By Helen Ann Hund
Master’s Thesis: Wichita State University, 2007
Abstract: Einhard’s Vita Karoli Magni and Asser’s De Rebus Gestis Ælfredi document the lives of two of the most fascinating kings to influence Western civilization – Charlemagne and Alfred the Great. The two biographies were written approximately seventy years apart by clerics who were closely connected to each ruler’s court. Einhard and Asser reinvented and popularized the genre of secular biography for the medieval Christian world. Their descriptions of Christian kings aided the development of a specifically European identity which incorporated classical, Germanic and Christian traditions. The two Vitae are superb examples of an ever-occurring theme in medieval European history, which historian Patrick Wormald calls “the parallel development and the interdependence of Frankish and Anglo-Saxon history.” This thesis compares some of the common themes and distinctive traditions of ninth and tenth century Frankish and Anglo-Saxon society as they are presented in the Vita Karoli Magni and the De Rebus Gestis Ælfredi.