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Charlemagne in medieval East Central Europe (ca. 800 to ca. 1200)

Charlemagne in medieval East Central Europe (ca. 800 to ca. 1200)

Florin Curta and Jace Stuckey

Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol.53 nos. 2-4 (2011)

Abstract: During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the legend of Charlemagne gained widespread popularity, as the figure of the emperor became a model for rulers and crusaders. However, at the same time, there was no equivalent cult of the emperor in East Central Europe, despite intensive intellectual exchange with those parts of the continent in which Charlemagne served as the highest political ideal. The examination of two early texts—the chronicles of Gallus Anonymus and Cosmas of Prague—reveals that although not completely absent from the chroniclers’ repertoire of historical parallels and examples, Charlemagne was either mentioned simply as a chronological marker or (especially in the Chronicle of Cosmas of Prague) given attributes that do not appear in any other contemporary works and which suggest a local reinterpretation of his role in history and of his personality. Additionally, this is confirmed by an examination of a slightly later text—the Gesta Hungarorum, the earliest surviving work of medieval historiography in Hungary.

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