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Siege of Paris 845 AD

Siege of Paris 845 AD

This video is sponsored by Vikings: War of Clans! If you ever looked at history and wished you could experience a world of swords, conquest and empires; then you should check out Vikings: War of Clans; a free to play strategy game, where you build your clan into a nation. How you raise your empire is entirely up to you. Crush your enemies with vast armies, , craft a nation of trade with friends while applying diplomacy or build impregnable cities that will endure the ages. Download the game from the link in the description below and not only will you be helping us create content for you but you will begin your journey with 200 gold and a protection shield as you set out to rule the clans! It’s the middle of the ninth century. The deeds of the renowned Charles the Great have faded over the last thirty years, as the empire he created was constantly weakened by both internal and external threats. Charlemagne’s only living son and heir Louis the Pious struggled to maintain power and control over the unruly regional lords, but even considering his talents, Louis was simply a monarch of a smaller calibre compared to his famous father. His reign was marked by a series of exhausting civil wars and border quarrels, and while Louis did much to retain his power and secure the future of the Carolingian Empire, the results of his efforts were meagre. Louis the Pious eventually died in 840 at the age of 62 and his three living sons, being unable to follow their father’s wishes, raised their banners to fight over Louis’ inheritance. Yet again the Frankish Empire plunged into civil war, which lasted for the next three years and eradicated any remaining trace of unity between the belligerents. In 843 the war came to an end and the Treaty of Verdun was signed, which essentially divided Charlemagne’s empire into three distinct parts ruled by the three sons of the late emperor Louis the Pious. In such circumstances, Louis’ youngest son, Charles the Bald became the very first King of West Francia, the westernmost part of the divided empire. His initial position was hardly enviable. Although the dynastic dispute between the brothers seemed to be settled at least for a time, Charles wasn’t too popular within his own domain and just a few vassals pledged loyalty to him. His rule over regions such as Brittany and Aquitaine was in fact only nominal with those areas on the verge of open rebellion. But Charles’ most impending problem was an external one. His early rule coincided with the expansion of Scandinavian raiders – the Vikings, who since the end of the eighth century began ravaging the coasts of the British Isles and Western Europe, in search for wealth and glory. The Norsemen were well oriented in the local politics of the Frankish states and exploited their lack of unity, even sailing up major rivers and pillaging riverside settlements. Frankish rulers, who were so busy fighting amongst themselves, did little to strengthen their countries defences against seaborne raids. The rough-and-ready solution to decrease the countries vulnerability to Viking attacks was to allow them to settle along the northern Frankish coasts and rivers in the hope that they would protect the mainland against other Norsemen. It wasn’t an extensively popular tactic among the Vikings in first half of 9th century, but still, some temporary settlements were established. In 841 one of the Norse chieftains, named Ragnar was awarded land in northern Francia and nominally became a vassal of Charles the Bald. It is still subject to debate, but there’s a slight possibility, that the man King Charles gave land to, was the near-legendary Ragnar Lothbrok, a famous Viking hero and ruler. But since there’s barely any evidence to support this theory, we’ll refer to this character, as just Ragnar. Anyway, a few years later, Ragnar lost his bridgehead in northern Francia along with the favour of King Charles. This led the Norse chieftain to seek revenge and punish the Frankish king for his supposed lack of support and cooperation. In early spring of the year 845, Ragnar led more than one hundred longships up the river Seine and swiftly attacked and burnt the city of Rouen. Upon hearing this, Charles hastily gathered an army, a couple thousand strong and sent it west to defend rich settlements and monasteries lying along the river Seine and the strategically important city of Paris. Norse and Frankish forces clashed in the middle of March some kilometres north of the city. As the Franks were divided into two contingents, occupying both banks of the river, Ragnar took the advantage and stormed the weaker detachment. Battle ensued, but the Danes were far more numerous and quickly overwhelmed their enemy. The Frankish unit was eradicated, and those who remained on the battlefield, were taken into captivity. Watching the course of the encounter from the other side of the river, the morale of the second Frankish detachment plummeted and Charles’ men abandoned their plan to stop the invaders, and scattered in chaos. The King’s makeshift effort to stop the Danish raiders proved to be futile. Thanks to this initial victory, Ragnar’s men had the road to the riches of Paris wide open. The Danes reached the outskirt of the city on the 28th of March and began preparing for the siege. Hoping to terrorize the defenders morale, Ragnar moved the prisoners he had taken in victorious skirmish a few days earlier to the island on the Seine River and had them hanged, much to citizens’ dread. The city was largely undefended and not truly prepared for either an assault or prolonged siege. Ragnar was most likely aware of this and early the next day, on Easter Sunday, he attempted to storm the walls. The undermanned garrison and poorly maintained fortifications couldn’t pose a meaningful threat to 5,000 voracious Norse invaders, leading to a quick and brutal assault. Ragnar’s men eventually breached into the city and soon an exhaustive plunder of Paris’ churches and monasteries began. King Charles was in trouble, as his relief force was swiftly defeated and he lost one of the most important cities in his kingdom to the Danish invaders. He could have tried to assemble an army big enough to fend off Ragnar’s party, but this solution required the support of the nobles of West Francia, among which, Charles wasn’t too popular and their loyalty was questionable at best. Instead, Charles decided to use the royal treasury to pay Ragnar a ransom and thus save Paris from being destroyed. It wasn’t an ideal solution, but Charles had hardly any other choice. He bought himself some time to unravel the most pressing issues of the new kingdom and perhaps prepare his realm better for the possibility of future Norse raids in the years to come. More than 5,000 pounds of gold and silver was transported to Norse-occupied Paris to placate the invaders. A possible factor that could have influenced Ragnar’s decision was that upon taking the city, the Vikings were stricken with plague, whittling his fighting force. Anyway, Charles’ offer was generous enough for the Danes to agree to depart with the city reasonably intact. Although Ragnar’s forces pillaged the Frankish countryside on their way back to the shore, for a time Charles the Bald was rid of the Norse raiders. The Sack of Paris was probably one of the most resounding events of the early Viking Age. Taking such an important city made the Frankish rulers realise how vulnerable their realms were against this new Scandinavian threat, which from the middle of the ninth century became a major concern for every Frankish ruler for the next two hundred years.

