Hugh the Great

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Hugh the Great
Hugues le Grand duc des Francs.jpg
Died(956-06-16)16 June 956
Noble family Robertians
Spouse(s)Judith of Maine
Eadhild of England
Hedwige of Saxony
Father Robert I of France
Mother Béatrice of Vermandois

Hugh the Great (c.898 [1] – 16 June 956) was the Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris.

The title Duke [and Prince] of the Franks has been used for three different offices, always with "duke" implying military command and "prince" implying something approaching sovereign or regalian rights. The term "Franks" may refer to an ethnic group or to the inhabitants of a territory called Francia.

Count of Paris

Count of Paris was a title for the local magnate of the district around Paris in Carolingian times. After Hugh Capet was elected King of France in 987, the title merged into the crown and fell into disuse. However, it was later revived by the Orléanist pretenders to the French throne in an attempt to evoke the legacy of Capet and his dynasty.



He was the son of King Robert I of France and Béatrice of Vermandois, daughter of Herbert I, Count of Vermandois. [2] He was born in Paris, Île-de-France, France. His eldest son was Hugh Capet who became King of France in 987. [3] His family is known as the Robertians. [4]

Robert I of France King of France

Robert I of France was the elected King of West Francia from 922 to 923. Before his election to the throne he was Count of Poitiers, Count of Paris and Marquis of Neustria and Orléans. He succeeded the overthrown Carolingian king Charles the Simple, who in 898 had succeeded Robert's brother, king Odo.

Herbert I, Count of Vermandois, Count of Meaux, Count of Soissons, and lay abbot of Saint Quentin. He was a Carolingian aristocrat who played a significant role in Francia.

Paris Capital and most populous city of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.

In 922 the barons of western Francia, after revolting against the Carolingian king Charles the Simple (who fled his kingdom under their onslaught), elected Robert I, Hugh's father, as King of Western Francia. [5] At the death of Robert I, in battle at Soissons in 923, Hugh refused the crown and it went to his brother-in-law, Rudolph of France. [5] Charles sought help in regaining his crown from his cousin Herbert II, Count of Vermandois, who instead of helping the king imprisoned him. [5] Herbert then used his prisoner as an advantage in pressing his own ambitions, using the threat of releasing the king up until Charles' death in 929. [6] From then on Herbert II of Vermandois struggled with king Rudolph and his vassal Hugh the Great. [5] Finally Rudolph and Herbert II came to an agreement in 935. [5]

West Francia former country (843-987)

In medieval historiography, West Francia or the Kingdom of the West Franks was the western part of Charlemagne's Empire, ruled by the Germanic Franks that forms the earliest stage of the Kingdom of France, lasting from about 840 until 987. West Francia was formed out of the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843 under the Treaty of Verdun after the death of Emperor Louis the Pious and the east–west division which "gradually hardened into the establishment of separate kingdoms (...) of what we can begin to call Germany and France."

The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel with origins in the Arnulfing and Pippinid clans of the 7th century AD. The dynasty consolidated its power in the 8th century, eventually making the offices of mayor of the palace and dux et princeps Francorum hereditary, and becoming the de facto rulers of the Franks as the real powers behind the Merovingian throne. In 751 the Merovingian dynasty which had ruled the Germanic Franks was overthrown with the consent of the Papacy and the aristocracy, and a Carolingian Pepin the Short was crowned King of the Franks. The Carolingian dynasty reached its peak in 800 with the crowning of Charlemagne as the first Emperor of Romans in the West in over three centuries. His death in 814 began an extended period of fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and decline that would eventually lead to the evolution of the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire.

Charles the Simple 10th-century King of West Francia

Charles III, called the Simple or the Straightforward, was the King of West Francia from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919–23. He was a member of the Carolingian dynasty.

At the death of Rudolph in 936, Hugh was in possession of nearly all of the region between the Loire and the Seine, corresponding to the ancient Neustria, with the exceptions of Anjou and of the territory ceded to the Normans in 911. [7] He took a very active part in bringing Louis IV (d'Outremer) from the Kingdom of England in 936. [8] In 937 Hugh married Hedwige of Saxony, a daughter of Henry the Fowler of Germany and Matilda, and soon quarrelled with Louis. [9]

Loire Longest river in France

The Loire is the longest river in France and the 171st longest in the world. With a length of 1,012 kilometres (629 mi), it drains an area of 117,054 km2 (45,195 sq mi), or more than a fifth of France's land area, while its average discharge is only half that of the Rhône.

