This essay was written by a 6th grader
Charlemagne, the greatest of medieval kings, was the son of Pepin III, also known as Pepin the Short. He was born in the year 742, in Northern Europe. Charlemagne was illiterate and never received proper schooling during his childhood. Most of his childhood was spent controlling his father’s huge empire which spread from present-day France to Switzerland. However, Charlemagne did not control all of the empire. Just before his death, King Pepin claimed that his empire should be divided into two parts. King Pepin wanted half of the empire to be ruled by Charlemagne while the other half would be ruled by his brother, Carloman. After this event, Charlemagne begins his long ruling of the empire.
Charlemagne and Carloman inherited the empire in 768. Charlemagne was twenty-six at the time. Three years later, however, Carloman dies. This is how Charlemagne became sole ruler of the empire. Charlemagne was determined to expand the empire.
During the beginning of his reign, there were a few problems that Charlemagne encountered. One of the problems was the Franks themselves. The Franks were neglecting their education and religion. Additionally, the Saxons were still pagans and refusing to convert to Christianity. Lastly, the Roman Catholic Church was trying to recover land confiscated by the Lombard Kingdom of Italy. Europe was in a state of tumult.
Within a year of his Carloman’s death, he launched a thirty year military campaign to achieve his ambition. He started with wars against the Saxons. This was a long lasting war. In 778, Charlemagne adds eastern Germany and Hungary to his growing empire. Four years later, the Saxons lead a surprise attack with success. Charlemagne answers this attack by executing 4,500 Saxon prisoners in one day.
In 800, Charlemagne was the acknowledged ruler of Western Europe. His realm included present-day France, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, half of present-day Italy, Germany, and parts of Austria and Spain. Charlemagne restored the unison of the old Roman Empire and established the path for the development of modern Europe.
On Christmas Day in 800, Charlemagne knelt in prayer in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. During this time, Charlemagne is made emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Pope Leo II placed a gold crown on his head. It is said that Charlemagne was surprised at the coronation and said he would not have come to the church if he had know this was going to happen. This day was the only time in Papal history that a pope bows to an earthly king.
Charlemagne finishes the construction of his court at Aachen after his coronation. He then gathers the best scholars in Europe to make his court an education place. Alcuin works with Charlemagne and they both make the Palace School, a place where everyone could receive an education. Charlemagne had other construction projects as well. This included thermal baths, a cathedral in Revenna, and an immense five hundred foot long bridge over the Rhine River.
After this point, Charlemagne’s reign comes to a close. In 811, Charlemagne marches to Verden to confront Godefrid, the king of the Norsemen. He was continuously attacking Charlemagne. However, before Charlemagne could meet with him, Godefrid was murdered. Charlemagne’s trip back home was his last expedition. In 813, he had terrible health and gave his power to his son Louis. A few months later, Charlemagne was dead. It was “By the sword and the cross,” that Charlemagne had become master of Western Europe.
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