RESPONSE PAPER 5 - The beginning of Charlemagne’s career...

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RESPONSE PAPER 5 The Life of Charlemagne It’s quite plain that Einhard, whether purposefully or not, is extremely biased in favor of his patron, even in the description of the fall of the Merovingian. Einhard claims that by the time the last Merovingian king fell, kingship in that dynasty was little more than a title; it carried no power. With this, Einhard creates an image of the Merovingian kings as weak and sets the stage for his powerful portrait of Charlemagne. Once we look past the bias, however, there is a great deal of interesting information regarding Charlemagne in the text. There is a particularly curious issue regarding a crisis of identity. Charlemagne and the Carolingians were barbarian Franks before they were integrated into the Roman Empire. But after they were given the title of Roman, did any dramatic change in how they identified themselves—or, at least, on how an objective onlooker would identify them?
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Unformatted text preview: The beginning of Charlemagne’s career is certainly more reminiscent of a barbarian than it is of a Christian. Chapters 5 through 15 are all accounts of Charlemagne's many military conquests (or, more accurately, military conquests in Charlemagne’s name). He built his kingdom by military prowess in the true barbarian tradition. Certainly Einhard describes the conquered peoples’ conversion to Christianity after their defeat, but even that seems forceful. While he and his people were practicing Christians, they were also still barbarians. That much is undeniable, and it is therefore no surprise that evidently the last thing Charlemagne wanted was to become Holy Roman Emperor. Einhard says that Charlemagne wouldn’t even have entered the church had he known, even though it was a very important day for worship. The Roman identity was instilled, but it was, if anything, merely a mask to hide the barbarian underneath....
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This essay was uploaded on 04/11/2008 for the course HIST 110 taught by Professor Hughes during the Fall '07 term at University of Michigan.

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