Charlemagne 1

Saint Charlemagne

Charlemagne was born on April 2, 747 or 748 and died on January 28, 814 in Aachen. Charlemagne took over the title and reign as King of the Franks after the death of his father Pippin the Younger, in 768. At first he ruled together with his brother Karlmann. After his death in 771 he took over the sole reign.

Charlemagne succeeded in securing his power in the Frankish Empire and considerably expanded it in a series of outward campaigns. The Saxon wars, which lasted from 772 to 804, were particularly costly and bitterly fought. Their goal was the subjugation and forced Christianization of the Saxons. Charles also intervened in Italy and conquered the Lombardy Empire in 774.

The Frankish Empire rose to become the new great power alongside Byzantium and the Abbasid Caliphate. It encompassed the core part of early medieval Latin Christendom and was the most important state structure in the West since the fall of Western Rome.

From 786 he had a new palace with a chapel built in Aachen. He took the fled Pope Leo III with him and confirmed to him the rule of the Papal States. After his election, the Pope had sent Charles the keys from Peter’s grave and the banner of the city of Rome, thus acknowledging his patronage of Rome.

Charles gave Leo military support and had him returned to Rome at the end of 799. In the late summer of 800, Charles went to Italy himself and arrived in Rome in late November. There, on Christmas Day, December 25, 800, Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica. This marked the beginning of an extremely powerful development for the entire later Middle Ages: the transfer of Roman rule to the Franks (translatio imperii).

The Roman empire in the West, where the last emperor had been deposed in Italy in 476, was renewed by the coronation of Charlemagne. In this context, aspects of salvation history played an important role; the Roman Empire was considered the last world empire in history. Now a new “Roman Empire” existed, which was based on the claim to power of the ancient Roman emperors.

Saint Charlemagne

Charlemagne in San Luigi dei Francesi (Rome)