Life and times of Charlemagne

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Charlemagne ruled the Franks between 768 and 814. His empire stretched from the Pyrenees Mountains to Bavaria, and from Rome to what we now know as Denmark . Between the time he received control of his empire to the time of his death, the amount of land under Charlemagne's control doubled in size thanks to his organization, loyalty and faith. As an ambitious statesman, he gained more power and respect from Europe by working with the Pope to strengthen the Holy Roman Empire. However, he also spread and imposed Christianity, created learning centres, and standardized local laws. Charlemagne's accomplishments as a statesman, and success in improving the welfare of his society were just as important to the success of his empire as his feats in war.

Charlemagne inherited control of the Merovingian Empire from his father, Pepin the Short. The Merovingian Empire had been building up lands little by little over the previous years, thanks to the military genius of Charles "The Hammer" Martel and the ambitious Pepin the Short.

However, there were many people who were enemies of the empire, and disputes would break out over borders, religious faith and trading rights. Charlemagne has his first major battle in 772, four years after coming to the throne. The Saxons were a nation of pagan worshippers, which contradicted the beliefs of their Frankish neighbours. Both Charlemagne and the Church believed that the Saxons would benefit from converting to Christianity , so an army was sent east, headed by the king himself. After a series of battles that pushed all the way to the Weser River, the local chiefs surrendered to Charlemagne, who demanded annual tributes and the reception of Christian missionaries, and went home .

The next year, an aggressive Lombard army, lead by their leader Desiridius, started advancing towards...