Good morning, we are looking at the story of Charlemagne. There will be a struggle for the throne between Charlemagne and his nephews. His brother was dead. Who will come out on top? The run time for this documentary is 51:14.
After Carloman died, Charlemagne declared himself the sole emperor of the Franks. Carloman’s wife and children fled to the Lombard court. So Charlemagne declared war on the Lombards to protect his throne. However, instead of invading Lombardy, he turned his attention to the Saxons. It would provide the Frankish Empire with quick plunder. Immediately the Franks invaded the Saxon villages. However, victory was not quick so he had to alter his strategy.
Charlemagne reached the Saxon’s most sacred site: a tree that bore the weight of the world. It was the Saxons’ direct connection to their gods. He would order the tree to be burned down. Nothing would put him off burning the tree down. He would make the Saxons follow the pope. The Saxons’ Sacred Tree was burned. He continued to work on destroying the images of the Saxon religion. In a cave, he found the riches of the Saxons. This would give him a quick influx of cash to get his nephews back from Lombardy.
In the meantime, a decision was made regarding his nephews. The Pope declared that Charlemagne was the legitimate Frankish emperor. The King of the Lombards did not agree with this decision and threatened the Pope’s security. Charlemagne’s father Pepin had already waged war against the Lombards. The Pope reached out for Charlemagne’s help to invade the Lombards. Would the Lombard King invade Rome and attack the pope?
However, raising an army to attack the Lombards would not be easy. After all Charlemagne’s sister-in-law was sheltering in Lombardy with her sons. They had a following among the Franks. There would have been some risk in invading Lombardy. Charlemagne would seek help from the church in trying to decide to invade Lombardy. The complication of invading Lombardy came in the form of his nephews living in the Lombard court. Charlemagne was advised to play into the Lombard king’s weakness. The man had a great deal of pride.
The plan was for Charlemagne to march over the Alps and negotiate with the King. Charlemagne was to pretend that he was afraid of the Lombard King. Pretend that he wanted to avoid battle. If the king refused the offers of peace, then that opened the door for invasion. Charlemagne then invaded Lombardy. The men numbered 3,000 and one thousand courtiers joined them. The Queen accompanied on Campaign. She was heavily pregnant at the time of the invasion. Crossing the Alps would have been a challenge during Winter and only a miracle would save the Frankish Army.
The Lombards rejected the offer of peace, playing right into Charlemagne’s hands. The battle begins and the Lombards did not surrender. Charlemagne and his army soon siege the castle. A winter siege was going to be a challenge for the Franks. To keep morale up, he threw parties. In the meantime, his wife was battling a fever. Her brother was at her side and he challenged Charlemagne’s behavior. Contemporaries wrote about how many mistresses he had and they even went so far as to say that Charlemagne was in hell.
During the siege, Charlemagne went to Rome to see the pope. It was the first time that Charlemagne had seen Rome. The pope was surprised to see Charlemagne. He was seeking a miracle to help break the siege in Lombardy. The pope took Charlemagne on a tour of St. Peters. Charlemagne wanted the Pope’s blessing for the siege and gave the Pope a generous donation. Charlemagne also promised to give the conquered territories to the Pope. When Charlemagne returned to the campaign, he saw that the Lombards had surrendered. The Lombard king was forced to surrender and was forced into exile. So what would happen to the children of Carloman? How was he able to style himself King of the Franks and the Lombards? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out more about Charlemagne.
Okay, this is getting good. I enjoyed getting learn more information about Charlemagne. After two episodes, I would very much consider showing this series to a classroom and using it for research purposes.
Good morning, we are going to explore the story of Charlemagne. This is a German-produced documentary series with English subtitles. This episode has a run time of 50:42.
Charlemagne was the most important Emperor of the Middle Ages. The story begins with a monk gathering wood for a fire. He was a scholar in Charlemagne’s court and was his friend. He is the narrator of Charlemagne’s story. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day. He was the most powerful ruler of his time. Even the pope was intimidated by him. He was superhuman. However, what is a myth, and what is reality?
The story continues with King Pepin, he wanted to be the King of the Franks. Pepin was ambitious for a son and wanted to establish a dynasty. Finally, his wife gave birth to a son. It had taken years for his wife to have a son. The Frankish kingdom was made up of a variety of communities. Pepin wanted to unite the people under one leader: him. Under Pepin, the territory was expanded and had become a major power player in Europe. Pepin sought the blessing of the Pope for his crusade for power. Pepin would promise the Pope that he would defend the faith. Additionally, he allowed Charlemagne and his brother Carloman were anointed by the pope.
Charlemagne and Carloman were joint heirs to the empire. They were bitter rivals rather than brothers. On Pepin’s death bed, he made his will. The empire that Pepin had built would be divided equally between them. The division was strange: Charlemagne’s lands encircled Carloman’s lands. What was the reasoning behind this arrangement? Did Pepin want to force both his sons to get along? However, he could not foresee the consequences that this would have.
