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How Charlemagne Changed the World
The booty was sent to Charlemagne at his capital, Aachen , and redistributed to his followers and to foreign rulers, including King Offa of Mercia. Soon the Avar tuduns had lost the will to fight and travelled to Aachen to become vassals to Charlemagne and to become Christians. Charlemagne accepted their surrender and sent one native chief, baptised Abraham, back to Avaria with the ancient title of khagan. Abraham kept his people in line, but in , the Bulgarians under Khan Krum attacked the remains of the Avar state. In , Charlemagne sent a Bavarian army into Pannonia , defeating and bringing an end to the Avar confederation.
In November of the same year, Charlemagne went to Regensburg where the Avar leaders acknowledged him as their ruler. In , in recognition of his new pagan neighbours, the Slavs , Charlemagne marched an Austrasian-Saxon army across the Elbe into Obotrite territory.
The Slavs ultimately submitted, led by their leader Witzin.
Charlemagne then accepted the surrender of the Veleti under Dragovit and demanded many hostages. He also demanded permission to send missionaries into this pagan region unmolested. The army marched to the Baltic before turning around and marching to the Rhine, winning much booty with no harassment. The tributary Slavs became loyal allies. In , when the Saxons broke the peace, the Abotrites and Veleti rebelled with their new ruler against the Saxons.
Witzin died in battle and Charlemagne avenged him by harrying the Eastphalians on the Elbe.
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Thrasuco, his successor, led his men to conquest over the Nordalbingians and handed their leaders over to Charlemagne, who honoured him. The Abotrites remained loyal until Charles' death and fought later against the Danes. When Charlemagne incorporated much of Central Europe, he brought the Frankish state face to face with the Avars and Slavs in the southeast. While fighting the Avars, the Franks had called for their support.
Charlemagne also directed his attention to the Slavs to the west of the Avar khaganate: the Carantanians and Carniolans. These people were subdued by the Lombards and Bavarii and made tributaries, but were never fully incorporated into the Frankish state. On 23 December, Leo swore an oath of innocence to Charlemagne. His position having thereby been weakened, the Pope sought to restore his status. In so doing, the Pope rejected the legitimacy of Empress Irene of Constantinople :.
When Odoacer compelled the abdication of Romulus Augustulus , he did not abolish the Western Empire as a separate power, but caused it to be reunited with or sink into the Eastern, so that from that time there was a single undivided Roman Empire Charlemagne's coronation as Emperor, though intended to represent the continuation of the unbroken line of Emperors from Augustus to Constantine VI, had the effect of setting up two separate and often opposing Empires and two separate claims to imperial authority.
It led to war in , and for centuries to come, the Emperors of both West and East would make competing claims of sovereignty over the whole. Einhard says that Charlemagne was ignorant of the Pope's intent and did not want any such coronation:. A number of modern scholars, however,  suggest that Charlemagne was indeed aware of the coronation; certainly, he cannot have missed the bejewelled crown waiting on the altar when he came to pray; something even contemporary sources support.
Historians have debated for centuries whether Charlemagne was aware before the coronation of the Pope's intention to crown him Emperor Charlemagne declared that he would not have entered Saint Peter's had he known, according to chapter twenty-eight of Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni ,  but that debate obscured the more significant question of why the Pope granted the title and why Charlemagne accepted it.
Collins points out "[t]hat the motivation behind the acceptance of the imperial title was a romantic and antiquarian interest in reviving the Roman empire is highly unlikely. Furthermore, the new title—carrying with it the risk that the new emperor would "make drastic changes to the traditional styles and procedures of government" or "concentrate his attentions on Italy or on Mediterranean concerns more generally"—risked alienating the Frankish leadership. For both the Pope and Charlemagne, the Roman Empire remained a significant power in European politics at this time.
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The Byzantine Empire , based in Constantinople , continued to hold a substantial portion of Italy, with borders not far south of Rome. Charles' sitting in judgment of the Pope could be seen as usurping the prerogatives of the Emperor in Constantinople:. By whom, however, could he [the Pope] be tried? Who, in other words, was qualified to pass judgement on the Vicar of Christ? In normal circumstances the only conceivable answer to that question would have been the Emperor at Constantinople; but the imperial throne was at this moment occupied by Irene.
That the Empress was notorious for having blinded and murdered her own son was, in the minds of both Leo and Charles, almost immaterial: it was enough that she was a woman. The female sex was known to be incapable of governing, and by the old Salic tradition was debarred from doing so. As far as Western Europe was concerned, the Throne of the Emperors was vacant: Irene's claim to it was merely an additional proof, if any were needed, of the degradation into which the so-called Roman Empire had fallen.
For the Pope, then, there was "no living Emperor at that time"  though Henri Pirenne  disputes this saying that the coronation "was not in any sense explained by the fact that at this moment a woman was reigning in Constantinople".
How Charlemagne Changed the World | Live Science
Nonetheless, the Pope took the extraordinary step of creating one. The papacy had since been in conflict with Irene's predecessors in Constantinople over a number of issues, chiefly the continued Byzantine adherence to the doctrine of iconoclasm , the destruction of Christian images; while from , the secular power of the Byzantine Empire in central Italy had been nullified. By bestowing the Imperial crown upon Charlemagne, the Pope arrogated to himself "the right to appoint With Charlemagne's coronation, therefore, "the Roman Empire remained, so far as either of them [Charlemagne and Leo] were concerned, one and indivisible, with Charles as its Emperor", though there can have been "little doubt that the coronation, with all that it implied, would be furiously contested in Constantinople".
