Charlemagne (/ˈʃɑːrləmn, ˌʃɑːrləˈmn/ SHAR-lə-mayn, -MAYN, French: [ʃaʁləmaɲ]) or Charles the Great (Latin: Carolus Magnus; Frankish: Karl;[3] 2 April 747[lower-alpha 1] – 28 January 814), a member of the Carolingian dynasty, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and the Emperor of the Romans from 800. Charlemagne succeeded in uniting the majority of western and central Europe and was the first recognized emperor to rule from western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire around three centuries earlier.[4] The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded was the Carolingian Empire, which is considered the first phase in the history of the Holy Roman Empire. He was canonized by Antipope Paschal III—an act later treated as invalid—and he is now regarded by some as beatified (which is a step on the path to sainthood) in the Catholic Church.

Emperor of the Romans
A denarius of Charlemagne dated c.812–814 with the inscription KAROLVS IMP AVG
(Karolus Imperator Augustus) (in Latin).
King of the Franks
Reign9 October 768 – 28 January 814
Coronation9 October 768
PredecessorPepin the Short
SuccessorLouis the Pious
King of the Lombards
Reign10 July 774 – 28 January 814
Coronation10 July 774
Emperor of the Carolingian Empire
Reign25 December 800 – 28 January 814
Coronation25 December 800
Old St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
SuccessorLouis the Pious
Born2 April 747[1][2]
Liège (Herstal) or Aachen
Died28 January 814 (aged 66)[2]
Aachen, Francia
Among others
FatherPepin the Short
MotherBertrada of Laon
ReligionChalcedonian Christianity
Signum manusCharlemagne's signature

Charlemagne was the eldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon. He was born before their canonical marriage.[5] He became king of the Franks in 768 following his father's death, and was initially co-ruler with his brother Carloman I until the latter's death in 771.[6] As sole ruler, he continued his father's policy towards protection of the papacy and became its sole defender, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He also campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianizing them (upon penalty of death) which led to events such as the Massacre of Verden. He reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Charlemagne has been called the "Father of Europe" (Pater Europae),[7] as he united most of Western Europe for the first time since the classical era of the Roman Empire, as well as uniting parts of Europe that had never been under Frankish or Roman rule. His reign spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of energetic cultural and intellectual activity within the Western Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church viewed Charlemagne less favourably, due to his support of the filioque and the Pope's preference of him as emperor over the Byzantine Empire's first female monarch, Irene of Athens. These and other disputes led to the eventual split of Rome and Constantinople in the Great Schism of 1054.[8][lower-alpha 2]

Charlemagne died in 814 after contracting an infectious lung disease.[9] He was laid to rest in the Aachen Cathedral, in his imperial capital city of Aachen. He married at least four times,[10][2] and three of his legitimate sons lived to adulthood. Only the youngest of them, Louis the Pious, survived to succeed him. Charlemagne is a direct ancestor of many of Europe's royal houses, including the Capetian dynasty,[lower-alpha 3] the Ottonian dynasty,[lower-alpha 4] the House of Luxembourg,[lower-alpha 5] the House of Ivrea[lower-alpha 6] and the House of Habsburg.[lower-alpha 7]

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