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The Kingdom of Arles (Arelat) was a Frankish dominion established in 933 from lands of the early medieval Kingdom of Burgundy at Arles. Its territory stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the High Rhine in the north roughly corresponding to the present-day French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes and Franche-Comté, as well as western Switzerland. It was ruled by independent kings until 1032[1], after which it fell to the Holy Roman Empire.

Upper (yellow) and Lower Burgundy (pink) in the 9th/10th century

The Carolingian subdivision of Burgundy originally was part of Middle Francia allotted to Emperor Lothair I by the 843 Treaty of Verdun, as distinct from the Duchy of Burgundy which fell to West Francia. By 875 all sons of Lothair I had died without heirs and most of the Burgundian territories were held by the West Frankish king Charles the Bald, with the exception of those parts of Upper Burgundy north of the Jura mountains (Bourgogne Transjurane) that had fallen to King Louis the German of East Francia by the 870 Treaty of Meerssen.

In the confusion after the death of Charles' son Louis the Stammerer in 879, the West Frankish count Boso of Provence took the chance to establish the Kingdom of Lower Burgundy (Bourgogne Cisjurane) at Arles. Parallel in 888, Count Rudolph of Auxerre upon the death of the Emperor Charles the Fat of East Francia founded the Kingdom of Upper Burgundy at Saint-Maurice. Both kingdoms were united in 933, when King Hugh of Arles ceded Lower Burgundy to King Rudolph II of Upper Burgundy in turn for Rudolph's waiver of the Italian throne.

Rudolph merged both Upper and Lower Burgundy into the new Kingdom of Arles (Arelat). In 937, he was succeeded by his son Conrad the Peaceful. Inheritance claims by Hugh of Arles were rejected with the support of the German king Otto I, whereafter the kingdom fell into the Imperial sphere of influence. In 993 Conrad was succeeded by Rudolph III, who, as he had no heirs, in 1006 signed an inheritance treaty with King Henry II of Germany. In 1032, King Rudolph III died, and the Kingdom was inherited by Henry's successor Emperor Conrad II from the Salian dynasty.

Though the Emperors from that time on counted themselves "Kings of Arles", few went to be crowned in the cathedral. An exception was Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa who in 1178 was crowned King of Burgundy by the Archbishop of Arles. The Kingdom operated with considerable autonomy.[1] The office of an archchancellor was held by the Archbishop of Trier, confirmed by the Golden Bull of 1356.

The Kingdom of Arelat in the 12/13th century

Between the 11th Century and the end of the 14th Century, several parts of the kingdom's territory broke away: Provence, Vivaris, Lyon-Nais, Dauphiné, Savoy, Franche-Comté, parts of western Switzerland.[2] Most of the territory of Lower Burgundy was progressively incorporated into France: The County of Provence fell to the House of Anjou in 1246 and finally to the French crown in 1481, the Dauphiné was inherited by the French crown prince Charles V of Valois in 1349. On the other hand the County of Burgundy was acquired by the Imperial House of Hohenstaufen in 1190 and the eastern parts of Upper Burgundy fell to the House of Zähringen and later to the Habsburgs.

Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg in 1361 detached the County of Savoy from the Burgundian kingdom. In 1365 he was the last emperor to be crowned King of Arles, though in 1378, he appointed the Dauphin of France (later King Charles VI of France) as permanent Imperial vicar of the kingdom. From then on, Arelat existed only on paper.


  1. ^ a b The New Columbia Encyclopedia 1975, 150
  2. ^ The New Columbia Encyclopedia 1975, 150.


  • Marie-Luise Heckmann, Das Reichsvikariat des Dauphins im Arelat 1378.

See also



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