Einhard's The Life Of Charlemagne

Good Essays
Looking back at history, an individual usually can find an incredible amount of information about any given period in any given part of the world. Yet as varied are the history books, so are the biases which they each present. We see one example of these biases in Einhard's The Life of Charlemagne in which this adviser and close friend to the great Frankish king gives his history of Charlemagne's life. One issue that Einhard repeatedly touches on is the virtually uninterrupted series of wars that the Frankish Kingdom under 'Charles the Great' undertook. Throughout the individual accounts of these war, Einhard attempts to justify Charlemagne's military career.

It seems that when one looks back at Charlemagne and his seemingly unending chain
…show more content…
Just as leaders have done throughout history to prove that they are fighting a justifiable conflict, Charlemagne and his court identified their new enemy as pagan monsters. Einhard tells of a people who are 'ferocious....are given to devil worship....and think to it no dishonour to violate and transgress the laws of God and man.' (Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne) By using these techniques, Charlemagne and consequently Einhard justified a war with the Saxon. They were able to explain that they had the support of God in this war against 'infidels' who were inherently evil. When reading Einhard and his descriptions of not only the war with the Saxon, but also other conflicts, I was struck by his biased supports of the wars, sometimes giving me the feeling that details had been altered in order to paint a righteous picture of Charlemagne and his actions. It seems that when failure or defeat had taken place in a conflict, Einhard counters back with statements which compliment Charlemagne and attempt to overshadow the failure. 'However, the King's mettlesome spirit and his imperturbability, which remained as constant in adversity as in prosperity, were not to be quelled by their (Saxons) ever-changing tactics.' (Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne) After thirty-three years of war, the Franks finally accomplished victory over the Saxons, attempting to convert them to Christianity …show more content…
A kingdom which did not push beyond its borders, would end up being pushed inward. When 'Carolus Magnus' fought against others in purely border disputes, he would take as much land as he could. In Einhard's eyes, this was to provide for the security of Charlemagne's subjects for which he cared a great deal. This was also one reason why Einhard believe Charlemagne to be such a great king for the Franks. Einhard did sometimes admit that Charlemagne had forged war because of insults or other seemingly minuscule things, yet because of his greatness, this was also acceptable. An example of this can be found when the pride of Duke Tassilo of Bavaria caused him to not obey the authority of Charlemagne. 'Tassilo's arrogance was too much for the spirited King of the Franks to stomach......he marched against Bavaria with a huge army.' (Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne) Thus, through the beliefs of protecting the kingdom and its population, defending and spreading Christianity, guarding his own ego, or for simply the 'good of the world', Charlemagne fought the wars and Einhard justified them for students of history to contemplate whether or not they were truly as noble as he believed them to

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Einhard’s opinion of Charlemagne was extremely high, as he “had all of the characteristics that [Einhard] felt to make a good king” (Shah). A more general consensus suggests that many of the public also favored Charlemagne’s period as Frankish King (r. 768-814), as his name translates to ‘Charles the Great’, and his actions are commonly seen to have heavily benefited western Europe’s development.…

    • 336 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The imperial coronation of Charlemagne has been a source of dispute between scholars of this era for a period of time, perhaps due to the fact that the sources available are often biased and the historical information, often vague. Historians have argued that perhaps it had been Charlemagne himself who instigated the coronation possibly as a means to consolidate his power and place himself and the Frankish empire on a par with the model in place in the Byzantine regions. Others have suggested that it was in fact the doing of the papacy at the time. Charlemagne had offered great support and interest in religious affairs and could be suggested that it had been a pre-emptive strike to ensure that the ruler did not take advantage of the weakening state of the papacy in this period. Also, Charlemagne offered to the papacy a strong figure of protection, some one that would defend their interests and aid a shift of religious power from Constantinople to Rome. However, the events leading up to his imperial coronation can not be established without first examining the relations between Charlemagne and the religious section, nor can either argument as to how the coronation came about, be dismissed without establishing the background to the event.…

