SAD TALE OF LOTHAIR II
Lothair Sr had
three children: Louis II, Charles, and Lothair
To his eldest
son Louis II, Lothair bequeathed the area we
now call Italy. For the next eight
centuries, France coveted this
area for itself. However, using the Kingdom
of Burgundy as a buffer and the formidable Alps for
defense, over the centuries this territory managed
to stay more or less out of France's grasp until Napoleon came
along. When Italy made its move for
independence in the mid-1800s, it would be mainly France
they would have to defy.
To his youngest
son Charles went the Kingdom of Burgundy.
Over the centuries, bits and pieces of Burgundy
kept getting annexed by the French. In 1477,
the remaining pieces fell into French hands.
Today Burgundy is a fabulous wine-growing province
was a different story. As one can gather,
Lotharingia had been named for Lothair.
In fact, the "Lothair" name still lives on today.
Lorraine, a modern day wine growing region of
France on the German border gets its name from the
medieval kingdom of Lotharingia, which in turn was
named for either Emperor Lothair I. This area was his pride and joy. However, it
also became his greatest headache. Everybody wanted
a piece of Lotharingia... the West Franks
under Charles, the East Franks under Louis, and the
Vikings too. Lothair had fits defending his
deathbed in 855 (12 years after the Treaty of
Verdun), Lothair gave Lotharingia to his
middle son Lothair II.
(Lothair I) had lived a life of misery. He
had been humiliated in battle by his two brothers.
After losing to them in the Battle of Fontenay
in 841, Lothair Sr had been forced to submit to the
Treaty of Verdun. For the last twelve years of
his life, Lothair Sr had been ostracized by the two
brothers. Lothair Sr had also been humiliated
by his inability to manage his kingdom properly.
The man had
been a loser his entire life. Now just months
from death, Lothair Sr decided to pass his misery on
to his son Lothair II (aka Lothair Jr).
Like father, like son. Lothair II was a
Lothair II would be the
king of Lotharingia for 14 years from 855
until his death in 869. But Junior (Lothair II)
had to pay a huge price to get his lands. As a
condition to receive his inheritance, Lothair I
demanded that his son marry a woman against his
your seat belt; this is quite a story.
was daughter of Boso the Elder (pronounced
politically powerful head of a family known as the
Bosonids. That right there tells you
something. Anyone with a father in law named
Boso the Elder is in deep trouble.
Furthermore, this girl had clearly been named for
Teutoberg Forest. Who names their daughter
for a forest? From all accounts, the
name was accurate since Teutberga had a
figure as thick as a tree.
did not care for Teutberga. He did not
want to marry Teutberga at all. Lothair II
greatly preferred his mistress Waldrada.
Incidentally, her name meant "Wild Forest".
Waldrada was not your
ordinary beautiful peasant girl being taken
advantage of by the rich kid. Waldrada
herself was of noble
birth just like Teutberga. Her father Wacho (pronounced 'Wacko') was
head of the prominent Gallo-Roman Eticho noble family.
women named after trees with fathers named Bozo and
Wacko. One can see the kid was doomed from the
When it came to
which woman he would marry, Lothair II wasn't given much choice in the matter.
Now a decent father would have sat down with his son
and said something like this, "Now, Junior, which
girl would you rather marry? Is it the
daughter of Prince Bozo or the daughter of Prince
That would have
been the sensitive way to handle it, but that's not
how it came down. In 855, Lothair I was
dying and not feeling very patient. He ordered
his son to marry
Teutberga for political reasons. The
father issued an ultimatum... "Do you want to
inherit these lands or not? If you want your
inheritance, then I suggest you marry Teutberga!!"
looked at his options. Marry Waldrada and see
his promised lands divided between his two brothers.
Marry Teutberga and get one-third of his father's
immense kingdom. Hmm. Okay. Dad wins.
That said, Junior had a plan. He knew his
father was in ill health. Why not just marry
the tree trunk and give her the axe when his father
Of course Waldrada
was furious. Lothair II calmed her by
telling her his plan to wait it out. Junior pointed out
that Teutberga was said to be incapable of
bearing children. It was a marriage of
convenience and he promised to get rid of the woman
just as soon as his father passed away.
once his father was dead two months later,
Lothair Jr became obsessed with obtaining an
annulment of his marriage to the tree trunk.
The first thing Junior did was go talk to his uncles
about how to get rid of his wife.
relations with his uncles Charles the Bald
and Louis the German were influenced by his
desire to obtain their support for this endeavor.
Although quarrels and reconciliations between the
three kings followed each other in quick succession,
in general it may be said that Louis favored
annulment and Charles opposed it.
Stalemate on the Stale mate.
cynics will point out that neither uncle ever lost
sight of the fact that as long as Lothair Jr
stayed married to the tree trunk, he would have no
to inherit his lands.
the two uncles were no help, one year after his
marriage, Lothair Jr simply left his wife. Now
Hucbert the Bosonid, Teutberga's brother, stepped in. It
turns out that Brother Hucbert was lay-abbot of the
local Abbey. However, Hucbert no holy man.
