Their piety and probity, which are great gifts of God, enable them to afterwards receive that which is eternal. In this world, therefore, the dominion of good men is profitable for human affairs.
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To confine Charlemagne to a mere retelling of events would be to miss the deep and rich historical treasures that lay beneath the historical record; and most of all, it would be to miss the driving spiritual forces that motivated this legend of European history—a man who has been referred to as the father of the Holy Roman Empire. To this day, and especially to many who are even vaguely acquainted with the historical record, Charlemagne stands out as the personification of everything that is unselfish and noble, a conqueror who visualized himself as the champion of European unity with the purpose of saving Europe through imperial conquest—an evangelist with a sword.
The most efficient way to save souls was to reform the Church—those who professed to know how.
This would give the Church an added dimension and would greatly augment the development of an ecclesiastical empire: where the authority of the Church would dominate the State. This was not because this was somehow an evil conspiracy cooked up by Charlemagne, or even by the Church for that matter; but rather, it was a natural outgrowth of these initial civil administrative, and ecclesiastical policies.
Charlemagne began his long regal career at the age of 30 when he became the sole ruler of the kingdom of the Franks in This motivated Charlemagne ? In he launched a thirty-year campaign to conquer and Christianize the powerful pagan Saxons in the north which resulted in the systematic expansion of his dream for a Christian empire. He also subdued the Avars, a huge Tatar tribe on the Danube, and compelled the rebellious Bavarian dukes to submit to him. However, when possible he preferred to settle matters peacefully.
Charlemagne once offered to pay the Lombard king Desiderius for the return of lands to the pope, but, when Desiderius refused, he seized his kingdom in and restored the Papal States the following year. During his forty-six year reign he sent out fifty-three of them. Before a campaign he told the counts, princes, and bishops throughout his realm how many men they should bring, what arms they were to carry, and even what to load in the supply wagons.
These feats of organization and the swift marches would influence Napoleon. But more importantly, his organizing abilities would also serve him well when organizing the governing districts within his empire. By Charlemagne was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe. His vast realm covered what are now France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The broad March reached to the Ebro River. Pepin not only agreed to defend the Church, he promised to give to the church the lands wrested from the Lombards. This promise was realized in The Donation of Pepin in In essence, Pepin assigned the former Byzantine territory around Ravenna to the pope.
This was the birth of the Papal States. Peter, namely Pepin the king of the Franks. Peter and the jurisdiction of the Roman church or from the pontiff of the apostolic see. He affirmed under oath that he had not engaged in war so often to win the favor of any man but for the love of St.
Peter and for the remission of his sins, and he declared that no enrichment of this treasury would persuade him to snatch away what he had once offered to St. The popes must have known. The only real hope of establishing beyond doubt the legitimacy of the papal claim lay in the institution of a new Roman emperor in the West on whom the popes could rely as a friend and protector. Peter in glory. Peter is seen conferring a priestly stole as Leo is kneeling at his right hand, and Charles is being given the standard of Rome as he kneels at his left hand.
In other words, it appears that Charlemagne did not intentionally come to Rome to be coronated by the pope. Even though the Annals of Lorsch record that Charles had corroborated with Pope Leo to officially accept the title of Emperor at the synod of December 23, it appears that the event was altogether staged. But for Rome this meant the possibility of fulfilling its dream of breaking with the East. It is the bringing together of all the known world, of the orbis terrarum, under a unique power.
The idea of empire does not refer primarily to the conquering zeal of a few individuals Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, or Napoleon. While these cities are the antithesis of one another, they nevertheless need each other. The city of man represents everything that is temporal and is fleshly.
Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire
Human nature is at once Godly and fleshly, a state in which sinful man requires the perfect grace of God. The City of Man is self-centered and relies on the very force of its nature, whereas the City of God is redemptive and relies on the spirit of love. Therefore, their view of political Augustinianism posited that the City of Man is to be instructed by the people of faith—the Church—and is thereby to emulate the virtues of the City of God—goodness, justice and so on—as the Church directs.
Augustine never preached in favor of the Church entering into earthly politics.
While each was to play a distinct and important role of its own, their hierarchical roles were spelled out in a sermon delivered by Augustine:. Consider these several grades of human powers.
