German History 101: All About The Incredible Charlemagne

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Want to learn the history of Germany but don’t want to spend years pouring over books? We have the solution for you!

In our bite-sized history lessons, you can learn important parts of Germany’s long, varied and super interesting history.

In this lesson, we are talking about Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire – in just ten minutes. 🤯

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German History - all about CharlemagnePin

Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, was a medieval emperor who reigned from 768 to 814. As King of the Franks, he embarked on a mission to unite most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.

His conquests, as well as his efforts to spread Christianity, laid the foundation for the transition from the Classical to the Medieval era in the West. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Emperor of the Romans, a title that signified a renewal of the Roman Empire in Western Europe and recognized Charlemagne as the foremost ruler in the West.

This coronation is a pivotal moment in history, marking the intersection of Roman, Germanic, and Christian traditions that would shape the medieval world.

The empire Charlemagne built, known as the Carolingian Empire, covered a vast territory that included present-day France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and parts of Italy and Spain. After his death, the empire was eventually divided among his grandsons through the Treaty of Verdun in 843, which had lasting implications for European history.

The divisions laid the groundwork for the modern states of France and Germany, with the eastern portion evolving into the Holy Roman Empire, a key entity in German history. The Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, culture, and learning that occurred during Charlemagne’s reign, had a profound influence on the development of Western culture, laying the groundwork for the intellectual flowering of the Middle Ages.

Thus, Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire play a critical role in the historical narrative of Germany, marking the beginning of a Germanic identity within the broader European context and influencing the cultural and political landscape of Medieval Europe.

For much more information, watch the following quick 10-minute, well made documentary on Charlemagne.

You may want to watch this more than once because it’s a lot to take in!

Aachen is the best place in Germany to visit to learn more about Charlemagne. It was an important city for Charlemagne. His remains are even in Aachen Cathedral. Read more about Aachen here.

Want to learn more about Germany’s history? Find the previous lesson about what happened to Germany’s kings here and the next lesson about what the Holy Roman Empire was here. You can also find all our history lessons here or learn the history of Bavaria here.

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Sharon Gourlay in the Rhina Valley

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon first fell in love with Germany back in 2000 on her first visit. She loves the long history, the picturesque Old Towns, the castles, the food, everything really! Since then, she has visited many times and loves writing about Germany here so you can enjoy it too. In fact, Sharon loves German culture so much that she sent her kids to a German primary school in Australia. She especially loves Berlin and towns with charming Old Towns like Celle and Quedlinburg. Sharon also has a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and understands the nitty gritty of travel planning. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to Germany whether it's your first or tenth time!

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