Charelemaign Essay

1308 words - 5 pages

The Relationship of Political and Religious Societies in the Age of Charlemagne, Based of Einhard's The life of Charlemagne sections 15-33 Matt Diggs III "He was especially concerned that everything in the church be carried out with the greatest possible dignity." Einhard, in his The Life of Charlemagne, makes clear the fundamental integration of politics and religion during the reign of his king. Throughout his life, Charles the Great endeavored to acquire and use religious power to his desired ends. But, if Charlemagne was the premiere monarch of the western world, why was religious sanction and influence necessary to achieve his goals? In an age when military power was the primary means of expanding one's empire, why did the most powerful military force in Europe go to such great lengths to ensure a benevolent relationship with the church? One possibility may be found in the tremendous social and political influence of Rome and her papacy upon the whole of the continent. Rather than a force to be opposed, Charlemagne viewed the church as a potential source of political power to be gained through negotiation and alliance. The relationship was one of great symbiosis, and both componants not only survived but prospered to eventually dominate western Europe. For the King of the Franks, the church provided the means to accomplish the expansion and reformation of his empire. For the Holy Roman Church, Charles provided protection from invaders and new possibilities for missionary work. The blessing of the church helped to unify and strengthen the resolve of the Frankish people as they withstood or conquered the heathen Viking and eastern Germanic tribes. The fact that Charles was Christian and was backed by the Catholic church must have certainly helped keep other christian powers from allying with these barbarians. For Rome, there were suddenly new peoples to convert, and keep from direct opposition to the The Great Christian Emperor. Additionally, Charlemagne provided Rome with badly needed protection from Islamic invaders. Indeed, Charles saved most of Italy from Muslim piracy. When Rome became one with Carolingian empire, he "Defended and made it beautiful (page 285)." With potentially hostile forces to the east, such as the Byzantine and Islamic empires, Rome found much to gain from Charles' friendship. Another example of the benefits of the papal-frankish relationship may be found in Charles' reformation of his parishes. To quote Einhard, "His chief concern was for the churches. Whenever he discovered one in his kingdom that was old and ready to collapse he charged the responsible bishops and priests with restoring it (page 285)." This, in addition to the masterpiece of Aachen, helped strengthen the Christian resolve in his empire, while furthering his goals of beautification. One of the chief concerns for Charlemagne, as evidenced by Pepin's and Germania's betrayals, must have been...

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