Even as the Abbasid dynasty was presiding over the first great flourishing of Islamic civilization, a new empire was arising in the Christian West - one that would not endure nearly so long as the caliphate, perhaps, but that would lay the foundation for the political culture, laws, customs and achievements of western medieval Christendom. This was the empire of the Franks, the Carolingian empire, so named because its founder was the Frankish king Karl der Grosse (c.742-814): in English, Charles the Great; in Latin, Carolus Magnus; in the French of his time, Charlemagne.
[Long after his death Charlemagne continued to he remembered as one of the great leaders of Christian Europe, whose exploits in the company of his paladins are described in heroic terms in the French poems known as the chansons de geste. A 19th-century statue of the emperor and two knights stands near the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris]
At its height, the Carolingian empire embraced almost all of continental western European Christendom, from west of the Pyrenees to east of Bavaria (as far as Moravia, if one includes tributary nations), and from Rome to the north of Saxony.
High King of the Franks
Charlemagne's grandfather was Charles Martel (c.688-741), the brilliant major domus (mayor of the palace) of the Eastern Frankish empire who — in the days when the Merovingian dynasty had been reduced to a purely nominal monarchy - united all the Franks under one rule, waged constant war to fend off the pagan Germanic tribes of the north, subdued Burgundy and, at Poitiers in 732, defeated the Muslim forces of Abd ar-Rahman, emir of Cordoba, thus bringing to a halt the expansion of Islamic rule in western Europe. Charlemagne's father, moreover, was Pepin III (c.714—68), who had further consolidated and expanded Frankish power, and who had - with the blessing of Pope Zacharias (d.752) - removed the last of the Merovingians from power and assumed the royal title for himself in 751.
Charlemagne had begun to accompany his father on campaigns as a boy, and from an early age, it seems, he was endowed with extraordinary energy, resolve, physical courage and concern for the protection of his dominions and of the Church. As king of the Franks — especially after the death of his brother Carloman in 771 - he permitted no rival to his rule. When the Lombard court in Italy attempted to force Pope Adrian I (d.795) to anoint Carloman's sons as kings, Charlemagne simply entered Italy and in 774 made himself king of the Lombards as well.
Many of Charlemagne's fiercest and most violent campaigns, however, were fought against the pagan Saxons of the north, whom he wished not only to subdue but to convert. Between 775 and 777, he succeeded in securing the fealty of the Saxon lords, and throughout Saxony there were baptisms en masse. Only a few years later, however, the Saxons rebelled, and Charlemagne's response was draconian. He did not hesitate to execute the rebels in great numbers, or to wage merciless war against those who resisted his rule; finally, in 804, he succeeded in pacifying them. He insisted, moreover, upon a programme of thorough Christianization, and some of his anti-pagan decrees would be difficult to disapprove of; his Capitulary for Saxony, for example, made it a crime for anyone - prompted by some heathen belief in magic — to burn accused sorcerers or (grimly enough) to devour their flesh. Nevertheless, the means he used to convert the Saxons were often so coercive that even members of his own court were disturbed by their violence.
(ONCE MORE IN GLORIOUS COLOR WE SEE THE CRAZY IDEA THAT ALL THIS DONE BY CHARLEMAGNE AND HIS BATTLE AXE WAS "CHRISTIAN" - HOW FALSE THE POPULAR CHRISTIANITY OF THIS TIME HAD BECOME - SATANICALLY INSPIRED, AND DEMONIC DECEPTION - Keith Hunt)
King and Emperor
The one major military defeat suffered by Charlemagne occurred in 778, when he entered into an alliance with certain Muslims of northern Spain against the emir of Cordoba. His forces besieged Zaragoza without success and, on their retreat through the Pyrenees, were attacked by Basques and suffered many losses. It was here, at the pass at Roncesvalles, that Hruolandus (Roland), the Warden of the Breton March, was killed, thus inspiring the legends and epics of Roland (or Orlando) that were written in later centuries.
