Medieval Europe + Byzantine
- Charlemagne: an introduction
- Carolingian art, an introduction
- Charlemagne and the Carolingian revival
- Palatine Chapel, Aachen
- Palatine Chapel, Aachen
- Saint Matthew from the Ebbo Gospel
- Matthew in the Coronation Gospels and Ebbo Gospels
- Medieval goldsmiths
- Depicting Judaism in a medieval Christian ivory
- Lindau Gospels cover
- Lindau Gospels Cover Quiz
- Santa Prassede (Praxedes)
- Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan
- Carolingian art
With the help of Pope Leo III, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, declared himself the Emperor of the West in the year 800 CE. Steven and Beth explain the context and history behind the legendary reign of Charles the Great. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.
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- In0:47why is it a bigg deal to become leader by the pope and not other people?(6 votes)
- At around6:44what is present day aachen(3 votes)
- Aachen still exists as "Aachen" -- in fact, if you visit, you'll find a charming university town and the remains of Charlemagne in the Aachen Catherdral(7 votes)
- At1:00, they allude to an "Emperor in the East" with moral authority over the Byzantine Empire. Who was that leader?(4 votes)
- There were many of them. Check this out- it has a lot of these Emperors listed with info about them:
- Didn't the date people celebrated Chritmas on change in history? They don't mean he was crowned on Dec 25th, right? Not sure when or how many times it changed, but does anyone know what the date was when Charlemagne was crowned?(2 votes)
- Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day, December 25th. The Early Middle Ages Calendar was centered around christmas-related holidays. the crowning of Charlemagne popularized christmas, resulting several later times where kings were crowned on christmas.(5 votes)
- When did Charlemagne become Holy Roman Emperor and why?(3 votes)
- So in 797, the Byzantine Emperor Leo IV died. His widow Irene made herself Empress Regent and ventured to rule in her own right, defying Byzantine law. Both Charlemagne and Pope Leo III saw this as an illegitimate move, meaning the Byzantine throne was essentially vacant; they also thought authority could be assumed by Charlemagne. On Christmas day, 800, Pope Leo crowned Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor.
Of course, there was conflict over who had the right to transfer authority to Charlemagne. The Byzantines certainly didn't think it was the Pope; even Irene's greatest enemies regarded this as a slap in the face. The two empires cut off all diplomacy, expressed hostility towards each other, and even affirmed different religious doctrines to distance themselves.(3 votes)
- what were goths?(1 vote)
- As far as I know, the Goths were a Germanic Tribe (meaning they come from the area of modern Germany) and they were a powerful one too. They were the ones that brought about the fall of the Roman Empire, a couple years later than Charlemange.(4 votes)
- So, if the "barbarians" were migrating into the Roman Empire, where were they coming from? Why did they come into the empire and not stay where they had been originally?(2 votes)
- The "barbarians" were mostly from regions north of the Danube and west of the Rhine, outside the borders of the Roman Empire. They were mostly Germanic, and they migrated to the Roman Empire for several reasons. One reason was for security. As the Huns migrated westwards, it pillaged and sacked Germanic settlements, forcing them to flee. Another reason was climate change, which made farming and living worse due to decreasing temperatures. Warmer climate of the Roman domains were more fertile and warmer. Moreover, as the Roman Empire became weaker, the barbarians saw easier opportunities to loot and take their wealth and land.(2 votes)
- Rome was broken in a multitude of ways as an Empire before Charlemangne was able to really come into power. What are the major contributors to his rise?(2 votes)
- Charlemagne was the son of the Frankish king Pepin the Short, who was recognized as ruler via the Pope in Rome after defending the church and its land against the Lombards. When he died Charlemagne actually ruled alongside his brother, Carloman, but it was a very uneasy time period as neither wanted to co-rule an empire.
Charlemagne coupled himself with the king of the Lombards by wedding his daughter, Desiderius. This unification was a major part of his rise and his assumption of power over lands in Northern Italy. In 771 under mysterious causes, his brother died and Charlemagne was left to rule singlehandedly.(2 votes)
- He was crowned in Christmas because why?(2 votes)
- Christmas was probably the most important Christian holiday at that time. Charlemagne was careful to be known as a king who supported the church and, since he was being crowned by the Pope, being crowned on a religious holiday would gain favor with the Pope. At this time religion was probably the single most important idea to the peasants. So, when Charlemagne showed all this religious fervor and deference, the peasants thought "Hey, this guy is pretty cool!"
