lundi 27 janvier 2020

Saint CHARLEMAGNE, empereur

Bienheureux Charlemagne

Empereur d'Occident ( 814)


Frédéric Ier, surnommé Barberousse, empereur germanique, fit canoniser Charlemagne en 1165, par un anti-pape qu'il soutenait. Beaucoup de diocèses du nord de la France le mirent à leur calendrier et en 1661, l'Université de Paris le choisit pour patron. Actuellement, Aix-la-Chapelle en Allemagne, fait vénérer ses reliques, mais l'Eglise a retiré de son calendrier l'empereur qui convertit les Saxons par l'épée plutôt que par la prédication pacifique de l'Evangile.

Le titre de bienheureux a été toléré par le pape Benoît XIV.
SOURCE : https://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/520/Bienheureux-Charlemagne.html


Couronnement de Charlemagne. Enluminure de Jean Fouquet, Grandes Chroniques de France
vers 1460. Paris, BnF, ms. Français 6 465


Saint Charlemagne

 


Époque :
 né en 742, mort en 814


Titre : Charles 1er dit Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus), empereur d¹Occident.


Fête : 28 janvier


Etymologie : germain karl (vigoureux).


Canonisé par l¹anti-pape Pascal III le 29 décembre 1165.


Culte local à Aix-la-Chapelle


Saint patron de la Sorbonne en 1661.


Défenseur du Saint siège, protecteur des Lieux saints.

Pourquoi peut-on considérer Charlemagne comme bienheureux ? Ne lui reproche-t-on pas le massacre de saxons, ses concubinages, sa barbarie ?

   C¹est Frédéric 1er Barberousse qui obtient de l¹anti-pape Pascal III la canonisation de Charlemagne, le 29 décembre 1165. Le pape Alexandre III, ni aucun successeur ne vont aller à l¹encontre de cette décision. Charlemagne a un culte local à Aix-la-Chapelle, où ses reliques sont enchâssées. Le peuple l¹a reconnu comme saint. Une tolérance s¹installe autour de la Saint Charlemagne. Charles V, roi de France, veut faire de l¹empereur, à côté de saint Louis, le saint patron de la maison royale. Jeanne d¹Arc a dit à Charles VII : "Saint Louis et saint Charlemagne sont à genoux devant Lui, faisant sa prière pour vous ". Louis XI fait de la Saint-Charlemagne un jour férié (célébré comme un dimanche sous peine de mort). C¹est au XVIe siècle que Charlemagne disparaît de l¹ordo et du Bréviaire. Son culte n¹est plus intégré dans la liturgie. En 1661, la Sorbonnele choisit comme patron. En 1734, le futur Benoît XIV écrit : " Rien ne s¹oppose, semble-t-il , à ce que le culte de Charlemagne soit célébré dans les Eglises particulières. " Dans un traité, il précise que cette tolérance assure à Charlemagne le titre de bienheureux. Le pape Pie IX en 1850, dans une lettre au Cardinal de Geissel, archevêque de Cologne, prohibe l¹extension du culte. Les pèlerins viennent donc l¹honorer et le prier à Aix-la Chapelle et à Metten. En France, la solennité est maintenant purement civile. Dom Guéranger mentionne très longuement Charlemagne dans son année liturgique.


   Jusqu¹à la fin du VIIIe siècle, la terre saxonne résiste de toutes ses forces aux influences romaines, franques, ou chrétiennes. C¹est même le point de départ de nombreuses incursions barbares à l¹origine d¹une instabilité régionale. Avec l¹assentiment de Charlemagne, l¹évangélisation commence avant 770. Mais en vain, car les missionnaires se font tuer. Avec l¹accord du clergé, des officiers et des principaux monastères, Charlemagne lance une expédition de démonstration de force contre les Saxons. C¹est un échec. Sous la direction de leur chef Witukind (selon la tradition aïeul de Robert le Fort et aïeul de sainte Mathilde), les barbares retournent à leurs idoles et à leurs pillages. En 782, Charlemagne décide alors une répression exceptionnelle. C¹est à ce moment que se situe ce que certains historiens appellent le massacre de Verden-sur-l¹Aller, où quatre mille cinq cents Saxons sont livrés à Charlemagne par les chefs saxons et décapités. Le fait est exact. Il faut ajouter le motif de leur condamnation : après enquête, jugés traîtres pour avoir renié leur baptême et trahi les chefs à qui ils s¹étaient soumis. Précisons de plus qu¹il s¹agit aussi d¹un véritable procès selon des procédures propres à la justice militaire de l¹époque. L¹exemplarité est recherchée pour mettre fin  à de nombreuse années de désordre dans cette région. Il est clair que la mentalité de l¹époque, encore peu civilisée, préfère la violence. Charlemagne a certainement conscience de son rôle providentiel de combattant pour la foi. Il cherche à conquérir des nations, non pour la puissance seulement, mais surtout pour les convertir toutes entières à Dieu.


   Dans le Capitulaire de Saxe, publié peu de temps après, Charlemagne édicte que seront punis de mort (en 7997), cette peine de mort fut abolie) les incendiaires, les traîtres, les meurtriers, et tout saxon qui refusera le baptême, ou refusera la loi du jeûne, après examen d¹un prêtre. Heureusement, Alcuin et le pape Hadrien s¹adressent alors à Charlemagne pour lui préciser : " la foi est un acte de volonté et non de contrainte. Il est permis de solliciter la conscience, non de la violenter. Qu¹on envoie aux saxons des prédicateurs et non des brigands " (Alcuin).

