How a total solar eclipse created France, Italy and Germany

Europe's division all began with a total solar eclipse

By Shannon McLellan - Social Media Producer
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Total solar eclipses have occurred throughout history, but you may not know one eclipse played such an integral part in shaping our world geography. 

On May 5, 840 a total solar eclipse passed over Europe. Keep in mind that back in the 800s, science was not as advanced as it is today. People didn't have a clue what a solar eclipse was or why the astronomical event happened.

That being said, when the moon passed over the sun that day, creating total darkness, people were terrified. Emperor Louis of Bavaria was so terrified by what he witnessed, in fact, that he died shortly afterward.

The emperor, or Louis the Pious, as he was often called, had three sons: Lothair, Charles and Louis. After his death, they began to fight over Louis' succession to the throne, according to historians. 

The family quarrel lasted three years, and finally ended in the Treaty of Verdun. This agreement allowed each of Louis' sons to rule over their own new empires. Lothair would rule over Italy, Louis would oversee Germany and Charles would lead France.

Borders have obviously changed since the original Treaty of Verdun, but the division of the continent into Italy, Germany and France began with one total solar eclipse.

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