Introduction

.. ginning of their lives he always stressed education. In addition to the physical training they received, each one of them accompanied their father on the battlefield, and when each was 13, they were all commanding men. He also gave each of his sons a portion of the kingdom to rule, so that they would gain practical experience in being a leader. Even after they were on their own, Charlemagne kept an eye on them.

For example, when he suspected that his son Louis was being frivolous, he sent him out to the Saxon front. He was even more watchful of his daughters. He would only allow them to marry courtiers that lived in the palace. His daughters joined in on all of his activities, from the morning hunt to the various after-dinner discussions. In 791, he choose Aix-la-Chapelle (now know as Aachen) to be the site for his new capitol.

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He chose this site for several reasons. First, it was known for it’s hot springs. Second, Aix-la-Chapelle was in reach of nearly all of Frankland, and was especially close to Saxony. Third, it was a small town, and this would allow him to exert his own influence in its construction. The capitol was centered on the church and his palace, both in his mind equal. Governmental Reforms In the late 780’s and throughout the 790’s Charlemagne devoted much of his time trying to improve the live of the everyday citizen.

He proved himself to be a wise ruler. One of the factors in his success was the establishment of ‘missi dominici’ (the lord’s emmissaries). The missi dominici were people who inspected all regions of the empire, taking notes on how Charlemagne’s orders were being carried out. The ‘missi dominici’ were really the eyes and ears of Charlemagne, since he could not view his entire kingdom at one time. Charlemagne once remarked “I insist, that my missi are, by their upright behavior, examples of the virtues in which they instruct others in my name.” Another factor that helped simplify the empire was the use of feudalism.

Charlemagne produced a document called “Decree Concerning the Estates” and was a general document to help the tewards run the manor. Charlemagne improved the trade within the empire by improving road conditions, and building new roads. He tried to build a canal connected the Danube and the Rhine rivers, but was unsuccessful. He was forced to develop a system of money exchange with in the empire because of the new trade. Charlemagne, while being an excellent military tactician, also cared for his intellectual development. Ever since he had been exposed to life in Italy, he started to attack learning as he had attacked the Saxons, with strength and doggedness. He learned how to speak Greek and Latin.

Charlemagne started a school at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he invited students from all over the kingdom to learn. Although the school was estalished for sons of nobles, he believed that all children should have a chance to learn, so he allowed all children to enroll. He often pointed out that the poorer students did better than the students who were better off. The reputation of the Palace School spread throughout Europe. Students from all across Europe came to the school.

Charlemagne picked Alcuin, a monk from England to revise the educational system. Alcuin wrote new textbooks to replace the older ones, and started to train new teachers. By the time of Alcuin’s retirement, Charlemagne could offer universal free education. Charlemagne often enjoyed the conversation that Alcuin, and others gave. The school at Aix-la-chapelle soon became a college.

Lectures, poetry readings, and conversation was prevalent there. Charlemagne was given the nickname Kind David by most of the members of the academy, probably referring to David’s role in the bible as a prophet. Charlemagne’s interest in education stemmed from his interest in religion. He felt that education opened a person to the religious knowledge that made for salvation of the soul. Charlemagne became interested in religious life of Frankland in other ways. Previously, his sense of religious mission had been confined to his attempts to conquer new converts on the battlefield.

His sense of responsiblity began to grow. The king often turned preacher, as he felt that the people, especially the clergy, should live up to the ideals and behaviors that they professed. He started a campaign to clean all the churches in Frankland, he introduced the Gregorian chant to the church services, and he urged priests to get a proper education. Charlemagne also started to get into the theological controversies of the day. He studied the orthodox position, and tried to understand it.

He also began to step in when he felt that Pope Hadrian was slacking off in duties. When Charlemagne heard that the Eastern church defended the practice of using images in their worship, Charlemagne wrote a defense of the Western’s Church’s positon. He called a council of Bishops in 794 where he presented his document. They all voted to condemn the eastern practice. Beginning with the death of Pope Hadrian in 795, Charlemagne started down the path to becoming Emperor of the Romans. Hadrian’s successor, Pope Leo, was very unpopular. Roman nobles accused him of adultery. In 799 the Pope was attacked by a group of conspirators who were determined to dispose him.

