"For in his time he was a man who so much excelled all others in wisdom and virtue that to everyone on earth he appeared both terrible and worthy of love and admiration- (Andrea 155). These words, written by Nithard, an illegitimate grandson of the emperor Charlemagne, expresses the nostalgic idealistic attitude towards the man that historians call the first true European king' and contemporaries the heir to the Roman empire'. How deserved are these titles? How accurate is the praise? It is my argument that (according to the sources provided in chapter six of the Andrea source book) while bestowed with the title of imperator, and holding sufficient land for history to allow for the term empire', and most likely being a very descent, wise, and learned man according to his time "his not-so-impressive feats of military prowess and his questionable title, the evidence that his authority may not have been as absolute and strong as one might believe, and his failure to provide a stable future for his empire exclude Charlemagne from the ranks of the greatest rulers of all time. .
We learn from a biography of Charles, written by his contemporary and associate Einhard, among other things, of Charles' conquests and victories over the Saxons and of his coronation as imperator by Pope Leo III. But upon closer inspection and with the aid of historical hindsight some interesting points need be made. It took him thirty three years to pacify the Saxons and in the end we are told that he did not annihilate them in battle, but instead "[. . .] took ten thousand of those [. . .] and settled them [. . .] in many different bodies here and there in Gaul and Germany- (Einhard 138). In other words he was forced to relocate and absorb them into Frankish lands because destroying them proved impossible "an impressive feat, but one that had been employed by the Romans for centuries and on a much larger scale to boot.