the century of the north (798-912) dynasty in the holy roman empire, the offing dynasty in...

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    W hy is the ninth century called the century of the North ? During this century, Anglo-Saxon dynasties ruled Western Europe, the Vikings conquered huge territories, conducting raids all over Europe, the Germanic faith has been reformed,... The Age of the Vikings begins in 800: the beginning of the century is the beginning of the era of the Northmen. However, this century is also a time of affirmation for religions: the image struggle in the East leads to the victory of the iconoclasts, Catholicism is affirmed by the conversion of Eastern Europe and the Reconquest in the Iberian Peninsula, Shiism appears with the creation of a Shiite Caliphate in 875, and we can mention the reform of the Germanic faith even if it takes place in 798. We will see the rise of the Eadricing dynasty in the Holy Roman Empire, the Offing dynasty in Francia, and the rise of the Scandinavian world.


    Map of the Holy Roman Empire in 910 After the fall of the Eadricing Dynasty in 907, the empire is fragile. The Lombard emperor Hilderic 'the Dragon' ruled over an empire divided by religious tensions (the Catholic religion is confronted with many heresies and the recently conquered Denmark, but also Flanders, are still of Germanic faith) and cultural (in the empire different people cohabit : Franks, Lombards, Italians, Spaniards, Anglo-Saxons, etc.).

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    The Eadricing Dynasty is from the British Isles, more precisely from the kingdom of Northumbria. In the 8th century, the kingdom of Northumbria was very unstable. Between 705 and 765, eight kings succeeded on the throne. Among them, two abdicated to become monks, one was killed, one died in battle, and two were deposed. Æthelwald Moll took the throne in 759 even if he wasn't a member of the royal family. Ealhred, nicknamed the 'Son of Satan', acceded to the throne in 765 after Æthelwald Moll's deposition.His lineage goes back to the ancient kingdom of Bernicia, and he received a kingdom destabilized by dynastic disputes and a very turbulent people and nobility. However, he managed to establish his power. In 768 he married Osgifu, the daughter (or sister) of Oswulf, the predecessor of Æthelwald Moll.In 768 he wed Osgifu, the daughter (or sister) of Oswulf, the predecessor of Æthelwald Moll. This reinforced his legitimacy on the throne. The king seeks alliances to defend his throne in case of new revolts and decides to wed his firstborn son, Osred, to Princess Daufreda, the daughter of the king Desiderius of Lombardy. The monarch had to face internal revolts (in 770 and 780) which he repressed, and faced the Scots in the battles of Teviotdale and Dunbar to take over the Isle of Man.

    However, the Eadricing dynasty did not rise thanks to King Ealhred, but to his grandson Morcar, now considered as " the grandfather of Europe " (see next page).The reign of Morcar is known thanks to a complete biography written by a monk (anonymous, however) who was contemporary of Morcar.

    It is also necessary to place the reign of Morcar in the context of the period: another Anglo-Saxon dynasty, the Offing dynasty, ruled East Anglia but also the powerful kingdom of France between 784 and 828. The Northern Century is well named because in the first half of the century, the Eadricing and Offing dynasties ruled the most powerful kingdoms on the European continent.


    Why is the king Ealhred (765-790) called the 'Son of the Satan' ?

    Ealhred was nicknamed as such during his lifetime. In addition to his duty as overlord, Ealhred was very devout. Known for his zeal, he did not hesitate to burn his firstborn son for heresy on 5 June 779. He was accused of being a parricide, but the Pope gave him absolution in exchange for a penance. When his own son was sentenced to be burned for heresy, a priest called Osred accused him of being « the son of Satan to kill his son in the name of the Holy Church  ». The court adopted this nickname and it was even written in the Chronicles of the Kingdom of Northumbria when Ealhred died in 790.

    The Offing Dynasty

    At the end of the 8th century, the Carolingian dynasty disappeared. After the reign of the king Charles (768-774) and then his nephew Pepin (774-784), Pepin's step-brother became king of the Franks. However, this step-brother is Sælred I, an Anglo-Saxon of the Offing dynasty, a native of the kingdom of East Anglia. This dynasty remained in power for several generations and divided the kingdom of the Franks into several realms (France, Aquitaine, Austrasia, Burgundy, Germania) but succeeded to maintain a political unity. However, on the death of the last Offing king, Cuthberth, on September 21, 828, with no direct heir, all the kingdoms became independent, splitting the Western world for some decades.

