Siege of Paris (885–886)

Siege Of Paris (885–886)

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Siege of Paris (885–886)

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The Siege of Paris of 885 to 886 was a Viking siege of Paris, then capital of the kingdom of the West Franks. It was, in hindsight, the most important event of the reign of the Emperor Charles the Fat and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France.

The siege is the subject of an eyewitness account in the Latin poem Bella Parisiacae urbis of Abbo Cernuus.


The Vikings (especially the Danes in the British Isles and other Norsemen in continental Europe), were the primary menace affecting European rulers in the late ninth century, the middle of the Viking Age. They had carved out a Danelaw in England and were the ruling Rus from Ladoga and Novgorod. Their depredations had come as far as the Mediterranean, they harassed Christian and Moslem alike, in the coastal plains and navigable rivers of France, Spain, and Italy. The worst hit areas in the vast Carolingian Empire were in the Low Countries and the adjacent regions in Gaul and Germania, areas where many navigable rivers offered access.

In 845, the Vikings rowed up the Seine and attacked Paris. This they did again thrice more in the 860s, each time leaving only when the acquisition of loot or bribes was acceptable to them. In 864, by the Edict of Pistres, bridges were ordered built across the Seine at not only Pîtres, but Paris, where two were built: one on each side of the Île de la Cité. These would serve admirably in the siege of 885. The chief ruler in the region...
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