Einhard's Life of Charlemagne is a primary source document that shows how Charlemagne relied on Roman, Christian, and Germanic aspects of medieval Europe's cultural background in order to rule his empire. Charlemagne was able to create and control one of the largest empires in history, comparable to the one ruled by Julius Caesar, with this three pronged cultural approach to leadership. Charlemagne led many of his armies in battle himself and was one of the most respected generals and eventually dictators of the time. He would not have been able to gain or keep control of such a large empire without relying on aspects from his triple heritage.
Einhard wrote that Charlemagne, "used to wear the national, that is to say, the Frank, dress-next his skin a linen shirt and linen breeches, and above these a tunic fringed with silk; while hose fastened by bands covered his lower limbs, and shoes his feet, and he protected his shoulders and chest in winter by a close-fitting coat of otter or marten skins.
Over all he flung a blue cloak, and he always had a sword girt about him, usually one with a gold or silver hilt and belt; he sometimes carried a jewelled(sp) sword, but only on great feast-days or at the reception of ambassadors from foreign nations" (Einhard 23). Dressing as a traditional
Germanic warrior surely would have garnered Charlemagne the respect of his Germanic followers. As Einhard points out, Charlemagne didn't like to waver from his traditional dress, but would do so when it benefited him politically, "He despised foreign costumes, however handsome, and never allowed himself to be robed in them, except twice in Rome, when he donned the Roman tunic, chlamys, and shoes; the first time at the request of Pope Hadrian, the second to...