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Charlemagne


Charlemagne and Germany
Charlemagne and Germany

Charlemagne’s empire, known as the Carolingian Empire, assumed many of the traditions and social distinctions of the late Roman Empire, but it also introduced some key innovations. Charlemagne persuaded Alcuin of York, considered the greatest scholar of the day, to come to his palace at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) and establish a new school to train clerks and scholars in classical Latin. The official language of the court and of the church was Latin, but Franks in Gaul adopted the Latinate vernacular that became French, while Franks and other Germanic tribes in the east spoke various languages that were ancestors of modern German.

Charlemagne granted large landholdings, known as fiefs, to many tribal military leaders, or dukes. In addition, he appointed numerous Frankish aristocrats to the lesser posts of count (the head of a smaller district called a county) and margrave (the count of a border province). These aristocrats were kings in miniature, with all of the administrative, judicial, and military authority of the emperor within their respective districts. Each county had a parallel ecclesiastical, or church, district, called a diocese, that was headed by a bishop with authority in all church matters. Both counts and bishops were vassals of the emperor, and were overseen by traveling representatives of the emperor, known as missi dominici. Every year, both counts and bishops attended a general assembly where they would advise the emperor and hear his directives.

The empire was vulnerable to tribal dissension and did not long survive Charlemagne’s death in 814. In 843 the Treaty of Verdun divided the Carolingian Empire into three parts: East Francia (roughly modern-day Germany), West Francia (roughly modern-day France), and, separating the two, an area running from the North Sea through Lotharingia (modern-day Lorraine) and Burgundy to northern Italy. In 870 the middle kingdom was divided, with Lotharingia going to East Francia and the rest to West Francia. The Carolingian dynasty in East Francia came to an end in 911 when the last of Charlemagne’s descendents died without an heir. Encarta "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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