He was actually
far more soldier than saint. Hucbert told Lothair
to take Teutberga back or face his army.
Hucbert was very convincing with his threat.
Lothair folded like a wet rag and restored his tree
trunk wife to the throne.
One can assume
Lothair had hell to pay for that move. Can you
imagine the screams of Wild Wadrada? As
it turns out, at that exact moment Waldrada was pregnant,
preferred to have their first child Hugh be
what!?! You took that woman back?!! You
did it because her brother said he would hurt
you? Why didn't you stand up to him?
What kind of man are you?"
was going nuts. Tortured by the constant bitching of mistress Wild Waldrada
who never gave him a moment's peace, Lothair acted rashly.
He threw Teutberga in jail. And for what
Lothair Jr imprisoned Teutberga after
accusing her of incest with her brother Hucbert
before their marriage. We have to hand it to
Lothair. That particular excuse for
jailing your wife isn't one we hear very often.
A church synod
of all the bishops of Lotharingia was convened at the behest of
Lothair II concerning his accusations. It was a
trumped up charge to be sure. It was all based
on rumor; there was no real proof or any witnesses.
Nevertheless Lothair Jr
was sure he would win because he had the judges in
his pocket. This meeting was presided over by archbishops Ghunter and Thietgaud, both of whom were relations
of Mistress Wild Waldrada.
Brother Hucbert was widely known to be more sinner than
saint. His lack of virtue was well documented.
In fact, there were strong rumors that the
accusation of incest was actually true! With all these
things in his favor, how could Lothair possibly lose?
But again Teutberga's
brother Hucbert the Bosonid stepped up.
He vehemently protested the innocence of his sister.
Again Hucbert was very convincing.
He used some very eloquent words: "Prove it".
It turns out that Hucbert
had an ace card as well. Not only was he a
bully more than willing to hurt anyone who defied
him, let us not forget Hucbert was also a man of
God. Hucbert used both his reputation as a
bully and his status as lay-abbot of the Abbey
of Saint Maurice-in-Valais to great advantage. It happened there
were independent bishops present as well at this
were leery of contradicting one of their own flock...
even one who laxity of virtue was notorious...
so they persuaded Ghunter and Thietgaud to put
Teutberga to the test rather than simply render a
Ghunter and Thietgaud
had been ready to simply declare the woman guilty,
but the surprising
amount of peer
pressure gave the archbishops second thoughts.
They decided they had no choice but to force Teutberga to submit to the ordeal of boiling water.
Surely this Bozo woman would admit her guilt and
skip the ordeal and everyone could go home happy.
She was tough. Bring on the boiling water.
Now Ghunter and Thietgaud
smiled. Stupid woman. Okay, have it your
way. The ordeal of hot water was pretty extreme. It required the accused to dip
his hand or her hand in a kettle of boiling water and
retrieve a stone from the bottom forearm deep.
If you had to fumble around to find that rock, kiss
your hand goodbye.
would take place in the church, with several in
attendance, purified and praying to God to reveal the
truth. After the test, the hand would be bound.
would be examined after three days to see whether it
was healing or festering.
Both Ghunter and Thietgaud
expected Teutberga would scream bloody murder, lose
her hand and
fail the test. However, they underestimated
how tricky Teutberga was.
somehow convinced a
trusted servant woman to undergo the ordeal in her place.
One might speculate the poor servant girl was told
by Brother Hucbert to do this or die.
So now the
drama began. Sure enough,
the servant woman reached in the water, screamed
bloody murder and somehow managed to retrieve the stone all
in one motion. Then her hand was bound in
cloth. Three days later, when revealed,
everyone gasped. The hand of Teutberga's proxy
had not festered at all.
Teutberga was free. One might say having a slave
girl can really come in
threw a fit. He complained the test wasn't
valid and then accused Teutberga of being a witch.
All his protests fell on deaf ears. This was
God's Will in action. Lothair Jr was compelled to
restore Teutberga to the throne in 858.
assume a clear Sign from God would be warning enough, but
not where Junior was concerned. Lothair Jr was
not one to give up easily, especially with Wild
Waldrada screaming at him to do something.
It may be hard
to believe, but during all these shenanigans,
Waldrada found time to give Lothair four children - Hugh, Gisela,
Bertha, Ermengarde - every one of them illegitimate
and every one of them just as head strong as their
mother. Two of the sisters - Gisela and Bertha
- would go on to cause wars. Bertha even took
the unusual step to write a Sultan to invite him to
Junior was still pursuing
his purpose. Junior had a new idea. He won the support of his brother,
Emperor Louis II down in Italy, by offering him some
of his lands in return for Louie's help. As "Emperor", Louis II had
friends in high places in the clergy. Sure
to Emperor Louie, Lothair Jr hit the Daily
Double. Not only did Louie obtain the consent of
the local clergy to give his brother the annulment from Teutberga,
he also got their consent for Loothair's marriage to Waldrada.
took place in 862. Now Junior and the Wild One
were finally married. So are we done yet?
