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- Biography: Charlemagne, or Charles I, was one of the great leaders of the Middle Ages. He was King of the Franks and later became the Holy Roman Emperor. He lived from April 2, 742 until January 28, 814. Charlemagne means Charles the Great. Charlemagne becomes King of the Franks Charlemagne was son of Pepin the Short, King of the Franks.
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Charlemagne, also called Charles I, byname Charles the Great, (born April 2, 747?—died January 28, 814, Aachen, Austrasia [now in Germany]), king of the Franks (768–814), king of the Lombards (774–814), and first emperor (800–814) of the Romans and of what was later called the Holy Roman Empire.
- Early Life
- Territorial Expansion
- Holy Roman Empire
- Character and Appearance
- Charlemagne's Administration
- Carolingian Culture
- Last Years
- Further Reading on Charlemagne
Charlemagne, the son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada, was born in 742. In 741 Pepin had become mayor of the palace, and in 751 he deposed the last Merovingian king and was declared king of the Franks. Little is known about Charlemagne's childhood; in 754, however, he participated in the anointment of Pepin as king by Pope Stephen II. He was educated at the palace school primarily by Fulrad, the abbot of St. Denis. When Pepin died in October 768, Charlemagne came into his inheritance. According to a general assembly of the Franks, Charlemagne and his brother, Carloman, were both proclaimed king and were to rule the kingdom jointly. In the division of the realm, however, Carloman received a larger and richer portion. Under these circumstances ill feelings between the two brothers were inevitable, and the tension was heightened when Carloman refused to aid Charlemagne in his campaign against an uprising in Aquitaine. Toward the conclusion of the Aquitanian campaign, from which Charlema...
Charlemagne moved aggressively to remove those who threatened his suzerainty and to expand his power, especially in Italy. He immediately attacked and vanquished Desiderius, King of the Lombards; and in 774 Charlemagne was received by Pope Adrian I in Rome. The two renewed the alliance between the Frankish monarchy and the papacy, and shortly thereafter Charlemagne was crowned king of the Lombards at Pavia. The Frankish conquest of Italy—first of Lombardy in the north and later of the southern duchy of Benevento—had a twofold effect: all threats to the independence of the Holy See were removed, and a large portion of Italy was annexed by Charlemagne, thus bringing new wealth and peoples into his kingdom. During his Italian campaigns Charlemagne also declared war against the Saxons, who had menaced the northeastern frontier of Francia for several generations. Begun in 772, this cruel and bitter war was finally concluded in 804 by the annexation of Saxony by Francia and the enforced C...
By 800 Charlemagne had succeeded in extending his overlordship from the Elbe River in the northeast to south of the Pyrenees in the southwest and from the North Sea to southern Italy. He ruled all of the Christianized western provinces, except the British Isles, that had once been part of the Roman Empire. As the sworn protector of the Church, Charlemagne was in fact the political master of Rome itself. Thus his authority, which extended over a vast realm and included numerous peoples, rivaled that of the Roman emperors of antiquity. The papacy, at odds with Byzantium and its empress Irene over the question of iconoclasm (the problem of image worship and the use of images in the Church), looked to Charlemagne for protection and political leadership and regarded him as the true emperor of Latin Christendom and as the divinely appointed ruler of the earthly sphere. Thus the Pope crowned Charlemagne Holy Roman emperor on Christmas Day, 800. Charlemagne endeavored to create unity and ha...
The major contemporary record of Charlemagne's personal attributes and achievements is the Vita Caroli Magni,the first medieval biography, written by Einhard between 817 and 836. This biography is largely a firsthand account, since Einhard was a member of the palace school during Charlemagne's reign and was his close associate. In the Vitais the actual physical description of the man who has since become one of the greatest legendary heroes of the Middle Ages. The most striking feature about Charlemagne was his immense size in comparison to the average man of his day. Einhard believed him to be seven times the length of a foot, but with the opening of his tomb in 1861 scholars discovered that his actual height was 6 feet 3 1/2 inches. He was well built and admirably proportioned, except for his rather short thick neck and a protruding paunch. He took frequent exercise on horseback and enjoyed excellent health for most of his life. Einhard says that "his eyes [were] very large and an...
