The power struggle among his progeny prevented the Franks from bringing the full weight of their defensive resources against the Viking menace. They were part of a series of devastating raids begun by the Vikings from the 790s. Morale of the besiegers was low and Sigfred asked for sixty pounds of silver. On the third day they set three ships alight and guided them towards the wooden bridge. “Then from the tower was launched a javelin, shot with great force and accuracy,” he wrote. The siege of Paris of 885–886 was part of a Viking raid on the Seine, in the Kingdom of the West Franks. Catapults and ballistae mounted on city walls could take under fire any ship attempting to reach the Ile de la Cité along either channel of the Seine River. He ordered fortified bridges constructed at all towns on major rivers to prevent Viking longships from passing beyond them. Illustration of Viking siege of Paris (Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images) Not until October 886 did King Charles the Fat, the new ruler of West Francia… Failing to take the Grand Chatelet, the Vikings undertook a new tactic against the Grand Pont Bridge: They portaged three ships a short distance around the city on February 2, 886, and placed them back in the water upriver. [4], West Francia suffered under a series of short-reigning kings after the death of Charles the Bald in 877. The others, not so fortunate, were put to the sword by their captors. In the meantime, Lagertha, Siegfried and Kalf arrives at t… [22] Throughout the next century, the Robertians, descendants of Robert the Strong, remained leading figures in West Francia and eventually took the throne permanently when Robert I's grandson, Hugh Capet, was elected king in 987. In late March, Odo and Gauzlin were forced  to enter into negotiations with the Viking leaders; however, the negotiations with Odo fell apart when the Vikings made an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap him during the talks. They are countered by a … A number of Vikings renewed the attack against the Grand Chatelet and attempted to set its gate on fire, as their “[women’s] rude mouths drove them to make their own domed furnace near the bottom of the tower,” wrote Abbo. Charles the Fat promised Rollo 700 pounds in silver, to share with Sigfred, if he were to lift the siege and withdraw. Not even the shallow Viking ships could pass Paris because of the bridges. For their part, the Franks also constructed mangonels using thick planks. Rollo might have been a son of Rognvald, earl of More (in present day Norway) and was a Viking raider in France. They built settlements in England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scotland, and northern France beginning in the 9th century. After a few more days of desultory skirmishing, Heinrich withdrew to Saxony. [17], The Vikings left a force around Paris, but many ventured further to pillage Le Mans, Chartres,[17] Evreux and into the Loire. As the siege continued, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The siege of Paris of 845 AD was the culmination of a Viking invasion of France. The Vikings had some female family members with them on the campaign, and the women began heckling their men for retreating. King Alfred’s last Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex in Great Britain withstood the Viking onslaught, while large parts of the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia were divided between powerful Viking leaders, forming an extensive swath of territory called the Danelaw. The force defending Paris was a meager one. When Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks. “For very hastily arrows were being sharpened, repaired, forged, and bucklers were all sorted out; even old arms were restored,” wrote Abbo. After initially raiding coastal areas, the Vikings began penetrating deeper inland using rivers as highways. On 26 November the Vikings attacked the northeast tower with ballistae, mangonels, and catapults. As the Vikings inevitably advance into the main walls, Count Odo and Count Roland co-operate to make sure their defences will be able to fight back the Vikings. Periodic attacks continued through December and into January 886, primarily directed against the Grand Chatelet. Count Odo of Paris and Bishop Gauzlin of St. Denis directed the defense of Paris on behalf of King Charles. Introduction: Paris has been besieged many times throughout history, yet the Siege of Paris by the Vikings in 845 remains a significant episode in this larger chronology. During the night of February 6, the rain-swollen Seine River overflowed its banks, and the bridge supports of the wooden Petit Pont failed, leaving the Petit Chatelet tower isolated on the left bank. They also established an outpost on the left side of the river to blockade the Petit Chatelet. The Vikings obliged him by slaying him the following day. In addition to a handful of nobles, there were approximately 200 troops, according to Abbo. Its bridgehead was fortified by the Petit Chatelet, a wooden tower. [19], For two months the Vikings maintained the siege, making trenches and provisioning themselves off the land. He fought his way through the Viking forces and into the city with his men; the Vikings in quick pursuit. While preparing for new attacks, the Vikings also started constructing additional siege engines. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the skills of siege-engine building in Europe largely fell into disuse, and only the crudest forms existed. The builders attempted to place the walls as close as possible to the water’s edge, but the marshy and muddy banks of the Ile de la Cité permitted only approximately half of the island to be enclosed. By far, the historians have agreed that one of the most famous Viking attacks must be the Siege of Paris. Sigfred demanded a bribe from Charles, but was refused, and promptly led 700 ships up the Seine, carrying perhaps as many as 30,000[3] or 40,000 men. The Battle. In March 845, a fleet of 120 Danish Viking ships containing more than 5,000 men entered the Seine under the command of a Danish chieftain named "Reginherus", or Ragnar. Virtually all Viking activities depended on exploration and navigation of seas and rivers. “Give us your consent that we might go our way, well beyond this city,” they purportedly said. A mighty Viking fleet sailed up the Seine River and laid siege to Paris in 885. Rollo’s progeny and followers became more French than Danish, and Rollo’s direct descendent William the Conqueror came to rule England in the 11th century. Recognizing that Paris could not be taken by storm, the Vikings settled in for a protracted siege and began raiding deeper into the countryside for provisions. This region soon became the Duchy of Normandy. Instead, they would have detailed work parties to construct them on site. The