[Charlemagne's unrelenting war against the Saxons from 115 to 804 resulted in the total subjugation and Christianization of these northern pagans. The subject of this 19th-century engraving is the submission to Charlemagne (mounted, at right) of the Saxon leader Wittekind (centre) in 785]
To the east, though, Charlemagne's conquests continued. Ten years after the retreat from Spain, he took control of Bavaria by deposing the duke, his own cousin Tassilo. He conquered the northern Frisians, and his northern expansion was halted only when the Danes erected a massive fortification across the southern neck of the Danish peninsula. He made the Avars of Austria and Hungary and the Slavs of the Danube into tributary peoples. And slowly it became obvious that the king of the Franks was in fact the lord of a great empire.
(IT WAS ONE OF THE HEADS OF THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, THAT WAS TO RISE; THE FINAL 7TH HEAD WILL BE AT THE VERY END OF THIS AGE - Keith Hunt)
The title of emperor, however, was no trivial matter. It belonged by right - if not by actual power - to the Augustus in Constantinople, the sacred sovereign of all Catholic peoples. Furthermore, it was a symbol of continuity with the ancient Roman empire, and even if that continuity was little more than a myth, it lent an aura of eternal validity to the Catholic order. Even the pope was technically a subject of the Byzantine throne. But, by the end of the eighth century, the papacy had ambitions of its own, and wanted to exercise sovereignty over Roman Italy. More importantly, when the pope was in need of support or protection, Charlemagne was able to provide it, whereas the Byzantine emperor could not.
'Charlemagne cultivated the liberal arts most assiduouscy ... In the study of grammar, he sat under Peter of Pisa, while in other studies his master was Akuin, a Saxon of Britain by birth and the most learned man of his day ... At Aix he built a church of extraordinary beauty, where he could attend services morning and evening.' - Einhard, "Life of Charlemagne" c.815)
Thus, in Rome on Christmas Day 800, in response to the 'spontaneous' acclamation of the Roman people, Pope Leo III (d.816) crowned Charlemagne emperor. In legal terms, the pope's gesture was merely symbolic — he had no power to confer imperial dignity upon anyone — but even so it was a gesture that entered into the lore of the later Holy Roman Empire of western Europe.
(THIS KING AND SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" BUILT A CHURCH SO HE COULD ATTEND SERVICES......THEN GO OUT AND IN THE NAME OF "CHRIST" KILL OR CONVERT HIS ENEMIES - PRETTY CLEAR THIS GUY WAS DECEIVED BY A FALSE ROMAN THEOLOGY. THE FALSE THEOLOGY OF ROME AS TO HOW TO CONQUER THE WORLD FOR CHRIST, IS SO BLATANTLY UN-CHRISTIAN ANYONE READING THE NEW TESTAMENT, SHOULD BE HORRIFIED AND SICKINGLY DISGUSTED - Keith Hunt)
The Carolingian Renaissance
Charlemagne installed his imperial court at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in western
Germany. Constantinople may not have relished the prospect of a Frankish emperor, with Rome and the papacy under his sway, but in 812 the emperor Michael I Rhangabe (d. c.843) bowed to the inevitable and officially recognized Charlemagne as emperor of the West.
Charlemagne took his new imperial dignity very much to heart. He even exchanged ambassadors with the caliphate in Baghdad, and set about creating a court worthy of an emperor of the Roman peoples. To this end he gathered scholars and men of letters from all over his realm and beyond. From England he summoned the poet, teacher and sometime philosopher Alcuin of York (c.732—804) to preside over the Palatine academy for the education of young nobles in Aix-la-Chapelle. He summoned the greatest scholars of Italy and Ireland (where knowledge of Greek and the classical tradition had not entirely faded away). He assembled a library of classical and patristic texts, and acted as a patron of the arts. He instituted a curriculum of Latin studies - literature and rhetoric - in all the cathedral schools and monasteries of his dominions. Charlemagne even undertook to learn to speak Latin himself, plus smattering of Greek, and made some effort to acquaint himself with the writings of Augustine and other luminaries of the Church.
