History With Crusader Kings: Karlmann of Bavaria

Karlmann is a recommended character in the Karling scenario of Crusader Kings. He is a prince of East Francia and rules over the duchy of Bavaria. With claims to both the kingdoms of East Francia and Bavaria, Karlmann is set for a coup for either title. Karlmann faces the issue of illness at the start of the game. Unless you ensure his recovery, he might die an untimely death.

He has a high martial score and is very capable of expansion through might. A monk within the next generation would refer to him as ‘bellicosissimus’, or “most warlike”. His humble and zealous nature are representations of his deeds for the clergy.

Man of Independence


Karlmann was the son of Ludwig the German. He participated during the civil war between his father and uncles. The head of a reinforcement force, Karlmann would begin his warlike career in Worms. Later on, he would forge a relationship with Liutswind, which bore him a son, Arnulf. This would be his first politically independent action from his father’s approval. Arnulf would later be placed in his grandfather’s court to receive military education. This arrangement was likely done to keep Karlmann in check as well.

Karlmann’s first administrative office was governor of Carantania, in the southeastern borders of the kingdom. He would initially only rule over the inner region, but would later gain a more prominent role. Soon he would be appointed to lead military expeditions against Great Moravia. His independent nature would later put him into conflict with his father. When he had disagreements with the other commanders of the area, he’d expel them from office without his father’s consent. Father and son would get into open conflict, Ludwig would invade Bavaria, and Karlmann would submit defeat. He was put into custody and his governorship stripped off him.

Karlmann would eventually escape and return to Carantania. With supporters welcoming him, he took power once more. Ludwig was campaigning in Moravia during that time. The two would meet again but the conflict would be avoided. Karlmann would submit to his father’s authority as the agreement. And his father would restore his governorship of the eastern marches.

Karlmann would continue his campaign in Moravia successfully. However, the reinstallation of the previous ruler, Svatopluk, would backfire against him. Instead of cooperating, Svatopluk would turn against Karlmann upon returning to Moravia. Pope John VIII would mediate for peace between the two, ending the war on the eastern front.

Taking the Reigns
Image Credit: Ekkehard von Aura, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When Louis II of Italy died, Ludwig would claim Italy for Karlmann. However, the Pope would side with Charles the Bald’s claim. In response, Karlmann would lead an army into northern Italy. He would grant a diploma declaring his rightful claim as “Louis’ chosen successor” to a monastery. Charles would buy Karlmann off with a huge sum in gold, silver, and precious stones.

After Ludwig dies, Karlmann would finally become king in his domains. It was Ludwig’s policy that prevented his sons from becoming kings under his realm through a limitation of rights. Following Charles the Bald’s death, Karlmann would succeed in seizing Italy through an election. Karlmann wanted Italy due to how it was “apparently acceptable when a king first took over a kingdom (to loot it)”. Karlmann would keep his predecessor’s act in making bishops permanent royal representatives in their jurisdictions. He added his own expansion to the regulation in order to gain loyalty. This would later become the tradition of succeeding kings in Italy after Karlmann. Following this, he did many things that made the clergy in both Italy and Bavaria happy.

Matters of Succession

Karlmann would groom his illegitimate son Arnulf to receive Bavaria. This saw many supporters from the clergy but also had opposition. Many of them would appeal to Karlmann’s brother. There was also an attempt at assassinating Karlmann by one Count Ermenpert. The culprit would later flee to the court of Louis the Stammerer in West Francia.

Illness would incapacitate Karlmann in 879. There would be a power struggle between his brother and son over the rulership of Bavaria. Though Karlmann tried to legitimize Arnulf, Louis would eventually come out the victor. Arnulf would later take over as king of East Francia and become emperor of the Carolingian HRE.

Source: Wikipedia

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