Charlemagne. King of the Franks Defender of the Faith Savior of Europe and Christendom Controversial. Charlemagne – The beginnings.
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Note to self: Since Clovis, though the Merovingian Kings were allied with the Church and embraced Christianity—they essentially remained Pagans (in practice) and passed authority through the ancient bloodline.
Pepin, backed by the Church, owed his Crown to the ‘Grace of God!” Pepin had been chosen by the “Vicar of God” – The Pope as the true legitimate King of the Franks.
Recall the Frankish bureaucracy of allowing autonomous government on the local level;
Charlemagne continued this trend, but he made sure that the Dukes, Mayors of Palace, and the Counts were staunch allies or he instilled royalty very loyal to him—simply he placed limits on this autonomy.
He fostered a land owning aristocracy beholding to him—looked to a central gov’t to maintain their own power base.
Established Latin as the official language of the Church; along with Pope uniformed the liturgical dissemination of biblical doctrine; and established the Pope or Bishop of Rome as the true “Vicar of God” and descendant of St. Peter.
This diminished the influence of the Byzantium Pope– Charlemagne also wanted out of his marriage from the betrothed Princess of Byzantium—he wanted something uniquely Frank—but most something uniquely Charlemagne.
When Pepin died he left as was the custom an equally divided empire between Charles and Carloman -- mystery, but Carloman died.
Charles also wanted out of the marriages arranged by Pepin.
1) The Princess of Byzantium (Himiltrude) bore him a hunched back son – He had this marriage annulled. Mostly because she had the deformed son placed in the dungeon, his eyes put out with red-hot pokers, then proclaimed herself empress and equal ruler.
2nd wife was a Lombard Princess—Pepin had hoped this would create an alliance and resolve the traditional enemy attitude between the two nations and secure peaceful co-existence between the Lombards and the Church.
Desideria unfortunately was as arrogant and ambitious as her father the King of the Lombards—she was intellectual, independent, and considered herself above Charlemagne.
Historians dispute how the actual event took place, whether it was contrived by Charlemagne or just spontaneously happened; but. On Christmas day 800 AD, the Pope unexpectedly placed the Crowned Tiara on Charlemagne’s head crowning him the Holy Roman Emperor
In the 18th century, French Philosopher Voltaire stated—concerning Charlemagne– that the realm was neither holy, nor Roman, nor empire, but somehow managed to last for a thousand years – only dying in 1914 with the dismantling of the Hapsburg dynasty (some will say it died with the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars).
Though Charlemagne desired to establish a Frankish Romanesque empire in the west – he was never able to fully succeed.
The Coronation ended the Byzantium power over the West; Western rulers could now legitimately claim their rule of lineage back to Augustus Caesar; Popes of Rome now free of the eastern influence and meddling; western church denied validity of the Caesaropapism—Lineage of Peter not Augustus to head the church.