Einhard's The Life of Charlemagne

Essay by saminsfUniversity, Bachelor'sB, January 1996

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Looking back at history, an individual usually can find an incredible amount of information about any given period in any given part of the world. Yet as varied are the history books, so are the biases which they each present. We see one example of these biases in Einhard's The Life of Charlemagne in which this adviser and close friend to the great Frankish king gives his history of Charlemagne's life. One issue that Einhard repeatedly touches on is the virtually uninterrupted series of wars that the Frankish Kingdom under 'Charles the Great' undertook. Throughout the individual accounts of these war, Einhard attempts to justify Charlemagne's military career.

It seems that when one looks back at Charlemagne and his seemingly unending chain of conflict that he put his kingdom through, one could come to the conclusion that Charlemagne was simply always blood and land thirsty, yet Einhard constantly tries to convince the reader that his king's military ambitions were actually for the best for the Frankish people and for others throughout their isolated world.

Einhard gives various reasons for individual wars for which he believes strengthened the kingdom and the crown. The first war that the Frankish king lead was mounted against Aquitaine shortly after Charlemagne was anointed in 768. It was started supposedly by Charlemagne's father, Pepin the Short, 'but not brought to a proper conclusion.' (Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne) Einhard explains that Charlemagne simply did not want to abandon a task once it had been started and so with 'no small perseverance and continued effort,' (Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne) he was able to complete the war successfully. Even at this early point in Charlemagne's reign, Lupus, Duke of the Gascons, not only obeyed the kings command to turn over a fugitive, but also submitted...