    • 2099 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Throughout the course of history many different empires have been formed. Of these empires, the Carolingian Empire is one that really intrigued me to learn more about. The knowledge about the empire is easily retained. Though the information was easy to grasp, it did cause me some problems. While reading about this historical empire I overlooked some very important actions upheld within the empire. Initially, I thought that the information presented in the book was all credited to Charlemagne. Though the majority of the greatest years of the empire occurred under Charlemagne, it did not fully explain the empire itself. Most of what was accomplished was carried out inside of Charlemagne's realm, but he alone did not form the empire himself. The groundwork to the empire was taken care of by the Carolingians who controlled the Frankish realm at this time. The rise and fall of the Carolingian Empire can be attributed to the decisions of those in power and the many government reforms enacted.…

    • 1953 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Holy Roman Empire

    • 914 Words
    • 4 Pages

    A pope is in need of help from the Frankish king. After being physically attacked by his enemies in the streets of Rome. It is not known what is agreed, but Charlemagne travels to Rome in 800 to support the pope. But unexpectedly as Charlemagne rises from prayer, the pope places a crown on his head and acclaims him emperor. Charlemagne expresses displeasure but accepts the honor. The displeasure is probably diplomatic, for the legal emperor is undoubtedly the one in Constantinople. Nevertheless this public alliance between the pope and the ruler of a confederation of Germanic tribes now reflects the reality of political power in the west. And it launches the concept of the new Holy Roman Empire that will play an important role throughout the middle ages. The Holy Roman Empire only becomes formally established in the next century. But it is implicit in the title adopted by Charlemagne in 800: 'Charles, most serene Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor, governing the Roman Empire.'…

    • 914 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Brundage notes that “By 1208, Bishop Albert had the machinery of his new principality working smoothly... most had been compelled by force of fear to accept the Christian name”2. Thus early in his reign the Swordbrothers were utilized astutely to support Albert’s policy making and to suppress any uprisings and religious dissent. Certainly, Brundage’s comment is derived from the strength of support Albert culminated in…

    • 2100 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Pacific Empire Dbq

    • 381 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The emperors, Henry VII and Ludwig IV, had both dreamed of bringing about a renewal of imperial authority and the empire, in the mould of the Carolingians, or perhaps even, Rome itself, and it seemed at the beginning of the fourteenth-century that this might be plausible. Yet, this had not been the only envisioned ‘empire’ at the start of the fourteenth-century; there was the imagined papal monarchy, reigning supreme over all of Italy, or perhaps even all Christendom, the Plantagenet Empire dreamed of by King Edward I of England, or the Capetian Empire of King Philip IV of France, or even King Alfonso XI of Castile’s united Iberian Peninsula. These “fantasy kingdoms”, to borrow a phrase from John Watts, would prove to be unachievable, but as…

    • 381 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Before, when Charlemagne’s father had passed away, the kingdom was passed down to him and his brother. They didn’t really like each other but had no other choice than to learn how to rule the kingdom together. They ruled seperate halfs of their fathers kingdom for three years. Suddenly Charlemagne’s brother Carloman dies, yet no one knows exactly how. Most people believed the death of Carloman was Charlemagne’s doing, but there is no solid evidence to prove this theory. At the young age of only 24, Charlemagne was the holder of the biggest kingdom of Europe. He worked tremendously hard to make his kingdom the only kingdom located in Europe. He went through a series of battles and when he won he captured the people giving them a choice, embrace…

    • 183 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    In some depictions of the British warrior, known as King Arthur, he was a brilliant military strategist. One piece of evidence that points to this is the Saxon invasion of Britain during the 5th to 6th century, as the British forces were led by an unnamed military mind (“King Arthur”). This evidence gives a historical invasion that led to one depiction of an Arthur. The next piece of evidence is that Britain prevailed in the Saxon invasion under the leadership of a warrior that excelled in military strategy. This is interesting information that can be perceived as one of Arthur’s first steps to saving Britain. The final example to note is that it is believed that Arthur’s affiliation is Roman (“King Arthur”). This information is exceptional because there might be religious reasons why Arthur is depicted as this great warrior. With that said, knowing Arthur’s possible affiliation allows a person to connect him with the military mind that led the British forces as that leader was affiliated with the Roman.…