I hope this helps!(2 votes)
(music) Male: Between the ancient Roman world and the modern world, between the ancient Roman emperors and Napolean, there was really only one ruler that controlled most of Western Europe. Female: The person you're referring to is Charlemagne or Charles the Great or Carolus Magnus. He's a legend, really, Charlemagne. Male: In fact, historians struggle because there are so few fragments of information. This is so long ago. Female: We're talking about the late eighth and ninth century. This is a really long time ago. Male: On Christmas Day, in the year 800 exactly, Charlemagne is crowned emperor by the Pope in Rome. Female: This is a huge deal. Male: The Roman emperors in the ancient world had ruled from Rome until Constantine moved the empire to Constantinople, what is now Istanbul. So the center of power had shifted to the East and now, in 800, 500 years after Constantine, we have now an emperor in the West. Female: But there's still an emperor in the East who has moral authority. People still look to that emperor in the East in the Byzantine Empire. Let's think about what happened in Western Europe that allowed for Charlemagne to become the new emperor. Male: The first thing that's important to understand, the Western Roman Empire basically fell apart. Female: What we see beginning especially in the fifth century is the dissolution of the institutions of the Roman Empire. The idea of the Roman Empire hangs on, but its ability to govern comes apart. Male: In order to understand what happened in the Roman Empire in the West, you have to recognize the pressure from a series of invasions from people that the Romans thought of as barbarians. Female: These are a people who migrated into the lands that were part of the Roman Empire. You might know them as the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths and the Huns. One of those peoples were the Franks. Male: This is not Franks as in France. These are people that actually settled in what is now Germany, what is now France. Charlemagne was a Frank and if we go back several centuries, we can see the beginning of the kingdom of the Franks. In addition to the Franks, there were also the Lombards. This was another Germanic people, another group who the Romans would have considered barbarians, who had conquered Northern Italy. Female: They were often threatening what was the heart of the old Roman Empire, and that was Rome, the Papal States. Now when I say Papal States I mean the areas governed by the Pope. We think about the Pope as a spiritual leader, but back in the ninth century and actually for many centuries, the Pope was also a political leader. Male: What's so interesting is that the Pope, the papacy, would have traditionally looked to the Byzantine emperor for protection from people like the Lombards, but by the time the Lombards were threatening Rome, the Byzantine Empire was not strong enough to defend Rome. So instead, the papacy looked North to the kingdom of the Franks. Female: Charlemagne, early in his career, had been called on by the Pope at the time, Pope Hadrian, to protect him and the papal lands. Charlemagne was successful and actually Charlemagne became king of the Lombards. This dependence between the papacy and the king of the Franks started with Charlemagne's father, Pepin, who was given the authority to rule by the Pope. Male: There's this really interesting reciprocal relationship between the Pope in Rome and this Frankish king, Charlemagne, and his father, and that is that the Pope is getting military protection, and at the same time he's offering a kind of legitimacy. Female: What ends up happening is that you have two very powerful figures in Western Europe, and there will be a contest between these two offices; later what will become the Holy Roman emperor and the Pope, actually for centuries to come. But back to the story. Male: To recap. We have the Byzantine Empire in the East. We have the Pope ruling from Rome over the Papal States in Central Italy. We have Charlemagne, who's the king of the Franks, ruling over a very large area encompassing largely what is now France, what is now Germany, and Northern Italy. Then surrounding all of these players in the East, in North Africa to the South, and even in the majority of Spain, you have Islam, which is advancing quickly. In order to understand how it is that this barbarian, this king of the Franks, Charlemagne, is crowned as the emperor in 800, we have to go back one year earlier, back to 799. In 799 the Pope in Rome was Leo III. He was not a particularly strong Pope. Part of the problem was that he did not come from one of the traditional powerful aristocratic families in Rome. Female: Two men, officials in the church, accused Pope Leo III of very serious charges. They ambushed him and had the intention of actually hurting him. They were going to gouge out his eyes and cut off his tongue. Male: In fact, according to some accounts, they did, and somehow they were miraculously restored. Female: There was a question. How would this issue of the Pope being accused of these serious crimes be resolved? The way to do that was to go to Charlemagne. Male: Right. Remember Charlemagne was the real power in the region. He had ousted the Lombards and he was in control of Northern Italy. In order for them to put another Pope on the throne of St. Peter, they needed Charlemagne's agreement. We're not quite sure how this happens but it seems likely that some of Charlemagne's emissaries in Rome made it possible for the Pope to be released and to have an audience with Charlemagne in the North. Female: Interestingly, Charlemagne, who was a brilliant politician sent everybody back to Rome for a kind of hearing. Pope Leo III declared his innocence on an oath. The people who accused him were exiled. Leo III was established, legitimately, on the throne of St. Peter's as Pope. Male: When Charlemagne enters into St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Day in the year 800 and Pope Leo III puts the crown of the emperor on his head, we know that everybody is getting a good deal. The king of the Franks has become an emporer and, of course, Leo is cementing his bond with his protector. Female: Obviously, the two men needed each other. In fact, Leo III, when he was first made Pope a few years earlier, sent Charlemagne the keys to the relics of St. Peter and the banner of the city of Rome. Male: All of Europe was being realigned. Now the capital of the Empire was not a Mediterranean city, it was now in the North, it was now in the city of Aachen. We see this important shift as focus moves from the Eastern Mediterranean to the North of Europe. We begin to see the outlines of the modern Europe that we know today. Female: Charlemagne was not just a brilliant warrior and politician, but also was a very serious reformer and began what some historians call the Carolingian Renaissance. The word Carolingian refers to the reign of Charlemagne and his successors. This is no Renaissance on the scale of the Renaissance that will happen in the 1400s in Italy and Northern Europe, but it is a small flowering, renewal, a looking back to the traditions of ancient Rome, particularly looking back to the time of Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor. Male: The West now had a Christian emperor who in the West was establishing a Christian empire. (music)