Monday, August 15, 2022

First Look at Charlemagne

Charlemagne and Saxons (Germania, 772-804)

Charlemagne (742-814, r. >768), king of the Franks, begins his conquest of Saxony early in his long reign (772). He pursues this goal for more than 30 years. During this time, Charlemagne is not content to seize territory. He wishes to impose even a religious uniformity upon his new subjects. He commands his Frankish Christian armies to kill Saxon Olympian soldiers but, more importantly, to destroy their sacred places, steal any gold and silver objects found in them, convert Saxons at sword point, and execute those who relapse into Olympianity (reputedly 4500 in one day in 782).

Charlemagne and Unity

Charlemagne’s political, military, and religious aggression expresses a long-held hope in Latin Christendom that one day a leader would emerge who would restore the lost political and religious unity of the Roman empire. Charlemagne extends his control of land and people through his army. He then exercises that control through an imperial bureaucracy manned by priests and monks.

Charlemagne and Leo (800)

Leo 3rd, pope, personally travels to Charlemagne to beg him for protection against enemies in Latium (799). The following year on Christmas Day, while Charlemagne is worshiping in Rome, Leo crowns him Holy Roman Emperor. By doing so, Leo publicly affirms Charlemagne as the embodiment of Latin Christendom’s hopes. He also publicly repudiates the traditional claim by Greek Christian emperors in Constantinople to authority in the West.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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