Charlemagne , also known by the name of Charles the Great . He was King of the Franks and Christian Emperor of the West. He did many things to define the shape and character of medieval Europe and presided over the Carolingian Renaissance.


Personal information

  • When was he born:  04/02/742
  • Where he was born:  Herstal, Belgium
  • When he died:  01/28/814
  • Where he died:  Aachen, Germany

Who was Charlemagne?

He was one of the Germanic monarchs who managed to establish the Empire in Western Europe. Considered the “father of Europe”, he was also the king of the Franks and founder of the Carolingian empire.

  • What did
  • Historic context
  • Biography of Charlemagne
  • Death
  • Fathers
  • Relations
  • Sons
  • Coronation of Charlemagne
  • Conquests
  • How he ruled such a vast empire
  • Importance
  • Contributions
  • Charlemagne’s physical appearance
  • Personality
  • Phrases
  • Charlemagne in popular culture

What did

There were many great feats of Charlemagne, the most important were:

  • It is going to unify Europe .
  • He managed to process Christianity .
  • He restored the Glory to Rome .
  • He managed to make the first unification of Europe in the 9th century and in the 20th century.
  • He imposed an expansive policy through an alliance of the Franks with the Papacy.
  • He conquered Saxony (northern Germany), and a large number of territories that today are France , Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, and most of Germany, Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia.

Historic context

The Christianization of the Franks had happened in the fifth century with the conversion of the Merovingian king Clovis I.  However, his dynasty had fallen after the battle of Tertry , causing the powers of government to be exercised through the mayordomos. Pepin of Heristal who was the steward of Austrasia , ended the conflict between the Frankish kings , becoming the ruler of the Frankish kingdom. When he died, he was succeeded by Carloman and Pepin the Short who was Charlemagne’s father. When Carloman resigned, Charlemagne managed to come to power.

Biography of Charlemagne

Charlemagne was born in the late 740s near Liege in what we know today as Belgium . He was the son of the Frankish king Pepín el Corto . When the king died in 768, his kingdom was divided between his two sons and for three years Charlemagne ruled with his younger brother Carloman . When Charleman died suddenly in 771, Charlemagne became the sole ruler .

He managed to dominate Europe in his time through fighting rebellions and managed to expand the kingdom in an impressive way. On Christmas Day 800, he was crowned by Pope Leo III and hailed as emperor of the Romans.


After having had an important military career and succeeding in expanding the territory, Charlemagne, in 813 , called Ludovico Pio to name him as king . After this ceremony, he fell ill with pleurisy , a disease that made him go into a coma and die on January 28, 814.


Her parents were King Pepin the Short and Bertrada de Laon who was known by the name of Berta.


He had five different wives. His first wife was named Himiltrudis , who bore him a son who was called Pepin the Hunchback . His mother wanted to marry him with Desiderata , daughter of the King of the Lombards, under political motives, however, he refused to marry her. In 771 he met Hildgarda with whom he fell in love and with whom he married. After Hildegard died many years later, Charlemagne remarried the daughter of the Frankish count, Fastrada, who caused him great problems. When she passed away, he had a relationship with Liutgarda , daughter of a German count, whom he married.


His children were male, they were monarchs and were appointed by their father to occupy positions of great importance within the kingdom, in addition to being anointed by the Para, his children were:

  • Carloman : was his eldest son who took the Iron Crown and was named king by his father. He was known as Pepin when he was named King of Italy.
  • Luis : was named like king of Aquitaine.
  • Ludovico Pio who was named king before Charlemagne’s death.

He maintained on the other hand, the daughters of Charlemagne remained in his home , since Charlemagne did not allow them to participate in activities within the government and did not want them to get married . His daughters were Adelaida, Rotrudis, Berta, Gisela and Hildegarda.

Coronation of Charlemagne

Charlemagne was crowned night on December 25 of the year 800 as the king of the Franks . He was crowned emperor of Rome by Pope Leo III in the Cathedral of Saint Peter , thus becoming one of the sovereigns with the most power in all his time. According to historians, Charlemagne was crowned unexpectedly, as he had knelt before the altar and the Pope had approached from behind placing the emperor’s crown on him.


He made several military campaigns to expand his kingdom. He invaded Saxony in 772 and finally achieved his total conquest and conversion to Christianity. He also extended his dominion southward, conquering the kingdom of the Lombards in northern Italy. In 778, it invaded northern Spain , and was later controlled by the Moors. Between 780 and 800, Charlemagne added Bohemia to his empire and subdued the misers in the middle Danube basin to form a buffer state for the eastern boundary of his empire.

How he ruled such a vast empire

Charlemagne managed to rule his entire empire, through the unity of the same through the  cohesion of a great set of territories of the Christian West . Through this, he succeeded in getting the papacy to give the Carolingians the formation of the Papal States and the coronation . Being considered the lord of the Church, he used the bishops as important pieces of his imperial organization chart .

In addition, he carried out different wars and fought against rebellions and resistance that arose internally. He used a wide variety of administrative , economic , government , judicial and religious assistants who together could do more of the day-to-day tasks on his behalf. His generation managed to rule the Empire for several generations, and his important administrative system laid the foundation for several modern European nations.


Charlemagne was important both for the number of victories and for the size of his Empire, as well as having included a combination of tradition and innovation . He was commissioned to campaign against the Saxons, managed to impose baptism and eliminated the rebels . He put his power to serve Christianity , monastic life , the teaching of Latin and the rule of law. It was taken as a model for other kings, and represented the fusion of Germanic , Roman andChristian , which would later become the basis of European civilization.


Charlemagne succeeded in introducing administrative reforms in the lands he controlled, establishing key representatives in each of the regions. He held a general assembly every year at his court in Aachen. It was able to normalize weights , measures and customs duties , helping to improve trade and also originated important legal reforms . He sought a way to consolidate Christianity throughout his empire and convinced many scholars to come to his court and established a new library of Christian and classical works.

Charlemagne’s physical appearance

There is no exact description of Charlemagne, however, some historians indicate that he was broad and robust , tall, had large eyes and white hair . He had a figure of authority and dignity . His belly was a bit bulky but it was proportionate anyway. A step firm , manly and clear voice and powerful , always dressed in traditional manner, discreet and quite ordinary .


It is said that his personality was that of a jovial spirit.  He infected others with his cheerful and positive spirit , full of strength, honest, not very arrogant and very calm, his personality was that of a modest and reserved man .


Some of the most recognized phrases of Charlemagne were the following:

  • I love those who can smile in the midst of trouble .
  • Men are easily persuaded that it is false , or at least doubtful, that which they do not wish to be true .
  • I have learned much more from my one defeat than from all my victories.
  • Just as iron rusts from lack of use and stagnant water becomes rotten, so inactivity destroys the intellect.
  • It is ignorance not to know how to distinguish between what needs demonstration and what does not.

Charlemagne in popular culture

Regarding the presence of Charlemagne within popular culture, books such as:

  • Charlemagne by Harold Lamb
  • The Quest for Charlemagne by Steve Berry
  • Charlemagne by Joaquín Javaloys
  • The Elephant of Charlemagne by Dirk Husemann
  • Charlemagne and the medieval Europe of Cristina Durán
  • Charlemagne by Wolfgang Braunfels

Films and documentaries have also been made that tell their story, for example:

  • The Code of Charlemagne (film)
  • Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire (documentary)
  • The Code of Charlemagne: The Holy Spear (film)
  • Alexander the Great (film)
  • The Age of Charlemagne (film)

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