On This Day In History: Charlemagne Became The King Of The Franks – On Dec 5, 771

On December 5, 771, Charlemagne became the King of the Franks, after the death of his brother Carloman.

Charlemagne, son of King Pepin the Short succeeded his father in 768 and was initially co-ruler with his brother Carloman.

After Carloman’s death in 771, Charlemagne became the leader of the reunified Frankish kingdom, which he ruled from several cities.

He was engaged in many military battles during his reign. He conquered Saxony in the 8th century, but to win the battle over the Saxons was not any easy task. He proceeded to spread Christianity into Northern part of Europe, by forcing Catholicism on the conquered people and slaughtering those who refused to convert.

Charlemagne financially supported churches and protected the popes. He also made churches function as refugee shelters.

Charlemagne spent the early part of his reign on several military campaigns to expand his kingdom. He invaded Saxony in 772 and eventually achieved its total conquest and conversion to Christianity. He also extended his dominance to the south, conquering the kingdom of the Lombards in northern Italy and invaded northern Spain in 778.

In 800 a rebellion against Pope Leo III began. Charlemagne went to his aid in Rome and defeated the rebellion. As a token of thanks, Leo crowned Charlemagne on Christmas Day that year, declaring him emperor of the Romans.

Charlemagne introduced administrative reforms throughout the lands he controlled, standardized weights, measures and customs dues, which helped improve commerce and initiated important legal reforms. He also attempted to consolidate Christianity throughout his vast empire, established a new library of Christian and classical works. His foreign conquests and internal reforms, helped him to define both Western Europe and the European Middle Ages.

Charlemagne was the founder of what became the Holy Roman Empire; he was Emperor of the Romans from 800, when Pope Leo III acknowledged him as a ruler at Mass on Christmas day at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and gave him the title of Roman Emperor.

Pope John Paul II referred to him as the Pater Europae (“father of Europe”).

Charlemagne died in 814.

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