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Charlemagne & His Empire

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Book topics: Charlemagne, Carolingians, Legends, Louis the Pious, Charles the Bald, Charles the Fat, Lothar II, Era, Alcuin, Holy Roman Empire, Fiction, Children's Books, Movies & Documentaries, Franks & Merovingians, Europe



Two Lives of Charlemagne by Einhard and Notker the Stammerer, edited by Lewis G. M. Thorpe. Two medieval biographies. Einhard knew Charlemagne personally.

Charlemagne by Matthias Becher, translated by David S. Bachrach. This biography describes Charlemagne's rise to emperor, his reign, and his posthumous fame.

Charlemagne: Father of a Continent by Alessandro Barbero, translated by Allan Cameron. Brings Charlemagne to life, recounts how he ruled his empire, and describes everyday life during Charlemagne's reign.

The Emperor Charlemagne by Russell Chamberlin. Biography of the emperor who exerted a lasting influence on the course of Western history.

Charlemagne by Johannes Fried, translated by Peter Lewis. A biographical study of the Frankish king and emperor who shaped Europe's destiny. He was above all a Christian king, but also enjoyed worldly pleasures.

King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne by Janet L. Nelson. Brings together everything we know about Charles I to paint a vivid portrait of the man and his motives.

Charlemagne by Derek Wilson. An account of Charlemagne's life, character, and accomplishments. A sage ruler, he ordered executions reminiscent of Nero. A devout Christian, he sired numerous illegitimate children. With military might he forged Western Christendom.

Charlemagne's Empire

Charlemagne's Practice of Empire by Jennifer R. Davis. How Charlemagne and his men held together the vast new empire he created during the first decades of his reign.

Emperor of the West: Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire by Hywel Williams. Explores Charlemagne's rule and legacy.

Charlemagne: Empire and Society edited by Joanna Story. Essays about Charlemagne's reign.

Other Books

Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800 by Jeff Sypeck. On Christmas morning in the year 800, Pope Leo III placed the crown of imperial Rome on the brow of a Germanic king named Karl. This book tells the story of the power struggle that led to the world-changing event.

The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders by Peter Heather. After the fall of the Roman Empire, each of the three greatest contenders for imperial power -- Theoderic, Justinian, and Charlemagne -- was successful in his own way.

Charlemagne: The Formation of Carolingian Identity by Rosamond McKitterick. Re-examines Charlemagne the ruler and his reputation.

Mohammed, Charlemagne, and the Origins of Europe by Richard Hodges, photographs by David Whitehouse.

The Enthroned Corpse of Charlemagne by John F. Moffitt. In the year 1000, Charlemagne's corpse was discovered fully clothed in ceremonial garb and seated on a gilded chair. This book examines the surprising discovery, Charlemagne's legacy, and other topics.

Genealogy of Charlemagne's Descendants

The Carolingians

Carolingian Chronicles: The Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard's Histories translated by Bernard W. Scholz and Barbara R. Rogers. Accounts of Carolingian history written by Frankish historians.

The Carolingian World by Marios Costambeys, Matthew Innes, and Simon MacLean. Traces the great empire's history from its origins around 700, its expansion by military conquest and political manoeuvring, and the struggle to hold the empire together.

The Carolingian Empire by Heinrich Fichtenau, translated by Peter Munz. Evaluates the social, economic, political, and religious achievements and failures of Charles the Great and his advisers.

Making and Unmaking the Carolingians: 751-888 by Stuart Airlie. Ruling the Frankish realm, the family of Charlemagne had to be ruthless in asserting their status.

The Carolingians in Central Europe, Their History, Arts, and Architecture: A Cultural History of Central Europe, 750-900 by Herbert Schutz. An overview of the Frankish realms during the Carolingian period.

The Politics of Memory and Identity in Carolingian Royal Diplomas by Geoffrey Koziol. Asurprising narrative of the West Frankish kingdom from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the demise of the Carolingian dynasty in 987.