   Malgré Verden et le Capitulaire, les Saxons redoublent de fureur, une guerre sans pitié s¹ensuit. En 785, les deux nations sont épuisées. Charlemagne offre la paix à Witukind qui demande et reçoit le baptême à Attigny, choisissant Charlemagne comme parrain. La tradition veut que Witukind soit converti par Dieu lui-même lors d¹un miracle opéré dans la sainte Eucharistie. Witukind reconstruit les églises qu¹il avait abattues et en fait édifier de nouvelles. Il meurt en 804 lors d¹une guerre contre les Suèves. Des églises particulières l¹honorent comme un saint le 7 janvier.

   Charlemagne a compris les raison de son échec, il propose la paix en garantissant le respect de certaines coutumes saxonnes. Ainsi il leur permet de vivre librement la naissance de la civilisation chrétienne. L¹Eglise et les nombreux moines ou saints courageux de ces temps ont fait beaucoup. Citons saints Liadwin, Sturm, Willehad et Liudger.

   Charlemagne doit être considéré comme un grand bienfaiteur de l¹Eglise et de la civilisation. Il arrête pour toujours l¹invasion des Barbares et assure une paix durable. En 799, il sauve le pape Léon III. Il s¹inspire de la Cité de Dieu de saint Augustin pour concevoir la loyauté et le service de chacun. Il fait passer la réforme des m¦urs avant celle des lois. Les marchés publics et les foires coïncident avec des fêtes religieuses, ce qui développe le commerce. Il décide la création d¹un hôpital, à côté de chaque monastère, ainsi que la création d¹une école gratuite dans chaque paroisse, pour serfs et hommes libres.

   Devenu empereur d¹Occident, Charlemagne sait respecter le principe naissant de l¹indépendance du pouvoir temporel et du pouvoir spirituel. Il s¹intitule " le défenseur et l¹auxiliaire de la sainte Eglise dans tous ses besoins ". Il rend aux papes les plus grands honneurs, respecte leur autorité venant de la foi et cherche à transmettre la foi dans la société. " Nous savons, dit un capitulaire de Charlemagne, que, suivant la tradition des saints Pères, les biens d¹Eglise, don de la piété des fidèles et prix de la rédemption de leurs péchés, sont les patrimoines des pauvres. Nous statuons donc que jamais, ni sous notre règne, ni sous celui de nos successeurs, il ne sera permis de rien soustraire, de rien aliéner de ces biens sacrés. "

   Charlemagne est aussi le protecteur des Lieux saints. Le calife de Bagdad, Haroun-Al-Raschid, lui envoie les clefs du Saint-Sépulcre et l¹étendard de Jérusalem.

   On reproche cependant à Charlemagne ses m¦urs privées. On peut compter neuf femmes ; le veuvage n¹explique pas tout et la répudiation est certainement à l¹origine de quelques changements d¹épouse. les principes sur les empêchements de mariage sont encore trop flottants. Nous n¹avons aucune trace de contemporains de Charlemagne le blâmant. Le premier sera Walafrid Strabon au milieu du Ixe siècle. L¹hagiographie retient sa troisième femme, la bienheureuse Hildegarde, née en 757, morte en 783, mère de huit enfants, et fêtée le 30 avril. Elle est un exemple de vertu chrétienne pour la cour et sa famille. Elle fait un don important à l¹abbaye de Saint-Arnoul de Metz, où elle est entérée selon ses v¦ux ; L¹abbé de Kempten (lieu où a été transférée une partie de ses reliques) écrit sa vie en 1472, narrant de nombreuses guérisons vérifiées et survenues sur sa tombe.

   Quant à Charlemagne, il n¹a ni barbe fleurie, ni la voix de tonnerre, ni le regard terrible, mais le ventre proéminent, une voix perçante et grêle pour son corps robuste.

   Charlemagne est un souverain chrétien dont l¹apport à la civilisation européenne est indéniable et encore visible aujourd¹hui.

Tiré du livre " Les Saints de souches royales " DES CHRETIENS Bienheureux du Seigneur d¹Etienne Lelièvre Edition Le Sarment FAYARD

Retour Sommaire de Vies de Saints

 


SOURCE : http://surlespasdessaints.over-blog.com/article-27386733.html



présentant sur la droite le pape Léon III et Charlemagne, agenouillés aux pieds de saint Pierre
Ce dernier leur remet les clefs et la bannière, symboles de leurs pouvoirs respectifs.


Bienheureux Charlemagne

2014 JANVIER 28

« Salut, ô Charles, bien-aimé de Dieu, Apôtre du Christ, rempart de Son Église, … » (Dom Guéranger).

814  2014 : il y a 1 200 ans cette année que Charlemagne est mort, et c’est son Dies natalis, sa naissance au Ciel, qui est fêté chaque 28 janvier. 

Plus décrié que jamais, le Bienheureux Charlemagne fondateur des écoles doit se retourner dans sa chasse de la cathédrale d’Aix-la-Chapelle à cause de toutes les menaces et monstruosités actuelles concernant les enfants, leur instruction et leur éducation.

