The Low Countries 979 CE

The Low Countries are divided amongst a number of semi-independent counties.

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What is happening in The Low Countries in 979CE

At the end of the 9th and throughout much of the 10th centuries, the Low Countries were badly affected by Viking attacks. In the absence of effective protection from the kings, local counts assumed wide powers, including building forts for local defence. The partitioning of the Frankish empire left the area divided between the West and East Frankish realms, and in the 10th century the East Frankish kings (the Holy Roman emperors) appointed dukes to uphold royal authority in the area (which at that time was called Lotharingia, or Lorraine). However, the duke’s power has remained weak, and has now been divided between Upper and Lower Lorraine – the dukes are evolving into local lords like the counts. These acknowledge the kings as their overlords, but in most matters go their own way. What royal authority there is in the area is upheld by the bishops. These are appointed by the kings, and try to look after his interests.

The leading count in the area is count of Flanders, whose territory straddles the border between the West and East Frankish kingdoms. He is in vassal of both. Another leading local lord is the count of Holland, descended from Viking chiefs who settled in the region with their followers in the 10th century.

Next map, the Low Countries in 1215

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