Charlemagne


     Charlemagne Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, became the undisputed
ruler of Western Europe. As Western Europe was deteriorating Charlemagne was
crowned the privilege of being joint king of the Franks in 768 A.D. People of

Western Europe, excluding the church followers, had all but forgotten the great
gifts of education and arts that they had possessed at one time. Charlemagne
solidly defeated barbarians and kings in identical fashion during his reign.

Using the re-establishment of education and order, Charlemagne was able to save
many political rights and restore culture in Western Europe. Charlemagne was
born in 742 A.D., to a very famous and well-known family. Charlemagne’s
grandfather was Charles Martel, the man who was responsible for the defeat of
the Saracens. Charlemagne was also the eldest son of Bertrade (also known as

Bertha Greatfoot) and Pepin the Short, the first to become king of the Franks.

With the almost full extinction of schools in the 8th century, many historians
say that Charlemagne received very little education, but did learn the art of
reading from Bertrade. The one thing that kept Charlemagne motivated throughout
his entire life was his deep devotion to the church. Charlemagne was a tall
young man with light blond hair, and was described by his secretary as stately
and dignified. Charlemagne had great wit, but was stern at times. He had simple
and moderate tastes; he enjoyed hunting, riding and swimming. Charlemagne had a
large wardrobe with many Frankish dresses, linen shirts and breeches,
silk-fringed tunics, hoses wrapped with bands, and for the winter he had coats
made of otter or marten skins. Charlemagne asked his people to improve their
lifestyles, but he divorced two of his four fives without any given cause. In

768 A.D., Charlemagne at the age of 26, along with his brother Carloman
inherited the kingdom of Franks. However, in 771 A.D. Carloman died, making

Charlemagne the sole ruler of the kingdom. At this time the northern part of

Europe was out of order and unruly. In the south, the Roman Catholic Church was
asserting itself alongside the Lombard kingdom in Italy. While in

Charlemagne’s own kingdom, the people were becoming and acting as barbarians
and neglecting education and faith. But Charlemagne was determined to make his
kingdom as strong as possible. In 772 A.D., Charlemagne put forth a 30-year
campaign to conquer and Christianize the extremely mighty Saxons in the north.

He charged over the Avars, a large tribe on the Danube. He forced the Bavarians
to surrender to him. When possible Charlemagne attempted to settle his conflicts
peacefully. However, he was forced to use brute in some situations. For
instance, Charlemagne offered to pay Desiderius for the return of lands to the
pope, but after Desiderius refused, Charlemagne seized the kingdom of Desiderius
and restored the Papal States. The most important aspect of Charlemagne’s
conquests was his uncanny ability to organize. Charlemagne sent out more than 50
military missions during his time in power and he led the missions as commander
more than half of the time. He was able to lead his troops through vast lands in
unprecedented times, but his every move was planned ahead of time. Before every
crusade, he informed all those involved the number of men needed, the weapons
required, and he even went as far as to tell what should be in the supply
wagons. These tactics were later studied and used by another great man,

Napoleon. One of the smallest campaigns undertaken by Charlemagne became on of
the most well known. In 778 A.D., Charlemagne led his troops into Spain and laid
an attack on Saragossa. The movement failed and upon their recoil they were
attacked from the rear and Count Roland one of the leaders of the group was
killed in that battle. Roland went on to become a hero in medieval songs. By 800

A.D. Charlemagne was the sole ruler of Western Europe. His immense kingdom
included what are now France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It also
covered half of present-day Italy and Germany, part of Austria, and the Spanish

March. This Spanish March stretched to the Ebro River. Through his establishment
of a single government over the entire Western Europe, Charlemagne
re-established much of the old Roman Empire, which paved the way for the
progress of present-day Europe. It was on Christmas Day in 800 A.D. that while
praying in St. Peter’s in Rome, Pope Leo III approached Charlemagne with a
golden crown and placed it on the head of the king. Charlemagne was a very noble
man and he had great compassion for the peasant people and had a belief that
that government was in place to benefit those that it governed. When Charlemagne
came into power many of the people working under him were very careless and
sometimes unfair. To change the ways of these people Charlemagne expanded their
work, wrote down everything they did and forced them to work in groups of
people. This helped those lacking in their work effort to restore some law and
order. Two times a year Charlemagne would summon the leading man in the kingdom
to talk about the happenings going around. Charlemagne always had the final word
in everything including church matters. Charlemagne was determined in
establishing improvement in lives of his people. By setting up money values he
encouraged trade, he attempted to build a Rhine-Danube canal, and gave advice on
different farming techniques. Charlemagne preached the most on education and

Christianity to his people. He was responsible for the restoration of Palace

School at Aachen, his capital. He also set up other schools for noble boys as
well as peasants. Charlemagne was very devoted to education and he never stopped
studying himself. He brought in scholars of many languages to his courts. He
learned to read in Latin, some Greek, however, he was not too keen of mastering
writing. During his dinners, he preferred to have men reading books to him
rather than having jesters performing. For his churches, Charlemagne sent his
monks to Rome to learn to sing. For his art collections, Charlemagne brought
some valuable pieces from Italy. In the cathedral at Aachen there is a large
monument, which stands in loyalty to Charlemagne for his religious devotion.

Charlemagne built and was buried in the cathedral in Aachen. At the time of

Charlemagne’s death in 814 A.D. only one of his three sons, Louis, was alive.

Louis had a weak ruling after his father, which brought on many civil wars and
rebellions. Charlemagne brought back order to Western Europe; he led his people
to many victories and was responsible for the rise of Western Europe.