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Germanic Kingdoms Unite Under Charlemagne


									Germanic Kingdoms Unite Under
• Know what problems the Germanic invasions caused.
• Know the importance of the Roman Catholic Church to
  the development of the new European powers.
• Know who Clovis I was and why he was important.
• Know who Pope Gregory I was and why he was
• Know who Charles Martel was and why he was
  • With this, also know what a major domo was and
    know the importance of the Battle of Tours.
• Know who Charlemagne was, why he was important,
  and what the significance was of his interaction Pope
  Leo III.
The Middle Ages
• Also known as the Dark Ages because this was when
  Western Europe wasn‟t the great learned place it was
  under the Romans and wasn‟t again until the
• Also known as the medieval period.
• Also a period of great division among the powers and
• Dates vary, but around 476-1453.
You‟ll recall that when we last left the Roman Empire, it
  was in decline, spurred largely by the barbarian
  Germanic tribes that were invading the empire.
• By the beginning of the sixth century, the damage was
  pretty much done and the western Roman Empire was
  no more.
• The invasions caused the following problems:
1. Disruption of Trade
   • Centralized Roman authority broke down and with it
     went the protection of trade.
   • Recall that during the Pax Romana, the Empire was
     relatively safe. This enabled widespread, and long-
     distance, trade and commerce. Without that Roman
     power, though, roads and trade routes were no
     longer safe. Without trade and commerce, the
     economy tanked.
2. Downfall of Cities
   • Cities got a double-whammy. First, with the trade
     disruption, cities were no longer the vital economic
     centers they once were.
   • Second, with the breakdown of central Roman
     authority, cities were no longer needed as centers of
     governmental administration.
3. Population Shifts
   • With the cities no longer the important places they
     once were, people started migrating into the
4. Decline of Learning
   • The barbarians weren‟t very good with the fancy
     reading and writing.
   • The Germanic languages started becoming
     important, but they lacked a writing system.
   • Important stuff was all in Latin, or more likely,
     Greek. The science and philosophy of the ancients
     started getting ignored. The barbarians didn‟t have
     much use for it anyway.
5. Loss of a Common Language
  • As the old Empire was divided up among the
    different barbarian tribes, the Latin language started
    evolving differently in the different regions.
  • The changes came partly from the separation among
    the peoples as well as the influence of the Germanic
    peoples living in the particular areas.
  • The dialects became the Romance languages.
6. Decline of Infrastructure
   • All the great public works fell into disrepair: the
     aqueducts, the public baths, libraries, arenas, etc.
   • The barbarian overlords didn‟t really destroy them,
     they just didn‟t see the need to maintain them.
      • In most cases, due to the lack of centralized
        authority and tax collection abilities, they didn‟t
        have the means or money to maintain them
   • It didn‟t help that these things were mainly located
     in cities, which, as we have seen, were largely
The Church
• The Roman Catholic Church was the one centralized
  institution that remained from the Empire.
• It was also the only literate one.
   • Since literacy was necessary for the practice of the
     religion, the clergy was able to read.
• Provided some kind of stability in the chaos.
• Established monasteries
  and convents where self-
  sacrificing monks and
  nuns, respectively, lived.
   • One monk, Benedict
     wrote strict practical
     rules of monasteries.
     Such monasteries
     became part of the
     Benedictine order.
   • The monks also
     helped to maintain
     ancient works in their
     libraries and by
     copying them.
The beginnings of feudalism
• Without the centralized government, there was no one
  entity responsible for taxing, administering law and
  services, fielding a military, etc.
• Instead, these responsibilities started falling to local or
  regional nobles. They would give land and/or titles to
  people (later known as knights) who would in turn
  pledge their allegiance and military skill to the noble.
   • In turn, peasants worked the land, often as serfs
     who were bound to the land.
      • This replaced slavery which also largely
        disappeared with the Empire.
      money and
       knights               Grants land

    Provide       Nobles
 protection and
    military                 Grants land
     service                     to
Provide food                      Grants land
and services                          to

• Was aided by the fact that the Germanic peoples were
  tribal, fiercely independent, but fiercely loyal to their
  local tribal leaders. This made small government easy,
  but large centralized governments nearly impossible.
The Franks
• A confederation of various Germanic tribes that settled
  in northern Gaul (France… Franks-France, see it?)
• Clovis I
   • First king of the Franks, starting in 481.
   • Through war and diplomacy, he united all the
     disparate Frankish tribes under his leadership.
