The Coronation the 800 CE

Charlemagne got to the elevation of his strength in 800 once he to be crowned Emperor the the Romans by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day in ~ Old St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsIn 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne the Emperor of the Romans, thereby extending Charlemagne’s power and also authority.Some historians believe that Charlemagne to be surprised by the coronation and also would not have entered the church that day had he recognized the pope’s plan.Nonetheless, Charlemagne offered these scenarios to insurance claim that he to be the renewer the the roman inn Empire, i beg your pardon would remain in constant existence for virtually a millennium, together the divine Roman Empire.Although among the intends was ostensibly come reunite the whole Roman Empire, provided that many at the time (including the pope) go not recognize Empress Irene the the oriental Empire as a legit ruler, the two empires remained independent and also continued to fight because that sovereignty throughout the middle Ages.The Pope’s an ideas for crowning Charlemagne was to give the papacy and also the church implicitly authority end the empire, because with this act Leo collection a criterion for crowning emperors, which succeeding popes would perform throughout the power of the holy Roman Empire.Key TermsEmpress Irene: A byzantine empress who ruled indigenous 797–802, throughout the time of Charlemagne’s coronation.Byzantine Empire: sometimes referred to as the Eastern roman inn Empire, was the extension of the Roman realm in the East during Late Antiquity and also the middle Ages, as soon as its funding city was Constantinople.Holy roman inn Empire: A multi-ethnic facility of territories in central Europe that arisen during the early Middle Ages and also continued till its dissolution in 1806; founded by the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III.


In 799, ~ Pope Leo III to be abused by Romans who tried to placed out his eyes and tear out his tongue, that escaped and also fled to Charlemagne at Paderborn. Charlemagne, advised by scholar Alcuin the York, took trip to Rome in November 800 and held a the supervisory board on December 1. On December 23, Leo swore one oath of innocence. In ~ Mass, top top Christmas day (December 25), once Charlemagne knelt in ~ the altar to pray, the pope crowned him Imperator Romanorum (“Emperor the the Romans”) in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In so doing, the pope effectively nullified the legitimacy that Empress Irene the Constantinople. As chronicler James Bryce writes:

When Odoacer compelled the abdication that Romulus Augustulus, he did no abolish the Western empire as a separate power, yet caused it come be rejoined with or sink right into the Eastern, so that from the time there was a single undivided roman inn Empire… , choose their predecessors, held the Roman realm to be one and also indivisible, and also proposed by the coronation that no to proclaim a severance of the East and also West.

Charlemagne’s coronation together emperor, despite intended to stand for the continuation of the unbroken heat of kings from Augustus to Constantine VI, had the impact of setting up two separate (and frequently opposing) empires and also two separate insurance claims to imperial authority. For centuries to come, the emperors of both West and East would make competing claims of sovereignty over the whole.

In assistance of Charlemagne’s coronation, some argued that the royal position had actually to be vacant, deeming a mrs (Irene) unfit to be emperor. However, Charlemagne do no claim to the oriental Empire. Even if it is he actually preferred a coronation at all remains controversial—his biographer Einhard related that Charlemagne had actually been surprised through the pope. Regardless, byzantine felt its role as the single heir the the Roman realm threatened and began come emphasize its superiority and its roman identity. Relations between the two empires remained difficult. Irene is said to have sought a marital relationship alliance between herself and Charlemagne, however according to Theophanes the Confessor, who alone mentions it, the scheme was irritable by Aetios, among her favourite advisors.


Coronation of Charlemagne: The Coronation that Charlemagne, by assistants of Raphael, c. 1516–1517.