Raison de plus pour l’honorer et demander son intercession.

Cet empereur fut canonisé par l’anti-pape Pascal iii le 29 décembre 1165. Cette canonisation, faite par un antipape, ne fut jamais contestée par un Pontife romain. On lui reprochera peut-être d’avoir péché mais ne peut-on pas le reprocher au Saint Roi David ? Nombreuses églises (cathédrales, collégiales ou autres) l’honorent comme Saint. À Aix-la-Chapelle sa fête se célébrait avec le rit double de 1 ère classe.
Jamais il ne monta à cheval sans vénérer une médaille de la Très Sainte Vierge Marie, toujours, il mit son épée au service de la Sainte Église, c’est pourquoi, il n’essuya aucun revers et aucune défaite. En conséquence, il a droit au surnom de « Charles le Victorieux ». Charles le Grand fut également qualifié de « Très Chrétien » par un concile de Mayence. Initialement, l’Université de Paris (la Sorbonne) le choisit comme Saint Patron. En raison de la haine des protestants, au xvi ème siècle, elle abandonna ce saint patronage mais elle y revint en 1661.

Sainte Jeanne d’Arc déclara à ses juges que Saint Louis et Saint Charlemagne s’étaient agenouillés devant Dieu pour obtenir le salut de la France.

En nos jours bien sombres, supplions ce grand prince d’implorer de Dieu et de Marie le salut de notre Patrie et même de l’ Église.

Pourquoi peut-on considérer Charlemagne comme bienheureux ? Ne lui reproche-t-on pas le massacre de saxons, ses concubinages, sa barbarie ?


C’est Frédéric 1er Barberousse qui obtient de l’anti-pape Pascal iii la canonisation de Charlemagne, le 29 décembre 1165. Le pape Alexandre iii, ni aucun successeur ne vont aller à l’encontre de cette décision. Charlemagne a un culte local à Aix-la-Chapelle, où ses reliques sont enchâssées. Le peuple l’a reconnu comme saint. Une tolérance s’installe autour de la Saint Charlemagne. Charles V, roi de France, veut faire de l’empereur, à côté de saint Louis, le saint patron de la maison royale. Jeanne d’Arc a dit à Charlesvii : « Saint Louis et saint Charlemagne sont à genoux devant Lui, faisant sa prière pour vous ». Louis XI fait de la Saint-Charlemagne un jour férié (célébré comme un dimanche sous peine de mort). C’est au XVIe siècle que Charlemagne disparaît de l’ordo et du Bréviaire. Son culte n’est plus intégré dans la liturgie. En 1661, la Sorbonnele choisit comme patron. En 1734, le futur Benoît xiv écrit :« Rien ne s’oppose, semble-t-il , à ce que le culte de Charlemagne soit célébré dans les Églises particulières. » Dans un traité, il précise que cette tolérance assure à Charlemagne le titre de bienheureux. Le pape Pie IX en 1850, dans une lettre au Cardinal de Geissel, archevêque de Cologne, prohibe l’extension du culte. Les pèlerins viennent donc l’honorer et le prier à Aix-la Chapelle et à Metten. En France, la solennité est maintenant purement civile. Dom Guéranger mentionne très longuement Charlemagne dans son année liturgique (voir plus bas).

Jusqu’à la fin du VIIIe siècle, la terre saxonne résiste de toutes ses forces aux influences romaines, franques, ou chrétiennes. C’est même le point de départ de nombreuses incursions barbares à l’origine d’une instabilité régionale. Avec l’assentiment de Charlemagne, l’évangélisation commence avant 770. Mais en vain, car les missionnaires se font tuer. Avec l’accord du clergé, des officiers et des principaux monastères, Charlemagne lance une expédition de démonstration de force contre les Saxons. C’est un échec. Sous la direction de leur chef Witukind (selon la tradition aïeul de Robert le Fort et aïeul de sainte Mathilde), les barbares retournent à leurs idoles et à leurs pillages. En 782, Charlemagne décide alors une répression exceptionnelle. C’est à ce moment que se situe ce que certains historiens appellent le massacre de Verden sur l’Aller, où quatre mille cinq cents Saxons sont livrés à Charlemagne par les chefs saxons et décapités. Le fait est exact. Il faut ajouter le motif de leur condamnation : après enquête, jugés traîtres pour avoir renié leur baptême et trahi les chefs à qui ils s’étaient soumis. Précisons de plus qu’il s’agit aussi d’un véritable procès selon des procédures propres à la justice militaire de l’époque. L’exemplarité est recherchée pour mettre fin à de nombreuse années de désordre dans cette région. Il est clair que la mentalité de l’époque, encore peu civilisée, préfère la violence. Charlemagne a certainement conscience de son rôle providentiel de combattant pour la foi. Il cherche à conquérir des nations, non pour la puissance seulement, mais surtout pour les convertir toutes entières à Dieu.
Dans le Capitulaire de Saxe (Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae), publié peu de temps après, Charlemagne édicte que seront punis de mort les incendiaires, les traîtres, les meurtriers, et tout saxon qui refusera le baptême, ou refusera la loi du jeûne, après examen d’un prêtre. Heureusement, Alcuin et le pape Hadrien s’adressent alors à Charlemagne pour lui préciser : « la foi est un acte de volonté et non de contrainte. Il est permis de solliciter la conscience, non de la violenter. Qu’on envoie aux saxons des prédicateurs et non des brigands » (Alcuin).

