Key Points

Charlemagne is well-known for his many reforms, consisting of the economy, education, and also government administration.Charlemagne’s ascendancy spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of energetic cultural and intellectual task within the western church.Charlemagne took a significant interest in scholarship, promoting the free arts in ~ the court, ordering the his children and grandchildren be fine educated, and even examining himself.Charlemagne established a new monetary standard, the livre carolinienne, which to be based ~ above a lb of silver, and a universal audit system.Charlemagne broadened the reform program of the church, consisting of strengthening the church’s strength structure, advancing the skill and also moral top quality of the clergy, standardizing liturgical practices, improving on the an easy tenets that the faith and also moral, and also rooting the end paganism.Charlemagne’s improvements on governance have to be lauded by chroniclers for instigating increased central control, efficient bureaucracy, accountability, and social renaissance.

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Carolingian Renaissance

The an initial of three middle ages renaissances; was a duration of social activity in the Carolingian Empire occurring from the late-8th century come the 9th century.

livre carolinienne

Charlemagne’s monetary standard, based ~ above a pound of silver, identical to the modern pound.


Well-educated, scholarly people; intellectuals who are interested in created works.

The Carolingian Renaissance

As emperor, Charlemagne stood out for his countless reforms—monetary, governmental, military, cultural, and ecclesiastical. He was the key initiator and also proponent that the “Carolingian Renaissance,” the an initial of three medieval renaissances. It to be a duration of social activity in the Carolingian Empire emerging from the late-8th century to the nine century, taking incentive from the Christian Roman empire of the 4th century. Throughout this duration there to be an growth of literature, writing, the arts, architecture, jurisprudence, liturgical reforms, and also scriptural studies.

The effects of this cultural revival to be largely restricted to a tiny group the court literati; according to man Contreni, “it had a spectacular impact on education and learning and society in Francia, a debatable effect on creative endeavors, and also an unmeasurable result on what mattered many to the Carolingians, the ethical regeneration of society.” beyond their initiatives to write much better Latin, come copy and preserve patristic and classical texts, and to build a more legible, classicizing script, the secular and also ecclesiastical leader of the Carolingian Renaissance used rational principles to social concerns for the very first time in centuries, giving a common language and writing layout that allowed for communication across most that Europe.

Education Reform

Part of Charlemagne’s success as a warrior, one administrator, and a ruler deserve to be traced to his admiration because that learning and also education. The era introduced by his reign, the Carolingian Renaissance, to be so called since of the flower of scholarship, literature, art, and also architecture that defined it. Charlemagne’s huge conquests carried him into contact with the cultures and also learnings of other countries, specifically Moorish Spain, Anglo-Saxon England, and Lombard Italy, and also greatly boosted the delivery of monastic schools and scriptoria (centers for publication copying) in Francia.

Most of the presently surviving works of classic Latin were copied and preserved by Carolingian scholars. Indeed, the more quickly manuscripts accessible for many ancient texts room Carolingian. That is almost specific that a text that endured to the Carolingian period endures still.


Carolingian Minuscule Carolingian minuscule, one of the products of the Carolingian Renaissance.

The pan-European nature that Charlemagne’s affect is suggested by the origins of numerous of the males who worked for him: Alcuin, an Anglo-Saxon indigenous York; Theodulf, a Visigoth, most likely from Septimania; Paul the Deacon, a Lombard; Peter that Pisa and also Paulinus of Aquileia, both Italians; and Angilbert, Angilram, Einhard, and Waldo the Reichenau, Franks. Charlemagne take it a significant interest in scholarship, promoting the free arts in ~ the court, ordering that his children and also grandchildren it is in well-educated, and also even studying himself (in a time when numerous leaders who promoted education did no take time to learn themselves). He learned grammar through Peter of Pisa; rhetoric, dialectic (logic), and also astronomy (he was an especially interested in the motion of the stars) with Alcuin; and also arithmetic with Einhard.

Charlemagne’s great scholarly failure, together Einhard related, was his i can not qualify to write. As soon as in his old age he attempted come learn—practicing the formation of letters in his bed throughout his totally free time on books and also wax tablets he hid under his pillow—”his initiative came too late in life and achieved tiny success.” His capability to read—which Einhard is silent about, and also which no modern source supports—has additionally been called into question.

Economic Reform

Charlemagne had crucial role in identify the immediate financial future that Europe. Pursuing his father’s reforms, Charlemagne abolished the monetary system based upon the yellow sou, and he and also the Anglo-Saxon King Offa the Mercia take it up the system collection in location by Pepin. Over there were strong pragmatic factors for this abandonment the a gold standard, significantly a shortage of gold itself.

The yellow shortage was a direct consequence of the conclusion of tranquility with Byzantium, which led to ceding Venice and also Sicily to the East and also losing their trade paths to Africa. The result standardization economically harmonized and also unified the complicated array that currencies the had remained in use in ~ the beginning of Charlemagne’s reign, therefore simplifying trade and also commerce.