For both the pope and Charlemagne, the Roman empire remained a far-ranging power in European national politics at this time, and continued to host a substantial section of Italy, with boundaries not much south the the city the Rome itself. This is the empire that historiography has actually been labelled the oriental Empire, for its resources was Constantinople (ancient Byzantium) and its people and also rulers were Greek; it was a completely Hellenic state. Indeed, Charlemagne was usurping the exclusive right of the roman inn emperor in Constantinople just by sitting in judgement over the pope in the very first place. Chronicler John Julius Norwich writes of their motivation:

By whom, however, can he be tried? In normal situations the just conceivable answer come that question would have actually been the Emperor in ~ Constantinople; but the imperial throne to be at this moment lived in by Irene. That the Empress was notorious for having actually blinded and murdered her very own son was, in the psychic of both Leo and also Charles, virtually immaterial: the was enough that she to be a woman. The woman sex was well-known to be incapable of governing, and also by the old Salic tradition was debarred native doing so. As far as west Europe was concerned, the Throne of the queens was vacant: Irene’s claim to it to be merely second proof, if any type of were needed, that the degradation into which the so-called Roman realm had fallen.

For the pope, then, there was “no life Emperor at the the time.” Furthermore, the papacy had due to the fact that 727 been in conflict v Irene’s predecessors in Constantinople end a variety of issues, chiefly the continued oriental adherence to the theory of iconoclasm, the damage of Christian images. Native 750, the secular power of the byzantine Empire in main Italy had been nullified.

Norwich defines that through bestowing the imperial crown upon Charlemagne, the pope arrogated to himself “the right to choose the Emperor the the Romans, creating the royal crown together his own an individual gift however simultaneously giving himself latent superiority end the Emperor who he had created.” and “because the Byzantines had actually proved so unsatisfactory indigenous every suggest of view—political, military and doctrinal—he would pick a westerner: the one man who through his wisdom and also statesmanship and the vastness that his dominions stood out head and shoulders above his contemporaries.”

How realistic either Charlemagne or the pope feel it to be the the human being of Constantinople would ever before accept the king the the Franks together their emperor, us cannot know; Alcuin speak hopefully in his letter of an Imperium Christianum (“Christian Empire”), wherein, “just as the occupants of the had actually been united by a usual Roman citizenship,” maybe this new empire would be joined by a typical Christian faith.

Roman Emperor

In any kind of event, Charlemagne supplied these situations to case that he to be the renewer that the roman Empire, i m sorry was viewed to have actually fallen into deterioration under the Byzantines. The title of Emperor remained in the Carolingian family members for year to come, however divisions that territory and also in-fighting over prominence of the Frankish state weakened its power and capability to lead. The papacy itself never forgot the location nor abandoned the appropriate to bestow it. Once the family of Charlemagne end to produce worthy heirs, the pope gladly crowned whichever Italian magnate could ideal protect the from his regional enemies. This devolution led to the dormancy that the title from 924 to 962. The title was revived when otto I to be crowned emperor in 962, fashioning himself together the follower of Charlemagne. The empire would stay in consistent existence for practically a millennium, together the divine Roman Empire, a true imperial follower to Charlemagne.

The increase of Charlemagne

Charlemagne is considered the best ruler that the Carolingian Dynasty because of the plot he took to bring Europe out of turmoil.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsCharlemagne was established to improve education and also religion and also bring Europe out of turmoil; to perform this he released a thirty-year military project of conquests that united Europe and also spread Christianity.First he overcame the Lombards in Italy, sustaining Pope Adrian I.In the Saxon Wars, spanning thirty years and also eighteen battles, he conquered Saxony and also proceeded to convert the conquered to Christianity.By 800 he was the ruler of western Europe and had regulate of contemporary France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and also parts the Austria and also Spain.Key TermsCarolingian Dynasty: an empire during the late medieval realm the the Franks, ruled by the Carolingian family, a Frankish noble family to i m sorry Charlemagne belonged.Frankish state: are inhabited and also ruled by the Franks, a confederation of german tribes, from the 400s come 800s CE.Saxons: A team of german tribes very first mentioned as living near the north Sea coastline of what is now Germany (Old Saxony) in late roman times.Lombards: A Germanic human being who ruled large parts the the Italian Peninsula indigenous 568 come 774.