Both boys were crowned the same day, however, they soon started fighting for dominance. Carloman was planning a marriage in order to strengthen his empire. Their mother tried to make peace between the boys, but she had a clear preference for Charlemagne. Soon, there was a rebellion on the borders. Charlemagne marched, and Carloman was supposed to help him put down the rebellion. Carloman did not show up at the agreed meeting place. The sources are unclear as to why Carloman did not assist Charlemagne.
Charlemagne went to battle on his own. With advances in technology, Charlemagne was able to put down the rebellion without his brother’s help. While putting down the rebellion, his wife had a son. He then declared all of Aquitaine his, taking over his brother’s portion. Charlemagne legitimized his reign with a victory in battle. What did Carloman think when he heard of Charlemagne’s victory?
Charlemagne’s mother made her way to Lombardy. She was looking to seek an alliance. It is clear from the sources that Charlemagne’s mother was a political force in her own right. She was arranging the marriage between Charlemagne and the King of Lombardy’s daughter. This marriage would surround Carloman’s empire on all sides. The Pope was skeptical of this marriage. He wrote to Charlemagne, begging him to not marry the Lombard Princess.
Charlemagne divorced and banished his first wife and then married the Lombard Princess. It would seem that Charlemagne’s mother would win out. It would be Carloman’s move and he would request that the Pope himself would baptize his second son. However, this would not happen and Carloman was so angry he wanted to march on Rome itself. Would Carloman march on Rome? Would Charlemagne and his brother finally get along? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more.
I was a little bit skeptical when I saw this documentary pop up on as newly published. I had made the mistake of skimming through some of the comments and I did not like how Chronicle had titled it. Chronicle did not have to title it in the way they did because I am still working on building up my Middle Ages collections. It could have been titled Charlemagne and it would have gotten my attention.
Now that I have that business out of my way, wow. I was really impressed with this first episode. It was interesting to see the relationship between Carloman and Charlemagne. The monk’s perspective was good and the explanations of the historians were good. So far, this could turn out to be a good series to show in a classroom. If you have a biography project for students and they are researching Charlemagne, this could be a potential start.
Hello again. Today we move on from Rome and Pompeii and learn about Charlemagne and the empire he built. This is a German-produced documentary in English about the history of the Germans. Anyway, it is a fascinating documentary to show in a classroom setting. In the 700’s, there were just Franks and Saxons, German was not even an idea. The Germans kick off with the story of Charlemagne.
The Saxons were a pagan people and they went into the sacred woods for the gods to answer their questions. They did this for centuries, until 772 when their world changed. A young Frankish king invaded Saxony with a cohort of troops. The Saxons are taken by surprise. Their villages were destroyed by the Franks.
The Frankish king wants to expand his realm and wants to make the Saxons Christians. After the attacks, the Saxon nobles vow to avenge the attacks. Charles, the Frankish king wants to subjugate the Saxons and unite his empire under one religion. The Franks tear down the idols of Saxons. However, the Saxon resistance was not broken. The Saxon nobility rallied the people to rebel against the Franks.
Charles, the Frankish King ruled the Frankish Empire. He was from an old noble family and their center of power was Saint-Denis. There was no real center of power in the Frankish Empire. The Pope visited Saint-Denis when Charles was six. The pope wanted security for Rome and the Franks wanted recognition for their empire. At the end of the pope’s visit, the Franks and the Pope were in an alliance.
After Charlemagne conquered the Saxons, they were forced to bow to him in a ceremony. They were to be subjects in Charlemagne’s realm. It seems for the time being that Saxons were on his side. Charlemagne moved on to Lombardy even though the Lombards were Christians. He wanted to resurrect the Roman empire. It was to be on empire, one faith, one ruler. He became the King of the Franks and the Lombards. Charlemagne was crowned with the crown of the Lombards, the Iron Crown. However, even though was a conqueror, he developed a love of learning. He gathered experts in his court to help reform education. This led to the rebirth of the classical world. He also unified the empire under one language and written script.
In the meantime, the Saxons were casting off their idols into the fire. Charlemagne had passed a law that they had to be baptized or die. There was one noble who rebelled against this law. His name was Widukind and he led the rebellion of the Saxons. He attacked Frankish villages. It explodes in a dirty war between unequal. Widukind escapes capture. Charles took his revenge on the Saxons for their rebellion, slaughtering over 4,000 Saxon men. He deported 1,000’s more to the Frankish empire. It was brutal and even shocked Charlemagne's contemporaries.
The Saxon resistance was not broken by Charlemagne’s harsh revenge. They fought for thirteen years. Charlemagne’s advisors tried to reason with him. They wanted to negotiate with the Saxons. Charlemagne was reluctant to do so. There was a suggestion of an honorable capitulation with Widukind but in exchange for backing down Widukind would have to be baptized. Widukind rode into the Frankish homeland and was baptized. This was the early history of an empire that would eventually become France and Germany.
To find out more continue to watch the documentary. In the meantime, keep this documentary in your files to share with a class. You can always use clips from this documentary in a lecture too.
You can access the documentary on YouTube here.
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