Charlemagne's empire did not long survive him. His heirs partitioned his territories, more or less in keeping with ancient Frankish practices, and within two generations the Carolingian empire had dissolved into a collection of discrete kingdoms. But he had created a new social and political order, and had brought to its first fruition the emerging civilization of western Christendom - neither West nor East Roman, but rather a new Christian order, with its own character, its own genius and its own destiny.
Thereafter, though, relations between the Frankish West and the 'Roman' East were rarely cordial; and it was only a matter of time before the Eastern and Western Churches went their separate ways.
A scene from Les Grandes Chroniques de France (late 14th century) shows Charlemagne entering a church after his coronation.
(AND ALL THIS "NOBLE" SECULAR WORK HE SUMMONED TO BE DONE FROM VARIOUS "EDUCATED" PEOPLE, WAS DONE UNDER THE NAME OF "CHRISTIANITY" WHILE HE WENT TO BATTLE [LITERALLY] WITH HIS ENEMIES TO KILL OR CONVERT THEM TO ROMAN THEOLOGY. IT SHOULD SMACK YOU IN THE FACE AS TO THE DEMONIC DECEPTION THAT WAS THE AGE OF CHARLEMAGNE - Keith Hunt)
CHRIST OUR GOOD LIEGE LORD THE HELIAND
It was no easy matter for the Franks to instruct the newly (and forcibly) converted Saxons in the elements of the Christian faith. Saxon culture was martial and tribal; it was largely immune to the appeal of abstract speculation, and the stories of the Gospels were alien to its sensibilities. It was necessary, therefore, to produce a 'translation' of Christian scripture not only into the Saxon tongue but into, so to speak, the Saxon cultural grammar.
The oddest and most splendid attempt to do this was a long poem in Old Saxon now known as the Heliand, which means 'Saviour', written by an anonymous poet and commissioned by Louis I 'the Pious' (778-840), the son of Charlemagne. It is a retelling, in traditional Saxon alliterative verse, of the life of Christ, from conception to Ascension, in about 6000 lines.
While we possess no perfectly intact version of the Heliand, the four extant manuscripts provide us with a nearly complete text. It is definitely the work of a writer of some considerable skill.The most astonishing feature of the poem, however, is the portrayal of Christ and his Apostles. It is, first and foremost, a heroic portrayal. Christ's role as teacher is given only limited space — though a somewhat summary account of his teachings, distilled principally from the Sermon on the Mount, is provided - and the emphasis is placed instead upon his role as a leader of men.
In the Heliand, Christ is the liege lord of the Kingdom, the great Prince of Peace, and the Apostles are his 'eorls' (earls) and vassals. He is a generous and courageous master; his disciples are impetuous warriors, bold for truth; and the entire drama of his earthly mission is saturated in an atmosphere of fealty and honour. And no more striking evidence is given in the poem of Christ's regal magnanimity than the miracle he performed at the wedding at Cana, where the guests - gathered in a great mead hall, seated at long tables upon benches, quaffing from tankards and feasting on good meats - are provided by Christ with that noblest gift of a bountiful lord: good wine.
TO BE CONTINUED
PEOPLE COULD READ THE GOSPELS, AND YET BE PART OF, IF SO BE IT, A FORCED LITERAL BATTLE, TO BRING THE PAGAN SAXONS UNDER THE RULE OF "CHRISTENDOM."
IT'S A KIN TO THE CRAZY DECEPTIVE MIND-SET OF CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS KILLING EACH OTHER IN TIMES PAST IN IRELAND, BOTH THINKING THEY WERE SERVING THE WILL OF GOD.
OH THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF HISTORICAL KILLING IN THE NAME OF "CHRIST" AS WE SHALL CONTINUE TO SEE IN THE STUDIES TO COME - Keith Hunt