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date: 20 April 2021

Charlemagne [Charles the Great], King of the Frankslocked

(b Aachen, 2 April ad 742; reg 768–814; d Aachen, Jan 28, 814; can 1165).


(b Aachen, 2 April ad 742; reg 768–814; d Aachen, Jan 28, 814; can 1165).

Frankish emperor and patron (see fig.). By means of political opportunism, military acumen and an alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, he expanded the Frankish kingdom to encompass an empire extending from Rome to the English Channel and northwards to beyond the River Elbe. His first experience of the Late Antique world was on his expedition to Italy, to conquer Lombardy, in ad 773–4; he attempted to realize the restoration of the Roman Empire (‘renovatio Romanorum imperii’) by reviving the culture of ancient Rome, more specifically that of Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor. Charlemagne was crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III in 800. Throughout his dominions, assisted by a group of advisers largely composed of international scholars, he re-established high standards of Classical and biblical studies. He ruled with the assistance of churchmen, and the reform of the Frankish Church, in particular the imposition of the Roman liturgy, generated the need for buildings, paintings, books, furnishings, and vestments. Charlemagne’s buildings included imperial residences, cathedrals, and monasteries. One of the earliest and most important examples of ...

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