Charlemagne’s rise to Power

Charlemagne, likewise known together Charles the good or Charles I, to be the king the the Franks native 768 and the king that Italy indigenous 774, and from 800 was the very first emperor in west Europe since the fallen of the west Roman realm three century earlier. The expanded Frankish state he started is referred to as the Carolingian Empire. Charlemagne is considered to it is in the greatest ruler the the Carolingian Dynasty because of the achievements he made during what seemed like the very middle the the Dark Ages.

Charlemagne was the oldest son that Pepin the Short and also Bertrada the Laon. He ended up being king in 768 adhering to the fatality of his father, and also initially to be a co-ruler through his brother, Carloman I. Charles got Pepin’s initial share as Mayor—the external parts the the kingdom bordering ~ above the sea, specific Neustria, west Aquitaine, and also the north parts that Austrasia—while Carloman was awarded his uncle’s previous share, the inside parts—southern Austrasia, Septimania, eastern Aquitaine, Burgundy, Provence, and Swabia, soil bordering Italy. Carloman’s sudden fatality in 771 under unexplained situations left Charlemagne as the undisputed leader of the Frankish Kingdom.

Territorial Expansion

Charlemagne was identified to improve education and religion and bring Europe out of turmoil. To carry out this he launched a thirty-year military project from 772–804 of conquests that unified Europe and also spread Christianity. Charlemagne was engaged in almost continuous battle throughout his reign, often at the head of his elite scara bodyguard squadrons, v his legendary sword Joyeuse in hand. The an initial step that Charlemagne absorbed building his realm was come conquer brand-new territories.

The first of these conquering campaigns was against the Lombards; Charlemagne came out victorious and also won the Lombard lands to the north of Italy. In ~ his sequence in 772, Pope Adrian i demanded the return of certain cities in the former exarchate that Ravenna in accordance v a promise at the sequence of Desiderius. Instead, Desiderius took over specific papal cities and invaded the Pentapolis, heading for Rome. Adrian sent out ambassadors come Charlemagne in the autumn, requesting the enforce the policies of his father, Pepin. Desiderius sent his very own ambassadors denying the pope’s charges. The ambassadors met at Thionville, and also Charlemagne upheld the pope’s side. Charlemagne demanded that Desiderius comply through the pope, but Desiderius promptly swore he never ever would.

Charlemagne and also his uncle Bernard overcome the Alps in 773 and also chased the Lombards ago to Pavia, which they climate besieged. The siege lasted till the spring of 774, once Charlemagne went to the pope in Rome. Over there he confirmed his father’s grants of land. Some later on chronicles falsely asserted that he also expanded them, granting Tuscany, Emilia, Venice, and also Corsica. After the pope granted Charlemagne the location of patrician, he returned to Pavia, where the Lombards were on the verge the surrendering. In return for your lives, the Lombards conceded and also opened the gateways in early on summer.


Charlemagne and Pope Adrian I: The Frankish king Charlemagne to be a devout Catholic who kept a close relationship with the papacy throughout his life. In 772, as soon as Pope Adrian i was endangered by invaders, the king rushed come Rome to administer assistance. Displayed here, the pope asks Charlemagne for aid at a meeting close to Rome.

The Saxon Wars and Beyond

In the Saxon Wars, spanning thirty years and eighteen battles, Charlemagne toppled Saxony and also proceeded to transform the dominated to Christianity.

