Charlemagne, bringer of the golden age of Europe.

Essay by AlUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 1996

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Charlemagne (Charles the Great) is the most discussed political leader of the 8 th and 9th centuries. He became ruler of a vast empire in Western Europe, and from 800AD on held the title of Roman Emperor. Later on Charlemagne acquired an almost divine status, both as a Catholic saint, and as the hero of French epics and Romances. At his death in 814AD, what he left behind was a remarkably well organized and administered empire that stretched from the River Elbe to the Pyrenees. It was Charlemagne that brought about the unity of Medieval Europe through conquest as well as a strong administration. Charlemagne was solely responsible for bringing Europe out of the dark ages and establishing its golden age during his rule.

Among the barbarian tribes who pulled down the Roman Empire, the earliest success in creating a new European state went to the Franks, a group of Germanic tribes who occupied much of what are now France and Germany.

The Frankish kingdom was founded by Clovis I (circa 461-511), who began as a minor ruler in Belgium and built up a realm that stretched across Gaul. In the process he defeated the last Roman leader in France, Visigoths from Spain, and Alamanni from Germany. Clovis converted to Christianity in 496 after success in one of his most perilous battles. The Franks adopted the Latin dialect of the Celtic peoples who occupied Gaul, beginning the development of the French language. Clovis founded France's Merovingian dynasty, but he sacrificed the unity of his kingdom by following Frankish custom and dividing it as a legacy to his four sons. The region was divided into rival kingdoms for several centuries.

Charlemagne was born the son of the Frankish king Pepin the Short and the grandson of Charles Martel. Charles...