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Einhard's Life of Charlemagne

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From the selection from Einhard's Life of Charlemagne Court ( Written c. 817-830). Einhard was an historian who studied in a monastery before going to Charlemagne's court where he became one of Charlemagne's most trusted advisors.

a) Please discuss what made "Charles the Great"( Charlemagne) "great."
b) What kind of man was Charlemagne?

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a) Please discuss what made "Charles the Great"( Charlemagne) "great."

Charles the Great was considered 'great' for his personality, charisma and grandeur, as well as his role of a king that conquered; he was a great administrator and patron of learning. However, like all leaders, there were both successes and failures. Charlemagne still deserves the appellation "great." As an adept military leader, an innovative administrator, a promoter of learning and a significant political figure, Charlemagne stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries and built a true empire. Although that empire did not last, its existence and his leadership changed the face of Europe in ways both striking and subtle that are still felt to this day. However, there were some weaknesses. For example, even though Charlemagne tried to rekindle an interest in learning and unite different groups in one nation, he did not address the technological and economic difficulties faced in Europe that Rome no longer provided bureaucratic homogeneity. Roads and bridges deteriorated, trade with the East was fractured, and manufacturing became necessity localized as opposed to widespread, profitable industry. However, these events are only failures if Charlemagne's goal was to rebuild the Roman Empire. However, we must remember that Charlemagne was a Frankish warrior king, with a background and traditions of the Germanic peoples, and by his own standards and those of his time were that he first and foremost succeeded. However, it this also lead to the fall of the empire. (

As a figure of history, this man is larger than life, but who was this legendary king? And what did he truly achieve that was "great"? Charles was considered great because of his many accomplishments as seen in the following timeline of his life and reign:

? 742: Charles the Great is born on April 2, traditionally in this year, but possibly as late as 747
? 751: Charlemagne's father Pippin is declared king, beginning what would later be called the Carolingian dynasty
? 768: Upon the death of Pippin, the kingdom of Francia is divided between Charles and his brother Carloman
? 771: Carloman dies; Charles becomes sole ruler
? 772: Charlemagne makes his first raid on the Saxons, which is a success; but this was just the beginning of an extended struggle against the decentralized pagan tribes
? 774: Charlemagne conquers Lombardy and becomes King of the Lombards
? 777: Construction on a palace in Aachen begins
? 778: An unsuccessful siege of Saragossa, Spain, is followed by an ambush of Charlemagne's retreating army by the Basques at Roncesvalles
? 781: Charles makes a pilgrimage to Rome and has his son Pippin proclaimed King of Italy; here he meets Alcuin, who agrees to come to Charlemagne's court
? 782: In response to recent attacks by Saxon leader Widukind, Charlemagne reportedly has 4,500 Saxon prisoners executed en masse
? 787: Charles launches his educational plan by ordering bishops and abbots to open schools near their churches and monasteries
? 788: Charlemagne takes control of Bavaria, bringing all the territory of the Germanic tribes into one political unit
? 791-796: Charles conducts a series of campaigns against the Avars in present-day Austria and Hungary. The Avars are eventually destroyed as a cultural entity
? 796: Construction on the cathedral in Aachen begins
? 799: Pope Leo III is attacked in the streets of Rome and flees to Charlemagne for protection. The king has him conducted safely back to Rome
? 800: Charlemagne comes to ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses what made "Charles the Great" (Charlemagne) "great," as well as the kind of man Charlemagne was. References were provided.