Baldwin II, Margrave of Flanders

Baldwin II (c. 865 – 10 September 918) was the second margrave (or count) of Flanders, ruling from 879 to 918. He was nicknamed the Bald (Calvus) after his maternal grandfather, King Charles the Bald.[1]

Baldwin II
Margrave of Flanders
Baldwin II from the 16th century
Bornc. 865
DiedSeptember 10, 918(918-09-10) (aged 52–53)
Noble familyHouse of Flanders
Spouse(s)Ælfthryth of Wessex
FatherBaldwin I of Flanders
MotherJudith of Flanders


Baldwin II was born around 865 to Baldwin I of Flanders and Judith of Flanders, the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne.[2]

Early Years

The early years of Baldwin's rule were marked by a series of devastating Viking raids into Flanders.[3] By 883, he was forced to move north to Pagus Flandransis, which became the territory most closely associated with the Counts of Flanders.[3] Baldwin constructed a series of wooden fortifications at Saint-Omer, Bruges, Ghent, and Kortrijk. He then seized lands that were abandoned by royal and ecclesiastical officials.[4] Many of these same citadels later formed castellanies which housed government, militia, and local courts.[3]


Between 893 and 899, Baldwin II married Ælfthryth (or Elftrude or Elfrida), the daughter of Alfred the Great.[5] The immediate goal of that Anglo-Flemish alliance was to help Baldwin control the lower Canche River valley.[6]

Rise to power

In 888, the western Frankish king, Charles the Fat, was deposed, leaving several candidates vying to replace him.[7] As a grandson of Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia, Baldwin could have competed for the crown of West Francia.[4] Instead, Baldwin and others tried to convince the East Frankish King, Arnulf, to take the West Frankish crown, but Arnulf declined.[7]

The Robertine Odo, Count of Paris, was eventually made king.[8] Odo and Baldwin's relationship deteriorated when Odo failed to support Baldwin's attempts to gain control of the Abbey of St. Bertin. Odo attacked Baldwin at Bruges but was unable to prevail.[7] Baldwin continued his expansion to the south and gained control over Artois, including the important Abbey of St. Vaast.


When the Abbey came under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Fulk of Reims in 900, Baldwin had the archbishop assassinated and was excommunicated by Pope Benedict IV.[6] When his attempts to expand further into the upper Somme River valley were opposed by Herbert I, Count of Vermandois, Baldwin had the count assassinated as well.[6] Baldwin died on 10 September 918,[9] at Blandijnberg (near Ghent) and was succeeded by his eldest son, Arnulf I of Flanders. His younger son, Adalulf, became the first Count of Boulogne.


Baldwin II was married to Ælfthryth, daughter of Alfred the Great,[2] and had children:


  1. John E. Morby, "The Sobriquets of Medieval European Princes", Canadian Journal of History, 13:1 (1978), p. 8.
  2. Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band II (Verlag von J. A. Stargardt, Marburg, Germany, 1984), Tafel 5
  3. David Nicholas, Medieval Flanders (Longman Group UK, Ltd., 1992)pp. 17–18
  4. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, Trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia), p. 235
  5. Abels, Richard P. (1988). Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England. British Museum Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-7141-0552-9.
  6. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, Trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia), p. 236
  7. David Nicholas, Medieval Flanders (Longman Group UK, Ltd., 1992)p. 19
  8. Pierre Riché, The Carolingians; A Family who Forged Europe, Trans. Michael Idomir Allen (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia), p. 237
  9. Philip Grierson, 'The Relations between England and Flanders before the Norman Conquest', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 23 (1941), p. 86

Additional references

Preceded by
Baldwin I
Margrave of Flanders
Succeeded by
Arnulf I
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