Charlemagne was one of Europe's most successful
monarchs. He was king of the Franks in 768 CE. His father, Pepin
the Short, ruled before him, and his grandfather - Charles Martel -
ruled before that. These two men were good rulers, but Charlemagne was a
far more impressive king.
For one thing, he was very tall. He was over 6 feet
tall, perhaps even as tall as 6'4". He had blonde hair that seemed
to glow in the sun. He was always laughing. His dogs were his constant
companions, forever racing around his feet, wherever he went. He never
walked. He always strode. If you wanted to talk to Charlemagne, you had
to keep up. He knew everyone in his castle by name, from his top
advisors to the lowliest peasant.
As friendly as he was, Charlemagne was every inch a
king. The people called him Charles the Great.
by Ordeal/ Trial by Jury: One of the most
important things Charlemagne did for his people was to introduce a jury
system - trial
by jury in place of trial by ordeal.
& Preservation: One of the most important
things Charlemagne did for the world was to turn his castle into a
learning center - inviting scholars from all over the world to take up
residence there. He used his scholars to create illuminated
manuscripts that preserved knowledge during the Dark Ages.
The Franks were legendary fighters. Using the strength and loyalty of
his army, combined with his own leadership abilities, Charlemagne soon
defeated most of the other barbarian tribes in Western Europe. He
expanded the Frankish Empire to include Germany, all of France, most of
Italy, and even sections of northern Spain.
When the Frankish Empire went to war, Charlemagne
was in the thick of things. He was easy to spot. Besides being so tall,
he often wore a blue cape over his fur coat, which made him appear even
larger. He had to have been a most visible target. Yet, somehow, he
managed to survive battle after battle. He died of old age in his
seventies, which for the times was a really old age.
Charlemagne ruled his vast empire by using local
officials called counts to help him. Each count was responsible for
solving local problems. They also had the job of finding men and raising
armies for the kingdom. At least once a year, Charlemagne paid surprise
visits to his various counts to make sure they were managing fairly and
Money: Local administrators collected taxes from the people.
The amount due was fixed. People knew how much they owed. Most taxes
were paid in barter. The tax collector could decide the value of a pig
or of a bale of hay. Charlemagne realized this system could easily lead
to an abuse of power. He changed that system too. He introduced a
payment system using silver coins. He standardized the value of each
coin. It was no longer up to the tax collector to assign a pig a
value. The farmer could sell his pig and then pay his taxes.
Christian Kingdom: Charlemagne held his kingdom together by
the sheer force of his personality. He was not a king in a palace
somewhere. He was out and about. He heroically fought in battles,
wearing his big blue cape. He personally visited local administrators,
creating new laws to protect his people. He had a horrible singing
voice, but he often burst into song, as he strode through village after
He was loud and rambunctious and brave and fair and
the people adored him. He was their king and they were Franks, and proud
of it. Charlemagne was able to create a Christian
kingdom under a powerful secular leader - himself.
by Ordeal vs Trial by Jury
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