Order of the Crown of Charlemagne

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FRANKISH KING OF COLOGNE was born in Ingelheim 2 April 742. He died 28 January 813/814 in Aix-la-Chapelle.
He married HILDEGRADE circa 771.(8601) She was born 758.(8602) She was the daughter of GEROLD I [COUNT OF VINZGAU] and Emma NN----. She died 30 April 783 at 24 years of age. Hildegarde was buried at Metz.

Charlemagne, Frankish Emperor
Charlemagne, or "Charles the Great, Carolingian King" of the Franks, came to rule over most of Europe and assumed (800) the title of Roman Emperor. He is sometimes regarded as the founder of the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne was probably born in 742 at Aachen. In 768 he and his brother Carloman inherited the Frankish kingdom (most of present-day France and a part of western Germany) from their father Pepin "The Short". The entire kingdom passed to Charlemagne when Carloman died in 771.

Charlemagne inherited great wealth and a strong military organization from his father and brother. He used these assets to double the territory under Carolingian control. In 772 he opened his offensive against the Saxons, and for more than three decades he pursued a ruthless policy aimed at subjugating them and converting them to Christianity. Almost every year Charlemagne attacked one or another region of Saxon territory. Mass executions-- 4,500 Saxons were executed on a single day in 782--and deportations were used to discourage the stubborn. The Saxons proved to be a far more difficult enemy than any of the other peoples subjugated by Charlemagne. For example, the Lombards were conquered in a single extended campaign (773-74), after which Charlemagne assumed the title "King of the Lombards." In 788 he absorbed the duchy of . Bavaria, and soon thereafter he launched an offensive against the Avar empire. The Avars succumbed within a decade, yielding Charlemagne a vast hoard of gold and silver. After one disastrous campaign (778) against the Muslims in Spain, Charlemagne left the southwestern front to his son Louis. The latter (later Emperor Louis I), with the help of local Christian rulers, conquered Barcelona in 801 and controlled much of Catalonia by 814. On Christmas Day, 800, Charlemagne accepted the title of emperor and was crowned by Pope LEO III. For several years after he regarded the imperial title of being of little value. Moreover, he intended to divide his lands and titles among his sons, as was the Frankish custom. At his death on Jan. 28, 814, however, only one son, Louis, survived; Louis therefore assumed control of the entire Frankish empire.

The internal organization of Charlemagne's empire varied from region to region. In much of what is today France, and especially in the south, the old Roman civitates (fortified cities) served as the focus of most important aspects of political, military, religious, and social organization. Both the count of the city, appointed by Charlemagne as his representative, and the bishop made their respective headquarters in the civitas. The count or his agent led the local army, and the walls of the civitates afforded protection for the inhabitants both of the city and the nearby countryside. In those parts of the empire that had not been part of the Roman world, Charlemagne made an effort to impose a similar system. He divided newly conquered lands into pagi (districts), which were placed under the jurisdiction of counts who exercised the same kind of administrative powers of their counterparts to the west. Charlemagne also sought to establish these new pagi as dioceses. In frontier areas, Charlemagne often established districts that were essentially military in their purpose and organization; these were called marks or marches. Local customs were everywhere perpetuated by recognition of traditional laws. The laws, some unwritten, of each of the various peoples of the Carolingian empire, such as Salian Franks, Ripuarian Franks, Romans, Saxons, Lombards, Bavarians, Thuringians, and Jews, were codified and/or modified if local codes already existed, they were recognized. This judicial autonomy enjoyed by the several peoples of the empire indicates the diversity that not only existed but also flourished under Charlemagne. The emperor did, however, legislate to provide a system by which these various peoples could interact with each other. The central administration of the empire, like the local administrations, was rudimentary. A palatine court followed Charlemagne on his numerous campaigns; during the later years of his life, when he remained at AACHEN, the court stayed there. Charlemagne also sent missi dominici, high-ranking agents of the central government, from the court to see that his orders, often cast in the form of capitularies (ordinances divided into capitula, or chapters), were enforced. As part of his administrative efforts, Charlemagne sought to standardize weights, measures, and coinage. He also made an attempt to control and develop trade. To these ends he strongly encouraged the development of Jewish communities.

Charlemagne's concern for administration and his interest in seeing the church function effectively led him to encourage a rudimentary educational system based in monasteries. Thus a small group of clerical and lay administrators attained a useful level of literacy. Charlemagne left the development and implementation of this system largely to Alcuin. The latter's work led to what some scholars have called the Carolingian Renaissance. At Charlemagne's court a group of scholars was gathered that included men from England, Spain, and Italy, as well as native Franks and probably Jews.

Charlemagne has been credited with great political and humanitarian vision and a devout religious bent; as a result, some have been led to think of his military ventures as crusades. In fact, he was a gluttonous and superstitious illiterate, or semiliterate, who had a considerable capacity for brutality. His accomplishments were due mostly to the energy with which he pursued his military goals and the ruthlessness with which he treated any opponents. Nonetheless, his achievements were considerable, and the effect of his conquests was to spread Roman Christianity across central Europe.

Einhard, Charlemagne's biographer, describes him as 6'3.5", short neck, with a slight paunch in his later years.  He was strong and towered over other men. He believed in moderation, disliked drunkards, and fasting. Feasting was fine in moderation. A natural person, he disliked fuss and chastised his men for hunting in silks instead of leathers. He genuinely liked people and ideas. Charlemagne's empire was inherited by his only surviving son, Louis the Pious. His grandsons split the territory between them. Louis the German's territory will be the basis of modern Germany. Charles the Bald inherited what will become France. The strip between them which included Italy was inherited by Lothar. He died first and the French and Germans have fought over control of his section which included Alsace Lorraine into the twentieth century. Many towns in this area including Aachen(Aix la Chapelle) have two names, one French and one German.