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VI Charlemagne

Charlemagne opens new chapter in Western Europe, first Emperor since 476 in
the West.

Dominate in Western Europe for a few centuries.

Struggle between Pope in Rome and Western Emperor for dominance in
Western Europe.
Christian church as a conduit of memory that maintains the idea of old
Empire in the West
The Byzantine Empire in Eastern Europe was a living, breathing reminder
for the West of the glory of the old Roman Empire.
Reborn due to Frankish king (Charles the Great) and a Pope (Leo III)

Franks were Germanic people who pushed to Western Europe (the same time as
the other barbarians). King Clovis (r. 481 511) of the Merovingian dynasty.
Consolidated power and form core of a new Frankish state through military
conquests of territories once part of the old Roman Empire in the West ruled,
but accepted the nominal sovereignty of the Byzantine Emperor.
In 496, Clovis converted to Christianity, his wife Clotilde already an orthodox
(accepted the Council of Nicaea not an Arian Chalcedon Christian unique).
Clovis also converted to orthodox the one that is taught by the Pope in Rome.

Imagery of Constantine: He also is said to have promised to convert if he

won a certain battle. He was victorious in battle, a victory he attributed to
the aid of the Christian God, and thus he was baptized.
Ordered that 3000 of his men be baptized as well. Clovis converted from
Rome and thus became an orthodox Christian.

Clovis conversion established a close relationship between the Church in Rome

and the Frankish state. The Pope and the Church in the West felt that the
Frankish state would restore order in the West. The Church as an institution
supported the Frankish state, Franks promised to support and protected the

Successors became more Christianized, franks became more

Church accepted them as most likely successors to the Roman Empire,
most likely to install political unity in the West
Papacy realized Byzantine Empire was too far away to offer adequate
protection from constant waves of Germanic and other invaders need for
powerful and close ally to defend th interest of the Church and papacy.
Clovis conversation from Rome made the Franks the most likely ally.

Gradual decline into period of decline Do Nothing Kings as successors

allowing powers to slip from their grasps and into the chief advisors, Mayors of
the Palace. Power held by Mayor of Palace, not king, wielding no actual power.
Frankish kings cut off from functions of their kingdom, little more than political
figureheads and religious symbols. (Sacred individuals with no political authority)

The church deserted the Merovingian kings in the mid-8 th century and shifted its
allegiance to the Mayor of the Palace, Charles Martel who in 732 had successfully
driven back a Muslim invasion from Spain of Frankish territory in the Battle of
Tours, further cementing centrality of Mayor of the Palace.

Charles Martel was succeeded as Mayor of the Palace by his son Pepin the
Short (r. 741-768) who did away with the last Merovingian king and took for
himself the title King of the Franks and establishing the Carolingian dynasty.
Pepins consolidation of power and establishment of power

Bishop of Rome dealing with his own problems

Lombards were invading Italy and threatening Rome
Relations with Constantinople have reached new low iconoclasm
controversy developed (Papacy opposed) their refusal to give into
iconoclasm alienated them from Constantinople, 750s asking for military
aid from Constantinople, Emperor Constantine V choice aid on condition
of iconoclasm acceptance.
Pope Stephen II turned to Pepin the Short for help.
754; Pope and Pepin cut a deal needs legitimacy.
o Acknowledgement of Pepin as King of Franks for Protection of the
756: Lombards threatening again, Pepin honored his agreement, Pepin led
a force into Italy and defeated the Lombards. He also captured much
territory which he had no desire to keep. He therefore turned his territory
in Italy over to the Pope in what became known as the Donation of
Pepin in 756.
o Not willing to expand, wants Pope to have his own land to prevent
NOT a gift to the Church, but a gift to the Bishop of Rome. These lands
were given to the Pope for the Pope to rule as a temporal prince thus
giving the Papacy temporal power which would hopefully allow it
to defend itself against future invaders - Pepin had tried to give the
Pope territory to rule from which he could draw forces to defend himself
and the Church.
o Papal States personal property of the Pope.
Struggles to maintain and then expand the territory.