Alcuin writes hopefully in his letters of an Imperium Christianum "Christian Empire" , wherein, "just as the inhabitants of the [Roman Empire] had been united by a common Roman citizenship", presumably this new empire would be united by a common Christian faith. What is known, from the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes ,  is that Charlemagne's reaction to his coronation was to take the initial steps towards securing the Constantinopolitan throne by sending envoys of marriage to Irene, and that Irene reacted somewhat favourably to them.
It is important to distinguish between the universalist and localist conceptions of the empire, which remain controversial among historians. According to the former, the empire was a universal monarchy, a "commonwealth of the whole world, whose sublime unity transcended every minor distinction"; and the emperor "was entitled to the obedience of Christendom". According to the latter, the emperor had no ambition for universal dominion; his realm was limited in the same way as that of every other ruler, and when he made more far-reaching claims his object was normally to ward off the attacks either of the Pope or of the Byzantine emperor.
According to this view, also, the origin of the empire is to be explained by specific local circumstances rather than by overarching theories.
According to Ohnsorge, for a long time, it had been the custom of Byzantium to designate the German princes as spiritual "sons" of the Romans. What might have been acceptable in the fifth century had become provoking and insulting to the Franks in the eighth century.
go to site Charles came to believe that the Roman emperor, who claimed to head the world hierarchy of states, was, in reality, no greater than Charles himself, a king as other kings, since beginning in he had entitled himself "Basileus" translated literally as "king". Ohnsorge finds it significant that the chief wax seal of Charles, which bore only the inscription: "Christe, protege Carolum regem Francorum [Christ, protect Charles, king of the Franks], was used from to , even during the imperial period and was not replaced by a special imperial seal; indicating that Charles felt himself to be just the king of the Franks.
Finally, Ohnsorge points out that in the spring of at Aachen Charles crowned his only surviving son, Louis, as the emperor without recourse to Rome with only the acclamation of his Franks. The form in which this acclamation was offered was Frankish-Christian rather than Roman. This implies both independence from Rome and a Frankish non-Roman understanding of empire. Charlemagne used these circumstances to claim that he was the renewer of the Roman Empire, which had declined under the Byzantines.
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In his official charters, Charles preferred the style Karolus serenissimus Augustus a Deo coronatus magnus pacificus imperator Romanum gubernans imperium  "Charles, most serene Augustus crowned by God, the great, peaceful emperor ruling the Roman empire" to the more direct Imperator Romanorum "Emperor of the Romans". The title of Emperor remained in the Carolingian family for years to come, but divisions of territory and in-fighting over supremacy of the Frankish state weakened its significance. When the family of Charles ceased to produce worthy heirs, the Pope gladly crowned whichever Italian magnate could best protect him from his local enemies.
The empire would remain in continuous existence for nearly a millennium, as the Holy Roman Empire, a true imperial successor to Charles. The iconoclasm of the Byzantine Isaurian Dynasty was endorsed by the Franks. The council was not recognised by Charlemagne since no Frankish emissaries had been invited, even though Charlemagne ruled more than three provinces of the classical Roman empire and was considered equal in rank to the Byzantine emperor. And while the Pope supported the reintroduction of the iconic veneration, he politically digressed from Byzantium.
Thus, Charlemagne's assumption of the imperial title was not a usurpation in the eyes of the Franks or Italians. It was, however, seen as such in Byzantium, where it was protested by Irene and her successor Nikephoros I —neither of whom had any great effect in enforcing their protests.
These regions remained outside of Frankish hands until , when the Venetians, torn by infighting, transferred their allegiance to the Iron Crown of Pippin, Charles' son. The Pax Nicephori ended.
Nicephorus ravaged the coasts with a fleet, initiating the only instance of war between the Byzantines and the Franks. The conflict lasted until when the pro-Byzantine party in Venice gave their city back to the Byzantine Emperor, and the two emperors of Europe made peace: Charlemagne received the Istrian peninsula and in the emperor Michael I Rangabe recognised his status as Emperor,  although not necessarily as "Emperor of the Romans".
After the conquest of Nordalbingia, the Frankish frontier was brought into contact with Scandinavia. In , the king of the Danes, Godfred , expanded the vast Danevirke across the isthmus of Schleswig. The Danevirke protected Danish land and gave Godfred the opportunity to harass Frisia and Flanders with pirate raids. He also subdued the Frank-allied Veleti and fought the Abotrites. Godfred invaded Frisia, joked of visiting Aachen, but was murdered before he could do any more, either by a Frankish assassin or by one of his own men.
Godfred was succeeded by his nephew Hemming , who concluded the Treaty of Heiligen with Charlemagne in late In , Charlemagne called Louis the Pious , king of Aquitaine , his only surviving legitimate son, to his court. There Charlemagne crowned his son as co-emperor and sent him back to Aquitaine. He then spent the autumn hunting before returning to Aachen on 1 November.
In January, he fell ill with pleurisy.