Two Lives of Charlemagne

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The two lives of Charlemagne as narrated by both Einhard and Notker the Stammerer are two contradicting narratives on the biography of the great Emperor. In his biography, Einhard offers readers a historical overview of the life history of Charlemagne who was born in 742 AD and died in 814 A.D (Einhard 54). Other names used to refer to Charlemagne include the King of the Franks and Charles the Great. He was the heir to a mayor of the palace of the Carolingian Empire named Pepin the Short. He had other four siblings who include one brother and two sisters. During the time, power was never passed to women, therefore when his father passed on; the leadership of the Carolingian Empire was split between Charlemagne and his only brother, Carloman (Einhard and Grant 5). Sadly, Carloman died at an early age and the whole land of the Franks was under the kingship of Charlemagne. The kingdom under Charlemagne was expansive and covered parts of the current German, Belgium, Holland, France, and Switzerland. He led an exemplary life unlike very many kings before him. Therefore, Einhard and Notker the Stammerer in their respective biographies of Charlemagne depict Charlemagnes Europe as one that showed value for family, had warfare superiority, and diplomatic relations with neighboring states.

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Charlemagne had fourteen children with his four wives and four concubines. Despite having a large family, he made sure that all of his fourteen children, comprising of both boys and girls, get relevant education. His sons were educated on how to use arms and hunting while his daughters were imparted womanly skills, which included weaving among other craft skills. Einhard also depicts Charlemagne as a devoted family figure who whenever was not at war, was always at home, spending time with his family. Moreover, he always insisted on dining together with his children and never left them behind in his numerous pilgrimages. At the same juncture, Notker the Stammerer depicts Charlemagne as a very forgiving father. This is a clear reflection that Charlemagnes Europe put family before anything else.

Einhard describes Charlemagnes military prowess in the initial section of the biography. All the nations that his kingdom fought under his regime are clearly discussed and each one of them is assigned a separate paragraph. In his biography, Einhard paints an image of a well-organized king who strategically planned a number of conquests to increase the size of his kingdom, implying a mega strategy instead of a policy of plunder. It is because of the successful warfare conquests that makes Einhard to describe Charlemagne in bright light as The King, who outmatched all the heirs of the throne of his era in greatness and wisdom of soul (Grant 2). He further continue to state that Charlemagne did not experience any difficulty or risk to him against any scenario that had to be faced head on or carried through because he had taught himself to acknowledge and brave whatever came his way, without resulting in hardship or trusting the cunning favors of affluence in prosperity. On the same note, Notker the Stammerer also heaves praises to Charlemagne for his skillful government that was characterized by military superiority, which in turn helped expand and bring wealth to his country. In his biography of Charlemagne, Notker the Stammerer recounts how Charlemagne constituted elaborate war strategies that helped his army to conquer Avars, Huns, and Attila. Notker the Stamerer also agrees with Einhard that Charlemagne possessed wisdom, which was instrumental in successfully leading his kingdom into greatness. The best example of the wisdom and is the account offered by Notker the Stammerer. According to him, when Charlemagne learnt of a plot to get him killed, he consulted Pepin the Hunchback for wise counsel. The emissaries found Pepin gardening the monastery garden. When he was asked for his opinion regarding the best course of action, he advised them to tell the king to do as he was doing, uprooting useless weeds so that useful plants could thrive (Dutton 45). The messengers were unable to unravel the riddle and were angered by Pepins response, however Charlemagne was wise enough to comprehend that all what he needed to do was to do away with unnecessary enemies to create room for useful friends. He executed the advice, thus eliminating any future threat against his life. The depiction of Charlemagne offers substantive grounds for the conclusion that the Europe of his era valued military might.

Other than the valor in conquest, Einhard emphasizes Charlemagne open heartedness toward other nations and their rulers, and his mercy towards the people he conquered, subjects. The best example of Charlemagnes diplomatic relations is seen in the account of one of the most prolonged war of the time in which his kingdom fought against the Saxons, famously termed as the faithless. Here, Einhard points out how Charlemagne assimilated 10, 000 subjects along with their spouses and children, and offered the land for settlement in various parts of German and Gaul. This example indicates that Charlemagnes Europe cherished diplomatic relations with other nations (Einhard and Grant 16). Notker the Stammerer also concurs with Einhard on the issue of diplomacy. He gives account of how Charlemagne engaged Rome in a diplomatic talk when after the death of Pope Hadrian. Following the death of Pope Hadrian, Leo III was appointed, however, his appointments was not welcomed by the relatives of his predecessors who together with other opponents staged a coup and got him out of papacy and was imprisoned. He escaped imprisonment and fled to Charlemagnes encampment in Paderborn. Charlemagne organized his return to the Holy See and was accompanied with Frankish army, strong enough to reseat him. However, he still faced opposition until Charlemagne went to Rome and convoked civil leaders and a synod of Church. After this meeting, Leo III was sworn in as Pope.

In conclusion, Einhard and Notker the Stammerer in their respective biographies of Charlemagne depict Charlemagnes Europe as one that showed value for family, had warfare superiority, and diplomatic relations with neighboring states. Charlemagne was amongst the most significant figures to rule Europe following the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Although the two biographies written by Einhard and Notker the Stammerer differ in many things, they both concur that Charlemagne was a great King who had family values at heart, had immense wisdom (Grant 2) that helped him constitute a strong military and strategies on how to conquer his opponents, and used diplomacy to restore some aspect of political unity to Europe. It was because of him being a great and wise warrior that he was able to bring his kingdom, which touched on most of Europe under the authority of a single man since it entailed a lifetime of war. Despite being engaged in war fronts, he always found time to be with his family.

Work cited

Dutton, Paul Edward. Carolingian Civilization: A Reader. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 2004. Print.

Eginhardus, Abbot Of Seligenstadt., and Lewis Guy Melville. THORPE. Two Lives of Charlemagne. ( Einhard and Notker the Stammerer. Translated with an Introduction by Lewis Thorpe. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969. Print.

Einhard, A. J. Grant, and Notker. Early Lives of Charlemagne. New York: Cooper Square, 1966. Print.

Einhard, and A.J Grant. Two Lives of Charlemagne: Einhard. USA: Digireads, 2010. Print.

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