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  1. Charlemagne - Biography, Significance & Death - HISTORY › topics › middle-ages
    • Charlemagne’s Early Years
    • Charlemagne Expands His Kingdom
    • Charlemagne’s Family
    • Charlemagne as Emperor
    • Charlemagne’s Death and Succession

    Charlemagne was born around 742, the son of Bertrada of Laon (d.783) and Pepin the Short (d.768), who became king of the Franks in 751. Charlemagne’s exact birthplace is unknown, although historians have suggested Liege in present-day Belgium and Aachen in modern-day Germany as possible locations. Similarly, little is known about the future ruler’s childhood and education, although as an adult, he displayed a talent for languages and could speak Latin and understand Greek, among other languag...

    Once in power, Charlemagne sought to unite all the Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity. In order to carry out this mission, he spent the majority of his reign engaged in military campaigns. Soon after becoming king, he conquered the Lombards (in present-day northern Italy), the Avars (in modern-day Austria and Hungary) and Bavaria, among others.Charlemagne waged a bloody, three-decades-long series of battles against the Saxons, a Germanic tribe of pagan...

    In his personal life, Charlemagne had multiple wives and mistresses and perhaps as many as 18 children. He was reportedly a devoted father, who encouraged his children’s education. He allegedly loved his daughters so much that he prohibited them from marrying while he was alive.Einhard (c. 775-840), a Frankish scholar and contemporary of Charlemagne, wrote a biography of the emperor after his death. In the work, titled “Vita Karoli Magni (Life of Charles the Great),” he described Charlemagne...

    In his role as a zealous defender of Christianity, Charlemagne gave money and land to the Christian church and protected the popes. As a way to acknowledge Charlemagne’s power and reinforce his relationship with the church, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans on December 25, 800, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.As emperor, Charlemagne proved to be a talented diplomat and able administrator of the vast area he controlled. He promoted education and encouraged the Carolingian...

    According to Einhard, Charlemagne was in good health until the final four years of his life, when he often suffered from fevers and acquired a limp. However, as the biographer notes, “Even at this time…he followed his own counsel rather than the advice of the doctors, whom he very nearly hated, because they advised him to give up roasted meat, which he loved, and to restrict himself to boiled meat instead.”In 813, Charlemagne crowned his son Louis the Pious (778-840), king of Aquitaine, as co...

  2. Charlemagne - Wikipedia › wiki › Charlemagne

    Charlemagne was the eldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, born before their canonical marriage. He became king of the Franks in 768 following his father's death, initially as co-ruler with his brother Carloman I, until the latter's death in 771.

  3. Charlemagne - King, Emperor - Biography › royalty › charlemagne

    Apr 01, 2014 · Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, was the founder of the Carolingian Empire, best known for uniting Western Europe for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire.

  4. Charlemagne - World History Encyclopedia


    Mar 25, 2019 · Charlemagne (Charles the Great, also known as Charles I, l. 742-814 CE) was King of the Franks (r. 768-814 CE), King of the Franks and Lombards (r. 774-814 CE), and Holy Roman Emperor (r. 800-814 CE).

    • Joshua J. Mark
  5. Charlemagne - New World Encyclopedia › entry › Charlemagne
    • Personal Appearance
    • Administration
    • The Donation of Constantine
    • Cultural Significance
    • Family
    • References
    • External Links

    Charlemagne's personal appearance is not known from any contemporary portrait, but it is known rather famously from a good description by Einhard, author of the biographical Vita Caroli Magni.He is well known to have been tall, stately, and fair-haired, with disproportionately thick neck. His skeleton was measured during the eighteenth century and his height was determined to be 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in), andas Einhard tells it in his twenty-second chapter: The Roman tradition of realistic personal portraiture was in complete eclipse at this time, where individual traits were submerged in iconic type castings. Charlemagne, as an ideal ruler, ought to be portrayed in the corresponding fashion, any contemporary would have assumed. The images of enthroned Charlemagne, God's representative on Earth, bear more connections to the icons of Christ in majesty than to modern (or antique) conceptions of portraiture. Charlemagne in later imagery (as in the Dürer portrait) is often portrayed with flowi...

    As an administrator, Charlemagne stands out for his many reforms: monetary, governmental, military, and ecclesiastical.

    At about this time, the document known as the Donation of Constantine appeared, which, purporting to be the last will and testament of Constantine I grants to the Pope and his successors all authority, spiritual and temporal, in the Western Empire. He retained authority in the East. Subsequently acknowledged to be a forgery, this document nonetheless set out what served as the theory for centuries in the Roman Catholic world, that is, that the Pope exercises political as well as spiritual power and that all kings and princes derive their authority from the Pope. Technically, no one acceded a throne without papal blessings. Most of the time, the papacy lacked the military means to enforce its will but usually the threat of excommunication was enough (no ex-communicant could enter paradise). This model of church-state relationship actually reversed that practiced by Constantine himself, in which he was the ultimate authority and the church served the state. This remained the pattern i...

