Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Charlemagne, The First Holy Roman Emperor. Our 36th Great Grandfather. Born 2 April 742. Died 28 January 814

Hello Family,
Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor was our 36th Great Grandfather. The relation comes through Grandma Mattson and then through her mother Vesta.  Here are the basics on Charlemagne.

I should also come clean about this and tell you that our relation to this very famous historical figure comes through his bastard son (he had two) Hugo "L'Abbe" Bastard of the Holy Roman Empire. Yes, that is his real historical title.  Hugo was therefore our 35th Great Grandfather. Hugo's mother was named Regina. History tells us she never married.

Here is a written description of Charlemagne from one of his associates.
He was heavily built, sturdy, and of considerable stature, although not exceptionally so, since his height was seven times the length of his own foot. He had a round head, large and lively eyes, a slightly larger nose than usual, white but still attractive hair, a bright and cheerful expression, a short and fat neck, and a slightly protruding stomach. His voice was clear, but a little higher than one would have expected for a man of his build. He enjoyed good health, except for the fevers that affected him in the last few years of his life. Toward the end he dragged one leg. Even then, he stubbornly did what he wanted and refused to listen to doctors, indeed he detested them, because they wanted to persuade him to stop eating roast meat, as was his wont, and to be content with boiled meat.

Charlemagne was also called Charles I, Charles the Great (in French, Charlemagne; in German, Karl der Grosse; in Latin, Carolus Magnus) was King of the Franks, King of the Lombards, and is generally considered the first Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne consolidated a large portion of Europe under his rule, promoted learning, and instituted innovative administrative concepts.
Charlemagne was the son of Pippin III (the Short), who officially put an end to the Merovingian line of kings when he negotiated with the pope to be crowned King of the Franks. When Pippin died, the kingdom of Francia was divided between Charlemagne and his brother Carloman. Charles proved himself a capable leader from early on, but his brother was less so, and their relationship was tense until Carloman's death in 771.

Once Charlemagne had sole rule of the government of Francia, he expanded his territory through conquest. He conquered the Lombards in northern Italy, acquired Bavaria, and campaigned in Spain and Hungary. Charles used harsh measures in subduing the Saxons and virtually exterminating the Avars of presnt-day Austria and Hungary. Though he had essentially amassed an empire, Charlemagne did not style himself "emperor," but called himself the King of the Franks and Lombards.
Charles was an able administrator who delegated authority over his conquered provinces to Frankish nobles. At the same time, he recognized the diverse ethnic groups he'd brought together, and allowed each to retain its own local laws. To ensure justice, Charlemagne had these laws set down in writing and strictly enforced. He issued capitularies that applied to all citizens, and kept an eye on events in his empire through the use of missi dominici, representatives who acted with his authority.
Though never able to master writing himself, Charlemagne was an enthusiastic patron of learning. He attracted noted scholars to his court, including Alcuin, who became his private tutor, and Einhard, who was his biographer. Charles was responsible for reforming the palace school and setting up monastic schools throughout the empire. The monasteries he sponsored preserved and copied ancient books. The flowering of learning under his patronage has come to be known as the "Carolingian Renaissance."
Charlemagne took his role as a Christian seriously, and in 800, he came to the aid of Pope Leo III, who had been attacked in the streets of Rome. Charlemagne went to Rome to restore order and, after Leo purged himself of the charges against him, the pope unexpectedly crowned him emperor.

According to his biographer Einhard, Charlemagne wasn't pleased with this development, because it established the precedent of papal ascendancy over secular leadership; but though he still often referred to himself as a king he now also styled himself "Emperor," as well.
Charlemagne died in January, 814. His achievements stand among the most significant of the early Middle Ages, and although the empire he built (called "the Carolingian Empire" after him) would not long outlast his son Louis, his consolidation of lands marked a watershed in the development of Europe.

1 comment:

  1. Hugh (802–844) was the illegitimate son of Charlemagne and his concubine Regina, with whom he had one other son: Bishop Drogo of Metz (801–855).
    Hugh was the abbot of several abbacies: Saint-Quentin (822–823), Lobbes (836), and Saint-Bertin (836). In 834, he was made archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire by Louis the Pious, his half-brother.
    He is sometimes confused with Hugh the Abbot, resulting in the erroneous claim that he had a daughter, Petronilla (born 825, date of death unknown), who married Tertullus of Anjou, the father of Ingelger. This Petronilla was actually a kinswoman of the other Hugh.