Two Lives of Charlemagne

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"Book Review of Two Lives of Charlemagne"

After having read both versions of the life of Charlemagne there is no doubt that they differ greatly in the sense of style, audience, and emotion. By reading these two descriptions of Charlemagne's life we are able to decipher somewhat of the life he led as a shaper of early medieval European history. However, both of these versions possess the admiration of a noble man who they believe is worthy enough to be noted in history to some degree.

The first account of Charlemagne's life was by his courtier, Einhard, who thought it would be a tragedy if history forgot such a noble ruler. Furthermore, not only does he believe that it should be him to write about Charlemagne's life, but only him. He clearly states that since he himself has witnessed Charlemagne's life and that he is uncertain if anyone else will ever record it, he should be the one who does so. "…for I am very conscious of the fact that no one can describe these events more accurately than I, for I was present when they took place and, as they say, I saw them with my own eyes" (pg. 51, Einhard). He continues to say that not only did he witness Charlemagne's life, but was also apart of it and him in his. By stating this he rightfully justifies why it should be him to record Charlemagne's life. "I mean the care which Charlemagne took in my upbringing and the friendly relations which I enjoyed with him and his children from the moment when I first began to live in his court. By this friendship he bound me to him and made me his debtor both in life and death (pg. 52, Einhard, emphasis added).

Notker, however, is writing his version of Charlemagne because he was asked to. We are able to conclude this because he tells us that his audience is Charles, the great-grandson of Charlemagne. "I had originally intended, noble emperor, to limit my short history to your great-grandfather Charlemagne…" (pg. 161, Notker). Therefore, we can also assume several things that...