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Historyof Western Society
Charlemagnecommonly referred to as Charles the great became the King of Franksafter the death of his father in 768. Pepin`s death led to thedivision of Frankish Kingdom between Charlemagne and his brotherCarlo man. They had a strained relationship until the death of Carloman in 771 where he became the ruler of the Franks. Charles the greatis referred as a medieval emperor and led Western Europe from 768 to771 (McKay et al., 45). There are numerous instances whereCharlemagne has proved to be an enlightened emperor.
First,he used his power for the service of the church. He demonstrated hisfaith by becoming a defender of Christianity, where he offered moneyand property to the church as well as protecting the Popes. Mostpeople considered him as an enlightened ruler when he took over mostparts of the Western Europe and used military force to convert peopleto Christians (McKay et al., 48). It was one of his many missions tobring together people as one Kingdom. In addition, he sponsored mostof the missionary groups by supporting the spread of Benedictinemonasteries. Charlemagne was a zealous King and in 800, he wascrowned as the Roman Emperor by Pope Leo 111 at St. Peter`s Basilicachurch in Rome (Loyn & John 68).
Furthermore,Charlemagne extended his generosity to the needy. He ensured that heassisted the poor Christians in his kingdom as well as other statesincluding Africa, Alexandra, Syria and Egypt amongst other nations(Loyn & John 65). He was a friendly person and had several fellowking friends due to his helping hand. This made it possible for himto reach more Christians by sending foreign relief to cater for theneedy. In addition, Charlemagne was a devoted member of the St.Peters church and spent most of his time doing charity work. He haddecorated the church with valuable stones and jewelries. In mostcases, he would send presents to the pope. He had wished to establishrules that would make Rome under his control so that he could protectthe pope as well as the church.
Charlemagnewas steadfast to the principles of Christians since infancy. He hadconstructed the Aix-la-Chappell with imported materials from Romebecause it was a place where such items were found. He worshipedthere most the times and ensured that the services were coordinatedin the right way (McKay et al., 49). Security was enforced to ensurethat improper things were not brought in the church. On the samepoint, he had introduced special robes to be worn on worship days,and that were affordable to all. He was well skilled and henceimproved singing in the church.
Secondly,Charlemagne was an enlightened emperor and trained militarypersonnel. He spent most of his time in warfare and militarycampaigns so as to accomplish his objectives (Story 97). He conqueredmajority of the cities, for instance, northern Italy, Hungary, andAustria amongst others. Charlemagne recorded a three decade longseries of battles against the Saxons and in the year 782 he orderedthe killing of over 4,000 Saxons who had refused to convert toChristianity. Before then, there were wars between the Franks and theSaxons because they were believed to poses evil spirits and worshipeddevils. They were venomous to other religions and this disturbedCharlemagne (Loyn & John 78).
Everyday there were fights between the two groups and at times the Saxonswould repudiate their devil worship to follow Christians, but wouldlater violate and went back to the devil worshipping (Story 102).This behavior would not go unpunished and hence made him even morepowerful. He would at times go to fight himself or send his soldiers.Eventuality, he succeeded to convert them to Christianity andformulated rules that those who objected to becoming Christians andbe baptized should be killed. The fear of death by majority of theSaxons led to the fulfillment of his mission, and almost everyonebecame a Christian. The Saxons united with the Franks and togetherthey formed one religion of Christianity.
Anothercase that proved Charlemagne was well informed is his support of artsand betterment of culture in the empire (Loyn& John 82).It helped upgrade his kingdom in different ways. For instance, heensured that most of the religious leaders were educated andallocated them some of the government tasks. The other reason for hissupport of arts and culture was to be successful in formulating therules of the church. He achieved all these by consolidating hisleadership of the territory. In addition, he wanted to enhance hisranking and dominance by demonstrating to be the custodian of thehouse of worship.
Theother great work of Charlemagne is that he promoted institutions ofschools. He advocated education by encouraging for scholarships. Itwas evidenced that when he took power, there were hardly schools inthe Franks kingdom (Story 79). The level of illiteracy was high, andhe could hardly read. He knew the importance of education and usedall the possible ways to ensure that education was encouraged. Hiscompulsion to learn is evidenced by the fact that one of his Palacesincluded a school where at certain instances he taught and recruitedteachers whom he thought would help advance in learning. In addition,he initiated reforms and programs that helped improve the standardsof most people in Western Europe (Story 82).
Charlemagneknew that there were no learned people in his kingdom, and heinvested heavily in education by hiring learned people from otherscountries. Those who agreed to come and teach in his country wererewarded heavily (McKay et al., 55). Amongst those who came, was theEnglishman knows as Alcuin of York. Alcuin was the principal of theinstitution that Charlemagne was a student, and he had made theschool his palace. Further, he established other more schools withthe help of churches that he supported. More libraries weredeveloped, and more people were now able to read and write. Duringthis time, writing a book was a tiring and slow process thus only afew could afford. This was because they were handwritten anddecorated in the same process. The other factor that made these booksavailable to only a few private individuals was because they werecostly, and not all could bear the expense (Loyn & John 111).
Besidesbeing an enlightened emperor, Charlemagne was a respected politicalleader. He proved to be an egregious leader, but tolerant leader oncethe public submitted their problems. He permitted vanquished peopleto continue with their customs by appointing a ruler who would guidethem and ensure that the established laws are obeyed and adhered(Story 76). He achieved his greatest objective when he appointedagents. These were his officers who traveled to all the cities of hiskingdom and reported to him whether the rules were being followed.The messengers also ensured that justice was served to all and no onefaced injustice. Further, they addressed complaints and had thecapacity to handle all issues related to the state. Each year duringspring time, he held a meeting with his cabinet. This was a time whenthe officers were allowed to table their reports. The country wasvast, and Charlemagne could not attend all the cities. However,through the elected messengers he was able to know what was happeningthroughout his kingdom and hence was able to keep it under control(McKay et al., 59).
Itis of importance to note that Charlemagne was a role model to mostpeople in his country both in peace as well as in war. As the king ofthe Franks, he had powers that were far much beyond those of theemperor (McKay et al., 65). It is because he had connections withalmost every ruler in Europe for the welfare of his people. It isbelieved that one of the best deals he achieved was strengthening hisrelationship with the great Caliph of Bagdad. The King was known inEurope during the “Arabian Nights” and paid no attention to theinterests of his people. Charlemagne received gifts from this king,and one of them was an elephant that was first of its kind among theFranks (Loyn & John 122).
Theother instance where Charlemagne was considered a wise leaderoccurred towards his death. At this time, he was old and sick. Hecalled his son Louis and all the rulers in his territory for ameeting. In accord, he decided to appoint his son as the heir and theruler of the entire dominion (McKay et al., 76). Charlemagne haddemonstrated his strong faith in Christianity through fasting. Duringthis time, he had decided to fast with the belief that he would heal.It happened all the time when he fell sick. He died after HolyCommunion at seventy-two having ruled for forty-seven years.
Loyn,Henry R, and John Percival. TheReign of Charlemagne: Documents on Carolingian Government andAdministration.London: Edward Arnold, 2009. Print.
McKay,John P, Bennett D. Hill, and John Buckler. AHistory of Western Society.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Print.
Story,Joanna. Charlemagne:Empire and Society.Manchester New York, N.Y: Manchester University Press, 2012. Print.