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Louis III of France

Louis III
King of West Francia (France)
First two pages of an early copy of the Ludwigslied, a song written during the king's lifetime, celebrating his victory over the Vikings at Saucourt
Reign 879–882
Coronation September 879
Predecessor Louis II
Successor Carloman II
Born 863/865
Died 5 August 882
St Denis, Île-de-France, Neustria
Burial Basilica of St Denis
House Carolingian

Louis III (863/65 – 5 August 882) was the king of West Francia (France) from 879 until his death. The second son of Louis the Stammerer and his first wife, Ansgarde, he succeeded his father and ruled jointly with his younger brother, Carloman II, who became sole ruler on Louis's death. Louis's short reign was marked by military success.

Louis was born while his father was still just King of Aquitaine and his grandfather, Charles the Bald, was ruling West Francia. Some doubts were raised as to their legitimacy, since their parents had married secretly and Ansgarde was later repudiated at Charles' insistence. When Charles (877) and then the elder Louis died within two years, some nobles advocated electing the younger Louis as sole king, but another party favoured each brother ruling a separate sphere of the country. In September 879 Louis was crowned at Ferrières. In March 880 at Amiens the brothers divided their father's kingdom, Louis receiving the northern part, called Neustria or sometimes simply Francia.

the realm ruled by Louis III after the division of March 880 is shown in purple

One of Charles the Bald's most trusted lieutenants, Duke Boso had renounced his allegiance to both brothers and had been elected King of Provence. In the summer of 880 Carloman and Louis marched against him and captured Mâcon and the northern part of Boso's realm. They united their forces with those of their cousin Charles the Fat, then ruling Germany and Italy, and unsuccessfully besieged Vienne from August to November. In 881 Louis achieved a momentous victory against Viking pirates, whose harassments had been ongoing since his grandfather's reign, at the Battle of Saucourt-en-Vimeu. Within a year of the battle an anonymous poet had celebrated it and the king, for both his prowess and piety, in the Old High German short poem Ludwigslied.

Louis died on 5 August 882 at Saint Denis in the centre of his realm, having fallen from his horse whilst chasing a girl with amorous intent. He hit the lintel of a door with his head while mounting his horse and fractured his cranium on impact, which led to his death.[1][2] Since he had no children, his brother Carloman became the sole king and the victor of Saucourt was buried in the royal mausoleum of the Basilica of St Denis.


  1. ^ Le Bas, Philippe (1843). L'Univers, histoire et description de tous les peuples - Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la France 10. p. 339. 
  2. ^ Nelson, Janet (1994). Charles le Chauve. Aubier.  
  • Green, Dennis H. "The Ludwigslied and the Battle of Saucourt", in Judith Jesch (ed.), The Scandinavians from the Vendel Period to the Tenth Century (Oxford: Boydell Press, 2002), 281–302.
  • Fouracre, Paul. "The Context of the Old High German Ludwigslied", Medium Aevum, 46 (1985), 87–103.
  • MacLean, Simon. Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth Century: Charles the Fat and the end of the Carolingian Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • McKitterick, Rosamond. The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751–987. London: Longman, 1983.
  • Oman, Charles. The Dark Ages 476–918. London: Rivingtons, 1914.
Louis III of France
Born: 863x65 Died: 5 August 882
Preceded by
Louis II
King of West Francia
10 April 879 – 5 August 882
with Carloman II
Succeeded by
Carloman II
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