The Germanic saxon guy were split into four subgroups in four regions. Nearest come Austrasia to be Westphalia, and furthest away was Eastphalia. Engria was between these 2 kingdoms, and to the north, at the base of the juckleland peninsula, was Nordalbingia. In his an initial campaign versus the Saxons, in 773, Charlemagne reduced down an Irminsul pillar near Paderborn and also forced the Engrians come submit. The campaign was cut quick by his very first expedition come Italy. He went back to Saxony in 775, marching with Westphalia and also conquering the Saxon fort at Sigiburg. He then crossed Engria, whereby he defeated the saxons again. Finally, in Eastphalia, he beat a Saxon force and converted that is leader, Hessi, come Christianity. Charlemagne reverted through Westphalia, leave encampments at Sigiburg and also Eresburg, which had actually been necessary Saxon bastions. With the exception of Nordalbingia, Saxony to be under his control, however Saxon resistance had not ended.

Following his campaign in Italy come subjugate the dukes of Friuli and Spoleto, Charlemagne returned rapidly to saxony in 776, where a rebellion had damaged his fortress at Eresburg. The saxon guy were as soon as again lugged to heel, however their key leader, Widukind, controlled to escape come Denmark, home of his wife. Charlemagne constructed a brand-new camp in ~ Karlstadt. In 777, he referred to as a nationwide assembly at Paderborn to combine Saxony fully into the Frankish kingdom. Many Saxons were i was baptized as Christians.

Outside Charlemagne’s Saxon campaigns, he expanded his empire towards southerly Germany, southerly France, and also the island of Corsica. He dealt with the Avars, including modern-day Hungary to his empire, and also fought versus the Moors that Spain, obtaining the northern component of Spain. Through these occupations Charlemagne joined Europe and also spread Christianity.

By 800 he was the ruler of west Europe and also had regulate of present-day France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and also parts the Austria and Spain. Charlemagne’s successful military campaigns were due to his abilities as a army commander and also planner, and to the training of his warriors. He regulated his large empire by sending agents to supervise its various areas. Charlemagne’s accomplishments restored much of the unit of the old roman Empire and also paved the way for the advance of modern Europe.

Charlemagne’s Reforms

As emperor, Charlemagne stood the end for his plenty of reforms—monetary, governmental, military, cultural, and ecclesiastical—and introduced an era known as the Carolingian Renaissance.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsCharlemagne is known for his numerous reforms, including the economy, education, and government administration.Charlemagne’s dominance spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of energetic cultural and intellectual activity within the west church.Charlemagne take it a significant interest in scholarship, fostering the for free arts at the court, ordering that his children and also grandchildren be fine educated, and even researching himself.Charlemagne established a new monetary standard, the livre carolinienne, which was based upon a lb of silver, as well as a universal accounting system.Charlemagne increased the reform program of the church, consisting of strengthening the church’s power structure, proceeding the skill and moral quality of the clergy, standardizing liturgical practices, enhancing on the basic tenets that the faith and also moral, and rooting out paganism.Charlemagne’s renovations on administration have been lauded by historians for instigating increased main control, effective bureaucracy, accountability, and social renaissance.Key TermsCarolingian Renaissance: The very first of three middle ages renaissances; to be a duration of social activity in the Carolingian Empire arising from the late-8th century to the ninth century.livre carolinienne: Charlemagne’s financial standard, based upon a pound of silver, equivalent to the contemporary pound.literati: Well-educated, scholarly people; pundits who room interested in composed works.

The Carolingian Renaissance

As emperor, Charlemagne stood the end for his many reforms—monetary, governmental, military, cultural, and also ecclesiastical. He to be the key initiator and also proponent that the “Carolingian Renaissance,” the first of three middle ages renaissances. It to be a duration of cultural activity in the Carolingian Empire emerging from the late-8th century come the nine century, taking incentive from the Christian Roman realm of the fourth century. Throughout this duration there was an growth of literature, writing, the arts, architecture, jurisprudence, liturgical reforms, and also scriptural studies.

