Charlemagne (Charles I) Middle Ages
Written by Simon Newman
History - Middle Ages
Charlemagne, who was also known as Charles I, was the ruler of the Franks from 768 to 800. He then became the Emperor of Romans in the year 800 and ruled till his death on January 28th 814. The Frank kingdom grew leaps and bounds during the reign of Charlemagne and he expanded his empire to Western and Central Europe. He conquered Italy and was crowned as the Imperator Augustus in the year 800 on December 25th.
Charlemagne was the son of King Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon and became the co-ruler of Frank along with his brother Carloman I. There was a hidden conflict between the two brothers but it got resolved by the sudden death of Carloman in the year 771 due to mysterious circumstances. During the reign of Charlemagne it was evident that most of the Western Europe was united, and Europe gained a common identity.
Charlemagne’s personal background and achievements
Charlemagne was born in Herstal, Wallonia now known as Belgium. He was also known as Charles le Magne, Carolus Manus in Latin, which means "Charles the Great”. He spoke Rhenish Franconian dialect of Old High German. Moreover he also spoke Latin and understood Greek too.
As a king, Charlemagne promote education, Arts, sciences, literature, He also built monasteries, cathedrals and school.
He is the one who imposed education on every child of the kingdom in order to make them good Christians, because Charlemagne was himself a true believer.
It is in the Middle Ages that a unique currency appeared in Europe known as le denier. Indeed, Charlemagne ordered this new currency to replace the others, but alos to face the shortage of gold.
Charlemagne a man of war and education
Charlemagne was really close to his family, he even got married four times. He had three sons, Charles, Carloman (also known as Pippin the Hunchback) and Louis. His two sons, Charles and Louis first shared the ruling of the Frankish kingdoms together.
His sons were his associates in many wars when they became old enough. His son Charles shared the border with Bretons and he was preoccupied with them. He was sent against the Saxon on many occasions. He was sent to Böhmerwald in order to destroy the Bohemian tribes who were known as the ancestors of the modern Czech in the year 805 and 806.
When Louis was in charge at that time he had to go to southern Italy to fight with the duke of Benevento. He occupied the whole of Europe and took a great siege in 797. Then, in the year 792, Charles banished his elder son Pippin to the monastery of Prüm, as he attempted to kill his father.
In 806, he decided to share the kingdoms between his sons: Louis became king of Aquitaine, Charles became king of Germany, and Pippin became king of Italy.Charlemagne was a man of war even though his goal was to attain peace in the kingdom. Charles the Great was a strong man, he inspired the respect of his enemies, and on the battlefield they feared his physical strength but also his tactical intelligence.
Charlemagne and his daughters
Charlemagne middle ages always wanted his children to be educated and he left no stone unturned to achieve this. He was even interested to educate his daughters as he himself lacked in this field. The children were taught arts as well as archery, horsemanship and other outdoor activities. Moreover the daughters were taught the art of being women.
Charlemagne Middle Ages was very possessive about their daughters and he did not allow them to marry as per their wish. But he also allowed them to have extra-marital relationships and rewarded their illegitimate grandchildren too.
He had them under his control as he did not want any cadet braches of his family. Bertha, one of Charlemagne’s daughters was having a relationship with Angilbert who was a member of the court of the King himself. Sadly though, the daughters were banished from the kingdom after his death as the brothers could not tolerate their high handed antics. They took shelter in the convents which had been set by Charlemagne himself.
In 804, after the Saxon finally submitted, Charlemagne wonders which sons of him will rule his entire kingdom. But Charles dies in 811 and Pippin in 810.
In the year 813, Charlemagne called his son Louis the Pious in the court. At that time he was the king of Aquitaine. Charlemagne crowned him as the co-emperor and then sent him back.
After that he set out for hunting and leisure throughout autumn and returned to Aachen.
Charles the Great was only ill during the last four years of his life, he died in 804.
Einhard, one of his dedicated servant, said those words : “He died January twenty-eighth, the seventh day from the time that he took to his bed, at nine o'clock in the morning, after partaking of the Holy Communion, in the seventy-second year of his age and the forty-seventh of his reign.”
Charlemagne was buried in a hurried manner and he was buried in Aanchen Cathedral. He was buried in Frederick II's gold and silver casket. After his death in the year 1165, the tomb was re-opened by Frederick-I and the king’s body was placed in a cathedral under the floor in a sarcophagus. But his body was again returned to the casket made of gold and silver by Frederick II in the year 1215.
The unity of his empire that was already difficult to maintain because of his wideness could only stand as long as Charlemagne was alive.
When the reign of Charlemagne ended, he was succeeded by his son whom he had himself crowned. Modern Germany was founded after the division of the kingdom took place after the death of King Louis when the kingdom was divided among his sons. His educational reforms made Charlemagne the main protagonist of the Carolingian Renaissance.