Charlemagne et l'empire carolingien.
To say nothing touching the agency of individual and independent forces, which is always considerable, although so many men of intellect ignore it in the present day, what would have happened, had any one of the three new kings, Lothaire, or Louis the Germanic, or Charles the Bald, been a second Charlemagne, as Charlemagne had been a second Charles Martel?
Who can say that, in such a case, the three kingdoms would have taken the form they took in 843? Happily or unhappily, it was not so; none of Charlemagne's successors was capable of exercising on the events of his time, by virtue of his brain and his own will, any notable influence.
The reader has just seen that, twenty-nine years after the death of Charlemagne, that is, in 843, when, by the treaty of Verdun, the sons of Louis the Debonnair had divided amongst them his dominions, the great empire split up into three distinct and independent kingdomsthe kingdoms of Italy, Germany, and France.
Forty-five years later, at the end of the ninth century, shortly after the death of Charles the Fat, the last of the Carlovingians who appears to have re-united for a while all the empire of Charlemagne, this empire had begotten seven instead of three kingdoms, those of France, of Navarre, of Provence or Cisjuran Burgundy, of Trans-juran Burgundy, or Lorraine, of Allemannia, and of Italy.
This is what had become of the factitious and ephemeral unity of that Empire of the West which Charlemagne had wished to put in the place of the Roman empire.
Instead of seven kingdoms to replace the empire of Charlemagne, there were then no more than four.
They were the absence from the minds of men of any general and dominant idea; and the reflux, in social relations and manners, of the individual liberties but lately repressed or regulated by the strong hand of Charlemagne.
That monarchical system which the genius of Charlemagne could not found, kings far inferior to Charlemagne will little by little make triumphant.
Louis the Ultra-marine and Lothaire were not, we may suppose, less personally brave than Robert the Strong and his son Eudes; but when the Northmen put the Frankish dominions in peril, it was not to the descendants of Charlemagne, not to the emperor Charles the Fat, but to the local and feudal chieftain, to Eudes, count of Paris, that the population turned for salvation: and Eudes it was who saved them.
It was not alone the lustre of that name, and of the memory of Charlemagne which inspired and prolonged this respect; a certain instinctive feeling about the worth of hereditary monarchy, as an element of stability and order, already existed amongst the populations, and glimpses thereof were visible amongst the rivals of the royal family in the hour of its dissolution.
They occupied the first rank in feudal society and a rank unique in the body politic such as it was slowly becoming in the midst of reminiscences and traditions of the Jewish monarchy, of barbaric kingship, and of the Roman empire for a while resuscitated by Charlemagne.
French kingship in the eleventh century was sole power invested with a triple characterGermanic, Roman, and religious; its possessors were at the same time the chieftains of the conquerors of the soil, the successors of the Roman emperors and of Charlemagne, and the laic delegates and representatives of the God of the Christians.
Amongst the barbarians society was scarcely commencing; with the subjects of the Roman empire it no longer existed; Charlemagne's attempt to reconstruct it by rallying beneath a new empire both victors and vanquished was a failure; feudal anarchy was the first and the necessary step out of barbaric anarchy and towards a renewal of social order.
At the commencement of the ninth century, Charlemagne reached even there with the greatness of his mind and of his power.
men of France, men from beyond the mountains, nations chosen and beloved of God, right valiant knights, recall the virtues of your ancestors, the virtue and greatness of King Charlemagne and your other kings; it is from you above all that Jerusalem awaits the help she invokes, for to you, above all nations, God has vouchsafed signal glory in arms.
If you will trust me, I will help to make you greater than ever was Charlemagne; and when you have in your hands this kingdom of Naples, we shall easily drive yon Turk out of that empire of Constantinople."
Go find me ever a King of France who did such things, save Charlemagne; yet trow
But we are told generally, in Phillips's Mineralogy, that "the large emeralds spoken of by various writers, such as that in the Abbey of Richenau, of the weight of 28 lbs., and which formerly belonged to Charlemagne, are believed to be either green fluor, or prase.
Another good example of her historical work is the "Reconciliation of Charlemagne with Thassilo of Bavaria."
It may rather be considered a systematic series of essays, beginning with the "Chansons de Geste," analyzing several poems of the cycle of Charlemagne, and followed by successive independent chapters on the Middle Ages, the revival of letters, and modern times down to the Revolution.
of the Haute-Pyrénées, which, according to tradition, Charlemagne's Paladin of the name of Roland cleft with one stroke of his sword when he was beset by the Gascons.
EGBERT, king of Wessex, a descendant of Cedric the founder; after an exile of 13 years at the court of Charlemagne ascended the throne in 800; reigned till 809, governing his people in tranquillity, when, by successful wars with the other Saxon tribes, he in two years became virtual king of all England, and received the revived title of Bretwalda; d. 837.
MAMBRINO, a Moorish king, celebrated in the romances of chivalry, who possessed a helmet of pure gold which rendered the wearer of it invulnerable, the possession of which was the ambition of all the paladins of Charlemagne, and which was carried off by Rinaldo, who slew the original owner; Cervantes makes his hero persuade himself that he has found it in a barber's brass basin.
RONCESVALLES, a valley of the Pyrenees, 23 m. NE. of Pampeluna, where in 775 the rear of the army of Charlemagne was cut in pieces by the Basques, and ROLAND (q. v.) with the other Paladins was slain.