In many respects Charlemagne's government, which proved so successful and which began the ascendancy ofnorthern Europe, differed little in its institutions from the Merovingian era. In keeping with Frankish tradition, the monarchy was considered a matter of family inheritance; the government itself was personal, and its administration was founded on feudal oaths of allegiance between lord and follower. There was no distinction between the king's personal servants and the public officials. Thus the public and private nature of political control were inseparable, as were the secular and the religious aspects of kingship. Much as the Merovingians had done in the past, Charlemagne presided over ecclesiastical synods, depended upon the clergy for advice and counsel, and interfered in matters of Church discipline and property. What is most striking about Charlemagne's rule of so vast a realm was that he was able to maintain, largely through the strength of his own personality, a centraliz...
Charlemagne's support of art and letters had several purposes beyond the general improvement of culture and literacy in the empire. One of the major purposes was to provide an educated clergy that could undertake many of the administrative tasks of government. A second purpose, for which an educated clergy was also a necessity, was to ensure the acceptance of orthodox doctrine as well as a uniform liturgy throughout the empire. Such uniformity not only strengthened the Church but facilitated the political task of integrating and centralizing the administration of the empire. The spread of a uniform script known as the Caroline minuscule, the attempts at achieving uniformity of doctrine through the suppression of heresy, and the publication of a uniform Mass book, book of lessons, and monastic rule were sponsored as a means of furthering unity and integration. A third purpose of this cultural revival was to enhance the prestige and authority of Charlemagne himself, who thus appeared...
In 806, at the age of 64, Charlemagne took measures to provide for the succession of his empire. He divided the realm among his three sons—Charles, Pepin, and Louis. But the death of Charles in April 810 was soon followed by that of Pepin. The remaining son, Louis, later called "the Pious," who was the least warlike and aggressive of the three, was left as the sole heir to the empire, and he was crowned by his father in 813. The last years of Charlemagne's reign saw difficult times. Civil disobedience increased; pest and famine created hard times; there were troubles on the frontiers. In many respects an era of crisis and decline loomed in the future. In 811 Charlemagne made his final will and gave a sizable portion of his treasures (more than to his own heirs) to various churches of the realm. He died, while fasting, on Jan. 28, 814, and was buried at his palace at Aachen.
Among the studies that focus on Charlemagne's life are Jesse L. Weston, The Romance Cycle of Charlemagne and His Peers (1901). Harold Lamb, Charlemagne: The Legend and the Man (1954); and Richard Winston, Charlemagne: From the Hammer to the Cross (1954). Recommended among the general, recent works are Donald A. Bullough, The Age of Charlemagne (1965), especially distinguished for its illustrations, and E. M. Almedingen, Charlemagne: A Study (1968). The best introduction to Charlemagne and Carolingian institutions is Heinrich Fichtenau, The Carolingian Empire: The Age of Charlemagne(trans. 1964). The documents for the Carolingian period are abundant, many of them in translation. For a general collection of sources see Stewart C. Easton and Helene Wieruszowski, The Era of Charlemagne: Frankish State and Society (1961). One of the best translations of Einhard is S. Epes Turner, The Life of Charlemagne (1960). Because of the importance of the coronation of Charlemagne, scholars have dev...
King of the Franks. Holy Roman Emperor. The widely conquering and powerful king of the Franks (768-814) and Emperor of the Romans (800-14) that English speakers today know as Charlemagne (742-814), or Charles the Great, was known in latin as Carolus Magnus. He is today remembered by the French as Carlus Magnus and by the Germans as Karl der Grosse - both these peoples see him as having had a positive role in their respective histories.
Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, was king of the Franks between 768 and 814, and emperor of the West between 800 and 814. He founded the Holy Roman Empire, strengthened European economic and political life, and promoted the cultural revival known as the Carolingian Renaissance.
Charlemagne Biography, Life, Interesting Facts. He was the king of the Frankish kingdom and first emperor of the Western Roman Empire since the fall of Rome. Early Life. Charlemagne was born in 742 in what is now Liege in Belgium. He was the eldest child of King Pepin. By the time he was born, his father was a royal advisor to the king.
Charlemagne: The First Holy Roman Emperor (742-814 CE) - Learn all about this famous and powerful king of France and Germany, who became the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This Charlemagne biography workbook is 19 pages in length. What is the Biography Workbook Series?
Mar 13, 2021 · Biography Charlemagne expanded the Frankish kingdom to include much of Western and Central Europe. His rule is also associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, and his foreign conquests and internal reforms, shaped Western Europe and the European Middle Ages.
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