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He was named Charles and it is one of the very rare people, I honestly cannot think of another, who had their name and sobriquet actually become their entire name. He was called Charles the Great and in Latin this was Carolus Magnus and this was rendered in English Charlemagne. He was the eldest son of Pepin the Short, King of the Franks and his wife Bertrada of Laon. When his father died in 768 Charlemagne was co-king with his brother Carloman for a brief time.

Books have been written about him and I could not do a biography justice in this small blog. As with other recent entries I will focus solely on what I admire about him. Charlemagne was a man ahead of his times. He would be the first of a list of European rulers to have forged an empire after the fall of Rome. Although some historians debate whether he founded the Holy Roman Empire or Otto of Franconia was the founder, the fact remains his empire would have repercussions throughout Europe for over a thousand years.

Charles ruled the Kingdom of the Franks from 768 until 800 when he was crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas day of that year. He was given the title, Emperor of the Romans, and was seen as a revival of that empire that had began with Augustus in 27 BC and it challenged the Byzantine Empire in the east as both empires claimed to be the true Roman Empire.

What is remarkable about Charlemagne is that he seemed to have forged this mighty empire through his own judiciary, executive and military skills. Many of the titles of future monarchs and nobility were created during Charlemagne’s time on the throne. Many of these offices were created in an effort for Charlemagne to have local recognition across his far flung empire. He reformed political offices and well as the church, educational systems and systems of laws.

Charlemagne was also quite the ladies man. He had eighteen children over the course of his life with eight of his ten known wives or concubines. Despite all of the children by the time of his death he had outlived alll of his sons except one of them. In 813, Charlemagne crowned his only surviving son, Louis the Pious, king of Aquitaine, as co-emperor. In 814 after 47 years of rule and at the age of 72, old for that time, Charlemagne died. His foot print on history is immeasurable and many kings and emperor since his time tried to emulate him. His empire covered what would later become modern Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg  Italy and Austria. All of these states count Charles the Great as their leader.