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Charlemagne (742 or 747/748–814)

  1. Augustine Casiday

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0263

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Casiday, A. 2011. Charlemagne (742 or 747/748–814). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Charlemagne was King of the Franks (768–814) and the Lombards (774–814); on Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo III (795–816) crowned him Emperor of the Romans, and under his reign the Holy Roman Empire embarked upon a period of cultural flourishing. Charlemagne was son of Pippin the Short and grandson of Charles Martel, who at the Battle of Tours (732) had halted the advance of the Ummayads from the emirate of Cordoba deeper into Western Europe. In their roles as mayor of the palace and duke of the Franks, Charles Martel and his son Pippin had insinuated themselves into effective control of the Merovingian dynasty that ruled the Franks. Pippin deposed the last Merovingian king with the tacit approval of Pope Zachary (714–752) and became King of the Franks. Pippin consolidated his family's preeminence by having his sons Charlemagne and Carloman (751–771) anointed by Pope Stephen II (752–757) who had come to Paris to anoint Pippin. Stephen sought from Pippin and his line support against the Lombards who had turned southwards and were encroaching on papal territories. So Charlemagne inherited from his father not only the rule over the Franks, but also a standing relationship of support and reciprocal legitimization from the papacy.


  • Charlemagne (742 or 747/748–814);
  • Charlemagne, king of the Franks and Lombards;
  • patron of education and theology;
  • lingua franca of Europe;
  • Charlemagne’s cause, against adoptionist heresy;
  • the libri carolini (“Charlemagne’s books”);
  • ecclesiastical politics