Viking raiders defeated King Charles the Bald’s army and sieged Paris today in 845, before collecting a huge ransom in exchange for leaving. Now WE know em

19th century German portrayal of the Viking siege of Paris

19th century German portrayal of the Viking siege of Paris

The Frankish Empire of the 9th century began to be attacked by Viking raiders as early as 799. Then by the mid-830’s, the Viking raids began alternating between both sides of the English Channel into what is today France and Great Britain.

The Viking Siege of Paris

In early March of 845, some 120 Danish Viking ships with around 5,000 Vikings on-board, entered the Seine and proceeded to sail up the river.
The West Frankish King Charles the Bald, determined not to let the royal Abbey of Saint-Denis (near modern day Paris) be destroyed by the Vikings, assembled an army which he split into two parts and posted them on either side of the Seine River.
The Vikings, perhaps led by the mythical chieftain Reginherus, or Ragner Lodbrok, attacked and defeated one side of the Frankish army. The Viking leader captured 111 men as prisoners and hanged them on an island in the middle of the Seine so that the army on the other side could see their fate.
As a result, the remaining Frankish army broke apart as men began to retreat.
Then on Easter Sunday, March 28, 845, the Vikings entered Paris to plunder the city.
King Charles the Bald was unable to assemble an effective force to retake Paris.
During this siege, a plague broke out in the Viking camp. However, after praying to the Norse God Odin, the plague subsided.
With few options, and ongoing disputes with his own brothers as well as regional revolts and disgruntled nobles, King Charles the Bald agreed to grant a large ransom in exchange for a Viking withdrawal.
His hope was that this payoff would provide peace with the Vikings and avoid further raids, at least in the near future.
The Frankish ransom of gold and silver amounted to approximately 5,670 pounds.
In any case, the Vikings left Paris and pillaged several other towns along the coast on their return voyage including the Abbey of Saint Bertin.
This ransom also ended up being just the first of a total of thirteen payments to the Viking raiders by the Franks to maintain the peace.

Now WE know em

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