What Makes Saul and Charlemagne Good Kings or Choices for Kings?
What made King Charles, Charles the Great? In Einhard's Life of Charlemagne, a very succinct description of King Charles' ideals, beliefs, attitudes and traits are depicted along with his life's territorial as well as mental conquests illustrated. Charlemagne was a man with a vision of a utopian society united under Christianity in its glorious form in an almost Camelot like kingdom. Einhard's literary work gives society an insight into King Charles and what made him capable of being Augustus. As indicated by Einhard, Charlemagne was a man of all talents but few beliefs and traits truly molded him.
As per the tradition of inheritance known as gavelkind, Charlemagne's father, Pepin III, divided up his kingdom equally between his two legitimate sons. He gave Charlemagne the outlying areas of Frankland, bestowing the more secure and settled interior upon his younger son, Carloman. The elder brother proved to be up to the task of dealing with the rebellious provinces, but Carloman was no military leader. In 769 they joined forces to deal with a rebellion in Aquitaine: Carloman did virtually nothing, and Charlemagne subdued the rebellion most effectively without his help. This caused considerable friction between the brothers which their mother, Berthrada, smoothed over until Carloman's death in 771. Like his father and his grandfather before him, Charlemagne broadened and consolidated the Frankish nation through force of arms. His conflicts with Lombardy, Bavaria, and the Saxons not only expanded his national holdings but also served to strengthen the Frankish military and keep the aggressive warrior class occupied. Moreover, his numerous and impressive victories, especially his crushing of tribal rebellions in Saxony, gained Charlemagne the enormous respect of his nobility as well as the awe and even the fear of his people. Few would defy such a fierce and powerful military leader.
First of all Charlemagne is a Frankish king and therefore German blood runs through his veins. He could not escape the culture and traditions of the Germanic people. There are two things that he took from the culture and traditions of the Germans. First of all it is the passion for learning. Secondly, it is the passion for their gods. As a result Charlemagne made a declaration that his subjects will not only be men and women of good character they must also be wise and knowledgeable and this can only be achieved through education. The Germans, like the Saxons were very much devoted to their gods and this early understanding of religion greatly influenced Charlemagne when he became a Christian. He wanted the same veneration to be channeled towards the promulgation of Christianity and so in Capitulary for Saxony he made the following edict “It was pleasing to all that the churches of Christ, which are now being built in Saxony and consecrated to God, should not have less, but greater and more illustrious honor, than the fanes of the idols had had” (Halsall, 1996, p.1). This was his mindset throughout his reign. For we desire you to be, as it is fitting that soldiers of the church should be, devout in mind, learned in discourse, chaste in conduct and eloquent in speech, so that whosoever shall seek to see you out of reverence of God, or on account of your reputation for holy conduct, just as he is edified by your appearance, may also be instructed by your wisdom, which he has learned from your reading or singing, and may go away joyfully giving thanks to omnipotent God (Salhall, 1996, p.1).
In summary, Charlemagne was buried at the cathedral in Aachen. In the ensuing decades, his empire was divided up among his heirs, and by the late 800s, it had dissolved. Nevertheless, Charlemagne became a legendary figure endowed with mythical qualities. In 1165, under Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190), Charlemagne was canonized for political reasons; however, the church today does not recognize his sainthood.
Salhall, Paul. Medieval Sourcebook: Charlemagne: Summons to Army c. 804-11. Fordham University. June 1996. Web.
Salhall, Paul. Medieval Sourcebook: Charlemagne: Capitulary for Saxony 775-790. Fordham University. June 1996. Web.