Charlemagne's Mustache: And Other Cultural Clusters of a Dark Age by Paul Edward Dutton. Why did Charlemagne have a mustache and why did hair matter? Why did he own peacocks and other exotic animals? This book presents seven studies of cultural life in the Carolingian world.

The Symbolic Language of Royal Authority in the Carolingian World (c.751-877) by Ildar H. Garipzanov. Examines the symbolic language used to maintain Carolingian authority.

The Carolingians: A Family Who Forged Europe by Pierre Riche, translated by Michael Idomir Allen. Traces the rise, fall, and revival of the Carolingian dynasty, and shows how it molded the shape of Europe that is still with us today.

The Frankish Kingdoms Under the Carolingians, 751-987 by Rosamond McKitterick. Examines the entire history of the dynasty in its full political and cultural context.

Books About the Merovingians
Books About the Holy Roman Empire

Charlemagne in Legend

Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable, the Age of Chivalry, Legends of Charlemagne by Thomas Bullfinch, edited by Richard P. Martin, illustrated by Sabra Moore. Classic retelling of traditional stories, including legends about the life of Charlemagne.

The Legend of Charlemagne in the Middle Ages: Power, Faith, and Crusade edited by Matthew Gabriele and Jace Stuckey. Essays about the Charlemagne legend in the Middle Ages.

Charlemagne and France: A Thousand Years of Mythology by Robert J. Morrissey, translated by Catherine Tihanyi. Explores a millennium's worth of history and myth surrounding the Frankish emperor.

An Empire of Memory by Matthew Gabriele. The legend of Charlemagne, the Franks, and Jerusalem before the First Crusade.

Emperor of the World: Charlemagne and the Construction of Imperial Authority, 800-1229 by Anne A. Latowsky. Traces the history of the myth that Charlemagne visited Jerusalem and Constantinople, forging friendly alliances.

The Song of Roland translated by W. S. Merwin. A contemporary prose rendering of the great medieval French epic. It extols the chivalric ideals in the France of Charlemagne through the exploits of Charlemagne's nephew, the warrior Roland, who fights bravely in a legendary battle.

Louis the Pious

The Crowning of Louis edited and translated by Nirmal Dass. A new metrical translation of the 12th century Old French verse epic Le Couronnement de Louis. It tells how William of Orange defended Charlemagne's son Louis during his childhood. The book includes a discussion of the poem's background and themes.

Charlemagne and Louis the Pious translated by Thomas F. X. Noble. Einhard's Life of Emperor Charles, Notker's Deeds of Charles the Great, Ermoldus Nigellus's Poem in Honor of Louis, Thegan's Deeds of Emperor Louis, and the Life of Louis by the Astronomer, each accompanied by a short introduction and a note on Essential Reading.

Past Convictions: The Penance of Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingians by Courtney M. Booker. The controversial divestiture and public penance of Charlemagne's son, Emperor Louis the Pious, in 833 marked the beginning of the end of the Carolingian dynasty. This book explores how contemporaries and subsequent generations viewed Louis's forfeiture of the throne.

Carolingian Portraits: A Study in the Ninth Century by Eleanor Shipley Duckett. Biographies of several Carolingian people, including Louis the Pious and Einhard of Seligenstadt.

Son of Charlemagne by Astronomus, translated by Alan Cabaniss. A biography of Louis the Pious written by one of his contemporaries.

Charles the Bald

Charles the Bald by Janet L. Nelson. Offers a re-appraisal of Charles the Bald's achievement in his own time, and explains why he can be seen as the maker of France.

Rulers and Ruling Families in Early Medieval Europe by Janet Nelson. Includes papers about Charles the Bald, Alfred the Great, roles of royal women, and the making and unmaking of Frankish kings and princes.

Charles the Fat

Kingship and Politics in the Late Ninth Century: Charles the Fat and the End of the Carolingian Empire by Simon MacLean. Analyzes the collapse of the Carolingian Empire in 888 as seen through the reign of its last ruler, Charles the Fat.

