Carolingian Dynasty and Frankish King Charlemagne

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By: A. Dodgen

Maple/ McBride HONR- 1114 12-09-99 By the Cross and the Sword : Charlemagne's Impact on the West. "He who ordains the fate of kingdoms in the march of the centuries, the all-powerful Disposer of events, having destroyed one extraordinary image, that of the Romans, which had, it was true, feet of iron, or even feet of clay, then raised up, among the Franks, the golden head of a second image, equally remarkable, in the person of the illustrious Charlemagne. Notker the Stammerer, the monk of St. Gall, wrote these words in AD 844 to describe the reign of the most influential Frankish king Charlemagne ( Lectures 1). Charlemagne, son of Pepin the Short, ruled the Franks for 47 years (Koeller 1). The Carolingian Dynasty, of which Charlemagne was a member, was established in AD 751 when Pepin dethroned the last Merovingian king. The Carolingians ruled a land that "spoke several different tongues, had different cultural and historical traditions, and different institutions."(Nelson 2). The great variation found in the people of the Frankish kingdom produced for Charlemagne great obstacles. Dr. Skip Knox, Professor at Boise State University argues that the "monarchy among the Franks was not equipped to deal with this situation…" (Knox 11). Attempting to establish control in his empire, Charlemagne implemented a series of programs that would produce a new form of government and would engage his court in an intellectual renaissance. Charlemagne was forced to entirely reinvent the Merovingian system of government, and to do so he "either created new offices, or adapted old ones to new purposes…" (Knox 11). He appointed dukes and counts, and appointed in the German regions of the land margraves, an office that would remain long after the time of Charlemagne. Thus, Charlemagne created a political hierarchy in which the counts would report to the dukes, and the dukes to Charlemagne himself. Charlemagne gained the loyalty and respect of his...
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