By Dale Evva Gelfand
Strains the lifetime of the Frankish warrior and king who equipped an exceptional empire in western Europe.
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Additional resources for Charlemagne (Ancient World Leaders)
At that time the people of Saxony (today’s northwestern Germany and parts of the Netherlands) were still slaying Christian missionaries. Their British kinsmen, on the other hand, were dedicated Christians who were erecting massive cathedrals. Charlemagne couldn’t tolerate the ways of the German Saxons, and in July 772 he made his first military foray into their country. He stormed Eresburg, destroyed a sacred temple, and burned the sacred tree of Irminsul. From 775 on Charlemagne’s primary purpose in subduing the Saxons was to convert them to Christianity and assimilate the region into his kingdom.
Yet despite his many military triumphs, Charlemagne cannot really be called a distinguished general. He essentially inherited the highly trained army of his grandfather and father before him. However, the king had two qualities that aided his continued military success: He was a dogged campaigner and could often wear down his enemies through sheer force. And he was a fierce warrior. Charlemagne’s first military undertaking on his own after his father’s death was the Aquitanian War, which had been started by 52 THE WARRIOR KING This depiction of Charlemagne’s forces illustrated how often the king was involved in one conflict or another.
In summer after the midday meal, he would eat some fruit, drain a single cup, put off his clothes and shoes, just as he did for the night, and rest for two or three hours. He was in the habit of awaking and A MAN APART rising from bed four or five times during the night. While he was dressing and putting on his shoes, he not only gave audience to his friends, but if the Count of the Palace told him of any suit in which his judgment was necessary, he had the parties brought before him forthwith, took cognizance of the case, and gave his decision, just as if he were sitting on the judgment-seat.
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