[En 797, Charlemagne instaure un nouveau capitulaire plus clément que le précédent, le capitulare Saxonicum. La peine de mort contre les païens y est abolie et commuée en amendes. Les troubles cessent progressivement vers 799.]

Malgré Verden et le Capitulaire, les Saxons redoublent de fureur, une guerre sans pitié s’ensuit. En 785, les deux nations sont épuisées. Charlemagne offre la paix à Witukind qui demande et reçoit le baptême à Attigny, choisissant Charlemagne comme parrain. La tradition veut que Witukind soit converti par Dieu lui-même lors d’un miracle opéré dans la sainte Eucharistie. Witukind reconstruit les églises qu’il avait abattues et en fait édifier de nouvelles. Il meurt en 804 lors d’une guerre contre les Suèves. Des églises particulières l’honorent comme un saint le 7 janvier.
Charlemagne a compris les raison de son échec, il propose la paix en garantissant le respect de certaines coutumes saxonnes. Ainsi il leur permet de vivre librement la naissance de la civilisation chrétienne. L’Église et les nombreux moines ou saints courageux de ces temps ont fait beaucoup. Citons saints Liadwin, Sturm, Willehad et Liudger.
Charlemagne doit être considéré comme un grand bienfaiteur de l’Église et de la civilisation. Il arrête pour toujours l’invasion des Barbares et assure une paix durable. En 799, il sauve le pape Léon iii. Il s’inspire de la Cité de Dieu de saint Augustin pour concevoir la loyauté et le service de chacun. Il fait passer la réforme des mœurs avant celle des lois. Les marchés publics et les foires coïncident avec des fêtes religieuses, ce qui développe le commerce. Il décide la création d’un hôpital, à côté de chaque monastère, ainsi que la création d’une école gratuite dans chaque paroisse, pour serfs et hommes libres.

Devenu empereur d’Occident, Charlemagne sait respecter le principe naissant de l’indépendance du pouvoir temporel et du pouvoir spirituel. Il s’intitule « le défenseur et l’auxiliaire de la sainte Église dans tous ses besoins ». Il rend aux papes les plus grands honneurs, respecte leur autorité venant de la foi et cherche à transmettre la foi dans la société. « Nous savons, dit un capitulaire de Charlemagne, que, suivant la tradition des saints Pères, les biens d’Église, don de la piété des fidèles et prix de la rédemption de leurs péchés, sont les patrimoines des pauvres. Nous statuons donc que jamais, ni sous notre règne, ni sous celui de nos successeurs, il ne sera permis de rien soustraire, de rien aliéner de ces biens sacrés. »

(Triste Ripoublique de nos jours ! qui ne peut (veut !!!) se considérer parmi ses successeurs…)
Charlemagne est aussi le protecteur des Lieux saints. Le calife de Bagdad, Haroun-Al-Raschid, lui envoie les clefs du Saint-Sépulcre et l’étendard de Jérusalem.

On reproche cependant à Charlemagne ses mœurs privées. On peut compter neuf femmes ; le veuvage n’explique pas tout et la répudiation est certainement à l’origine de quelques changements d’épouse, les principes sur les empêchements de mariage sont encore trop flottants. Nous n’avons aucune trace de contemporains de Charlemagne le blâmant. Le premier sera Walafrid Strabon au milieu du IXe siècle. L’hagiographie retient sa troisième femme, la bienheureuse Hildegarde, née en 757, morte en 783, mère de huit enfants, et fêtée le 30 avril. Elle est un exemple de vertu chrétienne pour la cour et sa famille. Elle fait un don important à l’abbaye de Saint-Arnoul de Metz, où elle est entérée selon ses vœux ; L’abbé de Kempten (lieu où a été transférée une partie de ses reliques) écrit sa vie en 1472, narrant de nombreuses guérisons vérifiées et survenues sur sa tombe.

Quant à Charlemagne, il n’a ni barbe fleurie, ni la voix de tonnerre, ni le regard terrible, mais le ventre proéminent, une voix perçante et grêle pour son corps robuste.
Charlemagne est un souverain chrétien dont l’apport à la civilisation européenne est indéniable et encore visible aujourd’hui.

Tiré du livre « Les Saints de souches royales » des chrétiens Bienheureux du Seigneur d’Étienne Lelièvre, Édition Le Sarment fayard



Statuette équestre représentant Charlemagne ou son petit-fils Charles le Chauve, ixe siècle. 


Bienheureux Charlemagne, quelques justifications de Dom Guéranger.


2014 voit le douzième centenaire de la mort du Bienheureux Charlemagne. L’événement n’est pas anodin en Allemagne et dans les régions nordiques qui ont gardé un souvenir vivace de l’empereur Très-Chrétiencomme un concile de Mayence (Mainz) lui en donna le titre.

