Charlemagne (742–814)


742 Charlemagne was born at Aachen, today Germany, on April 2nd and was the first leader of Europe. King of Franks and then emperor of Holy Roman Empire, he succeeded, by military campaigns of over 4 decades, to rule an empire that stretched from Atlantic to Danube and from Holland to Provence.

768 He became, together with his brother, the leader of Franks’ Kingdom. His father, Pepin the Short, had problems in keeping and ruling French Empire, empire that had been unified by Charlemagne’s grandfather, Charles Martel. Pepin dethroned king of Gaul, member of Merovingian family, and so he became king of Franks.

771 Carloman died and Charlemagne united the kingdom under his leadership, ignoring his nephew’s inheritance rights. It can be said about Charlemagne that he was, first of all, a great military commander. Due to the 53 military campaigns he led, he could have extended Franks Empire almost over the entire European territory of nowadays and made people that were living in the central side of the continent become Christians.

774 Charlemagne invaded Lombardy (the North of Italy) whose king supported Carloman’s widow.

775 He started the campaign against Saxons, which lasted more than 30 years.

778 He besieged Zragoza and helped Arab rebels from Cordoba caliphate.

788 He dethroned his cousin, Duke of Bavaria, and started to conquer the other Germanic tribes, before going to Hungary and Austria.

Charlemagne strengthened ties of alliance between Roman papacy and French kingdom. He believed he was the Messenger of God on the Earth and that his task was to ensure the profane and spiritual welfare of his subjects. He respected papacy very much, protected it of any military incursion. All churches in his kingdom used the same Roman liturgical procedure, fact that was a very strong factor of unifying.

800 Pope Leo III was removed from the papal throne and took refuge to the Court of Charlemagne. Later, in the same year, Charlemagne restored him to the throne, and this, like a thanks, crowned him in the Christmas Day as the first Holy Roman Emperor.

812 Byzantine Emperor, Michael I recognized to Charlemagne the title of the Emperor of Western Roman Empire, telling in the same time that only Eastern Roman Empire was the real successor of Roman Empire. Charlemagne was also a pioneer of Roman architecture, although his great Dome from Aachen showed the Byzantine style of San Vitale church in Ravenna, a church admired and visited by the emperor. He built a bridge over Rhine and a fosse that linked Rhine with the Danube.

814 Charlemagne died when he was 70 years old and let to Europe the dream of the unification. At a short time after his death, by Verdun treaty, Charlemagne’s empire was shared into three parts: future France, future Germany and “Middle Kingdom” (Alsace and Lorraine) that remained a constant subject of dispute between the two states until the middle of century XX. Charlemagne conquered pagan populations from Europe and included them to the Christian Empire of Franks [].






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