Carolingian Frankish III/28: 639AD- 888AD

DBA list:
1x 3Kn (General) Charlemagne
5x 3Kn
4x 4Sp
1x 2Ps
1x 2Ps or 2LH or 7Hd

Charlemagne (c.742-814), also known as Karl and Charles the Great, ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814. Charlemagne was born around 742, the son of Bertrada of Laon (d.783) and Pepin the Short (d.768), who became king of the Franks in 751. Charlemagne’s exact birthplace is unknown, although historians have suggested Liege in present-day Belgium and Aachen in modern-day Germany as possible locations. In 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany.

He embarked on a mission to unite all Germanic peoples into one kingdom, and convert his subjects to Christianity. A skilled military strategist, he spent much of his reign engaged in warfare in order to accomplish his goals. Charlemagne was engaged in almost constant battle throughout his reign, often at the head of his elite scara bodyguard squadrons, with his sword Joyeuse in hand. In the Saxon Wars, spanning thirty years and eighteen battles, he conquered Saxonia and proceeded to convert the conquered to Christianity.Through his military conquests, he subdued the Saxons and the Bavarians and pushed his frontier into Spain. He expanded his kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe.

On Christmas Day in 800, Pope Leo III (750-816) crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans,the first emperor in western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. During the pontifical Mass celebrated by the pope, as the king knelt in prayer before the high altar beneath which lay the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope approached him, placed upon his head the imperial crown, did him formal reverence after the ancient manner, saluted him as Emperor and Augustus and anointed him, while the Romans present burst out with the acclamation, thrice repeated: "To Carolus Augustus crowned by God, mighty and pacific emperor, be life and victory" (Carolo, piisimo Augusto a Deo coronato, magno et pacificio Imperatori, vita et victoria). These details are gathered from contemporary accounts (Life of Leo III in "lib. Pont."; "Annales Laurissense majores"; Einhard's Vita Caroli; Theophanes).

Charlemagne encouraged the Carolingian Renaissance, a cultural and intellectual revival in Europe. When he died in 814, his empire encompassed much of Western Europe, and he had also ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. Today, Charlemagne is referred to by some as the father of Europe. One of the most important consequences of the Carolingian Renaissance was that Charlemagne encouraged the spread of uniform religious practices as well as a uniform culture. Charlemagne set out to construct a Respublica Christiana, a Christian republic. Despite the fact that Charlemagne unified his empire, elevated education, standardized coins, handwriting and even scholarly Latin, his Empire declined in strength within a generation or two following his death.

Charlemagne died in 814 after having ruled as Emperor for just over thirteen years. He was laid to rest in his imperial capital of Aachen in today's Germany. His son Louis the Pious succeeded him as Emperor.

The personal appearance of Charles is thus described by Einhard, a friend and courtier: "Big and robust in frame, he was tall, but not excessively so, measuring about seven of his own feet in height (six feet, four inches at a time when the average European man stood 5'5"). His eyes were large and lustrous, his nose rather long and his countenance bright and cheerful." He had a commanding presence, a clear but somewhat feeble voice, and in later life became rather corpulent.

In 1861, Charlemagne's tomb was opened by scientists who reconstructed his skeleton and estimated it to be measured 74.9 in (190 cm). An estimate of his height from an X-ray and CT Scan of his tibia performed in 2010 is 1.84 m (72 in). This puts him in the 99th percentile of tall people of his period, given that average male height of his time was 1.69 m (67 in). The width of the bone suggested he was gracile but not robust in body build.


A contemporary bronze of Charlemagne or Charles the Bald (the Louvre).




Click here to see the army pictures.