C’est d’abord le titre de Bienheureux qui retiendra notre attention. L’Histoire nous apprend que « le respect des peuples était déjà préparé en faveur de la sainteté de Charlemagne, lorsque Frédéric Barberousse fit rendre le décret de sa canonisation par l’antipape Pascal iii, en 1165 : c’est pourquoi le Siège Apostolique, sans vouloir approuver une procédure irrégulière, ni la recommencer dans les formes, puisqu’on ne lui en a pas fait la demande, a cru devoir respecter ce culte en tous les lieux où il fut établi. Cependant, les nombreuses Églises [diocèses] qui honorent, depuis plus de sept siècles, la mémoire du grand Charles, se contentent, par respect pour le Martyrologe Romain où son nom ne se lit pas, de le fêter sous le titre de Bienheureux.

« Avant l’époque de la Réforme [protestante], le nom du Bienheureux Charlemagne se trouvait sur le calendrier d’un grand nombre de nos Églises de France ; les Bréviaires de Reims et de Rouen l’avaient conservé jusqu’à nos jours. L’Église de Paris le sacrifia, de bonne heure, aux préjugés des Docteurs dont les opinions avancées se manifestèrent dans son Université, dès la première moitié du xvie siècle. La Réforme avait conçu de l’antipathie contre un homme qui avait été la plus magnifique et la plus complète représentation du Prince catholique ; et ce fut bien moins le défaut d’une canonisation en règle que l’on mit en avant pour effacer du calendrier le nom de Charlemagne, que la prétendue licence de ses mœurs, dont on affecta de relever le scandale. Sur cette question comme sur bien d’autres, le sentiment public se forma à la légère ; et nous ne nous dissimulons pas que les personnes qui se sont le moins occupées d’étudier les titres de Charlemagne à la sainteté, seront les plus étonnées de trouver son nom dans cet ouvrage.

« Plus de trente Églises, en Allemagne, célèbrent encore aujourd’hui la fête du grand Empereur ; sa chère Église d’Aix-la-Chapelle garde son corps et l’expose à la vénération des peuples. Les Vies des Saintspubliées en France, même celle de Baillet et de Godescard, n’ont point été infidèles à sa mémoire. Par un étrange retour, l’Université de Paris le choisit pour son Patron en 1661 ; mais sa fête, qui était abrogée depuis plus d’un siècle, ne se releva que comme solennité civile, sans aucune mention dans la Liturgie.

« Il n’entre point dans le plan de cet ouvrage de discuter les raisons pour lesquelles un culte a été attribué aux Saints sur lesquels nous réunissons les éloges liturgiques ; on ne doit donc pas attendre de nous une démonstration en forme de la sainteté de Charlemagne. Cependant nous avouerons, en passant, que nous inclinons avec Bossuet, dont la sévérité en morale est assez connue, à croire que les mœurs de Charlemagne furent toujours pures, et que le préjugé contraire, qui n’a pour lui que quelques textes assez vagues et contradictoires de certains auteurs du moyen-âge, a dû ses développements à la malheureuse influence de l’esprit protestant. » (Dom Prosper Guéranger, L’Année liturgique, Le Temps de Noël, T. II, 13e éd., H. Oudin, Paris – 1901).

Il faut lire les développements du célèbre liturgiste pour compléter cet aperçu. Quant à la fin si édifiante de la vie du Bienheureux, en voici des éléments :

Le couronnement de la vie de Charlemagne 


« Enfin la soixante-huitième année de son âge, après avoir fait couronner et élire roi Louis, son fils, il se donna tout entier à la prière et à l’aumône. Sa coutume était de se rendre à l’église le matin et le soir, souvent même aux heures de la nuit, car ses délices étaient d’entendre le chant grégorien qu’il établit le premier en France et en Germanie, après avoir obtenu des chantres [du Pape] Adrien VI. Il eut soin aussi de faire transcrire en tous lieux les hymnes de l’Église. Il écrivit les Évangiles de sa propre main et les collationna sur les exemplaires grecs et syriaques. Il fut toujours très sobre dans le boire et le manger, ayant coutume de traiter les maladies par le jeûne, qu’il prolongea quelquefois jusqu’à sept jours. (…) » (L. Du Broc de Segange, Les Saints Patrons des Corporations et protecteurs, T. Ier, p. 85, Bretnacher, Paris – s.d. [1887])

Source : Abbé Jacques-Marie seuillot. (http://www.cassicia.com)



Sur le culte rendu à Charlemagne, voici ce que nous dit dom Guéranger, en son Année liturgique.


Au gracieux souvenir de la douce martyre Agnès, un grand nombre d’Églises, surtout en Allemagne, associent aujourd’hui (28 janvier) la mémoire imposante du pieux Empereur Charlemagne. Le respect des peuples était déjà préparé en faveur de la sainteté de Charlemagne, lorsque Frédéric Barberousse fit rendre le décret de sa canonisation par l’antipape Pascal iii, en 1165 : c’est pourquoi le Siège Apostolique,sans vouloir approuver une procédure irrégulière, ni la recommencer dans les formes, puisqu’on ne lui a jamais demandé, a cru devoir respecter ce culte en tous les lieux où il fut établi.

