Two Lives of Charlemagne

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Two Lives of Charlemagne

T. Notker Einhard

1stPublisher: Penguin BooksFormat: Paperback

Charlemagne's name shines out over the historical landscape, illuminating the dark ages and anticipating the Renaissance. These two “lives” provide a fascinating contrast. Einhard, who spent 23 years in Charlemagne's service, chose to approach his “Vita Caroli” as a public history and, in beautifully expressed language, recounts Charlemagne's personal life and his achievements in warfare, learning, art, building, and in the skillful administration of the state. Notker the monk's “De Carolo Magno” is a collection of anecdotes rather than a presentation of historical facts, and his main delight seems to stem from the ingenious ways in which Charlemagne subdued proud or corrupt bishops and other men of power. In these stories, which merge into fiction, Charlemagne is already halfway to becoming the legendary figure of the epics in the later middle ages.

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