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Significant Individuals of the Middle Ages: Charlemagne

Year 8 History

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The History Channel


Charlemagne was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814. In 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany.

Sourcebook -Carlemagne



Warrior. Ruler. Patron of the arts and language. Terrorist. Brutal oppressor. Protector of the good. Guardian of Christendom. Father of Europe. There are so many different ways in which Charlemagne can be described, and yet the man himself is often seen as an enigma. Depending on the viewpoint of history, he could have been either a monster or a guardian angel. Yet, as with most men, the truth lies somewhere in between. The truth is that he was human.

Charlemagne was king of the Franks, and emperor of western Christendom. Out of the turmoil of the Early Middle Ages, he united the bulk of western and central Europe, and laid the groundwork for the modern European world. He was a patron of the arts and education, instigator of the flowering of learning known as the Carolingian Renaissance.

Education Reformation 3:33 

Winsor-public domain

The Carolingian Renaissance fostered a renewed interest in learning and education. The Carolingian kings used scholarship as a means of enhancing the administration of their realms, as well as improving the Christian faith. 

The Medieval Education of Girls and Women-public domain

Mention of medieval education of girls and women is likely to give rise to a mental image of connvents, the most prominent educational institutions during the sixth through the thirteenth centuries.

Christian History Institute

There is little doubt that Charlemagne had a great love of learning, but he also insisted that the value he placed upon education should spread to his family, his court, and beyond. He began with his own children.


Charlemagne (742/743–814) has been represented as the sponsor or even creator of medieval education, and the Carolingian renaissance has been represented as the renewal of Western culture.