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Charlemagne Essay

2923 words - 12 pages

There was relatively little commerce in Western Europe. Roads, bridges, and the infrastructure generally were non-existent. Furthermore, the countryside was unsafe for travel due to a lack of organized law enforcement. Small villages had to take care of themselves; therefore, manufacturing was carried on only to the extent that was needed to supply local needs.

In the little kingdoms or principalities, the lands over which a King ruled were regarded as no different from other property. Among the Franks, all sons were entitled to a share. Therefore, when a King died, each son became a King over his own little kingdom. Thus, many political units became small so there were no ...view middle of the document...

For some reason tension between Charles and his brother began shortly after their accession. The author explains a number of conflicts. The younger brother died however, at the end of 771 and a number of prominent people in his kingdom offered allegiance to Charles. Bullough names and explains those subjects. The result was the re-uniting of those territories, which helped to establish the kingdom of the Franks. The author describes in detail the military conquests of Charlemagne. The text includes maps of the territories and battlefields. It is stated that to some areas, Charles may have come as a liberator from the infidel yoke, but to many other peoples who bordered his dominions, Christian and Non-Christian alike, he was an oppressive enemy, like so many others before and after.

In 880, Pope Leo III called on Charles for assistance when he faced charges of simony, perjury, and adultery. Charles acted with careful deliberation when dealing with this matter. Charles was asked to preside over the Pope’s hearing. He did so, and Leo was cleared of all charges. Two days later, Leo placed a crown on Charles head and proclaimed him Holy Roman Emperor. This gave Charles the “Devine Right to Rule” according to the Roman Church.

The author does not infer from any of this information. Personally, it seems that Charlemagne united an empire by conquest and ruled by the authority of the Pope. Bullough does not suggest that during this time the government and the church became so intervened that there were really one and the same. Having conquered an empire and established the “Devine Right to Rule”, Charles then, according to Bullough, began to establish some uniformity within the empire. The ancient concept of public order had not been entirely destroyed by the invasion of barbarians within the empire. But, as law and order became weaker, its place was partly taken by the Churchmen’s Nations of peace and right order. The author explains how Charles established a system of courts to see that justice was done to all free disputants and to protect widows and orphans. The author does not state any conclusions as to the results of the establishment of a uniform legal system.

Although Charles was not literate, he seems to have placed value in education. Bullough credits him with a revival of learning or a “Carolingian Renaissance”. Charlemagne saw that education was in serious decline. So he gathered together at his court some of the finest minds of his day. He also sponsored monasteries where ancient books were preserved and copied. He reformed the palace school and saw that monastic schools were set up throughout the realm. The idea of learning was given a time and a place to flourish. The “Carolingian Renaissance” was an isolated phenomenon. Learning did not catch fire throughout Europe. Only in the royal court and monasteries was there any real focus on education. Yet because of Charles’ interest in preserving and reviving knowledge, a wealth of ancient...

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