Charlemagne developed a new standard, the livre carolinienne (from the Latin libra, the modern-day pound), which to be based top top a lb of silver—a unit of both money and weight—and to be worth 20 sous (from the Latin solidus, the modern shilling) or 240 deniers (from the Latin denarius, the contemporary penny). During this period, the livre and also the sou were counting units; just the denier was a coin the the realm.


Coinage native Charlemagne’s empire Denier from the era that Charlemagne, Tours, 793–812

Charlemagne instituted ethics for bookkeeping practice by method of the Capitulare de villis of 802, i beg your pardon laid down strict rules because that the method in which incomes and also expenses were to be recorded.

Early in Charlemagne’s ascendancy he tacitly permitted the Jews come monopolize money lending. When lending money for interest was proscribed in 814, being against Church legislation at the time, Charlemagne presented the Capitulary for the Jews, a ban on Jews engaging in money lending due to the religious convictions of the bulk of his constituents, in significance banning it throughout the board, a reversal of his previously recorded general policy. In enhancement to this macro-oriented reform of the economy, Charlemagne additionally performed a far-reaching number the microeconomic reforms, such together direct control of prices and levies on specific goods and also commodities.

His Capitulary for the Jews, however, was not representative the his all at once economic connection or perspective toward the Frankish Jews, and certainly no his earlier relationship v them, i m sorry had evolved over his lifespan. His paid personal physician, because that example, was Jewish, and he work at least one Jew for his diplomatic missions, a an individual representative come the Muslim caliphate of Baghdad. Letters have actually been attributed to him inviting Jews to settle in his kingdom for economic purposes, usually welcoming them with his all at once progressive policies.

Church Reform

Unlike his father, Pepin, and uncle Carloman, Charlemagne increased the reform routine of the church. The deepening that the spiritual life was later on to be checked out as main to windy policy and also royal governance. His reform concentrated on the strengthening of the church’s power structure, advancing the skill and also moral high quality of the clergy, standardizing liturgical practices, enhancing on the basic tenets the the faith and also moral, and also rooting out paganism. His authority was now extended over church and also state; he might discipline clerics, manage ecclesiastical property, and define orthodox doctrine. In spite of the harsh legislation and also sudden change, he had actually grown a well-developed assistance from the clergy that approved his desire to deepen the piety and also morals the his Christian subjects.

Political and also Administrative Reform

In 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor and adapted his currently royal administration to live approximately the expectation of his new title. The political reforms wrought in his capital, Aachen, to be to have an immense affect on the political definition of western Europe for the remainder of the middle Ages. Charlemagne’s improvements on the old Merovingian mechanisms of governance have to be lauded by chroniclers for the increased main control, reliable bureaucracy, accountability, and cultural renaissance.

The Carolingian empire was the biggest western territory since the fall of Rome, and historians have pertained to suspect the depth of the emperor’s influence and control. Legally, Charlemagne worked out the bannum, the ideal to rule and also command, over all of his territories. Also, he had supreme jurisdiction in justice matters, make legislation, led the army, and protected both the church and also the poor. His management attempted come organize the kingdom, church, and also nobility about him; however, that is efficacy was directly dependent top top the efficiency, loyalty, and also support that his subjects.

Around 780 Charlemagne reformed the regional system that administering justice and also created the scabini, professional experts on law. Every count had actually the help of seven of this scabini, who were supposed to know every national legislation so that all men could be judged according to it. Judges were likewise banned from taking bribes and were an alleged to usage sworn inquests to establish facts. In 802, all law was composed down and also amended.

The Frankish kingdom was subdivided by Charlemagne right into three separate areas to make management easier. This areas, Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgandy, were the inner “core” the the kingdom and also were supervised straight by the missatica system and also the itinerant household. Exterior this was the regna, wherein Frankish administration rested top top the counts, and also beyond regna were the marcher areas, rule by powerful governors. This marcher lordships were existing in Brittany, Spain, and Avaria. Charlemagne also created 2 sub-kingdoms in Aquitaine and Italy, ruled by his young Louis and Pepin respectively. Bavaria was additionally under the command of an autonomous governor, Gerold, till his death in 796. While Charlemagne tho had in its entirety authority in this areas, they were fairly autonomous, v their very own chancery and also minting facilities.

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The yearly meeting, the Placitum Generalis or Marchfield, to be held each year (between March and May) in ~ a place appointed by the king. That was dubbed for 3 reasons: to conference the Frankish organize to walk on campaign, to talk about political and also ecclesiastical matters affecting the kingdom and also legislate because that them, and to do judgements. All important men had to go the meeting, and also so the was an important way for Charlemagne to make his will certainly known. Originally the meeting operated effectively, yet later it came to be merely a forum because that discussion and for nobles to express your dissatisfaction.