Einhard and Charlemagne's Palace School: a Mechanism for Wealth, Prestige, Power and Success

Topics: Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, Franks Pages: 9 (3489 words) Published: September 14, 2005
Einhard was a courtier in Charlemagne's Frankish Kingdom. During Charlemagne's rule/life (768-824), he dedicated a vast amount of time and energy into supporting the notions of classical learning. He went so far as to start a school comprised of many scholars within his palace. Their role was to educate the nobility, the priesthood and the people, as well as hold counsel with the king. This is where Einhard and Charlemagne first encountered each other. Einhard was a small but intelligent man who came to prominence in the PiousCharlemagne's and Charlemagne's son's kingdom. It is often asked how such a small man came to be the heart of the kingdom, and how the court school and the opportunities it provided influenced his success. During the late 8th and early 9th century, Charlemagne came to power. He expanded the kingdom and conceived many reforms during his reign. Charlemagne ruled the Frankish Kingdom from 768-814. He was one of Pepin the thirds two sons. Charlemagne's brother, Carolman died in 771, and Charlemagne became the sole ruler of the Franks. Almost as soon as Charlemagne assumed the throne he commenced a series of campaigns. From 772-804 Charlemagne was at war with Saxony, from 773-774 Charlemagne was also at war with the Lombards in Italy. In 778, Charlemagne was invited into Northern Italy to extend Christian influence. In 787 Charlemagne invaded and seized Bavaria. Finally, from 788-797, Charlemagne launched a campaign against the tribal horsemen, the Avars. In 789, Charlemagne issued "The General Admonition", the concept of the document was that moral reform requires education. At this time, Charlemagne created the palace school at his court, scholars were brought to this school to reform the Frankish priests and people. Various other reforms took place during this time, such as the new form of writing, Carolingian Minuscule, and the writing down of law codes. On December 25, 800, Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo the third in the St. Peter's cathedral in Rome. Charlemagne died in 814, and was succeeded by his only remaining son, Louis the Pious. Louis the Pious reigned as Holy Roman Emperor from 814-840. When he assumed the throne he quickly replaced administers within the palace. Louis the Pious had three sons; Lothar, Charles the Bald, and Louis the German. Near the beginning of his reign, Louis already faced conflict. In 818, Louis quashed a rebellion orchestrated by his cousin, Count Bernard of Aquitaine . Louis planned to pass the Kingdom to his eldest son, Lothar, this caused conflict between family members, and from 829 onwards Charles the Bald, and Louis the German were constantly at odds with Louis the Pious and Lothar. Louis died in 840, and the Kingdom passed to his eldest son Lothar. Lothar ruled the entirety of the Kingdom from 840-843. There was constant civil war between him and his brothers. In 843 the "Partition of Verdum" was issued to end the civil war. It divided the kingdom between the three sons of Louis the Pious. The west portion of the Frankish kingdom was given to Charles the Bald (843-877), the middle portion of the kingdom remained in Lothar's (840-855) power, and the east portion of the kingdom was given to Louis the German (843-876). Einhard lived throughout the reign of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, as well as throughout the turmoil caused by Charles the Bald and Louis the German. It is believed that Einhard was born in 770. He was born into a noble family. His father Einhard, and his mother Engilfrit owned property in eastern Francia near the Main River. At a young age, Einhard was sent by his parents to the monastery of Fulda to be educated. Einhard first appeared at the court of Charlemagne sometime during 791-792. By the mid-790's he had risen to the position of Chief Enable of the Rising Building. In 806, Einhard carried the partition, "Division of the Kingdom" to Pope Leo the third on the behalf of Charlemagne....

References: to Einhard 's poetic talents can be found in the works of his contemporaries, although it is uncertain what poetry he wrote. Alcuin, a courtier, in his poem "On the Court" wrote, "What shall Bezaleel, who is skilled in Trojan epic do [now]?" . This work refers to the fact that Einhard was proficient in a style of poetry, however, none of these works survive. Throughout his life, Einhard wrote numerous works, letters, and charters. His better known work would more than likely be The Life of Charlemagne. The schools he attended made him literate and allowed him the leisure to pursue writing.
Einhard was a hard working, scholarly man. Through his education at the monastery of Fulda, he was able to enter Charlemagne 's court school. From here, Einhard attained a position of prominence and power. In many ways, he ran Charlemagne 's palace. Through Einhard 's relationships that he established with Charlemagne 's son, Louis the Pious, and the sons of Louis the Pious, Einhard was able to survive and maintain this rolehis power and prominence. During his time at the court school, and even to an extent during the reign of Louis the Pious, Einhard was the heart of the kingdom. Administration of the Palace ran through Einhard when he worked in the court with Charlemagne and he was a significant force. Einhard 's voice very powerful even during the reign of Louis the Pious due to the services he had provided the King. The court school was a facility that produced powerful and prominent men. It offered land, literacy, and fameto the men who attended it. To quote Modoin, in his "Eclogues: On the Poets of His Age", "Notice how the triumphant Nard, who is used to reciting Aonian verses, Is a flush today with the highest honors." This quote makes reference to how the palace school made men rich. Einhard used the mechanism of the court school to his advantage, and became one of the more powerful, and approachable men in the Frankish Kingdom. In many ways, Einhard repaid the kingdom for his education. His success as a courtier gave him the means to pursue his religious beliefs. In a society that thrived on superstition, Einhard 's saints were a vehicle for hope, healing, and redemption. Also, Einhard was able to support his interests in Art and Architecture, leaving behind a beautiful legacy. For a man who was as small as Einhard, his accomplishments in life, provided by the court school, are truly amazing.
Dutton, Paul Edward, Charlemagne 's Courtier: The Complete Einhard. Ontario; Broadview Press, 1998.
Tierney, Brian, Western Europe in the Middle Ages: 300-1475. United States of American; McGraw-Hill College, 1999.
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