Pepin, continued this process throughout his rule and passed his beliefs on to
Charlemagne. All three, in addition to the political unification, believed that the church
should be reformed and reorganized under the Pope, which helped their rise to power as
the Carolingian Dynasty. (Holmes 74)
between his two sons. Three years later Carloman died and Charlemagne took control of
grandfather. Charlemagne used the army and his own skillful planning to more than
double the size of the Frankish Kingdom. (Halsall 15)
The world of Charlemagne was a heathen one, with many warring tribes or kingdoms.
Many of these tribes were conquered by Charlemagne, among them the Aquitanians, the
Lombards, the Saxons, the Bretons, the Bavarians, the Huns, and the Danes. The longest
of these battles was against the Saxons, lasting thirty-three years. Charlemagne actually
their pagan lifestyle, the Saxons lost many lives in the prolonged battles with the Franks.
With each conquest the Frankish kingdom grew, and with growth came additional power
and responsibility for Charlemagne. In each area of Europe that was taken over by
refused to convert or be baptized in the church were put to death. (Holmes 75)
The Church played a vital role in the kingdom of Charlemagne. It gave a sense of stability
to Charlemagne?s rule, and he in turn provided stability in the Church. The people
conquered by Charlemagne, after being converted to Christianity, were taught through the
Bible a unified code of right and wrong. It was necessary for the Church to play a role in
Church also guided Charlemagne?s hand as a ruler, for he took on many conquests as a
necessity to spread the Christian religion throughout Europe. (Ganshoff 19) Indeed, it
appears that Charlemagne?s desire to spread his kingdom and government was
intertwined with his desire to spread the Christian religion and have the people live
according to the Word of God. (Ganshoff 25)
Martel, Pepin, and ultimately Charlemagne all took as their personal responsibility the
reorganization of the Church. Each one, as king of the Franks, saw it his duty to better the
ultimately the “Palace School”, required all priests to learn classic Latin. His purpose was
to insure that church services were always conducted in the proper form, with correct
pronunciation and grammar. The education of the priests also served to provide
Charlemagne with a growing number of educated people for his administration, and gave
his kingdom a unified written language that could be passed on throughout all of Western
Europe. (Holmes 97)
decisive campaign, the Lombards were defeated. Charlemagne then added “King of the
Lombards” to his title, and gave control of the northern part of Italy to the Pope. The
creation of the “Papal States” indebted the Pope to Charlemagne, and Pope Leo III
eventually crowned Charlemagne “Emperor of the Romans” on Christmas day in 800AD.
Charlemagne knew that he must have the allegiance of the people to himself, the King. To
accomplish this, he looked back to the seventh century, and instituted an oath of fidelity – a
oath of fidelity pledging allegiance by the king?s subjects. (Boussard 42)
“The oath brought two immediate advantages. It created a direct, personal link between
the subject and the king. But more important still, anyone who broke it became guilty not
death penalty, he could still be condemned to lose his right hand as a perjurer, and what
was more, in religious terms he had placed himself in a state of mortal sin.” (Ganshoff
Charlemagne recognized the importance of education, not only of spreading it throughout
“Palace School” at his home, Aix-La-Chapelle. To staff his school, Charlemagne turned to
the monasteries. During the Dark Ages preceding the Carolingian dynasty, only the monks
had maintained the ability to read and write. They had over the years, however,
the school, and commissioned him to correct the texts that had been copied incorrectly.
The schools begun by Charlemagne were primarily for the education of the priests, but
were open to all people. Charlemagne?s Admonitio generalis stressed the importance of
education for everyone. Many of the scholars brought to the Palace School were
foreigners: Italians, Spaniards, and Irish, but there were also some Franks. (Holmes
Charlemagne himself joined the school, attended classes, and fulfilled his scholarly duties.
mastered Latin and Greek, but he could not speak Greek as well as he could understand it.
riding and hunting for the boys, and cloth-making for the girls.
The education system used by Charlemagne?s scholars was suprisingly like that of Classic
who lived in Charlemagne?s day, and under the kings who followed.
As King or Emperor, one of Charlemagne?s primary responsibilities was to regulate laws
the stage for the growth of Medieval Europe. Charlemagne took measures aimed at
contained in each. (Boussard 24) After the fifth century, coins had been minted by any
number of coiners, and the value of each varied greatly. The reforms of Pepin and
Charlemagne saw to the regulation of the amount of precious metals in each coin, as well
as the monogram of the king to be embossed on each. These actions gave the idea that
all men founded in the word of God. There were exceptions, however. People of privilege:
protection by the king, and had the ability to have their court cases heard in the palace
court. (Ganshof 93) Outside of the palace, Counts, or the individual heads of states,
man was able to read his own version of truth. Also, the adage “power corrupts” was
prevalent in the days of Charlemagne. To combat corruption or the misinterpretation of
laws, Charlemagne created the missi dominici, or royal commissioners to inspect and
inquire into the judgments of the local courts. (Ganshof 93)
Charlemagne had a profound effect on the art and architecture of Western Europe. His
commissioned great chapels for the monasteries, providing space to worship for many
the nomadic people of the time. The need for security and longevity necessitated a return
was resurrected. (Boussard 160)
Aesthetic decoration also played an important part of architecture during the Carolingian
empire. Mosaics, gilding, marble, carvings of ivory, and paintings adorned these new,
marvelous structures. Precious gems, gold, and silver were used throughout the churches.
Frescos, terra-cotta, and plaster were used to provide background for the walls and pillars
of churches and monuments. (Boussard 169) All of these arts were not, however, original.
Charlemagne was a enlightened leader who restored the roots of education and order
Medieval Europe. His reconstruction of the power of the Pope, the growth of the
monasteries – in particular those given to the education of priests and general population,
and revival of art and architecture was to set the stage for the development of Western
descendants of the Carolingians in their words and actions, leaving a precedent for the
actions of civilization for hundreds of years to come. Charlemagne, a king wiser than any
other of his time, was a determined and forceful leader who let nothing stop him once he
had begun a task. (Halsall 8)
*note – One reference not cited in this text portrayed Charlemagne as a gluttonous and
superstitious semiliterate with a propensity for brutality. As there were no other
the source (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia), however, I thought it insightful to include this
Boussard, Jacques, The Civilisation of Charlemagne. LondonWeidenfield and Nicolson,
Middle Ages. 1863 [gopher://gopher.vt.edu:10010/02/53/1]
Ganshof, Francis L., The Carolingians and the Frankish Monarchy, Studies in Carolingian
[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html]. August 1996
Holmes, George, The Oxford History of Medieval Europe. New York, Oxford University
I. Rise to power
A. Charles Martel
B. Pepin the Short
A. Shift from many Kings to Counts
1. Ownership by lineage changes to appointment by Charlemagne
2. The Oath of Fidelity p. 113 Carol. And Frank. Monarchy
B. Affiliation of the church(diocese) to newly conquered lands p. 205 Carol. And Frank.
C. Changes from Christian/pagan adaptations to true Christian religion
A. The need for education p.8 Carol. And Frank. monarchy
B. Alcuin p. 134 civ. Of Char.
C. Palace School / monastery
D. Importation of foreign scholars p.126 civ. of Char.
1. Methods of instruction p.130 Civ. Of Char.