The effects of this social revival to be largely minimal to a tiny group of court literati; follow to john Contreni, “it had actually a spectacular impact on education and society in Francia, a debatable effect on artistic endeavors, and also an unmeasurable result on what mattered most to the Carolingians, the ethical regeneration the society.” beyond their initiatives to write much better Latin, to copy and also preserve patristic and classical texts, and to develop a an ext legible, classicizing script, the secular and also ecclesiastical leader of the Carolingian Renaissance applied rational concepts to social worries for the an initial time in centuries, giving a usual language and also writing format that permitted for communication throughout most that Europe.

Education Reform

Part of Charlemagne’s success together a warrior, one administrator, and also a ruler can be traced come his admiration for learning and also education. The era ushered in by his reign, the Carolingian Renaissance, to be so called since of the flower of scholarship, literature, art, and also architecture that characterized it. Charlemagne’s large conquests carried him into contact with the cultures and learnings of various other countries, especially Moorish Spain, Anglo-Saxon England, and Lombard Italy, and also greatly enhanced the delivery of monastic schools and scriptoria (centers for publication copying) in Francia.

Most that the presently making it through works of timeless Latin were copied and preserved through Carolingian scholars. Indeed, the more quickly manuscripts available for many old texts room Carolingian. That is almost details that a message that endured to the Carolingian age endures still.


Carolingian Minuscule: Carolingian minuscule, among the commodities of the Carolingian Renaissance.

The pan-European nature of Charlemagne’s influence is suggested by the beginnings of countless of the men who worked for him: Alcuin, an Anglo-Saxon from York; Theodulf, a Visigoth, most likely from Septimania; Paul the Deacon, a Lombard; Peter that Pisa and Paulinus that Aquileia, both Italians; and also Angilbert, Angilram, Einhard, and also Waldo the Reichenau, Franks. Charlemagne take it a severe interest in scholarship, promoting the liberal arts at the court, ordering that his children and also grandchildren it is in well-educated, and even studying himself (in a time when countless leaders who promoted education did no take time to learn themselves). He learned grammar through Peter the Pisa; rhetoric, dialectic (logic), and also astronomy (he was specifically interested in the motion of the stars) with Alcuin; and arithmetic v Einhard.

Charlemagne’s good scholarly failure, as Einhard related, was his i can not qualify to write. When in his old period he attempted come learn—practicing the formation of letters in his bed during his complimentary time top top books and also wax tablets he hid under his pillow—”his initiative came also late in life and also achieved small success.” His ability to read—which Einhard is silent about, and which no contemporary source supports—has also been referred to as into question.

Economic Reform

Charlemagne had vital role in determining the immediate financial future the Europe. Pursuing his father’s reforms, Charlemagne denomination the financial system based upon the gold sou, and he and also the Anglo-Saxon King Offa that Mercia took up the system set in location by Pepin. There were solid pragmatic reasons for this abandonment of a yellow standard, significantly a shortage of yellow itself.

The yellow shortage was a direct consequence of the conclusion of peace with Byzantium, which brought about ceding Venice and also Sicily to the East and losing their trade routes to Africa. The result standardization financially harmonized and also unified the complex array the currencies that had been in use at the commencement of Charlemagne’s reign, hence simplifying trade and also commerce.

Charlemagne created a new standard, the livre carolinienne (from the Latin libra, the contemporary pound), which to be based ~ above a pound of silver—a unit of both money and also weight—and to be worth 20 sous (from the Latin solidus, the modern shilling) or 240 deniers (from the Latin denarius, the modern-day penny). Throughout this period, the livre and the sou were counting units; just the denier was a coin that the realm.


Coinage from Charlemagne’s empire: Denier native the era of Charlemagne, Tours, 793–812

Charlemagne instituted principles for accounting practice by way of the Capitulare de villis the 802, i m sorry laid under strict rules for the means in which incomes and also expenses were to it is in recorded.