Seine River with its swift current acted as a natural moat over which two bridges anchored on the Ile de la Cité connected the two sides of the river. [17][18] On 27 November the Viking attack included mining, battering rams, and fire, but to no avail. While Christian combatants, for the most part, left churches and holy sites unmolested, the pagan Norsemen harbored no such inhibitions. Likewise, the Vikings attacking the walls on the Ile de la Cité boarded their ships and withdrew. With the numbers of besiegers reduced by Sigfred’s departure and the environs of Paris being sparsely patrolled, Count Odo was able to send several messengers through enemy lines with requests for relief. The defenders formed a small shield wall bristling with swords at the bridgehead and braced for a fight to the death. The Vikings promised to spare them if the Franks surrendered to be held for ransom. The Vikings established a particularly strong presence in Neustria, the northwestern Frankish territory that extended from the Loire River to the south of modern Belgium. Holding the city was King Charles the Simple and a band of aristocrats. This led to ambitious plans for an attack on Paris… The siege of Paris in 845 AD was actually the culmination of a series of violent attacks during a Viking … The Danes attempted to block his approach, but, aided by a sally from the Grand Chatelet, Odo and his men were able to fight through to Paris. Bishop Gozlin entered the fray with a bow and an axe. Under command of the fighting abbot, the defenders conducted frequent nighttime sallies against Viking sentries and outposts and sometimes brought back prisoners who were executed after being questioned. Depiction in Vikings and Legacy. The bonus mission, the Legend of Beowulf, will be available at the launch of the game. The Vikings asked the twelve to surrender, but they refused, and were all subsequently killed. [3] While it was thought that the Franks had gained an upper hand against the Vikings after the victory of Louis III at the Battle of Saucourt in 881, in 885, a year after the succession of Charles, the Vikings launched their largest attack on Paris. Odo was crowned king of West Francia in February 888. These instruments of death and destruction “shot forth great, massive stones that landed cruelly, smashing utterly the humble shelters of the vile Danes; the brains of those wretches were battered out of their sculls,” Abbo wrote. Once the ram was completed, the Vikings advanced against the Grand Chatelet, taking cover under the ram frame’s overhead protection and behind its large wheels. [24], The Parisians and Odo refused to let the Vikings down the Seine and the invaders had to drag their boats overland to the Marne to leave the country. The Annals of St. Vaast gives a long account of raids by Vikings in the years 882 to 886, including their siege of Paris in 885-886. Abbo was a monk at the Abbey of St-Germain-des-Prés. [17] According to Joshua J. Originally this was Robert the Strong, margrave of Neustria and missus dominicus for the Loire Valley. [17][18] On 6 February, rains caused the debris-filled river to overflow and the bridge supports to give way. The defensive walls largely followed the outline of the island. Like a horde of locusts, the Vikings stripped the countryside. The pattern of Viking raids changed by the time another large host of Norsemen arrived at Paris in 885. After the defeat at the Battle of the Sedan, where French emperor Napoleon III surrendered, the new French Third Republic was not ready to accept German peace terms. Rollo fared much better. In July of 885, a large Danish raiding force attacked Frankia. The collapse of centralized Danish monarchy around the beginning of the 9th century coincided with the explosion of Scandinavian expansion, which was spurred by the innovations in Scandinavian shipbuilding. The following morning, the Vikings launched a strong attack against the vulnerable wooden tower, which was defended by just a dozen Franks. It changed the world more than any other single event in history. He came from the region between the Seine and the Loire and was in Paris during the siege. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. Charles encircled Rollo and his army and set up a camp at Montmartre. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines but failed to break through the city walls despite days of intense attacks. During the next several days, the Vikings cut down a large tree, which they fashioned into a battering ram mounted on a wheeled frame with overhead cover. Odo then slipped through Viking-controlled territory to petition Charles for support; Charles consented. Although an eyewitness, there is general agreement among historians that Abbo's numbers are "a gross exaggeration,"[8] with Abbo being "in a class of his own as an exaggerator. Co-commanders Odo and Gauzlin, unfazed by the threats, flatly refused to accommodate the Vikings. Responding to Odo’s call for relief, Count Heinrich arrived at the siege of Paris in March 886. A decade later Abbo wrote an extensive Latin poem called Bella Parisiacae Urbis describing the events that unfolded at Paris in 885-886. He appealed for help to Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fat, who was campaigning in Italy, and his senior military commander, Count Heinrich of Fulda. [18] Odo successfully slipped some men through Norse lines to go to Italy and plead with Charles to come to their aid. The siege was the most important event of the reign of Charles the Fat, and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France. But there’s NEVER been anything like THIS before. While the verse is at times exaggerated, flowery, and grandiloquent, Abbo nonetheless supplies many crucial details about events that could only have been provided by a witness. When a Viking force threatened Paris that summer, Odo’s troops defeated it at Montfaucon Forest on June 24, 888. These attacks weren’t planned and didn’t have any political motiv… The Siege of Paris (845) was the first of two major Viking raids against the Frankish capital during the Ninth Century. In late May 886, Odo himself slipped out of Paris, leaving Abbot Ebolus in charge of the defenses. With the obstacle of the Petit Pont removed, restless Earl Sigfred took his men on a major operation up the Seine River, raiding over a wide swath of the Frankish interior south of Paris, from Troyes to Le Mans. His son Odo succeeded him, but royal power declined. To the chagrin of the Paris defenders, the king did not attack the Vikings but established his own camp on the heights of Montmartre and entered into negotiations with Rollo. The agreement stipulated that the church would pay Sigfred 60 pounds of silver to vacate the Abbey of St-Germain-des-Prés and quit the siege of Paris. 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