The military victories of Charlemagne

Due to his war successes, Charlemagne's influence practically spanned the entirety of the Western Christian world. He governed as a Frankish king over Gaul, Germany, Italy, and the surrounding countries. The nations of Western Europe have preserved the memory of the former Roman Empire, which the administration of Charlemagne can be compared to. The Frankish king was regarded by his peers as "a single leader of the Christian people." The Frankish realm was one of the biggest in early medieval Europe and was built on the remains of the Western Roman Empire. (Collins, 1998). During its peak, it covered the whole territory of modern France, Belgium and Luxembourg, and some areas of the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Frankish kingdom passed two main periods (from the end of V to VII and VIII to mid-IX century) in its development (Collins, 1998). The divide between these periods is characterized not only by a change of the ruling dynasties (the Carolingians replaced the Merovingians) (Moore, 2011). It was the beginning of a new phase of deep socio-economic and political restructuring of the Frankish society, which gradually evolved in fact a feudal state in the form of a Liege of the monarchy. The second period witnessed the end of creation of large feudal land ownership, and the second one, operated by dependent peasantry. Feudal disunity changes the relative centralization of feudal state. The present research is devoted to the discussion of the rise of the power of the Charlemagne, impact of its rules, its success and failures. In addition, the research will deal with the discussion of the role of church in the middle ages and connection of church and Charlemagne Empire. Finally, the research will evaluate what impact on future of Europe the Charlemagne had.

The rise of Charlemagne together with the Frankish empire

From the end of the VII century formation of the Frankish state began anew, and went for it in a political way, although the existing apparatus of the Royal court and the Royal administration created a definite historical basis for this process (Easton and Wieruszowski, 1961). After a long struggle between different branches of the Frankish nobility, the actual management of the country transferred to Austrasia (Moore, 2011). In 687, Pepin de Herstal was proclaimed majordomo in the conditionally formed United Kingdom (Moore, 2011). The government and power of the Royal appointee has acquired an independent character in relation to the Royal. The position of majordomo of the Kingdom became hereditary, and was supported by kings or nobility. In the turn of VII - VIII centuries, the separate inheritance of management positions became a state tradition (Easton and Wieruszowski, 1961). By the beginning of the VIII century, the formation of new social forces was clearly manifested in the lands of the Frankish Kingdom (Easton and Wieruszowski, 1961). On the one hand, it was big landowners of Gallo-Roman and German origin (possession of which was formed by Royal awards and was protected by immunities). On the other hand, it was dependent peasants, freedmen, which came into bondage or under the protection of large landowners and has acquired the status of Roman clones. The largest landholdings were concentrated in the hands of Catholic Church, which began to play a public and political role in the Kingdom. Objective aim of a new state was to link the new social structure with political institutions, because without such ties any state would not have gone beyond the Royal palaces.

In 771, Charlemagne was proclaimed the king of the Franks. One of his major missions was to join all Germanic peoples into one kingdom (Easton and Wieruszowski, 1961). Secondly, he was responsible for converting his subjects to Christianity. Charlemagne was famous for his skills and ability to take military strategies; therefore, he spent much of his reign in warfare in order to achieve his major goals. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned as an emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III. He played a significant role in cultural and religious development of his empire. Thus, he encouraged the beginning of the Carolingian Renaissance, which signified a cultural and intellectual renewal of Europe. After the death of Charlemagne in 814, the territory of his empire covered the biggest part of Western Europe. In addition, Charlemagne had also ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. For the achievements and wide politics, Charlemagne is considered as the father of Europe.

Activity and reign of Charlemagne

During the life of Carloman, Charlemagne started his first independent war in Aquitaine in 769 against Gunold. Karl joined this war, hoping to help brother, however, although the brother has not had promised him assistance; Charlemagne strongly continued his campaign and finished it, having achieved all his goals. He forced Gunald to escape to Gascony. However, Charlemagne crossed the river Garonne and asked the Duke of Gascon to give him the rebel. At the beginning of his reign, Charlemagne put down a rebellion in Aquitaine. Later, he finally annexed this region to the Frankish state, replacing many local rulers by the Franks, and turning it into a vassal Kingdom, which was headed by his son Louis. Shortly after the death of his brother Charlemagne turned against the North Saxons, the pagans, who lived along the banks of German rivers Elbe and Weser. Those people continued to resist the attempts of the Anglo-Saxon and Frankish missionaries to convert them to Christianity and raided Frankish region in the lower reaches of the Rhine. The first campaign against the Saxons took place in 772. At first, the suppression and baptism of the Saxons occurred with easily, but soon mutinies and refusals against the new faith began. It was the most prolonged war in the period of Charlemagne’s reign.

Cultural achievements of Charlemagne

Charlemagne encouraged development of culture, inviting philologists, architects, musicians, and astronomers from all lands of the Empire, Ireland and England to the country. Under the leadership of the great Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin, who was the Minister of education of the Empire and with the participation of Theodulf, Paul Deacon, Einhard and many others, the system of education, known as the Carolingian Renaissance, was reviving. Furthermore, Charlemagne revived the study of classical Latin, encouraged annalistic and development of poetry. Moreover, Charlemagne took Alquina grammar lessons and began to compose a grammar of the German language. He also worked on correcting the texts of the Gospels and tried to learn the difficult art of calligraphy. In general, the contribution of Charlemagne into development of the Frankish Kingdom was immense. Therefore, he is rightfully regarded the father of the culture and major promoter of art.