Seine river in France

The Seine is a 777-kilometre-long (483 mi) river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre. It is navigable by ocean-going vessels as far as Rouen, 120 kilometres (75 mi) from the sea. Over 60 percent of its length, as far as Burgundy, is negotiable by commercial riverboats, and nearly its whole length is available for recreational boating; excursion boats offer sightseeing tours of the river banks in Paris, lined with top monuments including Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and Musée d'Orsay.

Neustria western part of the kingdom of the Franks

Neustria, or Neustrasia, was the western part of the Kingdom of the Franks.

In 938 King Louis IV began attacking fortresses and lands formerly held by members of his family, some held by Herbert II of Vermandois. [10] In 939 king Louis attacked Hugh the Great and William I, Duke of Normandy, after which a truce was concluded, lasting until June. [11] That same year Hugh, along with Herbert II of Vermandois, Arnulf I, Count of Flanders and Duke William Longsword paid homage to the Emperor Otto the Great, and supported him in his struggle against Louis. [12]

Arnulf I, Count of Flanders Count of Flanders

Arnulf of Flanders, called the Great, was the first Count of Flanders.

William Longsword was the second ruler of Normandy, from 927 until his assassination in 942.

Holy Roman Emperor emperor of the Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Emperor, officially the Emperor of the Romans, and also the German-Roman Emperor, was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.

When Louis fell into the hands of the Normans in 945, he was handed over to Hugh in exchange for their young duke Richard. [13] Hugh released Louis IV in 946 on condition that he should surrender the fortress of Laon. [14] In 948 at a church council at Ingelheim the bishops, all but two being from Germany, condemned and excommunicated Hugh in absentia, and returned Archbishop Artauld to his See at Reims. [15] Hugh's response was to attack Soissons and Reims while the excommunication was repeated by a council at Trier. [15] Hugh finally relented and made peace with Louis IV, the church and his brother-in-law Otto the Great. [15]

Normans European ethnic group emerging in the 10th and 11th century in France

The Normans were an ethnic group that arose in Normandy, a northern region of France, from contact between indigenous Franks, Gallo-Romans, and Norse Viking settlers. The settlements followed a series of raids on the French coast from Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, and they gained political legitimacy when the Viking leader Rollo agreed to swear fealty to King Charles III of West Francia. The distinct cultural and ethnic identity of the Normans emerged initially in the first half of the 10th century, and it continued to evolve over the succeeding centuries.

Laon Prefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France, northern France. As of 2012 its population is 25,317.

Ingelheim am Rhein Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Ingelheim am Rhein is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on the Rhine’s west bank. The town has been Mainz-Bingen’s district seat since 1996.

On the death of Louis IV, Hugh was one of the first to recognize Lothair as his successor, and, at the intervention of Queen Gerberga, was instrumental in having him crowned. [15] In recognition of this service Hugh was invested by the new king with the duchies of Burgundy and Aquitaine. [16] In the same year, however, Giselbert, duke of Burgundy, acknowledged himself his vassal and betrothed his daughter to Hugh's son Otto-Henry. [16] On 16 June 956 Hugh the Great died in Dourdan. [2]


Hugh married first, in 922, Judith, daughter of Roger, Count of Maine, and his wife Rothilde, a daughter of Emperor Charles the Bald. [2] She died childless in 925. [2]

Hugh's second wife was Eadhild, daughter of Edward the Elder, king of the Anglo-Saxons, and sister of King Æthelstan. [2] They married in 926 and she died in 938, childless. [2]

Hugh's third wife was Hedwig of Saxony, daughter of Henry the Fowler and Matilda. She and Hugh had:



  1. By his daughter Beatrice's marriage to Frederick I, Duke of Upper Lorraine Hugh became an ancestor of the Habsburg family. From their son Hugh Capet sprung forth the Capetian dynasty, one of the most powerful dynasties in Europe.

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Hugh Capet King of the Franks

Hugh Capet was the King of the Franks from 987 to 996. He is the founder and first king from the House of Capet. He was elected as the successor of the last Carolingian king, Louis V. Hugh was a descendant in illegitimate descent of Charlemagne through his mother and paternal grandmother.

Louis V of France King of France

Louis V, also known as Louis the Do-Nothing, was the King of West Francia from 986 until his premature death a year later. During his reign, the nobility essentially ruled the country. Dying childless, he was the last monarch in the Carolingian line in West Francia.

Henry I, called the Great, was Count of Nevers and Duke of Burgundy from 965 to his death. He is sometimes known as Odo-Henry or Otto-Henry, since his birth name was "Odo" and he only adopted "Henry" on being elected duke of Burgundy.

