attractive feature of his character, however, was his love of learning. In addition to his native tongue he could read Latin and understood Greek, but he was unable to write, and Einhard gives an account of his futile efforts to learn this art in later life. He loved the reading of histories and astronomy, and by questioning travellers gained some knowledge of distant parts of the earth. He attended lectures on grammar, and his favourite work was St Augustine's De civitate Dei. He caused Frankish sagas to be collected, began a grammar of his native tongue, and spent some of his last hours in correcting a text of the Vulgate. He delighted in the society of scholars — Alcuin, Angilbert, Paul the Lombard, Peter of Pisa and others, and in this company the trappings of rank were laid aside and the emperor was known simply as David. Under his patronage Alcuin organized the school of the palace, where the royal children were taught in the company of others, and founded a school at Tours which became the model for many other establishments. Charles was unwearying in his efforts to improve the education of clergy and laity, and in 789 ordered that schools should be established in every diocese. The atmosphere of these schools was strictly ecclesiastical and the questions discussed by the scholars were often puerile, but the greatness of the educational work of Charles will not be doubted when one considers the rude condition of Frankish society half a century before. The main work of the Carolingian renaissance was to restore Latin to its position as a literary language, and to reintroduce a correct system of spelling and an improved handwriting. The manuscripts of the time are accurate and artistic, copies of valuable books were made and by careful collation the texts were purified.
Charles was not a great warrior. His victories were won rather by the power of organization, which he possessed in a marked degree, and he was eager to seize ideas and prompt in their execution. He erected a stone bridge with wooden piers across the Rhine at Mainz, and began a canal between the Altmühl and the Rednitz to connect the Rhine and the Danube, but this work was not finished. He built palaces at Aix (his favourite residence), Nijmwegen and Ingelheim, and erected the church of St Mary at Aix, modelled on that of St Vitalis at Ravenna and adorned with columns and mosaics brought from the same city. He loved the simple dress and manners of the Franks, and on two occasions only did he assume the more stately attire of a Roman noble. The administrative system of Charles in church and state was largely personal, and he brought to the work an untiring industry, and a marvellous grasp of detail. He admonished the pope, appointed the bishops, watched over the morals and work of the clergy, and took an active part in the deliberations of church synods; he founded bishoprics and monasteries, was lavish in his gifts to ecclesiastical foundations, and chose bishops and abbots for administrative work. As the real founder of the ecclesiastical state, he must be held mainly responsible for the evils which resulted from the policy of the church in exalting the ecclesiastical over the secular authority.
In secular affairs Charles abolished the office of duke, placed counts over districts smaller than the former duchies, and supervised their government by means of missi dominici, officials responsible to himself alone. Marches were formed on all the borders of the empire, and the exigencies of military service led to the growth of a system of land-tenure which contained the germ of feudalism. The assemblies of the people gradually changed their character under his rule. No longer did the nation come together to direct and govern, but the emperor summoned his people to assent to his acts. Taking a lively interest in commerce and agriculture, Charles issued various regulations for the organization of the one and the improvement of the other. He introduced a new system of weights and measures, which he ordered should be used throughout his kingdom, and took steps to reform the coinage. He was a voluminous lawgiver. Without abolishing the customary law of the German tribes, which is said to have been committed to writing by his orders, he added to it by means of capitularies, and thus introduced certain Christian principles and customs, and some degree of uniformity.
The extent and glamour of his empire exercised a potent spell on western Europe. The aim of the greatest of his successors was to restore it to its pristine position and influence, while many of the French rulers made its re-establishment the goal of their policy. Otto the Great to a considerable extent succeeded; Louis XIV. referred frequently to the empire of Charlemagne; and Napoleon regarded him as his prototype and predecessor. The empire of Charles, however, was not lasting. In spite of his own wonderful genius the seeds of weakness were sown in his lifetime. The church was too powerful, an incipient feudalism was present, and there was no real bond of union between the different races that acknowledged his authority. All the vigilance of the emperor could not restrain the dishonesty and the cupidity of his servants, and no sooner was the strong hand of their ruler removed than they began to acquire territorial power for themselves.