   • He also converted from paganism (one source says
     he worshipped Roman gods) to Roman Catholicism.
      • This was a big step.
      • Most of the other Germanic kings, if they were
        Christian at all, believed in Arian Christianity.
        Arians believed that Jesus was divine, but was a
        created creature and not equal to God the father.
        He was inferior. This was a heretical view.
  • The conversion also created a new bond between
    the Franks and the RCC.
     • The Franks become the defenders and
       protectors of the Church.
  • Also helped the strengthen ties between the
    German conquerors and their Roman subjects.
• Clovis then proceeded to conquer the rest of Gaul
  and unite it under him.
• From Clovis, the names Louis and Ludwig are
Pope Gregory I
• Pope from 590 to 604.
• Was born into a wealthy Roman patrician family in 540,
  but by 575 had converted his properties into
• In 579, he became Pope Pelagius‟s representative in
  • While there, he argued with the Eastern Orthodox
    patriarch. The patriarch claimed that the saved
    would be resurrected as incorporeal (non-physical)
    souls, whereas Gregory countered that the physical
    bodies would be resurrected, citing Jesus as a case
• As pope, Gregory greatly expands the political power of
  the papacy.
  • The Lombards were attacking Rome. The Byzantine
    emperor‟s representative in the west (this was
    shortly after Justinian‟s time when the west was
    reconquered by the Byzantines) refused to
    negotiate. So Gregory negotiated for peace on his
    own, essentially poking the secular authorities in the
    eye. This established him as independent.
  • He also appoints governors, raises armies, and acts
    as a temporal authority.
• Interestingly, though Gregory established the papacy
  as the central political power in Italy (and expanded his
  influence elsewhere in Europe), he believed in a strict
  division of church and state.
   • The emperor, he thought, was God‟s representative
     and choice to rule in temporal, secular matters. The
     pope was God‟s representative in spiritual matters.
     And the two should be kept as distinct as possible.
      • The last sentence was the problematic one.
Gregory is one of only three
  popes given the title „the
• Leo I, the guy who turned
  Attila the Hun away from
  Rome is one other.
• Nicholas I is the third.
• In my humble opinion,
  John Paul II should and
  will also be known as „the
The Franks again
• As we saw, Clovis united all of modern-day France
  under his leadership by the time of his death in 511.
   • He began the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish
• By 700, though, the king served mainly a ceremonial
  function and the real political power lay with the major
  domo – the mayor of the palace.
• In 719, the major domo was Charles Martel, aka
  Charles THE HAMMER.
Ok, while still a great name, he was more like this:
• Charles extended Frankish territory.
• His main accomplishment, though, was at the Battle of
  Tours in 732.
  • The Muslims were unable to break into eastern
    Europe due to the Byzantines. So they went in
    another way.
  • At this point, Muslims held Spain and one Muslim
    leader sent a raiding party across the Pyrenees and
    into France.
  • They weren‟t out to conquer territory on this
    mission, they were just pillaging and getting loot
    from the Frankish countryside.
  • By the time of the battle, the Muslims had already
    accumulated significant booty which they had
    already stashed and/or dispatched back to Spain.
• 80,000 Muslims (some modern historians claim it
  was closer to 30,000) engage 30,000 Franks under
• The Muslims relied on heavy cavalry charges, armed
  with lances and scimitars.
• The Franks were mainly
  infantry armed with axes,
  swords, and javelins.
• The Franks establish a
  defensive square and dare the
  Muslims to attack – they do.
• Repeated attack waves by the
  Muslims fail to break the
  defensive square. But they
  get cut down.
• Some Muslims break off the attack when word gets
  out that the Franks are raiding their plunder (it was
  a ruse by Charles), so they go to protect it. The
  other Muslims see this, think it‟s a retreat and so
  they run too. (Many a battle has been lost because
  soldiers were more concerned with loot than with
  defeating the enemy.)
• The Muslim general is killed in the process.
• After Tours, the Muslims never again make a serious
  incursion across the Pyrenees. The battle is thus
  hailed as stopping Muslim conquests in the west,
  saving Western Europe (which likely would not have
  been able to stop a full-scale invasion that almost
  certainly would have occurred had Charles lost), and
  saving Christianity.
• It was also for this victory that Charles got his
  nickname: THE HAMMER!
Pepin the Short
• Actually Pepin the Younger… the Short is a bad
• Charles Martel‟s son and becomes major domo in 741.
• He thought he should be king so asked the pope to
  decide who should be king: the guy with the title or the
  guy with the power (de jure vs. de facto).
