Charlemagne's Role In European History

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While browsing through literature on Charlemagne and his Carolingian Empire’s role in European history and unity, one view immediately stands out and helps to organize it. Barraclough (1963) and Mikkeli (1998) both argue that when examining the achievements of Charlemagne considering European unity, early historians have appointed the Carolingian Empire literally as the beginning of Europe. Mikkeli (1998) states that this view of early historians is partly based on the time period in which it is written, referring to the European integration in the ‘50’s that had recently started. The early historians were interpreting medieval roots in its favor.
According to Barraclough (1963) and Mikkeli (1998), historians today look at it with more caution,
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Tierney & Painter (1992) argue that the coronation distinguished the Western European society, differing themselves from his ‘others’; the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world in Spain. But that is exactly the problem; by differing themselves, they went against European unity in the broader sense. It achieved dualism between the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, breaking up Europe in two parts (Mikkeli, 1998, Barraclough, 1963). The first stage of the Schism of the Catholic Church was even caused by the Franks, according to Barraclough (1963). This dualism and hostility against each other was caused by the coronation, the Eastern Emperor at that time did not acknowledge Charlemagne as being the Emperor of the West for a long time. The Eastern Emperor saw himself as the true heir of the last Roman Emperor Augustus and God’s replacement on Earth (Alcock,…show more content…
His son Louis the Pious did rule until 840, but his three sons would then divide the Kingdom into three, definitely ending the Carolingian unity (Alcock, 2002). Some authors claim that some of Charlemagne’s influence would still live on, beyond his Empire (Tierney & Painter, 1992, Delanty, 2013, Dawson, 1946), others believe it is better described as the end to an era (Barraclough, 1963, Mikkeli, 1998). Tierney & Painter (1992) argue, as mentioned before, that the ‘fusion’ of cultures would surpass the actual Empire, it would live on. They argue that after its downfall it laid the base for certain medieval institutions that spread around Europe, like feudalism. Delanty (2013) agrees, also putting emphasize on feudalism as a unifying factor in Europe and saying that the Franks can be seen as the creators of Europe in the making, an ‘embryonic Europe’. Joseph Calmette (1941, cited in Barraclough, 1963) synthesizes with Tierney & Painter’s (1992) visions, saying that ‘it was necessary for the Carolingian Empire to collapse for Europe to come into being’ (p.13). Dawson (1946) is the most convinced, saying that there is a direct line going from the Carolingian civilization to contemporary Europe. Barraclough (1963) sees the unity of the Frankish Kingdom as nothing more as a brief moment in history without any influence on times to come. He argues that a century later, Europe’s structure will have been
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