Development of the state under the reign of Charlemagne

The list of achievements of Charlemagne includes reconstruction and construction of roads and bridges, settling the abandoned lands and the development of new territories, the construction of palaces and churches, introduction of sustainable agriculture.

Charlemagne constructed the bridge over the Rhine in Mainz and made an unsuccessful attempt to connect the Rhine with the Danube. The Palace chapel in Aachen is considered one of the wonders of the world. In addition, Charlemagne regulated the system of weights and measures and reformed financial system. In the sphere of politics, Charlemagne tried to stop the abuse of power of the counts and bishops and centralized power in the state (Heer, 2005). Power was divided into missatica (districts), which were periodically visited by the missi dominici, i.e., Royal messengers (Heer, 2005). The Commission, consisting of one clergyman and one layman, studied court decisions and financial documents, listened to complaints about the local rulers, eliminated the lies, corruption and greed in the administration and society. Generally speaking, Charlemagne has published 65 articles of laws, which contained more than 1000 individual orders (Heer, 2005). All these orders taught people how to fight, farm, trade and sue. Moreover, the reign of Charlemagne was of great importance for the state.

The last years of Charlemagne’s life were marked by tragedies and failures. Charlemagne witnessed the resumption of the attacks of the Normans on the Northern outskirts of the Empire; death of his wife and sister and his sons Pepin and Charles. As a result, at the end of 813, Charlemagne had to summon his spineless son, Louis of Aquitaine, who became known later as Louis the Pious. The Emperor crowned Louis and ordered to call him the Emperor (Heer, 2005).

Connection of church and State (Church as Social Glue)

Each activity of Charlemagne was permeated with a religious spirit. Church was a kind of an instrument for the Emperor, which provided him with the opportunity to set his laws and rules in each sphere of life. The King strived to be the only mediator between God and his subordinates, divided into three estates: the clergy, religious and laity (Story, 2005). In addition, he wanted to concentrate all the power over the Church in his hands, although he always supported close ties with the papacy, which have been established by his father. However, as Charlemagne considered himself to be God's conduct, he would have never allowed the spiritual power of the Pope to be above his own power (Story, 2005).

Charlemagne gave Church huge power; however, he controlled all the orders and each activity of Popes and monks. Furthermore, he participated not only in the meetings of the synods, but in the development of appropriate solutions and facilitated the adoption of them. Moreover, Charlemagne strongly fought against adoptianism and iconoclasm. In 1813, five Church councils, held in different parts of the country developed a large program of reforms, the execution of which was entrusted to the Emperor (Story, 2005). It is possible to say that the Emperor was the real head of the Church in the Frankish state. He sought to rebuild and change the Church hierarchy in the way that each branch was guided by him personally.

In order to have total control on churches and be able to guide all the orders, adopted by it, Charlemagne was setting up the Church life in his Empire. He made the decisions on appointments to important positions, selected candidates among the courtiers and individually determined objectives for each newly appointed representative of the Church. In order to be able to provide total control on the church, the Emperor demanded his bishops and archbishops to provide reports on their activities. It is obvious that Charlemagne extended the church reform, which has been started by his father, in the territory of his Empire. Despite the fact that people of Europe were involuntarily, Charlemagne made great efforts for the spiritual correction of society and the Church. By the time of his reign, the loose morals were prevailing in society and Church; however, Charlemagne personally contributed to the strengthening of discipline and morality among the representatives of the Church.

Judging by the attitude of Charlemagne to the Church, it is possible to say that it had an extremely huge influence on each sphere of life. Practically none of the political order has been passed without participation and approval of Church. Through the rite of anointing, the Church was able to influence the Emperor; therefore the secular nature of the state was receded into the background and church, although, being under total control of Charlemagne, took a direct part in life of the state and each citizen.

The monarchy acted in accordance with the Church. From the documents of those times, it is possible to see that the Church was equally concerned about the state of morale and discipline among the clergy, who ruled the life of the Church and secular officials, who represented the government. The Church as well as the government was interested in the positive solution of the issues. In order to successfully manage the state and officials, it was necessary to establish the same moral standards that were adhered to the clergy. As a result, the Church played a decisive role in the formulation of economic policy. Bishops became Royal advisers and has held official posts in the state administration system. The kings had entrusted them with the functions of their closest subordinates and appointed them to positions in the government and the Royal Council.

Influence of Charlemagne on the future of Europe

The role of Charlemagne in the future and development of Europe was immense, as he set the beginning of its cultural development. The laws, adopted by Charlemagne had a positive influence on the development of political, cultural and other spheres of life of European society. The focus of Charlemagne on the Church, as on the major source of moral and power, was helpful in creation of generally positive ethics of the Empire. Starting by the external politics of Charlemagne and conquering of new lands, and finishing by the laws and policies for cultural and religious development of his kingdom, created the basis for future development of Europe. Historians state that life and reign of Charlemagne are the examples of wisdom and political stability; therefore, he is regarded the Father of Europe and founder to educational system in most European countries.


Collins, R. 1998. Charlemagne. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Easton, S. and Wieruszowski,H. 1961. The era of Charlemagne. Frankish state and society. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Moore, E. 2011. A Sacred Kingdom: Bishops and the Rise of Frankish Kingship. Boston: Wiley

Story, J. 2005. Charlemagne: Empire and Society. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Heer, F.2005. Charlemagne and His World. NY: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

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