Viking Attack on Paris *885 – 886 ‘Charles the Fat’.

Events Leading Up to the Viking Attack on Paris

The siege of Paris was a Viking raid along the River Seine, which lay in the kingdom of the West Franks. It was a critically important event in the reign of Charles the Fat.


During the 9th century, Vikings attacked Paris many times. They first came in 845, traveling along River Seine to attack one of the most important centers of West Francia.

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As the Vikings grew bolder, they launched further attacks along the river, often forcing Frankish rulers to pay tribute.

viking warrior face

In 864, two bridges were constructed across the Seine to deal with possible future Viking attacks. These bridges served the Frankish rulers well when Vikings attacked again in 885.

Vikings Attack on Paris – Arrival of the Vikings

In November 885, tens of thousands of Vikings in hundreds of ships landed outside Paris. They gathered there to demand tribute. They had attacked West Francia several times before for tribute, but this army was the greatest to strike Paris.

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Previously, the Vikings had attacked Paris three times in the 860s. Each time, they left with a considerable amount of loot or tribute. In 885, the Vikings attacked Paris with a number of siege engines but failed to break the walls of the city.

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Vikings Attack on Paris – Defense of Paris

When the Vikings arrived at the walls of Paris in 885, they demanded a tribute which was denied by Odo, Count of Paris. Odo had only a few hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked the city walls but failed.

Odo used a mixture of pitch and hot wax for defense purposes. The Vikings used fire, mining, and battering rams but all in vain. When Vikings were unable to enter the city, they formed a camp on the right side of the riverbank.

Battering Ram Front

Battering Ram

Even with the ferocious attacks by the Vikings, Paris was successful in defending itself. The final attempt to capture Paris was made in the summer. Charles the Fat, along with his army, reached Paris in October.

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The Arrival of ‘Charles the Fat’

Charles the Fat was a Carolingian ruler who ruled from 881 to 885. Charles was in Italy when Odo succeeded in fleeing Paris and sought help from Charles. Charles brought a massive army to encircle Rollo, the Viking lord, who would later become the Duke of Normandy.

Carolingian Soldiers Fight Vikings

Carolingian Soldiers Fight Vikings

Charles’s forces formed a camp at Montmartre. Charles did not attack and asked Vikings to sail up north to Burgundy which was in a great revolt at the time. The Vikings left Paris and later returned to get a promised tribute from Charles.

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Charles gave the 700 lbs of silver that they were guaranteed. Due to this act, the prestige of Charles diminished in France.

Viking Retreat and Ransom

After so many failed attacks on Paris with different siege engines and by adopting tactics, the Vikings lost hope. This is why when Charles offered them tribute in return for their services in combating Burgundy, they agreed.

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The siege became a major even for Odo, Count of Paris, whose popularity soared due to his valor and who was later elected by the Frankish nobles to replace Charles.