Middle Francia (Lotharingia)

The Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga by Hincmar of Rheims, translated by Rachel Stone and Charles West. Written in the 9th century, this is a key source for King Lothar II of Lotharingia's attempt to rid himself of his queen.

Lotharingia: A Personal History of Europe's Lost Country by Simon Winder. In 843 AD, three grandsons of Charlemagne divided the family land into France, Germany, and the area inbetween: Lotharingia. This book retraces the history of Lotharingia up to modern times.

The Age of Charlemagne

Daily Life in the Age of Charlemagne by John J. Butt. Covers food, clothing, housing, intellectual life at court, military life, monastic life, and more.

Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation edited by Rosamond McKitterick. Essays exploring the legacy of Rome in Carolingian culture and the enormous creativity of the Franks.

The Age of Charlemagne by David Nicolle. Military history from the Men-at-Arms series.

The Frankish World, 750-900 by Janet L. Nelson. Essays exploring Carolingian government, law, and women.

Specific Topics

Early Carolingian Warfare: Prelude to Empire by Bernard S. Bachrach. The first full-length study of how this Frankish dynasty, beginning with Pippin II, established its power and cultivated its military expertise.

Towns and Trade in the Age of Charlemagne by Richard Hodges. Drawing upon archaeological evidence, Hodges looks at the end of towns in Roman antiquity, the Dark Age emporium, and the inception of market towns during the age of Charlemagne.

The Carolingian Economy by Adriaan Verhulst. Analyzes aspects of land and people, agrarian production and technique, craft and industry, and regional and international commerce.

Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne by Bernhard Bischoff, translated by Michael Gorman. Essays about the role of books in the transmission of culture, the court libraries of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, and other topics.

Water and the Word by Susan A. Keefe. Baptism and the education of the clergy in the Carolingian empire.

The Politics of Dreaming in the Carolingian Empire by Paul Edward Dutton. Political aspects of dream interpretation in the Carolingian empire.

Books About the Frankish World
Books About the Byzantine Empire


Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation by Donald A. Bullough. An intellectual biography of Alcuin, the most prominent Anglo-Saxon scholar at the court of Charlemagne.

Alcuin, Friend of Charlemagne: His Work and His World by Eleanor Shipley Duckett.

Books About Frankish Religion


The King's Nun: A Novel of King Charlemagne by Catherine Monroe. Novel about a woman who becomes Charlemagne's trusted advisor.

Charlemagne's Daughter: A Medieval Adventure by Dena Miller. Charlemagne races to save his daughter from kidnappers while his son Peppin plots to usurp the throne.

Children's Books

The Holy Roman Empire and Charlemagne in World History by Jeff Sypeck. For children ages 9 to 12.

Charlemagne and the Early Middle Ages by Miriam Greenblatt. Also for ages 9 to 12.

The World in the Time of Charlemagne by Fiona MacDonald. For children ages 9 to 12.

The Life & Times of Charlemagne by Jim Whiting. Biography for children ages 9 to 12.

Charlemagne: The Life and Times of an Early Medieval Emperor by Tehmina Bhote, Lesli J. Favor. Nonfiction for young adult readers.

Charlemagne by Dale Evva Gelfand. Biography for young adults.

Movies and Documentaries

These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.

Charlemagne. The life of medieval Europe's most legendary figure is dramatized in this lavish five-part 1994 British miniseries. Christian Brendel stars as Charlemagne. Sometimes available at Amazon.com.

Pippin. A 1981 production of a Broadway musical about Charlemagne's son Pippin, played by William Katt. Also stars Ben Vereen, Chita Rivera as Charlemagne's wife Fastrada, and Martha Raye as Charlemagne's mother.

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The Frankish Empire
The Byzantine Empire
Belgian Royalty
French Royalty
German Royalty
Italian Royalty
European Royalty

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The Carolingian Empire
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Einhard: The Life of Charlemagne
The Monk of Saint Gall: The Life of Charlemagne
Catholic Encyclopedia: Charlemagne
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Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance

Legends of Charlemagne
Legends: Paladins and Princes

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