Lothair of France Penultimate Carolingian king of West Francia

Lothair, sometimes called Lothair III or Lothair IV, was the penultimate Carolingian king of West Francia, reigning from 10 September 954 until his death in 986.

Richard I, also known as Richard the Fearless, was the Count of Rouen or Jarl of Rouen from 942 to 996. Dudo of Saint-Quentin, whom Richard commissioned to write the "De moribus et actis primorum Normanniae ducum", called him a Dux. However, this use of the word may have been in the context of Richard's renowned leadership in war, and not as a reference to a title of nobility. Richard either introduced feudalism into Normandy or he greatly expanded it. By the end of his reign, the most important Norman landholders held their lands in feudal tenure.

Fulk II of Anjou, called le Bon was Count of Anjou from 942 to his death.

Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine Duke of Lower Lorraine

Charles (953–993) was the Duke of Lower Lorraine from 977 until his death.

Baldwin III, Count of Flanders Count of Flanders

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Battle of Soissons (923) middle ages battle

The Battle of Soissons was fought on 15 June 923 between an alliance of Frankish insurgent nobles led by Robert I, elected king in an assembly the year prior, and an army composed of Lotharingians, Normans and Carolingian forces under King Charles III's command. The battle took place at Soissons, near Aisne. Robert was killed, but his army won the war. Charles was imprisoned by Herbert II of Vermandois and held captive until his death in 929. Rudolph, Duke of Burgundy, Robert's son-in-law, succeeded him as ruler of West Francia.

Adalbert I of Vermandois, in 946 he succeeded his father as Count of Vermandois.

Herbert II, Count of Vermandois, Count of Meaux, and Count of Soissons. He was the first to exercise power over the territory that became the province of Champagne.

Theobald I (913–975), called the Trickster, was the first count of Blois, Chartres, and Châteaudun as well as count of Tours.

Adele of Vermandois was both a Carolingian as well as a Robertian Frankish noblewoman who was the Countess of Flanders (934–960).

Beatrice of Vermandois was a Carolingian aristocrat, queen of Western Francia by marriage to Robert I, and mother of Hugh the Great.

Herbert the Younger was the Count of Troyes and Meaux. He was the son of Robert of Vermandois and Adelaide Werra, daughter of Gilbert, Duke of Burgundy. He belonged to the Herbertien dynasty, an illegitimate branch of the Carolingian dynasty.

Hugh I was count of Maine (900–933). He succeeded his father as of Count of Maine c. 900.

Sprota was the name of a Breton captive who William I, Duke of Normandy took as a wife in the Viking fashion and by her had a son, Richard I, Duke of Normandy. After the death of her husband William, she became the wife of Esperleng and mother of Rodulf of Ivry.


  1. Linda Seidel, Legends in Limestone: Lazarus, Gislebertus, and the Cathedral of Autun, (University of Chicago Press, 1999), 67.
    Widukind (of Corvey), Deeds of the Saxons, transl.Bernard S. Bachrach and David S. Bachrach, (The Catholic University of America Press, 2014), 43.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten , Neue Folge, Band II (Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, Marburg, Germany, 1984), Tafeln 10-11
  3. Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France, 987-1328 (Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007), p. 69
  4. Lucien Bély, The History of France ( J.P. Gisserot, Paris, 2001), p. 21
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, Trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1993), p.250
  6. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, Trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1993), pp.250-1
  7. Elizabeth M. Hallam, Capetian France; 987-1328 (Longman Group Ltd., London & New York, 1980), p. 89
  8. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims: 919-966, Ed. & Trans. Stephen Fanning & Bernard S. Bachrach (University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. xvii
  9. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, Trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1993), p.262
  10. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 919-966, Ed. & Trans. Steven Fanning & Bernard S. Bachrach (University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 30
  11. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 919-966, Ed. & Trans. Steven Fanning & Bernard S. Bachrach (University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 31
  12. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims; 919-966, Ed. & Trans. Steven Fanning & Bernard S. Bachrach (University of Toronto Press, 2011), p. 32
  13. David Crouch, The Normans (Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007), p. 16
  14. Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France, 987-1328 (Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007), p. 40
  15. 1 2 3 4 Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France, 987-1328 (Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007), p. 41
  16. 1 2 3 4 Jim Bradbury, The Capetians: Kings of France, 987-1328 (Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007), p. 42
  17. 1 2 Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, Marburg, Germany, 1984), Tafel 11
  18. Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt, 1984), Tafel 10