  • Since the pope depended on the Franks for defense,
    especially against the Lombards, he sided with Pepin
    and declared him king. The Frankish nobles make it
    official by electing him king (and to avoid the many
    soldiers Pepin had on hand if they thought
• He becomes the first of the Carolingian dynasty.
Pepin. Not Short.
• Pepin‟s son Charles (henceforth known as
  Charlemagne: Charles the Great) becomes king in 771.
• His contemporary biographer described him thus:
  • Charles was large and strong, and of lofty stature, though not
    disproportionately tall (his height is well known to have been seven
    times the length of his foot); the upper part of his head was round,
    his eyes very large and animated, nose a little long, hair fair, and face
    laughing and merry. Thus his appearance was always stately and
    dignified, whether he was standing or sitting; although his neck was
    thick and somewhat short, and his belly rather prominent; but the
    symmetry of the rest of his body concealed these defects. His gait
    was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear, but not so
     strong as his size led one to expect.
Prominent belly.
Short neck.
Yet pleasantly symmetrical.
• Charlemagne proceeds to conquer to the east and
  south, taking on Germanic tribes and Muslim forces,
  and greatly expanding his territory.
• Also comes to the aid of Pope Hadrian by conquering
  the Lombards in Italy who were threatening papal
  lands in 773.
• Really comes to aid of Pope Leo III in 800.
  • Leo III was from a commoner background which
    annoyed Rome‟s nobility who thought only nobles
    should be pope. They accused him of various
  • So a mob seized him and nearly put out his eyes
    and cut off his tongue. They wind up deposing him
    and imprisoning him in a monastery.
• L3 manages to escape to Charlemagne.
• Charlemagne doesn‟t recognize the deposition. He
  thinks no earthly power can judge the pope,
  marches him back to Rome, makes him swear an
  oath of innocence of the crimes of which he was
  accused, and then reinstates him.
• Shortly afterward, on Christmas day, Charlemagne
  goes to St. Peter‟s Basilica to celebrate mass. As he‟s
  praying, he raises his head to find Leo III placing a
  crown on his head and repeating three times, “Hail to
  Charles the Augustus, crowned by God the great and
  peace-bringing Emperor of the Romans.”
   • Leo III thus makes Charlemagne an emperor,
     ostensibly the Roman emperor.
• That Leo III crowned Charlemagne is a big deal. It
  indicated that the pope had the power to dictate
  who would be ruler.
• Charlemagne seemed to want something like this,
  but on his own terms and not by Leo. His
  biographer says that had Charlemagne known what
  Leo was going to pull, he wouldn‟t have gone into
  St. Peter‟s to pray.
  • Goes along with it anyway.
• For his part, this was Leo‟s way of asserting
  authority over Charlemagne, no matter how
  powerful he was (he may also have been put out by
  the humiliating public oath he was forced to swear
  and so was sticking it to Charlemagne).
• At any rate, this precedent has far-reaching
  consequences in European politics and royalty.
• The crown used continued to be used in French
  coronation ceremonies up until the late 1700‟s when
  it was destroyed during the French Revolution.
  • Interestingly, when Napoleon became emperor of
    the French in 1804, he specifically crowned
    himself, instead of the pope doing it, in order to
    demonstrate the pope was not his overlord.
• The act also creates conflict with Constantinople.
   • At the time, the Byzantine ruler was an empress:
     Irene. She took power when her husband died
     and their son was too young to rule (she
     eventually has his eyes put out when he attempts
     a coup).
   • Since there was no male occupant of the throne
     in Constantinople, Leo III considered it vacant
     and could therefore appoint Charlemagne to it.
   • The Byzantines were outraged and thought
     Charlemagne makes overtures to taking the
     Byzantine throne, it goes nowhere and he
     abandons the effort. The Byzantines continue
     with their own emperors.
   • This was also an outrage to the Byzantines
     because under their system, the patriarch was
• Charlemagne makes a number of other reforms. He
  consolidates power in himself and away from the
  nobles. He also spurs a new era of learning in France.
• He dies in 814 and is buried in a cathedral in northern
   • According to the stories, when the vault was opened
     in 1000, Charlemagne‟s body was found seated on a
     marble throne, crown on his head, scepter in hand,
     dressed in his royal robes, and with the Gospels
     opened on his lap.
• His body was moved a couple of times, but the remains
  now reside in this casket.
The marble throne on which he was seated.
• Oh, and in the 1700‟s, they
  measured his bones and found that
  he was about 6‟4”.

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