100 thoughts on “Siege of Paris 845 AD

  1. These vikings got assimilated to French kngdom (language and religion) and became : Normandy and invaded England, that's why English is almost 30% of French words and Richard Lionheartd spoke French and spent his life in France… 🙂

  2. 4:58 Anyone else recognises this battle/strategy from the Vikings TV show? Although that was in england, it's VERY similar to the battle between Ragnar's forces VS Burgled and Brihtwulf.

  3. Wow the show Vikings is far off to actual history. Ik its a TV show and not a documentary but in the show the battle where the 2 armies where split because of the river, that was in England fighting against Mercia. Also in the TV show, it took them a long time to breach the walls of Paris, and they lost twice trying to do so. So its accurate in a way, but also far off. But I did like the show and it got me to research the Siege of Paris so I guess I took a lot away from it.

  4. The video seems to mix the sack of Paris 845 with a viking raid along the Seine in 866. The Frankish attack on both sides of the Seine happened in 866 according to the St. Bertin chronicle.

  5. Ragnar was danish! 🇩🇰
    Few know that.
    Even fewer know that he was also the original drummer i Matallica.
    (The last bid may have been something i dreamt)

  6. Fun fact about the vikings:

    The Danes did not take up violence for no reason. Charlemagne's conquests dealt great tolls of life on the Danes and the surrounding pagan tribes. There's a famous incident where Charlemagne forced a whole community of 4500 to 5000 to convert to Christianity, and executed all of them anyway. While not necessarily unique for the time. Those actions, under the banner of Charlemagne's Franks and Christianity, pushed the Danes to retaliate against the Franks on the Northern coasts of modern day France, and the people of the British Isles on their entire coastline.

  7. I wonder what kind of plague the Vikings caught, that could be helped by feasting. Could it be something that they ate that was bad?Some kind of local food that they didn't deal well?

  8. Funny how there aren't people defending Viking attacks on Europe like you'll see at Tours and other Muslim attacks.

  9. Amazing channel and another great video. I'll tell you something, it would have been a very hard life living in those times. I can only imagine how incredibly tough it must of made people. Those Vikings sound ferocious.

  10. Wasn't there a siege of paris by vikings that turned into a years long bunch of nothing? I can't recall where I read about it, but like 1 tower held the whole army off cause of how well it was positioned

  11. Stop the commercials before the commercials… Just IMO… Both this extra income and Patreon seem excessive, and it's tiresome. IMO Patreron payers should boycott this, refusing to pay to be served commercials.

  12. Note: "Dane" is usually used in Viking Age history as a synonym for "Viking" or "Northmen", unless it's talk about people from Denmark in specific.

  13. Every time I watch one of these videos, I imagine what would have happened if one side had several crates of AR-15's.

  14. You're said they started fighting for the throne but the bald one already has a crown to cover his head.

  15. As a proud viking and dane, I need to remind you that the southwestern part of sweden was danish at that time.

  16. You should also do the later Siege of Paris, at the time of Charles the Fat and count Odo. That was a very important battle that defined the future of the Frankish Empire

  17. What only specialists know is that, as Niels Lund pointed out in an article analysing the events a few years ago; Regner's raid was part of the foreign policy of the powerful Danish king Horik/Erik.

  18. strange, we hungarians are calling France as Franciaország(Frenchcountry where french is francia). I never heard Francia words told by other languages.

  19. why didnt charles asked for help from his brothers in middle and east to crush ragnar army instead of giving him so much gold!

  20. Ragnar, played by Ernest Borgnine in the move THE VIKINGS, playing the father of Einar -Kirk Douglas, and his bastard son, Eric – Tony Curtis.
    Great Movie. Watch It. some clips

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