Dans nos églises de France nous ne nous faisons aucun scrupule de donner le titre de saints et d’honorer comme tels un nombre considérable d’évêques sur la sainteté desquels aucun décret n’a été rendu par personne et dont le culte n’est jamais sorti de la limite de leurs diocèses ; les nombreuses églises qui honorent, depuis près de sept siècles, la mémoire du grand empereur Charlemagne, se contentent, par respect pour le Martyrologe romain, où son nom ne se lit pas, de le fêter sous le titre de Bienheureux. ­ Pour ne citer qu’un exemple, une église lui est encore dédiée dans l’ancien diocèse de Sarlat, en Périgord.
Avant l’époque de la Réforme, le nom du bienheureux Charlemagne se trouvait sur le calendrier d’un grand nombre de nos églises de France ; les Bréviaires de Reims et de Rouen sont les seuls qui l’aient conservé aujourd’hui. Plus de trente églises en Allemagne célèbrent encore aujourd’hui la fête du grand empereur ; sa chère église d’Aix-la-Chapelle garde son corps et l’expose à la vénération des peuples. Il est conservé dans une châsse en vermeil. Un de ses bras est dans un reliquaire à part. On trouve dans la grosseur des os de ce bras la preuve de ce que les auteurs racontent sur la haute taille et la force corporelle du grand empereur. Dans le trésor de la même église se trouve aussi son cor de chasse, et dans une galerie, le siège de pierre sur lequel il était assis dans son tombeau.

On sait que c’est sur ce siège que les empereurs d’Allemagne étaient installés, le jour de leur couronnement.
L’Université de paris le choisit pour patron en 1661.
Plusieurs Martyrologues de France, d’Allemagne et de Flandre font mémoire de saint Charlemagne le 28 janvier. Ferrarius ne l’a pas oublié dans son supplément des Saints qui ne sont pas dans le Martyrologe romain, non plus qu’Usuard, ni Molan. Nous avons tiré ce que nous en avons dit en ce recueil, d’Eginhard, qui a été son chancelier et qui se fit religieux de l’Ordre de Saint-Benoît, après la mort de son maître, et des autres mémoires que Bollandus rapporte dans le second tome des Actes des Saints, où l’on peut voir quelques miracles qui ont été faits par les mérites de notre saint roi. Sur la vie de saint Charlemagne, on peut encore consulter ce qu’en a écrit le bienheureux Notker, moine de Saint-Gall, au IXe siècle.

Tiré du Petit Bollandiste tome II p. 84

Tiré du livre « les sacres des rois de france » de Rémy de Bourbon Parme, d’Alexandre Loire et de Georges Bernage ­; Éditions Heimdal


Antienne
Espoir des affligés, terreur des ennemis, douceur pour les vaincus, règle de vertu, sentier du droit, forme du salut, ô Charles, recevez les pieux hommages de vos serviteurs.
Parmi les Séquences consacrées à notre grand Empereur, nous trouvons la suivante, extraite d’un ancien Missel d’Aix-la-Chapelle.
SÉQUENCE
Cité d’Aix, cité royale, siège principal de la royauté, palais préféré de nos princes ;
Chante gloire au Roi des rois, aujourd’hui que tu célèbres la mémoire du grand roi Charles.
Que notre chœur chante dans l’allégresse, que le clergé fasse entendre le mélodieux accord des voix.
Quand la main est occupée aux bonnes œuvres, le cœur médite douce psalmodie.
En ce jour de fête, que l’Église honore les grands gestes du grand Roi.
Rois et peuples de la terre, que tous applaudissent d’un concert joyeux.
Charles est le fort soldat du Christ, le chef de l’invincible cohorte ; à lui seul il renverse dix mille combattants.
De l’ivraie il purge la terre ; il affranchit la moisson, en sarclant de son glaive cette herbe maudite.
C’est là le grand Empereur , bon semeur d’une bonne semence, et prudent agriculteur.
Il convertit les infidèles, il renverse temples et dieux ; sa main brise les idoles.
Il dompte les rois superbes, il fait régner les saintes lois avec la justice ;
La justice : mais il lui donne pour compagne la miséricorde.
Il est sacré de l’huile de liesse, par un don de grâce, plus que tous les autres rois.
Avec la couronne de gloire, il reçoit les insignes de l’Impériale Majesté.
Ô Roi triomphateur du monde, toi qui règnes avec Jésus-Christ, ô père saint ! ô Charles ! sois notre intercesseur ;
Afin que, purs de tout péché, dans le royaume de la lumière, nous, ton peuple, soyons les habitants du ciel avec les bienheureux.
Étoile de la mer, ô Marie, salut du monde, voie de la vie ! dirige nos pas vacillants et donne-nous accès auprès du Roi suprême, dans la gloire sans fin.
Ô Christ ! splendeur du Dieu Père, fils de la Mère immaculée, par ce Saint dont nous fêtons le jour, daigne nous accorder l’éternelle joie.
Amen.
Nous conclurons les hommages rendus par les diverses Églises au Bienheureux Charlemagne, en donnant ici la Collecte de sa fête.


prions
Ô Dieu, qui, dans la surabondante fécondité de votre bonté, avez décoré du manteau de la glorieuse immortalité le bienheureux Empereur Charlemagne , après qu’il a eu déposé le voile de la chair : accordez à nos prières de mériter pour pieux intercesseur dans les cieux, celui que vous avez élevé sur la terre à l’honneur de l’Empire, pour la propagation de la vraie foi. Par Jésus-Christ notre Seigneur. Amen.

