Charlemagne also known as Charles I was born to be a leader of the Franks. He became the King of the Franks and would be given the title of Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III.


Early years

Charlemagne was born in 742 C.E. and he was the son of Pepin The Short who was King of the Franks. Pepin The Short was the son of Charles Martel who was instrumental in forming the original Carolingian Empire.

Charlemagne assumed power with his brother Carolman I when Pepin The Short passed away in 768 C.E. Carolman I died in 771 C.E. due to unknown reasons which left the empire to Charlemagne to control.

Charlemagne was married Desiderata in 770 C.E. One year later he disposed of his wife to marry a Swabian named Hildegard. He was married three more times over his lifetime. It is believed Charlemagne was the father of more than 18 children before his death in 814 C.E.

Expanding the Kingdom of the Franks

Charlemagne was masterful in expanding the territory of the Frankish Empire. He was schooled in military tactics at young age. Not much more about his education as a child is known. But in later years he became fluent in Latin, Greek, and several other languages.

During his reign, Charlemagne captured Saxon territory over a 30 year period in what is known today as Germany. At one point of battle with the Saxons, Charlemagne ordered the execution of 4,500 Saxons during the Massacre of Verden.

Charlemagne was named the father of the Germany Monarchy after his conquest of the Saxons. He also forced the pagan worshipping Saxons to convert to Christianity.

He was also helpful to Pope Adrian I in 772 C.E. and attacked the Lombards in Northern Italy taking control of Rome. Other notable conquests of territory included Bavaria and Spain were he fought against the Moors.

At one point he ruled over present day Germany, France, and part of Spain. No other king or emperor had ruled over so much territory since the Roman Empire.

Emperor of the Roman Empire

Charlemagne was a fierce supporter of Christianity throughout his life and as ruler. This did not go unnoticed by the Roman Church. In 800 C.E. Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Pope Leo III’s actions put Charlemagne in charge of both the Eastern and Western factions of the Holy Roman Empire.

Carolingian Renaissance

After Charlemagne was crowned the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire he went to work forming the Carolingian Renaissance. During this time period he instituted many reforms. Charlemagne supported education, scholars, and culture. For instance, he set up schools in monasteries around Europe.

When a new territory was conquered he placed Frankish nobles in charge. In the new territories he permitted the local laws and culture to stay the same. All laws were written down and enforced during Charlemagne’s rule.

Other programs brought on by Charlemagne include planting fruit trees and supported public work projects like the Fossa Carolina. The Fossa Carolina was the first canal constructed that connected the Rhine and Danube Rivers.

Charlemagne also created monetary reform through economic reforms. He placed laws on accounting, money lending, advocated for government price controls on goods, and established a new currency named livre caroliienne.

Important facts about Charlemagne

  • Charlemagne was the son of Pepin The Short and the grandson of Charles Martel.
  • He was crowned co-king with his brother Carolman I after Pepin The Short died in 768 C.E.
  • Charlemagne took control as the King of the Franks in 771 C.E. after his brother passed away.
  • He was illiterate but schooled in military tactics.
  • Charlemagne fought with the Saxons for more than 30 years and after conquering them, he forced them to worship Christianity.
  • He was appointed the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III in 800 C.E.
  • Charlemagne was considered the leader of the Carolingian Renaissance period.
  • He is also known as the “Father of Europe.”


  1. Who was the grandfather of Charlemagne?

Charles Martel

  1. Who appointed Charlemagne as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire?

Pope Leo III

  1. How many years did Charlemagne fight against the Saxons?

30 years

  1. What was a major public works project during Charlemagne’s rule?

The Fossa Carolina