100 Days Until Totality Blog Series: 69 Days Left – Emperor Louis’ Eclipse

Often rulers thought solar eclipses were signs of trouble for the kingdom or that their own lives were in danger. One solar eclipse coincidentally fulfilled this prophecy, and shaped the future of modern day Europe.

The son of Charlemagne, Emperor Louis the Pious, came to rule most of Europe when his father died. His reign was filled with internal conflict and civil wars. Emperor Louis had three sons who were kings in his empire. They fought with each other over who would be named the heir to the empire when Louis died. Louis heavily favored his son Charles, amplifying their rivalry.

Louis the Pious was a very religious man and felt great remorse for some of the atrocities that were committed at his command. One day he witnessed a solar eclipse. The emperor viewed this as a sign that God was angry with him and that his end was near. Emperor Louis was so scared of the eclipse that he fell very ill, which eventually led to his death. His kingdom broke into civil war as his sons all tried to gain control. The Treaty of Verdun brought the end of this civil war by splitting up the empire into large areas that would become Germany, Italy, and France.

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