Not even close.
things were looking good. A synod of
Frankish bishops met at Metz in 863 and confirmed
this decision was valid in the Lord's eyes.
Teutberga fled to the court of Uncle Charles the
Bald over in West Francia, fell to her knees and
went boo hoo hoo at his throne. Charles the Bald
had been opposed to the annulment all along.
Charles the Bald had even BIGGER friends in high
places. In fact, Charles was on a first-name basis with
Pope Nicholas I voided the decision of the 863
synod, mumbling something about "the sanctity of
marriage" in the process.
Angry at this
reversal, Emperor Louis II had the nerve to lead a
attack on Rome in protest!! However, one
attack was mostly a show of saber rattling so that
Louis wouldn't have to give back his new lands to
brother Lothair. Mostly it was about
There was a brief violent
skirmish with the Papal guards. There was some
tussle and a couple religious icons were broken, but
the battle quickly became a standoff. Pope
Nicholas was indeed frightened enough to go hide in
St. Peter's Basilica for two days and begin fasting.
began to appear. First a soldier loyal to
Louis mysteriously died. This soldier had broken a precious icon of great
sanctity in the initial skirmish.
Now he was dead. What a strange coincidence! Then
Emperor Louis himself came down with a fever.
Louis folded like a wet rag. Not feeling very
well, Louie sent his wife
to make peace with the Pope.
Lothair II was
out of luck... not that he ever had any.
Dating back to
the Ordeal by Boiling Water, this was the second
clear Sign from God to give in and submit to God's
will for crying out loud. Well, this
time it worked.
In 865, Lothair
found himself backed into a corner. He had
been at this for 10 years and had gotten absolutely
Not only was he being threatened with
excommunication, Lothair was certain that behind his
Louis and Uncle Charles had been discussing a forced
partition of his kingdom at their recent meeting.
Nor could anyone blame the two uncles for the land
grab. By all accounts, thanks to his obsession
with the constantly pregnant Wild Waldrada, Lothair Jr was the worst
do-nothing king in German history.
Furthermore, he was certainly no Lothario either... Lothair
couldn't make a woman happy if he tried.
Junior threw in the towel and took back his wife
Lothair didn't have anything
going for him now. First, the Pope had made a
complete fool of him. Second, his appalling
behavior had alienated him from all the German
princes in his Kingdom. Third, the local clergy was sick and
tired of being manipulated in his desperate attempts
to free himself of Teutberga. Fourth, his
uncles were strongly considering removing him not
only due to his total incompetence as a ruler, but
because he was a pain in the ass. Fifth,
Waldrada was beyond disgusted with his constant
Worst of all, God
obviously didn't like him.
Lothair Jr was a beaten man.
Or maybe God
did like him after all. Amazingly... just when
the man was completely broken, like a miracle his
succession, Lothair caught two breaks. First,
a new Pope had just appeared on the scene. Second,
surprise surprise, Teutberga had changed her mind. She wanted
Yup, the woman
was serious. She had had enough. Either from
total disgust or some secret bribe, Teutberga shocked
the world and expressed her newfound desire for
an annulment. Teutberga was actually going to give Lothair exactly what he wanted!
Thrilled out of
his mind, Lothair Jr hurried off to Italy to
obtain the consent of the new pope, Adrian II, to
marry his mistress Waldrada the Wild One. It was now 869. Lothair Jr
had spent 14 YEARS trying to marry Waldrada. If
he could just persuade the new pope to smile a
little, Lothair would get the chance to marry the woman
of his dreams and finally be free of the neverending
drama in his life.
Pope Adrian II
gave his blessings. Unbelievable.
Lothair felt like the luckiest guy on the planet. Lothair was free
to marry Waldrada, the woman of his dreams and the
mother of his four children. Lothair could
finally make his son Hugh legitimate and give him
control of all of his lands.
On the return
journey home, Lothair Jr was suddenly seized with
fever in Northern Italy. Lothair died on the
people were incredulous. Maybe those rumors
that Teutberga was a witch were really true after
the news that people were whispering about her dark
powers, Teutberga entered a monastery. In a
curious gesture, she bestowed large sums of
money in honor of the man who had treated her so
cruelly. The monks made sure she was
comfortable. Teutberga would live six more years.
It is highly
unlikely that the story of Lothair and his women
problems had the slightest
effect on the overall course of German history. One will
that compared to such towering figures such as Charles
Martel and Charlemagne, Lothair gives royalty the
worst name possible. Furthermore most people
would say that his loss is good riddance and that
deserves to be overlooked by any standard. On the other
hand, the reader will surely agree stories like
this one don't come along every day. This has
been the Tale of the man who wanted to ditch the
witch and hitch the bitch.