Paris may be the city of love, but you won’t find much love for Vikings in Paris, or for Charles the Bald, either.
Once the Romans left Paris, the Vikings arrived. These Norsemen attacked Paris repeatedly; the city was an easy mark because the Vikings could sail their longships right up the Seine River.
Viking Ragnar Lodrok (whose name translates to “Hairy Britches”) traveled with an extensive army consisting of 5,000 warriors and 120 longships. His army was swift, aggressive and bold. France never knew where the Vikings would strike next. The Frankish cavalry could have decimated the army had it been able to predict the Vikings’ next moves. Led by Hairy Britches, who was a piece of work himself, the Vikings plundered Paris on March 28, 845, and then fell ill to a plague.
They prayed to their Norse gods with no avail; it was only when they began a Christian fast at the advice of a prisoner of the same faith that they survived the plague. Upon their recovery, the Vikings returned to the pillaging and plundering of Paris.
The only thing that kept them from burning the city to the ground was the 7,000 pounds of silver ransom paid by King Charles the Bald to make them go away. Although he likely saved what remained of Paris, the king was considered an embarrassment to many for his willingness to pay the ransom.