earned him the name “Bald”; though some suggest it was an ironic nickname given to a very hairy Charles. Charles would place high effort in keeping his later inheritance; he would in fact press claims to his siblings’ realms as well.


Consolidation of Sovereignty

Louis the Pious, Charles’ father, would not give up in trying to grant Charles land. Eventually, he’d call a diet in which where he’d declare Charles to be the heir of Gaul. When Pepin of Aquitaine died, Charles would claim his realm, raising the ire of the former’s heirs and the nobles of that land. When Louis the Pious finally died, the realm would fall into a civil war. Charles allied himself with Louis the German and rebelled against Lothair I, who’d styled himself, Emperor. The war would conclude three years later, and the empire split into three.


Reign of the King


After losing a campaign against Brittany, Charles would sign the Treaty of Coulaines in his return. This marked the divergence between the legal codes in West Francia and the rest of the Frankish realms; granting rights to nobles and the clergy whilst limiting the crown’s power.


The realm would see relative peace until the death of Lothair I. Louis the German, likely in a bid to unite the empire, led an army with the support of Frankish nobles to oust Charles. Due to the latter’s unpopularity among the nobles, he would not even be able to raise an army. Charles would be saved by the grace of the church, which refused to crown Louis. Charles would have his hand at laying claims upon his relative’s kingdoms. He even tried to be crowned as king of Lotharingia after Lothair II died, but Louis the German would contest this. The result would be the partition of Middle Francia.


Zero to Emperor



After the death of Louis II, Lothair I’s successor in Italy, Charles was invited by Pope John VIII to become emperor. As emperor, he combined the two mottoes his grandfather and father used into: “renewal of the empire of the Romans and Franks”. Louis the German would once again bare his fangs upon hearing news of this. And after Louis the German’s death, Charles would return the favor and attempt to take East Francia only to fail. His final campaign would be a response to help John VIII defend Italy against the Saracens. Charles fell ill on his way and, alongside several other factors, decided to return home but died on his way back.



Sources: Wikipedia, Britannica

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