Charlemagne • King of the Franks
• Defender of the Faith • Savior of Europe and Christendom • Controversial
Charlemagne – The beginnings • Charles “The Hammer” Martel (Son of Pepin I) was his Grandfather—he defeated the Moors at Tours Spain and established a tight and beneficial alliance with the Catholic Church. • Pepin, III “The Short” was his father. He was mayor of the Palace—use this position to become King of the Franks.(side note: Tithing to church started by Pepin)
Charlemagne – The beginnings • It is true Clovis (496 AD) began the Church/Frankish relationship; • Martel used the relationship to grow in power;
• Pope Zacharias placed its authority behind Pepin. Childeric, III; last of Merovingian kings.
Kingdom of the Franks • By Charlemagne’s 19th Birthday, he was a fierce warrior, Leader of men, and an apt bureaucrat. He was 6’ 3” tall, had big strong legs and wore a size 14 or 15 shoe—big boy! • Pepin the Short had consolidated the Frankish Empire; Charlemagne would make it a true Empire and dynastic Kingdom. • The Hapsburg Dynasty – Austria-Hungary; or what would become the Holy Roman Empire
Charlemagne • Recall that Byzantium is still rather formidable as Charlemagne accedes to power. • In 660 AD Constantine, II visits Rome. He essentially robs the treasury and the economy. • Constantinople is engaged with the Muslim Wars. • Pepin “The Short” still shows deference to Constantinople – Charlemagne, however, will not share power or deference.
Frankish Empire • Note to self: Since Clovis, though the Merovingian Kings were allied with the Church and embraced Christianity—they essentially remained Pagans (in practice) and passed authority through the ancient bloodline. • Pepin, backed by the Church, owed his Crown to the ‘Grace of God!” Pepin had been chosen by the “Vicar of God” – The Pope as the true legitimate King of the Franks.
Frankish Kingdom • Old traditions die hard; Byzantium, though only in illusion, remained the empress of the Mediterranean and the seat of Augustus.
• The illusion was that Byzantium was superior to Frankland; • Charlemagne would change this psuedo-belief.
Changes in European Power • Recall the Frankish bureaucracy of allowing autonomous government on the local level; • Charlemagne continued this trend, but he made sure that the Dukes, Mayors of Palace, and the Counts were staunch allies or he instilled royalty very loyal to him— simply he placed limits on this autonomy.
• He fostered a land owning aristocracy beholding to him—looked to a central gov’t to maintain their own power base.
5 Important Steps • Created an aristocratic base dependent upon the King— basis for army and leaders. Limits local autonomy. • Created a Carolingian “Civil Service.” • Issued capitularies to disseminate orders and established the Missi Dominici (inspection teams to ensure all orders and edicts were be obeyed. • Established common currency and matched it to the value of the Muslim coinage to encourage trade and economic uniformity. • Professionalized the Army; made it a standing army; conquered lands and then made the Army garrison and defend new lands.
Imperial Aura • Established Frankish Capital at Aachen on the Rhine River (Clovis was at Paris on the Seine). • Built essentially a Roman palace and a Chapel (model of San Vitale in Ravenna).
• Named his Chapel St. Martin. A Roman Cavalry officer who became a Christian (many at the time were Mithras). • Gave his very expensive and symbolic cloak of power to a cold hungry beggar. A very poignant statement.
Imperial Aura • People believed that objects or clothing worn by saints had magical powers; • Custom was to place one of these Relics as they were called on the altar of the local church to give in credibility and favor with God;
• Of course the more valuable the Relic the more favored was the church.
To Establish a Legacy • Charlemagne promoted literacy and the copying of old manuscripts – much of what we know due to this practice. • Established a Palace school headed by renown scholar Alcuin. • Began a literary revival; developed a unique script called Carolingian miniscule—in fact the lower case letters you are reading were developed by these scholars.
To Establish a Legacy • Established Latin as the official language of the Church; along with Pope uniformed the liturgical dissemination of biblical doctrine; and established the Pope or Bishop of Rome as the true “Vicar of God” and descendant of St. Peter. • This diminished the influence of the Byzantium Pope– Charlemagne also wanted out of his marriage from the betrothed Princess of Byzantium—he wanted something uniquely Frank—but most something uniquely Charlemagne.
To Establish a Legacy • When Pepin died he left as was the custom an equally divided empire between Charles and Carloman -mystery, but Carloman died. • Charles also wanted out of the marriages arranged by Pepin. • 1) The Princess of Byzantium (Himiltrude) bore him a hunched back son – He had this marriage annulled. Mostly because she had the deformed son placed in the dungeon, his eyes put out with red-hot pokers, then proclaimed herself empress and equal ruler.
To Establish a Legacy • 2nd wife was a Lombard Princess—Pepin had hoped this would create an alliance and resolve the traditional enemy attitude between the two nations and secure peaceful co-existence between the Lombards and the Church. • Desideria unfortunately was as arrogant and ambitious as her father the King of the Lombards—she was intellectual, independent, and considered herself above Charlemagne.
To Establish a Legacy • His third wife was Hildegarde—He chose her himself.
• She was 13 or 15; he was 28 or 30. She was a good mate and he truly loved her. • She was strong willed, independent but loved Charlemagne and truly enjoyed being a wife and mother. • She had red flowing hair, a quiet countenance, a warm smile and was as passionate about the hunt as was Charlemagne. She gave him 5 daughters and 4 sons. • There was an incident on one hunt where a wild Bull gored Charlemagne's horse—Hildegarde rode in and skewered the bull with her spear—saving Charlemagne.
To Establish a Legacy • After the Saxon wars – more to come later, • Charlemagne had consolidated a great empire – • Historians dispute how the actual event took place, whether it was contrived by Charlemagne or just spontaneously happened; but. On Christmas day 800 AD, the Pope unexpectedly placed the Crowned Tiara on Charlemagne’s head crowning him the Holy Roman Emperor
To Establish a Legacy
• In the 18th century, French Philosopher Voltaire stated—concerning Charlemagne– that the realm was neither holy, nor Roman, nor empire, but somehow managed to last for a thousand years – only dying in 1914 with the dismantling of the Hapsburg dynasty (some will say it died with the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars).
Charlemagne’s Legacy • Though Charlemagne desired to establish a Frankish Romanesque empire in the west – he was never able to fully succeed. • The Coronation ended the Byzantium power over the West; Western rulers could now legitimately claim their rule of lineage back to Augustus Caesar; Popes of Rome now free of the eastern influence and meddling; western church denied validity of the Caesaropapism—Lineage of Peter not Augustus to head the church.
Charlemagne’s European Legacy • Now west and east completely isolated; • Unfortunately could not over come the inherent weaknesses of the western economy; infrastructure still rural and agrarian; • Mostly succeeded because rivals were engaged elsewhere (Byzantium vs. Ottoman empire); • Charlemagne and Pepin had reigned for seventy years without controversy– this eliminates civil wars and strife; • Though eventually corrupted, the royal aristocracy was a stabilizing base for the Kingdom.