Taylor BreanApril 16, 200832.153Einhard’s Life of CharlemagneWhen reading Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne it is important that we keep in mind that Einhard was a good friend of both Charlemagne and his children. It is also important to note that a major reason he wrote Charlemagne’s biography was due to “the care that King Charles bestowed upon me in my childhood” (Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, 16). Therefore, Einhard’s respect and love for Charlemagne may have skewed some of Charlemagne’s biography. While we should analyze Life of Charlemagne, we should not overlook the fact that some of Einhard’s words may be exaggerated, as it is difficult to find a single negative trait or action done by Charlemagne. Due to Einhard’s personal relationship with Charlemagne he wrote the biography in his honor and therefore may have left out negative details and exaggerated Charlemagne’s stronger attributes. For this reason, historical analysts should keep in mind when reading Life of Charlemagnethat while most of it is accurate; Einhard may have a tendency to exaggerate Charlemagne’s strengths, and hide his weaknesses. Throughout his biography, Einhard continually praises Charlemagne’s character as well as his leadership skills. When looking at Charlemagne’s character, Einhard stresses Charlemagne, also known as Charles, was full of wisdom, had a high spirit, was patient, selfless, generous, and loved his friends and family. He also assesses what it was that made Charles such an effective leader, where he speaks of things like eloquence, relations with other kings, defeating the enemy to a point where they no longer would challenge King Charles, caring about the people, as well as many others. Although it is
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The book Two Lives of Charlemagne by Einhard and Notker the Stammerer presents a unique biographical and historical work about such an outstanding personality as of Charlemagne. His name shines out over the historical landscape, revealing the Dark Ages and Anticipating the Renaissance. The book consists of two parts, written by the aforementioned authors separately. In their works both authors highlight different psychological traits of Charlemagne, focusing on different sides of his personality and exercising different literature styles. These two Lives present a fascinating contrast. Einhard, having spent more than twenty-three years in Charlemagne's service, approached to his story named Vita Carolina as a public history, using a beautiful and well-expressed language.
In his part he recounts personal life of Charlemagne and his warfare achievements, learning, art, building, and in the skilful management of the state. Notker the Stammerer's De Carol Many is a collection of funny stories rather than a presentation of historical facts, and his main enchantment seems to stem from the inventive ways in which Charlemagne subdued arrogant or corrupted bishops and other men having power. His view on Charlemagne is much more intimate and down-to-earth, highlighting his noble nature and generosity towards the Church. In these stories, which combine into fiction, Charlemagne is already halfway to becoming the renowned figure of the epics in the late Middle Ages. Through out history rulers and those in power have often sought greater control and attempted to secure more authority. During the Middle Ages power was usually obtained by either being victorious in battle, inheritance, or by entering in some sort of contract.
One of the most powerful of all rulers during the Middle Ages was Charlemagne other wise know as Charles the Great. With the start of Charlemagne's rule he was constantly engaged in military campaigns creating a vast empire and rapidly becoming one of the most powerful men of his time [Einhard, 43 ]. No doubt that outstanding leadership qualities of Charlemagne played crucial role in his successful warfare operations and other achievements. Charlemagne had accomplished more that any other one person in Western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire. Charlemagne came from a long line of powerful leaders; he was the son of Pepin the Short, and the grandson of Charles Martel. In 768, when Charlemagne was 26, he, along with his brother Carloman inherited the kingdom of the Franks.
In 771 Carloman died, and Charlemagne became the only ruler of the monarchy. At that time the northern half of Europe was still pagan and ungovernable. In the south, the Roman Catholic church was striving to assert its power against the Lombard kingdom in Italy [Einhard, 79 ]. In Charlemagne's own empire, the Franks were falling back into barbarian ways, neglecting their education and religion. He built his new Carolingian kingdom from the backbone developed by his father and grandfather. In 772 he launched a 30 -year campaign to conquer his hostile pagan neighbors.
Charlemagne gained praise throughout Europe for his exceptional military ability, determination, and success. He engaged in more than 50 military campaigns against neighboring Germanic peoples including the Avars, Slavs, Byzantines, and the Moors. When possible Charlemagne attempted to settle disputes peacefully; however, he was quick to crush any opposition by force if necessary. Such was the case when he made an effort to pay Desiderius, the Lombard king, to return lands to the papacy. Desiderius rejected Charlemagne's offer and in 774 Charlemagne crushed the Lombards and assumed for himself the Lombard crown. On Christmas Day in 800, while Charlemagne knelt in prayer in Saint Peter's in Rome, Pope Leo III seized a golden crown from the altar and placed it on the bowed head of the king.
The throng in the church shouted, "To Charles the August, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor, long life and victory!" [Notker, 164 ] Charlemagne is said to have been surprised by the coronation, declaring that he would not have come into the church had he known the pope's plan. [Notker, 198 ] However, some historians say the pope would not have dared to act without Charlemagne's knowledge. The coronation was the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire. Though Charlemagne did not use the title, he is considered the first Holy Roman emperor (see Holy Roman Empire). Charlemagne's quest for ultimate power and control over new lands rapidly expanded until around the year 800 when his outward development could no longer advance beyond his kingdoms borders. The possession of land during Charlemagne's time equaled power and as the conquerable land resources dried up so did some of his influence.
Charlemagne's empire had also reached a level in which it economic and technical resources had not progressed enough to control the lands that had already been conquered and more importantly to defend it against possible enemies. Charlemagne's empire lacked the resources which the Romans had utilized to preserve their empire: a money economy, a paid civil service, a standing army, a properly maintained network of roads and communications, and a navy for coastal defense. By accepting the title of Roman Emperor on Christmas Day 800 Charlemagne firmly placed himself as the most powerful person in Western Europe not only for his cunning and military prowess, but also because he was now backed by the an even more powerful force the church and God [Einhard, 65 ]. By allying with the church Charlemagne now possessed both the secular and political support he needed to strengthen his realm. The coronation marked the beginning of an amalgamation between the Roman Mediterranean and the German civilizations. Being crowned Roman Emperor made Charlemagne more appealing to others in European powers, such as the Byzantines, who may have not agreed with his political and military tactics, but honored the church and Christianity.
One has to remember that Christianity played an intricate role in most of the lives of the European people and now that he had been anointed by the church Roman Emperor his influence stretched far past where his military might could have taken it. Charlemagne was an intelligent man and he understood that if he were to continue on his quest for power that he would need the church on his side and by accepting the crown people could see his rule as a matter of faith rather than by fear alone. The main explanation of Charlemagne's amazing conquests was his ability to manage and organize [Notker, 201 ]. During his period of influence he sent out more than 50 military expeditions. He rode as commander at the head of at least half of the mentioned expeditions. He moved his armies over wide regions of country with amazing speed, but every move was planned in advance.
Before an operation he told the counts, princes, and bishops throughout his realm how many people they should bring, what arms they were to carry, and even what to put into the supply wagons. These features of organization and the hasty marches later led Napoleon to learn from him in his tactics. Charlemagne was an 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 Civilization as we know it today. Laws, traditions, and teachings were carried on by the 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.
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