Salut, ô Charles, bien-aimé de Dieu, Apôtre du Christ, rempart de son Église, protecteur de la justice, gardien des mœurs, terreur des ennemis du nom Chrétien ! Le diadème souillé des Césars, mais purifié par les mains de Léon, couronne votre front auguste ; le globe de l’empire repose en votre forte main ; l’épée des combats du Seigneur, toujours victorieuse, est suspendue à votre baudrier ; et l’onction impériale est venue s’unir à l’onction royale dont la main du Pontife avait déjà consacré votre bras puissant. Devenu la figure du Christ dans sa royauté temporelle, vous avez voulu qu’il régnât en vous et par vous. Il vous récompense maintenant de l’amour que vous avez eu pour lui, du zèle que vous avez montré pour sa gloire, du respect et de la confiance que vous avez témoignés à son Épouse. Pour une royauté de la terre, caduque et périssable, vous avez reçu une royauté immortelle, au sein de laquelle tant de millions d’âmes, arrachées par vous à l’idolâtrie, vous honorent comme l’instrument de leur salut.
Dans ces jours où nous célébrons le divin enfantement de la Reine des deux, vous lui présentez le temple gracieux et magnifique que vous élevâtes en son honneur, et qui fait encore sur la terre notre admiration. C’est dans ce saint lieu que vos pieuses mains placèrent les langes de son divin Fils ; en retour, l’Emmanuel a voulu que vos ossements sacrés y reposassent avec gloire, afin d’y recevoir les témoignages de la vénération des peuples. Glorieux héritier de la foi des trois Rois de l’Orient, présentez-nous à Celui qui daigna revêtir ces humbles tissus. Demandez pour nous une part de cette humilité avec laquelle vous aimiez à vous incliner devant la crèche, de cette pieuse joie que goûtait votre cœur dans les solennités que nous célébrons, de ce zèle ardent qui vous fit entreprendre tant de travaux pour la gloire du Fils de Dieu, de cette force qui ne vous abandonna jamais dans la recherche de son Royaume.
Puissant Empereur, qui fûtes autrefois l’arbitre de la famille européenne réunie tout entière sous votre sceptre, prenez en pitié cette société qui s’écroule aujourd’hui de toutes parts. Après mille ans, l’Empire que l’Eglise avait confié à vos mains est tombé : tel a été le châtiment de son infidélité envers l’Église qui l’avait fondé. Mais les nations sont restées, et s’agitent dans l’inquiétude. L’Église seule peut leur rendre la vie par la foi ; seule, elle est demeurée dépositaire des notions du droit public ; seule, elle peut régler le pouvoir, et consacrer l’obéissance. Faites que le jour luise bientôt, où la société rétablie sur ses bases cessera de demander aux révolutions l’ordre et la liberté. Protégez d’un amour spécial la France, le plus riche fleuron de votre splendide couronne. Montrez que vous êtes toujours son Roi et son Père.
Arrêtez les progrès des faux empires qui s’élèvent au Nord sur le schisme et l’hérésie, et ne permettez pas que les peuples du Saint Empire Romain deviennent à jamais leur proie.

La Sainte Tunique / Charlemagne


La Sainte Tunique devient l’objet d’un cadeau extraordinaire que l’impératrice d’Orient, Irène, fait au tout nouvel empereur, d’Occident, Charlemagne, en l’an 800. Au lieu de confier la relique à une église ou à une cathédrale connue, la donna à garder à une de ses filles, Théodrade, religieuse dans une abbaye, fondée en 655, à Argenteuil et qui était réservée à des personnes de marque. La Sainte Tunique aurait été déposé dans ce monastère par l’Empereur lui-même, à une heure de l’après-midi. Et depuis lors, les cloches du lieu tintaient à ce moment même, en souvenir de l’événement. Une peinture murale, que l’on peut voir à gauche de l’autel de la Tunique rappelle cette première « translation ».

28 janvier, la « quasi-fête » du « quasi-saint » Charlemagne

Noël 800 après Jésus Christ, Charlemagne est couronné par le pape Leon III dans la basilique Saint-Pierre.

Du sacre de Charlemagne par le pape Léon III, on peut encore admirer à l’entrée de l’édifice actuel, la plaque circulaire de porphyre, où l’empereur s’est agenouillé pour recevoir la couronne des mains du pontife. Ce que l’on sait moins, c’est 365 ans jour pour jour après son sacre au Vatican, Charlemagne est canonisé en l’an de grâce 1165, par l’Eglise catholique. Seul détail : à l’origine de cette décision figure Pascal III, un anti-pape désigné et manipulé par l’empereur germanique Barberousse.

En 1179, le troisième concile du Latran révoque toutes les décisions du faux pontife, mais trop tard, le culte du “quasi-saint“ empereur se répand en Europe, en particulier à Aix-la-Chapelle où ses reliques sont enchâssées. Son culte s’est ainsi étendu au fil des siècles avant d’être stoppé net au XVI siècle.

