Count Reginar the Who?

Zwentibold One thing I love about conjuring up “this day in history” pieces is the stuff that gets solemnly recorded that seems totally irrelevant, even a parody of the often bleak and futile course stumbled down by human ambition. Like this one: On August 12, 900 “Count Reginar I of Hainault rises against Zwentibold of Lotharingia and slays him near present-day Susteren.”

Reginar? Zwentibold? It’s like a Monty Python sketch. Especially “Zwentibold of Lotharingia”. It sounds like people sitting around imbibing and trying to come up with a name that sounds exactly like a real historical figure except it’s ridiculous. I hope I won’t get snarly tweets from Lotharingian patriots but with the Internet you never know.

I also like “Reginar I”, which must mean somebody thought they should have another one or possibly several. Why? It’s like “South Yemen” which makes you realize someone looked at the first Yemen and said “Yup, we need more of that stuff, that’s clear.” Or the reverse, as in fact North Yemen split off from what became South Yemen around 1967 at which point the latter went Marxist in a fit of ill-judged pique or something. At least they didn’t then conjure up an East Yemen and a Greater Yemen and so forth. (Ditto re angry letters from Yemen. I bet it has vibrant people and some truly hot sand. And yes, I know there once was a Greater Yemen. But it was a long time ago and I frankly don’t believe it was ever really that great. I might even get notes from Reginars – there were so many, it turns out, that there might still be some.)

While you were reading that convoluted bit I actually did Google Lotharingia and it was this post-Carolingian thing comprising a fair bit of the “present-day” Netherlands, Belgium, the French-German border and a bit of Switzerland. It existed for just over a century before Bruno the Great, so-called, divided it temporarily and it never really reassembled and the bits got nibbled or gobbled up over various centuries. Who saw that coming?

Meanwhile I also really like the fact that Reginar didn’t just kill Zwentibold, he slew him. Not that there’s much to be said for being killed violently, but if it has to happen, there’s a certain cachet to being slain, especially by someone who rose against you, rather than just getting jumped and hacked down or some such.

Even if it’s recorded as being “near present-day Susteren” which isn’t even really anywhere now, at least nowhere anyone’s heard of who doesn’t live there, and certainly doesn’t seem to have been then.

P.S. No angry emails from Susteren please. It’s a city in the Netherlands with a cool Romanesque basilica and doubtless a lovely place. Including for a guy named Reginar to slay one called Zwentibold.