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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Charlemagne is the name that is now used to refer to Charles I or Charles the Great.  He was the first Holy Roman Emperor and the first man to unite all of Western Europe under one ruler since the days of the Roman Empire.  Charlemagne was born around 742 and died in 814.  He is sometimes called the “Father of Europe.” 

When the Roman Empire in the west fell, the various areas that had been part of that empire became independent kingdoms of different sizes.  No one was able to unite them in the way that the Romans had.  However, Charlemagne eventually was able to do so.  He started out as the king of the Franks.  Then, through diplomacy and military skill, he gradually came to rule over more and more of Western Europe.  This is his greatest accomplishment.

Charlemagne is also known as a good ruler in addition to being a conqueror.  He was very interested in spreading learning in his kingdom or empire.  He also instituted various reforms to bring about a better system of government.  What he built did not really last for very long after his death, but he is seen as a very important figure because he did unite Europe, thereby recreating the idea that Europe was one region whose parts had a great deal in common.