Western Oregon University: Senior Seminar Thesis, June 16 (2006)
Charlemagne has been approached by historians because of the pivotal role he fills as the Father of a Continent. His kingdom spread across Europe and renewed the culture of the Western World; a “mini-Renaissance” that shifted the focal point of Europe away from crumbling Rome. Through his reign, a new Empire was created and the European world began a recovery from the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire. In turn, the Empire was divided amongst his heirs, laying down boundaries that largely survive in the shape of Europe today. perhaps more than any other family, the Carolingians shaped the fate of Europe.
Charlemagne’s coronation represents the most significant event of the Carolingian dynasty, but where does it fit within the context of the history of Europe? On December 25, 800 A.D., Charles the Great knelt at prayer in Saint peter’s Basilica in the city of Rome. As he rose, Pope Leo III stood behind him and placed a crown upon his head, saying, “To Charles, Augustus, great and peaceful Emperor, life and victory.” That moment has been examined countless times in the twelve hundred years since the Coronation.