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To the fall of Pavia (742-774)

He instituted economic and religious reforms, and was a driving force behind the Carolingian miniscule, a standardized form of writing that later became a basis for modern European printed alphabets. Charlemagne ruled from a number of cities and palaces, but spent significant time in Aachen.

His palace there included a school, for which he recruited the best teachers in the land. In addition to learning, Charlemagne was interested in athletic pursuits. Known to be highly energetic, he enjoyed hunting, horseback riding and swimming. Aachen held particular appeal for him due to its therapeutic warm springs.

According to Einhard, Charlemagne was in good health until the final four years of his life, when he often suffered from fevers and acquired a limp.

In , Charlemagne crowned his son Louis the Pious , king of Aquitaine, as co-emperor. Louis became sole emperor when Charlemagne died in January , ending his reign of more than four decades.


At the time of his death, his empire encompassed much of Western Europe. Charlemagne was buried at the cathedral in Aachen.

In the ensuing decades, his empire was divided up among his heirs, and by the late s, it had dissolved. Nevertheless, Charlemagne became a legendary figure endowed with mythical qualities. In , under Emperor Frederick Barbarossa , Charlemagne was canonized for political reasons; however, the church today does not recognize his sainthood. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. The Crusades were a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. In all, eight major Crusade expeditions occurred between and Heritage Iconic figure of chivalric tales, the legends about Charlemagne expanded throughout the European continent, from Iceland to Sicily and from Portugal to Latvia and to the Balkans, thus improving intercultural relationships between European countries.

Victoria and Albert Museum

You need to enable JavaScript to be able to see the map. Council of Europe values Considered as the father of Europe, of the first unified Europe, the cultural values developed and maintained by Charlemagne and by his dynasty are still well alive nowadays. Other routes. The islands were often attacked by Saracen pirates, but the counts of Genoa and Tuscany kept them at bay with large fleets until the end of Charlemagne's reign. Charlemagne even had contact with the caliphal court in Baghdad. In Hispania, the struggle against the Moors continued unabated throughout the latter half of his reign.

His son Louis was in charge of the Spanish border. In , his men captured Gerona permanently and extended Frankish control into the Catalan littoral for the duration of Charlemagne's reign and much longer, it remained nominally Frankish until the Treaty of Corbeil in The Moslem chiefs in the northeast of Spain were constantly revolting against Cordoban authority and they often turned to the Franks for help. The Frankish border was slowly extended until , when Gerona, Cardona, Ausona, and Urgel were united into the new Spanish March, within the old duchy of Septimania.

The legacy of Charlemagne: how the king of the Franks continues to cast a shadow over Europe

Matters of Charlemagne's reign came to a head in late He was deposed and put in a monastery, but Charlemagne did not recognize this, as his advisor, Alcuin of York, advised. He went down to Rome in November and held a council on December 1. On December 23, Leo swore an oath of innocence. Charlemagne thus became the renewer of the Western Roman Empire, which had expired in the To avoid frictions with the Byzantine Emperor, Charles later styled himself, not Imperator Romanorum a title reserved for the Byzantine emperor , but rather Imperator Romanum gubernans Imperium emperor ruling the Roman Empire.

In , Charlemagne called Louis, his only surviving legitimate son, to his court. There he crowned him as his heir and sent him back to Aquitaine.

Charlemagne - Wikipedia

He then spent the autumn hunting before returning to Aachen on 1 November. In January, he fell ill. He took to his bed on the 22 January and as Einhard tells it:. When Charlemagne died in , he was buried in his own Cathedral at Aachen. He was succeeded by his only son then surviving, Louis the Pious. His empire lasted only another generation in its entirety; its division, according to custom, between Louis's own sons after their father's death laid the foundation for the modern states of France and Germany.