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Charlemagne (742/747 – 28 January 814) was King of the Franks from 768 to his death. He expanded the Frankish kingdoms into a Frankish Empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800, in an attempted revival of the Roman Empire in the West. Through his foreign conquests and internal reforms, Charlemagne helped define Western Europe and the Middle Ages. His rule is also associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture.








BBC Radio 4 "In Our Time"

THE CAROLINGIAN RENAISSANCE (Real player) - In 800 AD on Christmas Day in Rome, Pope Leo III proclaimed Charlemagne Emperor. According to the Frankish historian Einhard, Charlemagne would never have set foot in St Peter's that day if he had known that the Pope intended to crown him. But Charlemagne accepted his coronation with magnanimity. Regarded as the first of the Holy Roman Emperors, Charlemagne became a touchstone for legitimacy until the institution was brought to an end by Napoleon in 1806.  


Ancient and Medival History

 Episode 2: Charlemagne




Kara's Free Audiobooks (for children)

  • Episode 8 Charlemagne The Story of the Middle Ages, by Samuel B. Harding. Read by Kara Shallenberg. A chapter of an audiobook, meant for children. The podcast is long and informative, and very suitable for younger listeners.  
  • Episode 16 Papacy and Empire