    • 536 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    When Clovis I united the Franks that put an end to the crumbling Western Roman Empire. After becoming ruler of a large portion of the western European landmass he converted to Roman Catholic which in turn trickled down to his followers causing many of them to convert as well. Former roman peoples mostly welcomed their new Frankish ruler. When Clovis eventually died he passed his Kingdom on to his four sons: Theuderic, Chlodomer, Childebert, and Lothar. (HF162) They divided his kingdom equally upon themselves. Soon one of their kingdoms came under attack. Theuderic’s fourth of the kindom was attacked by sea under King Chlochiliach of the Danes. They came ashore and laid the region to waste taking prisoners and loot alike. Hearing this Theuderic sent his son Theudebert with a powerful army to resolve the Danish king. King Chlochiliach was killed and all the loot returned. (HF163) This is an example of a classic tactic of the time. King Chlochiliach was attempting to use the Raid and Plunder tactic then escape without any real threat to his army. Unfourtunately his ships were not large enough for his, his whole army, and his plunder. So he waited for their return only to be killed and his army destroyed. The Thuringians (natives of what is now central Germany) at this time were ruled by three brothers: Baderic, Hermanfrid, and Berthar. In a fight for more power and land Hermanfrid had defeated…

    • 1387 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Once the Roman empire collapsed, Christian Europeans civilizations began to emerge in Western Europe. The Frankish rule the emerged from within Rome established a Christian state that lasted that was founded by Clovis and was continually passed down to the sons from the Merovingians founded by Clovis, the Carolingians led by Charles Martel and Pepin III, to the age of Charlemagne following Pepin’s death. Although Charlemagne’s empire was able to improve the status of Western Europe, after Charlemagne’s death divisions among the heirs to the empire and a myriad of invasions led to the collapse of the empire. The Crusades began as a concerted effort to curb the influence of Islam and increase the unity between European Christians, however they ultimately did achieve their original goals. In the 12th century Henry II instituted reforms that simplified the judicial system and establish English common law. Lastly, the Hundred year conflict between England and France destabilized Europe affecting almost all areas of society.…

    • 935 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Song of Roland, or La Chanson de Roland, is an anonymously written poem about Count Roland and his King Charlemagne. The story takes place in the eighth century A.D in Spain and France, but the poem was not composed until sometime during the eleventh century A.D. According to tradition, Roland was the nephew of Charlemagne and possessed the sword Durandel and the horn Oliphant. This epic French poem tells a story of betrayal and revenge with poetic imagery. The Song of Roland serves as the foundation of French literature, giving modern readers insight into the cultural life of France.…

    • 711 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Charlemagne was a Frankish king, later emperor, whose rule lasted from 742 CE until 814 CE. Charles the Great was revered as one of the greatest kings of the Early Middle Ages, an attitude that was perpetuated by the early authors’ writings about him and his reign. One such author is an eighth-century scholar named Einhard who born in 770 CE in the eastern part of Frankland. After receiving an education from a local monastery, Einhard went on to become not only a member of Charlemagne’s court but also his close friend. It was this friendship which leads Einhard to write his biography The Life of Charlemagne, in which he portrays Charlemagne as totally devoted to his family and friends.…

    • 1042 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Turning back the clocks four hundred years ago and zoom into Europe, there can be found many different small, crowded and somewhat unorganized states and civilizations running about. Some are kingdoms, some are dukedoms, some are neither. A few of these states include Saxony, Franconia, Burgundy, Bavaria, and Austria. These, though, were all vassals of Germanic lands and formed something even greater, and that was the Holy Roman Empire. Though most historians don’t consider it to be very holy, roman, nor an empire, the Holy Roman Empire grew to be one of the most powerful civilizations in Europe during the Middle Ages.…

    • 937 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    This book also uses extraits and portions of the book "Life of Charlemagne"(Vita Karoli Magni) which was written by a man named Einhard who actually was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne which adds to the reliability of this book. At the same time, he uses extraits from letters written by a man named Alcuin to Charlemagne himself and books written at the time and date back to Charlemagnes reign.…

    • 378 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Charlemagne was born into a royal family which means he was destined to become royalty later on. He was born around 742 and was the son of Bertrada of Laon and Pepin the Short who became king in 751. Pepin divided the kingdom equally between him and his brother. After his brother died and it was passed on to his nephews, Charlemagne murdered them and seized their territories. As an adult, Charlemagne displayed a talent for languages and could speak Latin and understand Greek, among other languages.…

    • 903 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays

Related Topics