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The Two Lives Of Charlemagne Essay

931 words - 4 pages


The two lives of Charlemagne as told by Einhard and Notker are two medieval sources about the accounts of the life Charlemagne. Modern sources by Matthew Innes and Rosamond Mckitterick discuss how history was recorded during the medieval period and how it was suppose to be viewed in the early ages. Observing each of these sources helps get an understanding of how the writing of history is important in recorded history and how it affected how the history of Charlemagne was recorded.

Writing history in the early Middle Ages "was not intended to be simply a matter of keeping a record for posterity." It was to help make the past more presentable and comprehensible to the present, "whether as support for contemporary political ideology or to explain God's purpose for humanity." Works that is widely read and follows these guidelines is writings Einhard and Notker did on Charlemagne. The writings of these two men can be looked at many different ways to decide how they wanted the history of Charlemagne to be perceived. "These histories can function both as a record of the past and as the exploitation of a different world in order to make particular political or polemical points."

Critical questions can arise about Einhard's work for the simple fact he was a palace official of Charlemagne. Einhard was a minister of his Royal Majesty. He was highly respected for his knowledge, intellect, brilliance, integrity and character. He shared a personal relationship with the King and his family. It can be believed that his book was to make sure that the greatness of Charlemagne was recorded for history and maybe not the facts. The way he recorded the history of Charlemagne could have been more in the political and loyalty sense. Einhard wrote his book from the historical perspective and his personal relationship with Charlemagne.

Notker wrote his book seventy years after the death of Charlemagne in the form of a series of anecdotes about Charlemagne from the stories he heard as a child. Some of these anecdotes go more in-depth on basic information provided by Einhard. In other cases, the anecdotes tend to be exaggerated, therefore, making it hard to give Notker a lot of credibility. Yet, his work is widely read and studied as one of the works that describes the accounts of Charlemagne life.

Although it is difficult to compare these two books they both possess differences and similarities to one another. For example, in Einhard's book Charlemagne's first wife was the daughter of Desiderius, the King of the Longobards. It goes on to say that she was dismissed and never gave a reason why. In Notker's book, he says that Charlemagne had just defeated the Longobards and in order to keep them from...

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