"Charlemagne: Father of a Continent" by Alessandro Barbero

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Europe's (and especially France's) progress from heterogenous collection of Roman colonies and antagonists to Charlemagne's empire at the beginning of the Middle Ages fascinates me. And so I was rather pleased that "Charlemagne - Father of a Continent" deals so exhaustively with the subject.

An original protector and spreader of the Faith, Charles the Great represented a return to security for a Church bereft for several hundred years of its all-powerful state partner. His scheme for forwarding the Church's interests depended on a relatively powerful and autonomous nobility which could afford to bring fighting men to Charlemagne's numerous campaigns.

Although he was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, he despised the Pope who anointed him, and controlled his every move. It's unclear to this day whether he knew he would be crowned in that fashion, but I find it really hard to believe that such a thing could be planned without his knowledge and consent. However, he used church assets and lands for his own purposes, giving abbeys and revenues for loyal service, whether or not the servant was clergy.

A worthwhile read about an important individual - particularly given my interest in the epoch.
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