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charles the great

            Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, King of the Franks (742-814), was a strong leader who unified Western Europe through military power and the blessing of the Church. His belief in the need for education among the Frankish people was to bring about religious, political, and educational reforms that would change the history of Europe. Charlemagne was born in 742 at Aachen, the son of Pepin(or Pippin) the Short and grandson of Charles Martel. His grandfather, Charles, had begun the process of unifying western Europe, in the belief that all people should be Christian. Charlemagne's father, Pepin, continued this process throughout his rule and passed his beliefs on to Charlemagne. All three, in addition to the political unification, believed that the church should be reformed and reorganized under the Pope, which helped their rise to power as the Carolingian Dynasty. (Holmes 74) Upon Pepin's death in 768, Charlemagne and his brother, Carloman, each inherited half of the Frankish kingdom. Pepin, in the Merovingian tradition of the time, split his kingdom between his two sons. Three years later Carloman died and Charlemagne took control of the entire kingdom. He inherited great wealth and a powerful army, built by his father and grandfather. Charlemagne used the army and his own skillful planning to more than double the size of the Frankish Kingdom. (Halsall 15) The world of Charlemagne was a heathen one, with many warring tribes or kingdoms. Many of these tribes were conquered by Charlemagne, among them the Aquitanians, the Lombards, the Saxons, the Bretons, the Bavarians, the Huns, and the Danes. The longest of these battles was against the Saxons, lasting thirty-three years. Charlemagne actually defeated them many times, but due to their faithlessness and their propensity to return to their pagan lifestyle, the Saxons lost many lives in the prolonged battles with the Franks.

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