CHARLEMAGNE THE GREAT

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Summary:  Frankish king and Holy Roman Emperor

Date:  Born: 2 April AD 742; Died: 28 January AD 814 (Reigned: 25 December AD 800 to Death)

Location:  France, Europe

Family: Father: Pepin; Mother: Bertrada

 - Introduction -

 

   Charlemagne is another well-known king to have gained the title “Great”.  Born in the late 740s to father Pepin and mother Bertrada, Charles is remembered as being a strong-willed, lively and athletic boy.  

 

    When their father died, Charlemagne and his brother were made co-ruler in accordance with Frankish tradition. Interestingly, Charlemagne was by far the more effective leader of the two (his father gave him, not his older brother, the rebellious outlying regions of the kingdom).  

 

    In 771, when Carloman, his brother, died, Charles was made the sole ruler of the kingdom of the Franks.

Charlemagne_and_Alcuin_scriptor.jpg

 - Conquest -

   After he became king, Charlemagne spent time subduing rebellious provinces and conquering lands in Lombardy, Bavaria and Saxony - expanding his territory significantly.  

 

    When rebellion against the Pope broke out in AD 800, Charlemagne came to the rescue, defeating the rebels and restoring the Pope’s power. That Christmas, to Charles’ surprise, Pope Leo III crowned him Emperor over the Holy Roman Empire to thank him for his service.  

 

    As grand as this title sounds, the Holy Roman Empire - run by the Pope and the Catholic Church - was really a shadow of the previous Imperial Roman Empire. In fact, we do not even remember Charles’ empire as the ‘Roman Empire’ but the ‘Carolingian Empire’. Nevertheless, it was a significant symbolic moment in world history as it showed a revived spirit of Roman patriotism within the Catholic church.

Charlemagne_Emperor.jpg

 - Legacy -

   Throughout the Frankish Golden Age, Charlemagne achieved many of his incredible goals.  He constructed an effective administration and legislation system in his empire - allowing all ethnic groups to retain their own laws, which he also enforced.  

 

    Importantly, he also expanded and stabilized the Frankish empire and strengthened its military, as well as encouraging written laws, education and the preservation of manuscripts throughout his kingdom.  

 

    Sadly, Charles the Great’s empire lasted little longer than his own life, however, the vital contributions he made to society are still remembered today.

Charlemagne_Notre_Dame_02.jpg

Sources:

1. Charlemagne - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/charlemagne

2. Snell, M. (2006, December 1). What Made Charlemagne so Great? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-made-charles-so-great-1788566

3. Charlemagne | Biography, Accomplishments, & Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charlemagne

Researched and Written By

Cody Mitchell

About:

One of the greatest military leaders of the Medieval age, Charles (or Charlemagne) the Great expanded the Frankish Empire and helped revive Ancient Roman Imperialism.

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