Authorities. — The chief authorities for the life and times of Charlemagne are Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni, the Annales Laurissenses majores, the Annales Fuldenses, and other annals, which are published in the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Scriptores, Band i. and ii., edited by G. H. Pertz (Hanover and Berlin, 1826-1892). For the capitularies see Capitularia regum Francorum, edited by A. Boretius in the Monumenta. Leges. Many of the songs of the period appear in the Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, edited by E. Dümmler (Berlin, 1881-1884). The Bibliotheca rerum Germanicarum, tome iv., edited by Ph. Jaffé (Berlin, 1864-1873), contains some of the emperor's correspondence, and Hincmar's De ordine palatii, edited by M. Prou (Paris, 1884), is also valuable.
The best modern authorities are S. Abel and B. Simson, Jahrbücher des fränkischen Reiches unter Karl dem Grossen (Leipzig, 1883-1888); G. Richter and H. Kohl, Annalen des fränkischen Reichs im Zeitalter der Karolinger (Halle, 1885-1887); E. Mühlbacher, Deutsche Geschichte unter den Karolingern (Stuttgart, 1886); H. Brosien, Karl der Grosse (Leipzig and Prague, 1885); J. I. Mombert, History of Charles the Great (London, 1888); M. Lipp, Das fränkische Grenzsystem unter Karl dem Grossen (Breslau, 1892); J. von Döllinger, Das Kaiserthum Karls des Grossen und seiner Nachfolger (Munich, 1864); F. von Wyss, Karl der Grosse als Gesetzgeber (Zürich, 1869); Th. Sickel, Lehre von den Urkunden der ersten Karolinger (Vienna, 1867); E. Dümmler in the Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, Band xv.; Th. Lindner, Die Fabel von der Bestattung Karls des Grossen (Aix-la-Chapelle, 1893); J. A. Ketterer, Karl der Grosse und die Kirche (Munich and Leipzig, 1898); and J. B. Mullinger, The Schools of Charles the Great and the Restoration of Education in the 9th century (London, 1877).
The work of the monk of St Gall is found in the Monumenta, Band ii.; an edition of the Historia de vita Caroli Magni et Rolandi, edited by F. Castets, has been published (Paris, 1880), and an edition of the Kaiserchronik, edited by E. Schröder (Hanover, 1892). See also P. Clemen, Die Porträtdarstellung Karls des Grossen (Aix-la-Chapelle, 1896).
The Charlemagne Legends
Innumerable legends soon gathered round the memory of the great emperor. He was represented as a warrior performing superhuman feats, as a ruler dispensing perfect justice, and even as a martyr suffering for the faith. It was confidently believed towards the close of the 10th century that he had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; and, like many other great rulers, it was reported that he was only sleeping to awake in the hour of his country's need. We know from Einhard (Vita Karoli, cap. xxix.) that the Frankish heroic ballads were drawn up in writing by Charlemagne's order, and it may be accepted as certain that he was himself the subject of many such during his lifetime. The legendary element crept even into the Latin panegyrics produced by the court poets. Before the end of the 9th century a monk of St Gall drew up a chronicle De gestis Karoli Magni, which was based partly on oral tradition, received from an old soldier named Adalbert, who had served in Charlemagne's army. This recital contains various fabulous incidents. The author relates a conversation between Otkar the Frank (Ogier the Dane) and the Lombard king Desiderius (Didier) on the walls of Pavia in view of Charlemagne's advancing army. To Didier's repeated question "Is this the emperor?" Otkar continues to answer "Not yet," adding at last "When thou shalt see the fields bristling with an iron harvest, and the Po and the Ticino swollen with sea-floods, inundating the walls of the city