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The Figure of Charles the Great in “Two Lives of Charlemagne” Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 8th, 2019

This paper is inspired by the book about Charles the Great, written by Einhard, Notker and Ganz (2008). This book contains two books, two perspectives on the same person. Here, one can read about a biography of one of the most powerful and influential medieval European rulers, Charlemagne.

Charlemagne receives his alias during his lifetime. He is the king of the Franks, Emperor of the Romans, who expended his kingdom into an empire. In the time of his reign, there started Carolingian Renaissance that revived culture, sciences and religion. A reader can reveal the historical and biography facts about this historic figure: his life, rule, and influence on such spheres of people’s life as education, military might and power.

Einhard’s book about Charlemagne is an absorbing chronicle that describes the historical and biography details of his life. Einhard is a Frankish scholar and courtier, a dedicated adviser and servant of Charles the Great, with whom he serves about 23 years. It is a wide-known fact that Einhard “became a friend of Charlemagne and his family” (Einhard front cover).

Einhard’s “Vita Caroli Magni” is the only biography of the emperor, written during Charles’s lifetime. Being his true servant, Einhard writes a detailed description of the king’s portrait and personality, biography, his military success, and his achievements in learning the arts.

Also, in his manuscripts, he provides historical facts about significant events of Charles’s life, including his coronation as the emperor. The period of his rule embraces the second half of the VIIIth century and the first half of the IXth century. Einhard’s book should be considered as a true Charlemagne’s chronicle.

Notker’s book about Charlemagne gives the other perspective on Charles the Great. Notcker Balbulus is a monastic scholar and musician. The book informs that “He wrote his account of Charlemagne for the emperor Charles the Fat between 884 and 887” (Einhard front cover) when the king is already dead.

In his book, Notcker presents not a historical and biography chronicle of Charlemagne, but the collection of anecdotes and funny stories about Charles’s deeds: “The teaching of young boys at Charlemagne’s court”, “The bishop who gave Charlemagne cheese to eat on Friday”, “The blinding of Pope Leo III and how he crowned Charlemagne as an Emperor” and others.

Charles the Great is considered as an intelligent and enlightened person, a skillful military commander, and a successful strategist. Owing to this prominent figure, Carolingian Renaissance revives the art, sciences, and culture in general. The book gives the reader the information about his influence on education, military might and religion.

Charles diligently pursued sciences, ordered to create the manual on vernacular grammar, and to collect folklore songs. He was engaged in scientists’ circles, whose pieces of advice he tried to follow. He wanted to give education to clergy and population. In the kingdom, there built schools attached to churches and monasteries.

For his children and courtiers, he established the academy. His attitude to his children’s education can be demonstrated in the following sentence: “He was so concerned for the education of his sons and daughters that he never dined without them when at home, and he never journeyed without them” (Einhard 28). Thus, Charlemagne increased the level of education and knowledge among people.

Charlemagne developed the clergy and was concerned about religion in his kingdom: “he increased the splendor of the Church…With great pity and devotion he practiced the Christian religion…” (Einhard 28). There built churches and monasteries; the representatives of literate supreme clergy were his advisors. The role of Catholic Church grew, because “he was a Catholic in faith, devoted to the worship of God” (Einhard 19). Consequently, Charlemagne carried for the development of Catholic Church and clergy in his kingdom and empire.

Charles the Great possessed a large territory that covered the most part of central and Western Europe. He was a successful conqueror who subjected many peoples. The wars with Saxons, Italians, Viking, etc., military campaigns and other deeds entered his chronicle. The book describes his military status:

“For the thirty years of Charlemagne’s reign military expeditions were almost an annual event, for war after a spring assembly and the subsequent distribution of plunder was a crucial element of Carolingian rule” (Einhard 45).

The war with Saxons was the most continuous (about 33 years) and violent war during his reign that coasted considerable losses. The large territory of his empire became his children’s heritage after his death in 814. The Frankish army was one of the most powerful, courageous and trained of the world.

Proceeding from the above, there can be made some general conclusions. The historic figure of Charles the Great is one of the brightest in the world history. He is more than a Frankish king an emperor; he is a real hero of the middle ages. He deserves to be respected and honoured for his successful reign, educating and religious activity, and military power. Throughout human history, Charlemagne bears his name with dignity and proud.

He entered into the world history as a mighty king and emperor, whose reign was enlightened with Carolingian Renaissance. This period of history was marked by improvements and achievements in art, religion, culture and military deeds. Owing to the book about Charlemagne, people can reveal historical and biography facts about this grand person.

Works Cited

Einhard, Notker, and Ganz, David Two Lives of Charlemagne. London, UK: Ed. Thorpe, Penguin, 2008. Print

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"The Figure of Charles the Great in “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." IvyPanda, 8 Mar. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-figure-of-charles-the-great-in-two-lives-of-charlemagne/.

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IvyPanda. "The Figure of Charles the Great in “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." March 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-figure-of-charles-the-great-in-two-lives-of-charlemagne/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Figure of Charles the Great in “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." March 8, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-figure-of-charles-the-great-in-two-lives-of-charlemagne/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Figure of Charles the Great in “Two Lives of Charlemagne”'. 8 March.

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