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Did Charlemagne deserve the title “Great”? Essay

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A great ruler is a different concept for different people. It can include great skill in battle, or great administration strategy. www.dictionary.com Explains Great as:1.Powerful; influential: one of the great nations of the West.

2.Eminent; distinguished: a great leader.

3.Grand; aristocratic.

Charlemagne was a ruler who ruled over the Frankish Empire in the middle-dark ages. Many historians regard him as great, for he did many things for the Christian Religion. We do not specifically know when Charlemagne was called great.

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Charlemagne was an accomplished conqueror and good with bribes. In one sense, Charlemagne did more than just restore the empire. He added to it which Roman arms never reached (64, The Times: Illustrated History of Medieval Europe, Felipe Fernandez-Armando). From this source, we can tell that Charlemagne was an accomplished conqueror, which could be considered as great. Charlemagne conquered many new lands, and he took over Saxony, a huge piece of land, with tough, strong people.

This would make Charlemagnes court admire him, for the far-reaches of his empire would bring them riches and wealth. He could then use this new-found wealth to shower the Catholic Church with money and riches. Einhard wrote: He provided [it] with a great number of vessels of gold and silver. It seems (for we do not know for certain when this title was given) as though the title great was given by the Catholic Church for they admired Charlemagne as he had helped defend and spread Christianity. This would lead the Catholic Church to think that he was great.

Charlemagne tried to revive the old Roman ways of Law, standardization, learning and hygiene. Charlemagne was also the creator of the Carolingian Renaissance. He revitalised learning in the courts, took interest in books and made sure that all the books of earlier generations were kept for the future. This would give the scholars a reason to call Charlemagne great, for he had revived learning from a period of Darkness where learning was forgotten and thrown away. Charlemagnes rule marked the end of the Dark ages, and the middle ages had begun. With this, Charlemagne also standardised currency using silver, while earlier there were many different types making the country run amok in confusion. He could have been called great from historians later on, who would consider this a great feat.

Charlemagne could be a cruel and harsh ruler. He had many Saxons massacred in his campaign for Saxony, and he did not see it as either cruel or harsh. The Catholic Church approved of this, for the massacred Saxons were not Christian, and the Catholic Church had been earlier bribed. This was not a great thing from Charlemagne, in the Saxons eyes, for it was an unnecessary and costly move to massacre them.

In summary, Charlemagne did deserve the title great, for he revived (to an extent) learning, standardization and law. He had also conquered many different lands for the Frankish empire. To many people, Charlemagne was a bad ruler, but even though he had been cruel and harsh, his good achievements overshadow his cruel times. Therefore, Charlemagne deserved the title great.


McGrath, F. (n.d.). The Longevity of The Saxon Wars [Adobe PDF]. RetrievedNovember 18, 2008, from http://www.leeds.ac.uk/history/studentlife/e-journal/McGrath.pdfReference Source Armesto, F. F. (Ed.). (n.d.). Illustrated History of Europe. Times Books.

great. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved November 17, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/greatFearns, J. (2008, November 17). Year 8 History. Lecture presented at ChineseInternational School, 2406.

Economic and Legal Reforms. (2008, November 2). Carolingian Renaissance.

Retrieved November 17, 2008, from Wikipedia Web
site:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolingian_RenaissanceMacMullen, R. (1997). Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to EighthCenturies. Yale University Press. (Original work published 1997)

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