Donation of Constantine

750s: allegedly in the 300s, Constantine wrote out a testament that leaves
imperial authority in the Bishop of Rome should throne become vacant,
the authority lies with the Bishop of Rome to crown a new emperor.
o Only proven wrong and as a forgery in the 1400s.
o Written in 8th century Latin than 4th century Latin.
o Pope used to build up power.
Role of Pope put into question
o Petrine Theory
o Role of Pope outside spiritual confines of the Church

Pepin continues to build up Frankish kingdom, before death in 756.

Leaves his throne to two sons Charlemagne and Carleman. Sole rule
begins in 771.
Imposing (height-wise), noble-bearing, awe-inspiring.

Second Wife- -Daughter of the Lombard King. This marriage did not please the
Papacy given that the Lombard king had taken chunks of Papal territory in Italy.
Once however, the Lombard king returned some of the land, the Pope gave his
approval and sanctioned the marriage.

Aimed to stabilize the kingdom and helped to protect the papacy in Rome.

This infuriated the Lombard king who marched on Rome. Charlemagne headed
with his army for Italy where he crushed the Lombard in 774 and took the
additional title, King of the Lombards.

Charlemagne would be married three more times after this as well as be involved
in many marriage negotiations, including a plan for him to marry the Byzantine
Empress Irene who was ruling the Byzantine Empire in her own name. This
marriage never came to pass.
Build-up of the Carolingian Empire

Push into central Europe

Direct control past Rhine River, concession of host of peoples in Central
Europe (Croats) tributaries to Charlemagne.
Expanding into territories that Roman Empire didnt build-up.

Bishop of Rome by Fall 800, Leo III ran afoul of aristocracy in Rome, on stay of

Charlemagne just arrived in time to spare the Pope.

Christmas morning, 800, Emperor is in St. Peters, deeply in prayer.
From back of Church enters the Pope and his entourage.
Crowning him as new Emperor of Rome.
o Shocked and irritated?

Historians have questioned whether Charlemagne knew he was going to be

crowned or was surprised by it. Some argue that Charlemagne was too powerful
a ruler for the Pope to take this step without his approval.
Leo III did not recognize Irene as ruler Germanic law no woman could rule in
her own right.

o Byzantines are horrified of Charlemagne suddenly hard-pressed
financially though to launch any campaign
o Charlemagne did he work something out with the Pope?
Became Emperor on his own right Charlemagne was
o He wanted to send the same message while he saved his life, but
King of Franks was NOT above Bishop of Rome
The Papacy would later hold that the Pope had the right to
take the imperial crown from the vacant throne in the East

and crown an Emperor in the West. Hence the idea that the
Papacy had the power to dispense imperial power in the West
and since the Papacy could give one imperial power, it could
also take it away.
o Marriage to Irene reunification of Empire.
o Charlemagnes daughter and Irenes son marriage negotiation had
not gotten anywhere too.
o Advisors could not imagine her doing so.
Byzantines have to deal with this.
o Charlemagne creating an Empire?
Not really, centralization he sought to create, fabric of
organization all of it collapses soon after his death. But he

Charlemagnes achievements

Permanent capital. Built up a brilliant court at his capital of Aix-la Chapelle

made up of the best minds of his age, including probably one of the most
talented intellectuals of the time, the English monk Alcuin and Einhard
who would later write down the events of Charlemagnes life.
o Intellectual scholars imported host of Irish monks as advisors.
Made a concerted effort to reform and educate the clergy. Also
supported the cleaning up of Latin used in the Carolingian
Empire as well as the development of grammar schools to teach
some of the uneducated clergy as well as some of the Frankish
nobility how to read and write Latin. After Charlemagne, literacy
began a very slow rise. Charlemagne himself studied and could read Greek
and Latin but could write neither. He also supported the creation of new
monasteries in the hinterland of the Empire which served as not only
centers of Christianity, but of imperial power and education.
o Read, but not able to write.
o Language church of the west, in administration.
Monasteries as teaching of reading and writing Latin
Centers for military action to defend borders
Centres of conversion bring people into the Christian
Formation of central structure. Rebuild roads. Tries to resuscitate trade
along the coast Marseille import of Jewish merchants to rev-up trade.
Creation of silver coinage modeled after Constantine golden coin
monetary based economy rather than barter.
The Capitularies laws applied to all territories.
The missi dominici were key to his attempt as was his attempt to create an
imperial silver coinage that he hoped would become the standard currency
of exchange for the empire.
Personal authority of Charlemagne, overruled any local governor/ruler.
Monasteries, use of Bishop of Rome, Missi dominici sought to elevate the
status of Bishop of Rome as spiritual leader.
o Charlemagne > Bishop of Rome
Charlemagne crowns his own son power does NOT originate
in the Bishop of Rome.