    Charlemagne, being a model knight as one of the Nine Worthies, enjoyed an important afterlife in European culture. One of the great medieval literary cycles, the Charlemagne cycle or the Matter of France, centers around the deeds of Charlemagne and his historical commander of the border with Brittany, Roland, and the paladins who are analogous to the knights of the Round Table or King Arthur's court. Their tales constitute the first chansons de geste. Charlemagne is depicted as the champion of Christendom against Muslims and pagans. Charlemagne also dealt diplomatically with Muslims, exchanging ambassadors with Harun al-Rashidand negotiating some degree of responsibility for the welfare of Christians and Christian sites in Palestine. Charlemagne himself was accorded sainthood inside the Holy Roman Empire after the twelfth century. His canonization by Antipope Paschal III, to gain the favor of Frederick Barbarossa in 1165, was never recognized by the Holy See, which annulled all of P...

    Marriages and heirs

    1. His first wife was Himiltrude, married in 766. The marriage was never formally annulled. By her he had: 1.1. Pippin the Hunchback (767 - 813) 1. His second wife was Gerperga (often erroneously called Desiderata or Desideria), daughter of Desiderius, king of the Lombards, married in 768, annulled in 771. 1. His third wife was Hildegard of Savoy (757 or 758 - 783 or 784), married 771, died 784. By her he had: 1.1. Charles the Younger (772 or 773 - 811), king of Neustria from 781 1.2. Adelaid...

    Concubinages and illegitimate children

    1. His first known concubine was Gersuinda. By her he had: 1.1. Adaltrude (b.774) 1. His second known concubine was Madelgard. By her he had: 1.1. Ruodhaid, daughter of Charlemagne (775 - 810), abbess of Faremoutiers 1. His third known concubine was Amaltrud of Vienne. By her he had: 1.1. Alpaida (b.794) 1. His fourth known concubine was Regina. By her he had: 1.1. Drogo of Metz (801 - 855), bishop of Metz from 823 1.2. Hugh, son of Charlemagne (802 - 844), arch-chancellor of the Empire 1. Hi...

    Collins, Roger. Charlemagne. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998, ISBN 0802082181
    __________. Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000, Second Edition (Palgrave History of Europe) Palgrave Macmillan, 1999. ISBN 0312218869
    Einhard (ca. 770-840), The Life of Charlemagne. Medieval Sourcebook online: . Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960. Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne,(original 1880) translated by Samuel Ep...
    Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,Hans Friedrich Mueller (ed). New York: Random House, 2003.

    All links retrieved February 1, 2017. 1. The Life of Charlemagneby Einhard. At Medieval Sourcebook. 2. Vita Karoli Magniby Einhard. Latin text at The Latin Library. 3. Marco Bakker —Reportret: A reconstructed portrait of Charlemagne, based on historical sources, in a contemporary style.

  6. BBC - History - Charlemagne › history › historic_figures

    Charlemagne © Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was king of the Franks and Christian emperor of the West. He did much to define the shape and character of medieval Europe and presided over the...

  7. Life of Charlemagne | Christian History Institute › module › charlemagne
    • Source Material
    • Saxon War
    • Extent of Charlemagne’s Conquests
    • Public Works
    • Private Life
    • Personal Appearance
    • Dress
    • Habits
    • Studies
    • Piety
    • Charlemagne and The Roman Church
    • Charlemagne Crowned Emperor
    • Reforms
    • Charlemagne’s Death

    [Einhard outlines Charlemagne’s conquests of Aquitaine and the Lombards and his reconquest and return of lands seized from the papacy. The numbered sections below correspond to selected sections in Einhard’s life of Charlemagne.]

    Now Charlemagne restarted his war against the Saxons. The Franks never fought another war with such persistence, bitterness or effort, because the Saxons, like almost all the German tribes, were a fierce people who worshipped devils and were hostile to our religion. They did not consider it dishonorable to violate any law, human or divine.Every day there had been fighting. Except where forests or mountain ridges formed clear boundaries, the whole boundary between us and the Saxons ran through...

    These were the wars so skillfully planned and successfully fought that this most powerful king fought during his forty-seven-year reign. He increased the Frank kingdom so much — though it was already great and strong when he received it at his father — that more than double its former territory was added to it....

    King Charlemagne, as I have showed, greatly extended his empire and powerfully subdued foreign nations, and was constantly occupied with such plans. But he also started also many public works to adorn and benefit his kingdom, and brought several of them to completion. The greatest were the Church of the Holy Mother of God at Aix-la-Chapelle, a most impressive building, and a bridge over the Rhine at Mayence, though this bridge was destroyed by fire the year before Charles died, and since he d...

    After his father’s death, Charlemagne shared the kingdom with his brother, bearing his unfriendly jealousy patiently, and, to the amazement of everyone, never got angry with him.He married the daughter of Desiderius, King of the Lombards, at the insistence of his mother, but he divorced her after a year for unknown reasons, and married Hildegard, a Swabian noble. He had three sons by her, Charles, Pepin and Louis, and three daughters, Hruodrud, Bertha, and Gisela. He had three other daughters...

