It was here that he spent the last years of his life and his reign. Charlemagne lived and ruled at a crossroads of different cultures. He himself stood in the tradition of Germanic kings who, since the Migration Period, had risen to power as military leaders, and whose states had usually disintegrated again fairly soon after they died. Charlemagne was aware of this problem and consciously pursued different ideals.
Charlemagne or Charles the Great numbered Charles I, was king of the Franks from , king of the Lombards from , and emperor of the Romans from Charlemagne (c), also known as Karl and Charles the Great, was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from to In , Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western.
One of them was Roman antiquity, whose heritage was still most alive in Italy. He maintained relations to the Byzantine Empire as well as to emerging Islamic culture. At his palace in Aachen, he gathered together the wisdom and knowledge of antiquity and had records made of the lore of the peoples he had subjugated.
It was against this background that Charlemagne initiated a range of wisely-considered reforms. Many of his legal, economic, religious and cultural reforms fundamentally shaped the medieval world, and their influence still prevails today.
The best examples are his introduction of a common currency, a standardised, legible script and a common Christian faith with a standardised liturgy. One of the grandest testimonies to the culture of Charlemagne's times is the St. Mary's Church that he built in Aachen, today's Cathedral.
When it was built, it was the most prominent church north of the Alps. On his death, Charlemagne was entombed here, and the subsequent Roman German kings chose Aachen as their preferred place of coronation.
After his death, Charlemagne was glorified into the epitome of an ideal and holy ruler. And so the mythical figure was born of whom so many legends tell.
His empire, which his successors divided and redivided among themselves in a long historical process, gave rise to the nations France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg as we know them today. The chansons de geste, epic poems narrating heroic deeds of these ancient times, revive the Carolingian history: the most famous ones are the chanson de Roland and the chanson de Renaud de Montauban, which lead to the legend of the four sons of Aymon.
The Route is indeed historical, cultural and religious, but also legendary: along the different routes, you shall see the heroes, magical swords, horses and enchanters described in the Carolingian myths and legends. The Internet site of the association provides a map illustrating different itineraries that are part of Via Charlemagne.
Considered as the father of Europe, of the first unified Europe, the cultural values developed and maintained by Charlemagne and by his dynasty are still well alive nowadays. Promoting the chivalrous and humanistic values specific to the Carolingian legends, Via Charlemagne aims to raise awareness among young Europeans of all ages about the fact that shared cultural history is the essence of a common European citizenship, in its unity and diversity.
Certified "Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" in The Carolingian dynasty finds its crucible in the heart of Austrasia, where a wealth of testimonies of the Carolingian saga has been permeating in the local culture ever since the Early Middle Ages.