| ||Notes for Charlemagne Holy Roman Emp King of Franks:|
Charlemagne, Emperor Of The Holy Roman Empire, King of the Franks wasking of the Franks from AD 768 to 814 and 'Emperor of the Romans' from800 to 814. He became a key figure in the development of westernEurope's medieval civilization. By his almost constant militarycampaigns, Charlemagne created a vast empire in the West whichincluded much of the western part of the old Roman Empire as well assome new territory. He was the first Germanic ruler to assume thetitle of emperor, and the 'empire' he revived lasted in one form oranother for a thousand years. Culturally and politically, he left hismark on the newly rising civilization of the West. Probably no rulerof the early Middle Ages better deserved the title of 'The
Charlemagne was the son of Pepin the Short, and the grandson ofCharles Martel. From 768 to 771, Charlemagne shared Pepin's kingdomwith his brother, Carloman. When Carloman died, Charlemagne becamesole ruler. He took up with energy
the work begun by his father and grandfather. His first step was torepress his hostile neighbors. Charlemagne gained wide acclaim for hisoutstanding military ability, persistence, and success. He waged morethan 50 campaigns against neighboring Germanic peoples on all sides,and against the Avars, Slavs, Byzantines, and Moors.
Charlemagne's first great war was against the Lombards, a Germanicpeople who had invaded Italy in the late 500's. They had been a sourceof trouble to the popes ever since. In conquering them, Charlemagnefollowed Pepin's policy of friendship and cooperation with the RomanCatholic Church. This also served Charlemagne's own interests, becausehe became ruler of the Lombard kingdom in Italy.
The long Saxon war was the most important of Charlemagne's militaryventures. The Saxons, who held the whole northwestern part of Germany,were pagans. Their defeat after 30 years of war prepared the way forthe religious conversion and civilization of Germany.
By means of other wars, Charlemagne put down a rebellion in Aquitaine,added Bavaria to his kingdom, and established several border states toprotect his outlying conquests. In eastern Europe, he defeated theSlavs and Avars and made possible
eastward migration by the Germans.
Charlemagne had built a vast and sprawling state that shared borderswith such different peoples as the Slavs, Byzantines, and Moslems. Hedefended the Roman Catholic Church and constantly extended its power.He was far more powerful than the imperial successors of Constantine,the first Christian emperor in the West, and he ruled a much moreextensive area. Because of his great holdings, he decided to revivethe Roman Empire, but as a new empire that was European and Christianin
Character. The relations of the popes with the Byzantine, or EasternRoman, emperors in Canstantinople had been breaking down since themiddle 700's. An alliance between the Roman Catholic Church and theFranks, accomplished by proclaiming Charlemagne emperor, made goodsense. Pope Leo III placed the imperial crown on Charlemagne's head onChristmas Day,800. The most important effect of this act was that itrevived the idea of empire in the West, an idea which caused both harmand good in succeeding centuries.
Einhard, Charlemagne's secretary and friend, described the emperor aslarge and strong of body, fond of active exercise, genial butdignified, and sensible and moderate in his way of life. Charlemagneclearly recognized his duties and responsibilities, and was a tirelessworker. He could not reverse the long trend toward decentralizedgovernment. But he could and did control the power of the nobles andmaintain a considerable degree of law and order in a troubled age. Hisadministrative methods helped raise the standard of living.
Charlemagne's greatest contribution was his work as a patron ofculture and extender of civilization. The Palace School, set up at hiscapital in Aachen under the leadership of the English scholar Alcuin(735-804), stimulated interest in education,
philosophy, and literature. Most of the leading scholars werechurchman, so this vast cultural activity greatly strengthened thechurch and had far-reaching and lasting results. In this way,Charlemagne, by means of his power and eminence, gave western Europe aunified culture so strong that it survived the terrible invasions anddisorders of the next 200 years.
Source: 'The World Book Encyclopedia', 1968, C291-292. 'AncestralRoots of Certain American Colonists ...',
Frederick Lewis Weis, 1993, p cvi.