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    Founder of the Holy Roman Empire Emperor Morcar 'the Frog'

    Morcar ascended to the throne of Northumbria in 790 after the death of his grandfather. His bloodline is prestigious for the time: his grandfather was the king of Northumbria, his mother the daughter of a king of Lombardy. The death of his mother in 791 gave him a claim on Lombardy. Morcar saw an opportunity to impose himself on the continent in front of the Anglo-Saxon dynasty of the Offing (see page 2). In 793, Morcar declared war on his cousin Rosamund, the queen of Lombardy (who was still a young child) to conquer the kingdom. Unable to intervene on the continent with the armies of Northumbria, the monarch sent his allies the kings of France and Asturias to capture the region. In 797, the coalised armies won the battle of Ivrea, causing the fall of the Lombard kingdom. A few months later, Morcar was crowned King of Italy. Shortly after, was born Prince Eadweard, the heir of the new kingdom of Italy. A few years after his invasion of Italy, the king faced a great rebellion led by the Lombard Alberto, called 'the Old', Duke of Tuscany and Pisa. The Lombard aristocrats seek to put the former queen Rosamund back on her throne. The king seems little concerned by this revolt because after the beginning of the revolt he led a war in the Carniola against the Slavs of the region. At the same time Western Christianity suffered the crisis of the IXth century (see page 7) with the birth of many heresies. Italy was affected with Siena which saw fraticellism becoming the dominant religion. At the battle of Clydesdale, heretics defeated the royal armies and threatened the position of Catholicism in the British Isles. The emperor, who was a devout man, reacted: he led theological debates and reconverted the heretical strongholds. Morcar went for a pilgrimage to Roma in 812 where he met the Pope. If he managed to stay in Italy and to unify England, and Morcar swore to defend the papal territories, the Pope promised to crown him as emperor. King Morcar decided to lead a series of conflicts in Mercia and Wessex that led to the foundation of the kingdom of England in 814. On 25 May 825, Morcar was coronated Holy Roman Emperor by the pope Leo III: it was the birth of the Holy Roman Empire. The new emperor gave himself two missions: to extend and protect Christianity. With this in view, he defended Scotland against the Swedish at the Battle of Unanun. He died on August 3, 833, giving to his son Eadweard a powerful empire which remains fragile, divided between the British Islands and Italy.


    ๏ 790 Death of his grandfather, Morcar is his successor on the throne of Northumbria

    ๏ 791 Death of his mother, he inherits a claim on the kingdom of the Lombards

    ๏ 793-797 War against his cousin Rosamund, the queen of the Lombards. He defeated her at the battle of Ivrea in 797

    ๏ 797 Morcar became King of Italy and birth of his son Eadweard.

    ๏ 800 War against the Slavs in Carniola

    ๏ 802 Morcar deposes the king Ecgfrith II of Mercia

    ๏ 805 à 823 Revolts in Italy ๏ 812 à 819 Revolts in England ๏ 812 Pilgrimage to Roma ๏ 814 Morcar is proclaimed

    King of England ๏ 822 et 824 Wars against the

    king Beornwulf of Wessex ๏ 825 Morcar 'the Frog' is

    coronated Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III

    ๏ 825 Morcar converted Styria to Catholicism

    ๏ 826 Cornwall is submitted ๏ 830 Morcar defended the

    kingdom of Scotland against the Swedish

    ๏ 831 Revolt of Italian Lords ๏ 833 Military campaign in

    Ireland ๏ 833 Morcar died on August 3,

    833, and was succeeded by his son Eadweard.


    The death of Emperor Morcar leads to a question about the succession in the Empire: should the tradition of the Salic division be continued ? An elective monarchy ? Primogeniture ? Finally, a special type of model for the Holy Roman Empire was established : a princely elective, with prince-electors from England and Italy. The first elected emperor was the son of Morcar, Eadweard, who ruled between 833 and 841. His reign is fa