    Charlemagne was large and strong, and tall. His height was seven times the length of his foot. The upper part of his head was round, his eyes very large and animated, nose a little long, hair fair, and face laughing and merry. Thus his appearance was always stately and dignified, whether he was standing or sitting. Admittedly, his neck was thick and somewhat short, and his belly rather prominent; but the symmetry of the rest of his body concealed these defects. His walk was firm, his whole ca...

    He always kept to the Frank national dress. This was a linen shirt and pants as underwear, covered with a silk-fringed tunic, and trousers tied with bands, shoes on his feet, and in winter an otter skin coat over his shoulders. Over all he flung a blue cloak, and he always wore a sword, usually one with a gold or silver hilt and belt — sometimes jeweled, but only on great feast days or when entertaining foreign ambassadors.

    Charlemagne was moderate in eating, and particularly so in drinking, because he hated drunkenness in anybody, even more so in himself and his household. But he could not abstain from food for long, and often complained that fasts injured his health. He very rarely held banquets, except on great feast-days, but when he did, he invited large numbers of people. His meals usually consisted of four courses — not counting the roast, which his huntsmen would bring in on the spit. He loved this bette...

    Charlemagne was fluent in speech, and could express whatever he had to say with the utmost clarity. He was not satisfied with speaking his native language, but learned foreign ones. He was a master of Latin, but he could understand Greek better than he could speak it. He might have passed for a teacher of eloquence. He was keen on the arts, and held teachers in great esteem, conferring great honors on them. Peter of Pisa, the elderly deacon taught him grammar. Alcuin, an Anglo-Saxon from Brit...

    Charlemagne was fervently devoted to Christian principles, which had been instilled into him from infancy. He built the beautiful church at Aix-la-Chapelle, which he adorned with gold and silver and lamps, and with rails and doors of solid brass. He had the columns and marbles brought from Rome and Ravenna, as he could not find suitable ones anywhere else. He worshipped there constantly as long as his health permitted, going morning and evening, even at night, besides attending mass. He made...

    Charlemagne gave a great deal of charity to the poor, and not only in his own country. Wherever he heard that there were Christians living in poverty — Syria, Egypt, Africa, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Carthage — he had compassion on them, and sent money over the seas to them. This is why he strove to make friends with foreign kings, so that he could give relief to the Christians living under their rule.He cherished the Church of St. Peter at Rome above all other holy places, and heaped its treasu...

    His last journey there had another purpose though. Pope Leo had been mutilated by the Roman people who tore out his eyes and cut out his tongue, and he had called upon the King for help. Charlemagne accordingly went to Rome to set these affairs of the Church in order, because all was in confusion, and he spent the whole winter there. It was then that he was given the title of Emperor and Augustus. At first he had such an aversion to the title that he declared that he would not have set foot i...

    After receiving the title of Emperor, Charlemagne realized that the laws of his people were defective. The Franks have two completely different sets of laws, and he decided to add what was missing, sort out the discrepancies, and correct what was wrong. He never got very far with this project, but he had the unwritten laws of all the tribes under his rule to be written up. He also had the old songs celebrating the deeds and wars of ancient kings written out for posterity.

    Toward the close of his life , broken by ill-health and old age, he summoned his son Louis, King of Aquitaine, and gathered together all the chief men of the whole kingdom of the Franks in a solemn assembly. He appointed Louis, with their unanimous consent, to rule with himself over the whole kingdom and made him heir to the imperial title.He spent the rest of the autumn hunting, and in January he was struck with a high fever, and took to his bed. As soon as he was taken sick, he decided to a...

  8. 13 Facts About Charlemagne | Mental Floss › article › 562913
    • HIS FATHER WASN'T BORN A KING. Charlemagne's father, Pepin III—often called Pepin the Short—was mayor of the palace (administrator of the royal court) before he was named the first King of the Franks.
    • HIS BROTHER DIED SOON AFTER BECOMING CO-KING. After Pepin III died, Charlemagne shared power with his younger brother Carloman, with the two acting as joint kings.
    • HE IS CONSIDERED THE FATHER OF EUROPE. As the King of the Franks, Charlemagne set out on an ambitious and bloody campaign to expand his territory. By the time of his death in 814, this kingdom included the majority of what is now considered Western, and some of Central, Europe.
    • BEING CROWNED EMPEROR MAY HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE. Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor at Christmas mass in 800. Charlemagne had arrived in Rome a few weeks earlier at the request of the pope, but by many accounts, including that of his court scholar Einhard, he was not expecting his new role, and only realized what was happening when the pope put the imperial crown upon his head.
  9. Charlemagne › people › Charlemagne

    Apr 02, 2021 · Charlemagne (English: Charles the Great, German: Karl der Grosse, French: Charles le Grand, Latin: Carolus Magnus, Dutch: Karel de Grote), King of Neustria (768-771), King of the Franks (771-814), King of the Lombards (774-814), and Emperor of the Romans (800-814). He was the eldest son of Pippin III and Bertrada of Laon.

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