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Battle of Saucourt

The battle of Saucourt, is more accurately called the battle of Saucourt-en-Vimeu. Its site is located in the historical region of Picardy, France (Hauts-de-France). This is the battle between the Vikings and Louis III of France, joint king of the West Franks. The West Franks win.

Viking Age Relevance

After the battle of Thiméon in 881, the Vikings continue to raid and sack towns in Francia. Louis the Younger (aka Ludwig of Saxony), king of the East Franks, has defeated the Vikings at Thiméon.1 Meanwhile, he is busy invading West Francia after the death of Louis the Stammerer. But the West Frankish nobles choose The Stammerer’s son, Louis III, to succeed him and immediately start negotiations with Ludwig that result in the Treaty of Ribémont in 880. In the end, Ludwig receives Lotharingia and withdraws his forces from West Francia.2

With the treaty settled, Louis III then agrees to share the West Frankish kingdom as joint king with his brother Carloman. Their first task is to deal with the rebel duke Boso who has just declared himself king of the Provence. Their campaign fails and their siege of Vienna is unsuccessful.3 Louis returns to northern Francia in 881, to stop the Vikings who are still raiding West Frankish towns and monasteries. Still only a young man of not yet eighteen, Louis finds the Vikings and defeats them at Saucourt.4

The Sources

Several sources refer to this battle, from the Annals of St Vaast, St Bertin, the Chronicles by Regino Prüm, to the Annals of Fulda. There is a very brief mention in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but it does not mention Louis. Though, interestingly, it refers to the Vikings using horses instead (of foot-fighting?).5

But the most important source is the Old High German Ludwigslied, written before Louis’ death in 882. Scholars are still debating to which genre it belongs, as it has strong elements of epic poems as well as (Latin) Christian texts.6

Learn More

Library of Augsburg – Transcription of the Ludwigslied.
University of Notre Dame – Transcription and Translation of the Ludwigslied


  1. See: The Viking Age Archive, ‘Battle of Thiméon.’ Published 9 February 2019. Last Accessed 15 December 2019.
    See also: Charles Cawley, ‘LOUIS III King of the West Franks,’ and ‘LUDWIG III King of the East Franks.’ Both are on Foundation of Medieval Geneaology.  ↩
  2. P.J. Fouracre, ‘The Context of the OHG “Ludwigslied”,’ in: Medium Ævum Volume 54.1 (1985), pp. 92 [pp. 87–103].  ↩
  3. Brian O. Murdoch, ‘Saucourt and the Ludwigslied: Some Observations on Medieval Historical Poetry,’ in: Revue belge de Philologie et d’Histoire Volume 55.3 (1977), pp. 853–854 [pp. 841–867].  ↩
  4. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Louis III | King of France,’ Encyclopaediea Britannica. Published August 01, 2019. Last Accessed 15 December 2019.  ↩
  5. Ruth Harvey, ‘The Provenance of the Old High German “Ludwigslied”.’ In: Medium Aevum Volume 14 (1945), pp. 1–2 [pp. 1–20].
    Anonymous, ‘The Anglo–Saxon Chronicle | 881,’ The Avalon Project | Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy. Yale University. Last Accessed 15 December 2019.    ↩
  6. Jake Coen, ‘The Lay of Ludwig.’ The Medieval Research Blog | University of Notre Dame. Published 24 August 2018. Last Accessed 15 December 2019.  ↩

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