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Charlemagne

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Essay title: Charlemagne

I INTRODUCTION

Charlemagne was the king of the Franks and emperor of the Romans from 800-814. During his reign Charlemagne built a kingdom that included almost all of western and central Europe and he started Carolingian Renaissance. His empire had two main territories, East and west Francia that is now the major parts of two important European entities. West Francia is modern-day France, and East Francia became first the Holy Roman Empire and then the modern state of Germany.

II BACKGROUND AND EARLY LIFE

Charlemagne was born on about 742. He was the oldest son of the Frankish leader Pepin the Short. Pepin was the mayor of the palace under the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish kings. Since he was in a long line of weak Merovingian kings, Pepin left as Mayor and in 751 he became king of the Franks. Pepin got the support of the pope in order to strengthen his rule. Pope Stephen II officially crowned Pepin in 754 and he anointed both Charlemagne and his younger brother Carloman. During his father’s reign, Charlemagne fought with the Frankish army on campaigns to defend the pope against the Lombards. Lombards were a Germanic people who controlled northern and central Italy. As a result, Charlemagne learned the importance of both strong leadership on the battlefield and of close links between worldly power and the Roman Catholic Church.

III THE RISE OF A NEW KING

On Pepin’s death, his kingdom was divided between his two sons. For three years Charlemagne shared rule of the kingdom with his brother, Carloman. After Carloman died in 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, and went to Rome and strengthen

his support of the pope. Charlemagne then began military campaigns to expand the Frankish kingdom.

IV CHARLEMAGNE’S EMPIRE

A Administrative Reforms Charlemagne introduced new governmental reforms into his empire. He built on the existing system of seignorialism, whereby kings gave tracts of land to their nobles in exchange for loyalty and service. Charlemagne granted large landholdings called fiefs to many tribal military leaders. In addition, he appointed numerous Frankish aristocrats to the posts of counts and margraves These officials were key to administering the empire. They were kings in miniature, with all of the administrative, judicial, and military authority of the emperor within their respective districts. Each political district had its parallel in a church district, or diocese, headed by a bishop, with similar authority in all matters related to the church. Both counts and bishops were vassals of the emperor, and were supervised by representatives of Charlemagne known who traveled throughout the empire overseeing economic and legal matters in his name. Every year, both counts and bishops attended a general assembly at Charlemagne’s court at Aachen where they would advise the emperor and hear his directives.

B Economic and Legal Reforms Charlemagne reorganized the economy of his empire. He fixed tolls, custom dues, weights

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