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Famous Battles in Medieval History: The Battle of Fontenay

Battle of FontenayI’m hoping to keep up a regular segment of famous battles in medieval history. These posts are intended to be short summaries of the battles and the circumstances surrounding the event, nothing too lengthy.

The first battle is the Battle of Fontenay, fought on June 25, 841, in eastern France. The battle involved Louis the German (840 – 876), ruler of Bavaria and Northern Germany, and Charles II (the Bald), ruler of West Francia, against Lothair (840 – 855), ruler of Lorraine and Italy. Charles II and Louis came together to fight Lothair over a disagreement in the Oaths of Strasburg, which had divided the empire the previous year after the death of Louis the Pious, the son of Charlemagne. Lothair and Louis the German and Charles II were all sons of Louis the Pious, and upon his death, Louis the Pious had divided his empire into several parts, giving some of the empire to each of his sons, but this division of the empire did not sit well with his sons and resulted in the Battle of Fontenay.

Charles and Louis the German defeated their brother Lothair, and their victory led to the Treaty of Verdun, which divided the empire into three parts: the kingdom of the West Franks (granted to Charles II), the eastern Frankish kingdom (granted to Louis the German), and the middle kingdom or Francia Media (granted to Lothair).


English, Edward D. “Battle of Fontenay.” Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EMW0525&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 11, 2008).

*the above image is of an obelisk commemorating the Battle of Fontenay (image retrieved from the wikipedia article on the “Battle of Fontenay”)

Additional Reading:

Bernhard W. Scholz, trans., Carolingian Chronicles: Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard’s History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972); Rosamond McKitterick, The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987 (London: Longman, 1983).

13 thoughts on “Famous Battles in Medieval History: The Battle of Fontenay”

  1. Hello!

    I found your blog through “Finish the Book, George” and I have to say that I really am enjoying it. Just like you….well maybe not as much, I too have a love for history. History is just so fascinating that even the books I read and the movies I watch have to be historical somewhat.

    I never heard of the Battle of Fontenay but I found it to be interesting. Thanks for writing about this. Now I can go do my own reading about so that I’ll know more.

    Thanks again!

  2. Steven, thanks for this. When I wrote my book, I mentioned (and partially translated) a poem about this battle written by someone who claimed to have been a survivor of it, but I hadn’t known there was a monument near the site. What a neat find.

  3. Hi, Steven! The poem was written by someone who called himself Angelbert. I’m currently traveling, so I can’t check my bookshelves at the moment, but I’m pretty sure there’s an accurate (but IMO, dull) translation of it in the Peter Godman book Poetry of the Carolingian Renaissance, which your local university library is likely to have. The poem is a rather grim overview of the human costs of civil war.

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