Loyal attendants, who took him to safety, eventually saved him. He sought a more permanent refuge with Frankish ambassadors. Although Charlemagne did not especially like the new pope, he would not stand for this kind of behavior. He sent for Leo to be brought to him. Pope Leo stayed with Charlemagne for a couple months before he was sent back with 2 archbishops and Frankish bodyguards, who were to clear the Pope’s name. While this occured, Charlemagne took a tour of his kingdom. At the end of the tour, his fifth wife, Liutgard, died.

He then announced that he was going to Rome so that his oldest legitimate son, Charles, would be proclaimed King of the Franks, as was the tradition for Frankish heirs to be crowned before their predecessors died. While in Rome, he finally cleared Pope Leo’s name of guilt. On Christmas Day, the day he had planned to crown his son King of Franks, he was crowned Emperor of the Romans. Charlemagne accepted the position with humility. Einhard, his biographer, and one of his closest friends remarked the king saying that he would enter St.

Peter’s that Day if he had known what the Pope was going to do. Charlemagne as Emperor Charlemagne showed most of his true qualities as Emperor. This was to start his carreer as a diplomat. He turned his attention to the Holy Land. Reports of Moslem attacks on Christian monasteries had been reaching Europe. Charlemagene began efforts to befriend the Muslims. He sent a team of ambassadors to Baghdad, where he befriended the caliph of Baghdad.

It worked and the Caliph showered the Emperor with gifts of silk, and even an elephant. In 804, Saxony rebelled, and in an act of great cruelty, Charlemagne ordered that many Saxons to be sent to distant parts of the Frankish kingdom. In his new position came new enemies. His main enemy was the Byzantines. The Byzantine emperors were not happy with Charlemagne being crowned Emperor of the Romans.

In the year 805, Charlemagne had a confrontation with the Byzantines over the possession of Venice. But instead of fighting over Venice, Charlemagne ceded it to the Byzantine emperor in favor of better relations. The Normans were becoming more of a problem also. They would use their navy to raid the coastal villages of Frankland. Although the Franks were powerful on land, they were inferior to the Nomans at sea. Charlemagne organized his people to start building a new navy.

The conflict in the north was finally ended, but not by superior naval strength, but for the mere reason that the Norman king had died. In 810 the Franks started a campaign against the Normans, and Charles took the elephant he had received from the Caliph of Baghdad with him. While on the campaign, the elephant died. This was only the start of Charlemagne’s troubles. Later in 810, the Frankish Empire was struck by a cattle plague, causing famine. Charlemagne’s son, Pepin, and daughter, Hrodrud, both died that year, and Charlemagne’s health began to fail.

Charlemagne started plan how his empire would be split up after his death. He did not want to split his land between his remaining sons, for fear of fighting between them. But, as was Frankish tradition, he did plan to break up his empire, but under the condition that the 3 kingdoms work with each other. Also in his will, he made clear that eleven twelfths was to go to the church. In 811, Charlemagnes’s oldest son, Charles, died.

This left only Louis to govern the empire after his death. Many felt that the crown should not be passed to Louis, but rather to one of Charlemagne’s grandsons. But Charlemagne was determined to follow tradition. In 813, he summoned Louis to Aix-la-Chapelle to try and teach him how to govern and empire. In September of that year, Charlemagne crowned his son, Louis the Pious, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans.

Just a few months afterwards, Charlemagne was killed by a fever after a hunting trip. He was 71 years old. Conclusion Charlemagne by far had the longest rule of any ruler to date in Europe, with a reign of 45 years. He expanded education, and offered free education to his entire kingdom, and he strengthened the papacy. From his military exploits, to his diplomatic ones, he is truly a great man.

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