Charles the Bald & the Image of Kingship

The creation of the powerful propaganda image of the early medieval king as divinely-inspired and sanctioned was the work not of Charlemagne but his lesser-known grandson.

At Clermont in 1095, Pope Urban II called the warriors of Europe to arms in order to recover the Holy Land, urging them to:

Rise up and remember the manly deeds of your ancestors, the prowess and greatness of Charlemagne.

Since Einhard had written his biography of Charlemagne (between 826-30) and Notker of St Gall had compiled his account of the mighty Emperor in the 880s, Charlemagne had grown in legend and memory as the magnificent warrior, leader of European chivalry and lawgiver. At Aachen, in Charlemagne's royal palace chapel where his throne still stands, on December 29th, 1165, he was canonised, and a liturgical cult of Saint Charlemagne was added to the celebration of his fame. The Chanson de Roland and later vernacular chronicles are full of the deeds of the great King Charles. He became the model and inspiration for later emperors from Otto I onwards.

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