Charles III, the king of Western Francia and Lotharingia was born today back in 879.
He was called Charles The Simple, often translated the Straightforward because of his direct approach to governing the semi-barbaric peoples he ruled.
He was the great-grandson of Charles the Hammer, the one who drove the Ottomans out of France and saved Western Europe for Christianity.
Charles III’s father was Louis the Stammerer.
You know, these people could have used a last name.
Charles was born shortly after the death of Louis, and had no hopes of gaining the throne. His half-brother, daddy was married twice, died and he should have taken over, but the nobles of the empire voted him off the island and placed his cousin, Charles the Fat on the throne.
Really, a last name please!
Charles the Fat was not only fat; he proved to be unpopular and was ousted from power. Again, poor Simple was denied his place.
Another relative, Odo, took the throne. Odo was a military hero, kingly material and all that, so he wore the crown.
By 893 AD, the French had had enough of the posers, and a rowdy faction placed The Simple One in power. But, he wasn’t so great. That simple thing kicked in.
In 911 AD, the Vikings arrived in France, put Paris under siege, won a huge victory at Chartres, and Charles negotiated a peace with the Viking King Rollo.
No, not the rich kid from the Nancy comic strip, a real Viking like Leif Erikson. The Vikings took over a bunch of land in Normandy the French weren’t all the keen about, and Charles’ threw in his daughter as a bride for the Viking King to boot.
Gisela, a devout woman, insisted that Rollo give UP his pagan ways, deny his Norse gods, and convert to Christianity.
We’re so fortunate that the family was into instagram© back then, as we have all these wonderful snapshots of events.
All was going well until about 20 minutes into the honeymoon when Rollo had Gisela’s bodyguards hanged and slapped her away in a tower.
He dug out his Thor Rocks tee as well.
Back in Paris, Charles the clueless Simple was rocking along when his nobles got tired of his wimpy foreign policy and revolted – you know, bomb, don’t bomb, bomb, don’t bomb. There were a couple of nasty battles, Charles was captured, imprisoned, and died there.
Ironically, Charles means “free man”.
1065 years later, in the middle of World War II when there really was a lot of bombing going on, another Charles was born. I’d dare not call him Charles the Simple because one could infer simple-mindedness or slowness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
So, I’ll use Charles the Straighforward, because, that he most assuredly is.
He’s my brother, my hero, and my friend.
He turns 69 today, which is hard to believe. He’s been married to the same woman for 45 years, and is a great husband, dad, and grandfather.
Unassuming as he is, he’ll be a little embarrassed by this post. Honor is due when honor is due.
He’s a fixer, a maker, and can do all the things I didn’t learn to do. Frankly, I wish he lived closer!
Happy Birthday Charlie,
There’s nothing simple about you!