Feudalism evolving and developing.


Decentralisation exercise of power by local officials. Direct opposite of

centralization and creation of imperial-style government.
Doomed to failure? Feudalism was emerging force.
Carolingian renaissance explosion of copying of manuscripts, intellectual
thought, brief thought. Frankish literacy rate improves. Intellectual
ferment in his own court.
Formation of Carolingian script
o Creation of lower case letters
o Ancestor of typeface today
40,000 manuscripts copied

Charlemagnes death Louis the Pious


Missi Dominici
Economic Development

Had he had additional sons, the empire would have been divided by then.

Louis the German got the area that would become the German states,
known as the Kingdom of the East Franks.
2. Charles got territory that would eventually become France, known as the
kingdom of the West Franks.
3. Lothair got title of Emperor and land between the lands of his brothers
which became known as the Middle Kingdom. The Middle Kingdom would be
divided itself in 855 between Lothairs heirs. This territory would prove for
centuries to be a battle ground between the emerging state of France and the
German states, each of whom wanted to control it.
Popes powers remain
o Debates over spiritual control and control of land
o Carolingian renaissance lasts well beyond him.
Divisions over inheritance other pressures over Charlemagne territory
o Constant attacks on East Frankish kingdom
o Constant attacks on West Frankish kingdom
Important to Southern and Eastern Europe.

The Vikings

The Vikings by the 8th century and perhaps earlier had developed amazing
skill at seafaring and had ventured far into the open ocean, much farther
than any other Europeans. They had developed an in-depth knowledge of
wind and sea currents and attained a level of navigational skill not to be
matched until the 15th century when the compass was developed. Known
as Norseman in Western Europe, or as Varangians in Byzantium
Germanic people
Later 8th century: the Vikings attacked the British Isles gaining small
footholds in England and gradually large parts of Scotland and toeholds in
Ireland. From England the Vikings swept to Iceland and Greenland. From
Greenland, Leif Erickson reached North America at a point the Vikings
called Vinland, which was probably somewhere in Canada, perhaps Nova
Scotia or Newfoundland, although no one is sure. It is certain that the
Vikings did reach North America.

Other groups of Vikings attacked France, one of which lead by Rollo forced the
Carolingian King of the West Franks to surrender Rollo and his group land on the
north coast of France. Rollo agreed to be a vassal of the West Frankish Carolingian
king. This area became the Duchy of Normandy.
Vikings in Southern and Eastern Europe
Called Varangians in this part of Europe, the Vikings penetrated into present-day
Russia initially exacting booty and tribute.
As time passed, it became clear that the Varangians were trying to develop a route
through the rivers of Eastern Europe to the Black Sea and thus to the Byzantine
Empire and Constantinople. They accomplished this and raided Constantinople
several times.
By the 9th century, there existed a very significant trade route that went from the
Baltic Sea, through Russia and the Ukraine and on to the Black Sea and
Constantinople. This route was controlled by the Varangians and became known as
The Way of the Varangians to the Greeks.

Harald Hardradi or Harald the Hard Ruler

Served with the Byzantines in a failed campaign to retake Sicily from the Arabs. He
was in Constantinople in the 1030s and in Russia in the 1040s returning to
Norway in 1046 where he was crowned king in 1047. Harold fought the Danes from
1047-1056 and then in September 1066 arrived in England to aid a rebellious
brother of the last Anglo-Saxon king, also named Harold, who was in a fight for the
English throne. Harald Hardradi was killed in September at the Battle of Stamford
Bridge by the forces of the English King Harold who weeks later himself would fall
to William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. The life of someone like Harald

the Hard Ruler shows convincingly the widespread impact and connections the
Vikings had with both eastern and western Europe.

Interconnectedness of the Medieval World

Lifetime experience embracing a series of different cultures,
inspired/influenced by these.

Rollo attacks West Franks Duchy of Normandy Mid-800s