Rudolph, King of Western Francia

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Rudolph de Bourgogne, roi de Francie occidentale

Also Known As: "Radulf", "Ralph", "Raoul"
Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: France
Death: January 15, 936 (42-50)
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard II, duke of Burgundy and Adelaide of Burgundy
Husband of Emma de France
Brother of Hugues the Black, Duke of Burgundy; Richilde de Bourgogne, Comtesse; Boso I, count of Dijon; Adélaïde of Burgundy; Sprote de Bourgogne and 2 others
Half brother of Gebuin, Count of Dijon and Ermengarde de Bourgogne, comtesse de Dijon, Duchesse de Bourgogne

Occupation: Duke of Burgundy, King of France
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rudolph, King of Western Francia

Rudolph (also Radulf, Ralph, or Raoul) (c. 890 – 14/15 January 936) was the Duke of Burgundy between 921 and 923 and King of Western Francia from thereafter to his death. Rudolph inherited the duchy of Burgundy from his father, Richard the Justiciar. He married Emma of France, daughter of Robert I of France and Béatrice of Vermandois.

He was elected king of Western Francia by an assembly of nobles, to succeed his father-in-law, and crowned by Walter, Archbishop of Sens, at St Médard in Soissons on Sunday, 13 July 923. Assuming the crown, he passed Burgundy to his younger brother, Hugh the Black, after only two years as duke. Charles III was still living and claiming the kingdom at the time, but Rudolph's brother-in-law, the Carolingian Count Herbert II of Vermandois, who was married to Emma's sister, tricked Charles, a fellow Carolingian, into meeting him and took him prisoner. Rudolph's first act as king was to lead an army against King Henry I of Germany, who had made a compact with King Robert at Jülich earlier in the year. Trying to annex Lorraine, the German monarch met Rudolph and a considerably-sized army and made peace again. Though, in 925, Henry attacked the waffling Gilbert, Duke of Burgundy, constantly changing sides, and wrested control of Lorraine from France permanently, Rudolph then being in no position to resist.

At about this point, 924, the Vikings made a fresh series of raids into West Francia. From the Loire Valley, they threatened Hugh the Great, brother of Emma, his wife, but Rudolph did nothing. Soon they had attacked Burgundy, domain of his own brother and were repulsed, moving to Melun, where they threatened the royal demesne. Joined only by his ecclesiastic vassals and Herbert, he recruited troops in Burgundy, while Hugh the Great was convinced to join him. The Vikings left, but the Normans, whom Charles had legally implanted around Rouen in 911, began ravaging that whole region. Herbert and Arnulf I of Flanders joined him this time and they took Eu, but were ambushed near Fauquembergues and the king was wounded, the Count of Ponthieu killed, and many Normans left dead on the field. Also in that year, Rudolph conversed with Louis the Blind, king of Provence, over the Magyars, the newest migrants to Europe, then menacing Louis. In 930, the Magyars invaded the region around Rheims, but left before the king could engage them. In 935, the Magyars invaded Burgundy and Rudolph brought a large army against them, causing their retreat without battle. France was temporarily safe from both Viking and Magyar at Rudolphs's death.

Herbert, however, was not to continue to be one of Rudolph's partisans. He used his royal prisoner as a bargaining tool to secure the archbishopric of Rheims for his son Hugh in 925 and the county of Laon for his other son Odo in 927. The protestations of Rudolph led Herbert to bring Charles before William Longsword, son of Rollo, the duke of Normandy, for homage and thence to Rheims to press Charles' claim on Pope John X. In 928, Herbert finally got possession of Laon, but the next year, Charles died at Péronne and Herbert lost his leverage against Rudolph. By defeating the Vikings of the Limousin, Rudolph received the allegiance of the Aquitainians and the homage of William Longsword, now duke.

In 929, Rudolph started trying to reduce the power of Ebalus, count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine. He withdrew from him access to Berry, then, in 932, he granted the title of prince of Gothia to the count of Toulouse, Raymond Pons, and his brother of Rouergue, Ermengol. He also transferred the title Count of Auvergne to Raymond. Moreover, the territory of the march which was under the control of the lord of Charroux was transformed into an independent county. Later, however, he was campaigning with Ebalus in the south to eradicate the last Viking strongholds there. He then proceeded aggressively against Herbert, marching into Rheims and replacing Hugh with Artald (931). Then, joined by Hugh the Great, Rudolph burned Herbert's fortresses and cornered him in Château-Thierry, where he had first imprisoned Charles, from 933 to 934. The two made peace in 935 and Rudolph fell ill, dying a few months hence on 14 or 15 January 936.

This Rudolph is frequently confused with his uncle Rudolph I of Burgundy, who was the second King of Upper Burgundy.

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Rudolph, King of Western Francia's Timeline

January 15, 936
Age 46
921-923 duke of Burgandy, 923 King of France