If the magistrate enjoin any thing, must it not be done? Yet if his order be in opposition to the Proconsul, thou dost not surely despise the power, but choosest to obey a greater power.
Nor in this case ought the less to be angry, if the greater be preferred. Again, if the Proconsul himself enjoin any thing, and the Emperor another thing, is there any doubt, that disregarding the former, we ought to obey the latter? So then if the Emperor enjoin one thing, and God another, what judge ye? Pay me tribute, submit thyself to my allegiance. Who forbids it? A greater Power. Pardon me then: thou threatenest a prison. He threateneth hell. The question of whether the pope or emperor was to be the dominating and controlling authority grew in intensity. Then what is it?
The nature of the sword was moral, thus disciplinary and reformatory. In a letter to a Donatist named Vencentius, Augustine noted:. Originally my opinion was, that no one should be coerced into the unity of Christ, that we must act only by words, fight only by arguments, and prevail by force of reason, lest we should have those whom we knew as avowed heretics feigning themselves to be Catholics.
But this opinion of mine was overcome not by the words of those who controverted it, but by the conclusive instances to which they could point. For, in the first place, there was set over against my opinion my own town [Hippo], which, although it was once wholly on the side of Donatus, was brought over to the Catholic unity by fear of the imperial edicts. Therefore, they must be conquered if they are ever to be won to Christ and His Church. In all three he made known to Charlemagne how exasperated he was of his method of forcing the conversion of Saxons and the Huns—which many times meant whole villages were ran through with the sword, pillaged, or burned.
It is true, that in an age when the usual penalty for defeat was death, Charlemagne several times spared the lives of his defeated foes. However, in one specific instance in at Verden, after a Saxon uprising, he ordered 4, Saxons beheaded, and compelled the clergy and nobles to reform.
How Charlemagne Changed the World | Live Science
Finally, Alcuin reminded Charlemagne that his power and authority was not unlimited, and that he was not above the law. After his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in , Charlemagne declared war on the political and constitutional anarchy that existed among the Franks and throughout much of the empire, by establishing a centralized legal code and through an organized network of missi dominici itinerant judges from the royal court who made legal inquiries inquisitios and issued decrees or changes in the laws in the name of the Holy Roman Emperor.
And last, but not least, he promoted cultural reform through a formal educational training that gave special attention to the liberal arts. Above all, the accusatorial procedure of litigation in both civil and criminal cases came virtually to eliminate the inquisitorial procedure that had taken over Roman law and been introduced into the law of the Church in the fourth century. To charge anyone with any offense, public or private, once again required an accuser, and the limited institutions of social control in eighth- and ninth-century Europe made the process difficult and cumbersome.
This code incorporated both the Salic and Ripuarian constitutions of the Franks, and thus became the principal representative of Roman law among the Franks. Even though both the Theodosianus and the Breviarium codes were later superseded by the Justinian Code in A. It was the only body of civil law publicly received as authentic in the western part of Europe till the twelfth century, the use and authority of the Code of Justinian being during that interval confined to the East.
But in Charlemagne received from Pope Hadrian I a copy of the collection of conciliar canons and decretals compiled in the sixth century by the monk Dionysius Exiguus. Charlemagne would use this collection as the basis for religious legislation, and for his ecclesiastical capitularies. But those empires are able to manage with this weakness for quite some time.
Part of the problem with the Carolingian Empire is its size. Part of it, however, as you will have read in the Fichtenau reading is its lack of infrastructure and economic development. Infrastructure in a sense of not just towns, roads, communications, but social infrastructure, the lack of an idea of obeying the state or obeying the ruler, and a tendency, therefore, to mix private and public interest, and to the benefit of the powerful. There are also external problems. We always can see signs of decline coming after. In , there arrived an elephant at the court of Charlemagne, a gift from the caliph of Baghdad, Harun al-Rashid, the caliph who figures in the Arabian Nights entertainments.
At various times, there had been negotiations between Constantinople and Aachen discussing the possibility of an imperial marriage. The Carolingian ruler was contemptuous of Byzantium because it was ruled by a woman, the Empress Irene, a rather exceptional figure. But neither the alliance with Byzantium, at least not at this point, and certainly not the more far-fetched alliance with Baghdad came to anything. The elephant was certainly the first one seen in Europe probably since Hannibal and his invasion of Italy.
On the other hand, I can get another cat.