Frankish Emperor. Born Karolus, the eldest son of Pepin III and his wife Bertrada (Berthe) Broadfoot of Laon. When Pepin died in 768, both Karolus and his brother, Carloman, were jointly proclaimed king, and were intended to rule the kingdom together, though their relationship was never easy. In the year 769, after his brother refused to participate, he led armies to put down a rising of the Aquitaines and Gascons. In 770, he made a political marriage with a Lombard princess. Carloman died unexpectedly in 771, leaving him sole ruler of the kingdom. He then repudiated his wife, and married Hildegard of Vinzgau with whom he had at least four children; one of whom became known to history as Louis I, King of the Franks. In 772, he began a brutal and drawn out war with the Saxons, and he attacked and defeated the Lombards. In 781, after a pilgrimage to Rome, he had his son proclaimed King of Italy. In 787, he issued orders that bishops were to open schools supported by their orders. The following year he took control of Bavaria. Between 791 and 795, he crushed the Slavic Avars (Huns) and added their territory to his own. Since he had long sworn himself protector of the Roman Church, the pope rewarded him by crowning him Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in the year 800. By 804, the Saxon war ended and his kingdom, Francia, absorbed the Saxon territory. He married at least twice more and had at least one more legitimate son, though there were at least fifteen illegitimate children, all of whom he reportedly acknowledged and educated. At its greatest, his empire included the Spanish March in northern Spain, and what is today France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Italy, and Luxembourg. He ruthlessly crushed all Teutonic resistance and extended Christianity to his entire realm. He attempted to create unity within the empire, and built a central capital. He divided his empire under the rule of his three legitimate sons, two, however, predeceased him, leaving Louis his sole heir upon his death at about age 71. In the early 12th century, he was canonized. The modern church, however, does not recognized him as a saint. A Frankish scholar and contemporary of his, Einhard, wrote a biography of the emperor after his death entitled “Vita Karoli Magni (The Life of Charles the Great). He has been known as Karolus Magnus, Karl den store, Charlemagne, Carlos Magno, Karl der Grosse, and Charles the Great.
Bio by: Iola