By Samantha Hughes-Johnson.

On this day (12 August) in 875 A.D., heir to the Frankish throne, Louis II of Italy died in Brescia.

In 855 he had become co-emperor to his father and was responsible for what we now call Italy, albeit that the power bases in various regions of the country were controlled by the aristocracy and in some cases, the church. Louis had led raids in the papal states although his presence was not sufficient to stop the Saracens from embarking on regular raids.

In 866, when the raiders took Bari, Louis worked towards taking back control of the city, although this would not be bought to fruition until 871.

Perhaps as a move to gain power and support in Italy, Louis married Algilberga (sometime Engelberga) Supponid, the daughter of a powerful Brecian duke. The match allowed Angilberga to take political and diplomatic roles both alongside her husband and also as a sole female entity. Furthermore, in a role similar to a regent, she also stepped into meetings and assemblies for her husband during his absences.

Louis however, spent the majority of his time in Italy and was the first Carolingian to make the country his almost permanent residence. And it was in Brecia that he died on 12 August 875. He was buried in Sant’ Ambrogio, Milan.

Images: Louis II, King of Italy and Emperor of the Romans. In Johannes Berardi, Chronicon Casauriense, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Latin 5411, fol. 85v. Wikimedia Commons.

Gothic stained glass depiction of Louis II, Holy Roman Emperor; Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, France. Wikimedia Commons.

References: Eric Joseph Goldberg, Struggle for Empire: Kingship and Conflict Under Louis the German 817-876, London: Cornell University Press, 2006.

Christopher Kleinhenz ed., Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia, London: Routledge, 2004, pp. 378-379.

Pierre Riche, The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe, trans. Michael Idomir Allen, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.

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