Early in Charlemagne’s ascendancy he tacitly allowed the Jews come monopolize money lending. When lending money for interest was proscribed in 814, being versus Church regulation at the time, Charlemagne presented the Capitulary for the Jews, a prohibition on Jews engaging in money lending as result of the spiritual convictions the the majority of his constituents, in essence banning it throughout the board, a reversal that his earlier recorded basic policy. In enhancement to this macro-oriented revolutionary of the economy, Charlemagne likewise performed a significant number that microeconomic reforms, such together direct manage of prices and levies on certain goods and also commodities.

His Capitulary for the Jews, however, was not representative the his all at once economic partnership or attitude toward the Frankish Jews, and also certainly no his earlier relationship v them, i m sorry had advanced over his lifespan. His paid an individual physician, for example, to be Jewish, and he work at the very least one Jew because that his diplomatic missions, a personal representative come the Muslim caliphate that Baghdad. Letters have been credited to that inviting Jews to settle in his kingdom for economic purposes, normally welcoming them through his in its entirety progressive policies.

Church Reform

Unlike his father, Pepin, and uncle Carloman, Charlemagne increased the reform program of the church. The deepening the the spiritual life was later to be viewed as main to publicly policy and also royal governance. His reform concentrated on the strengthening of the church’s power structure, progressing the skill and also moral high quality of the clergy, standardizing liturgical practices, improving on the straightforward tenets the the faith and also moral, and also rooting out paganism. His authority was now extended over church and state; he can discipline clerics, control ecclesiastical property, and also define orthodox doctrine. In spite of the harsh legislation and sudden change, he had actually grown a well-developed support from the clergy that approved his desire come deepen the piety and also morals the his Christian subjects.

Political and also Administrative Reform

In 800, Charlemagne to be crowned emperor and adapted his present royal management to live as much as the expectation of his new title. The political reforms wrought in his capital, Aachen, to be to have an immense impact on the political an interpretation of west Europe for the rest of the center Ages. Charlemagne’s renovations on the old Merovingian mechanisms of governance have to be lauded by historians for the increased main control, reliable bureaucracy, accountability, and cultural renaissance.

The Carolingian realm was the largest western territory because the loss of Rome, and historians have come to suspect the depth of the emperor’s influence and control. Legally, Charlemagne exercised the bannum, the ideal to rule and command, over all of his territories. Also, he had supreme jurisdiction in judicial matters, make legislation, led the army, and protected both the church and the poor. His management attempted come organize the kingdom, church, and also nobility roughly him; however, its efficacy was straight dependent top top the efficiency, loyalty, and support the his subjects.

Around 780 Charlemagne reformed the local system the administering justice and created the scabini, skilled experts ~ above law. Every count had actually the aid of 7 of these scabini, that were claimed to understand every national legislation so the all men can be judged follow to it. Judges were also banned from taking bribes and also were claimed to usage sworn inquests to establish facts. In 802, all legislation was composed down and also amended.

The Frankish kingdom was subdivided by Charlemagne into three separate locations to make administration easier. These areas, Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgandy, were the inside “core” that the kingdom and also were supervised directly by the missatica system and the itinerant household. Exterior this was the regna , wherein Frankish management rested upon the counts, and beyond regna were the marcher areas, rule by powerful governors. This marcher lordships were current in Brittany, Spain, and also Avaria. Charlemagne likewise created 2 sub-kingdoms in Aquitaine and also Italy, ruled by his boy Louis and Pepin respectively. Bavaria was also under the command of one autonomous governor, Gerold, until his death in 796. If Charlemagne tho had as whole authority in these areas, castle were fairly autonomous, through their very own chancery and minting facilities.

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The yearly meeting, the Placitum Generalis or Marchfield, was held every year (between March and also May) at a location appointed through the king. It was dubbed for 3 reasons: to gather the Frankish host to walk on campaign, to talk about political and ecclesiastical matters affecting the kingdom and also legislate for them, and to do judgements. All important men had to go the meeting, and also so it was an essential way for Charlemagne to do his will certainly known. Originally the meeting worked effectively, however later it ended up being merely a forum because that discussion and also for noble to express their dissatisfaction.