Un jour férié sous Louis XI


C’est d’abord le roi de France Charles V le sage (1338-1380) lui-même, qui élève Charlemagne à la gloire des autels de son royaume. A tel point qu’il veut en faire ni plus ni moins le saint patron de la maison royale au même titre que saint Louis. Sainte Jeanne d’Arc en personne aurait quant à elle dit au roi Charles VII : “Saint Louis et saint Charlemagne sont à genoux devant Lui, faisant sa prière pour vous“. Le culte en France atteint son paroxysme pendant le règne de Louis XI qui décide de fêter la saint Charlemagne le 28 janvier et de faire de cette journée un jour férié célébré comme un dimanche.
En 1661, l’université de la Sorbonne le choisit comme patron bien que son culte ne soit plus intégré dans la liturgie depuis un siècle. Le cardinal Prospero Lambertini, futur pape Benoit XIV, estime que “rien ne s’oppose à ce que le culte de Charlemagne soit célébré dans les églises particulières“, lui accordant même le titre de bienheureux. L’extension du culte est toutefois définitivement limité par le pape Pie IX en 1850…
Le culte de Charlemagne a été toléré en raison de sa réputation de grand bienfaiteur de l’Église. Il s’intitule même « défenseur et l’auxiliaire de la sainte Eglise dans tous ses besoins » tant il rend aux papes les plus grands honneurs et respecte leur autorité.

Blessed Charlemagne


Also known as
  • Carlus Magnus
  • Carolus Magnus
  • Charles the Great
  • Charles, King of the Franks
  • Karl der Grosse
Profile

Born a prince, the eldest son of Bertha and Pepin the Short, Mayor of the Palace under KingChilderic III and then King of the Franks in 751. Married, and father of Louis the Pious. Kingof the Franks in 768. As “Roman Patrician” Charles was obligated to defend the temporal rights of the Holy See, which were first threatened by the Lombards under Desiderius, whom he finally defeated at Pavia, Italy. Defeated the pagan Saxons, to whom he gave the alternative of baptism or death; their leader Wittekind accepted Christianity in 785. The Song of Rolandrecounts the death of the paladin Roland during Charlemagne’s 777 invasion of Moslem Spain. Crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor, sovereign of Christendom in the West, by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day 800.

The reign of Charlemagne involved a greater degree of organic development and consolidation of ChristianEurope than any other person. He supported agricultural development in his realm, organized and codified the principles of ancient Frankish law, and through the scholars whom he attracted to his court, includingSaint Alcuin, he inaugurated educational reform. He furthered the spiritual welfare of the Church by his zeal for ecclesiastical discipline and took keen interest in the deliberations of synods. He improved and propagated church music, laying the foundations of modern musical culture. In 806 he divided his empire by will among his three sons.

Charlemagne is the hero of a cycle of romance in the Middle Ages. He first appeared as a legendary figure in the book of the so-called Monachus Sangallensis (883). In France he became the center of the national epics, or “Chansons de Geste,” which relate his legendary deeds and those of his paladins (Oliver, Roland, Turpin), and vassals. In the older epics he is the incarnation of majesty, truth, and justice, and the champion of God‘s church against the infidel, but the later epics paint him as a tyrant and oppressor. His Saxon wars left many legends in Germany, concerned mainly with Wittekind and his conversion, which, according to theFrench version, was short-lived and insincere. Through French influence the Carlovingian legend spread to other countries; in Italy it inspired the FrancoItalian epics, and the “Reali di Francia” of Mignabotti, and culminated in the famous chivalrous epics of Boiardo and Ariosto; in Germany it appeared in the “Rolandslied” of Konrad der Pfaffe, “Karlmeinet,” and the chap-books of the 15th century; in Scandinavia in the “Karlamagnus saga” (c.1300); in the Netherlands in numerous translations like “Carel ende Elegast”; and in England Caxton published “The Lyf of Charles the Grete” (1485) and “The four sonnes of Aymon” (1486).

Born
  • a decree of canonization was issued by the anti-pope Paschal III, but this was never ratified by valid authority

Book of Saints – Charlemagne


Article

(Blessed) Emperor (January 28) (9th century) The famous Charles the Great, son of Pepin the Short, born in 742, a successful warrior, who, conquering the Lombards and Saxons, and securing to the Popes their temporal kingdom, was God’s instrument for the advancement of Christianity. He was zealous for Church discipline and for the spread of learning. He cared for the poor and was eminently pious, meditating much on the Holy Scriptures. Pope Saint Leo III crowned him Emperor of Rome and the West, on Christmas Day, A.D. 800. He died at Aix-la-Chapelle, January 28, A.D. 814, and in some churches has been honoured as a Saint.

MLA Citation

  • Monks of Ramsgate. “Charlemagne”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 October2012. Web. 27 January 2020. <http://catholicsaints.info/book-of-saints-charlemagne/>

SOURCE : https://catholicsaints.info/book-of-saints-charlemagne/



Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld. Couronnement de Charlemagne


 CHARLEMAGNE

(French for Carolus Magnus, or Carlus Magnus ("Charles the Great"); German Karl der Grosse).
The name given by later generations to Charles, King of the Franks, first sovereign of the Christian Empire of the West; born 2 April, 742; died at Aachen, 28 January, 814. Note, however, that the place of his birth (whether Aachen or Liège) has never been fully ascertained, while the traditional date has been set one or more years later by recent writers; if Alcuin is to be interpreted literally the year should be 745. At the time of Charles' birth, his father, Pepin the Short, Mayor of the Palace, of the line of Arnulf, was, theoretically, only the first subject of Childeric III, the last Merovingian King of the Franks; but this modest title implied that real power, military, civil, and even ecclesiastical, of which Childeric's crown was only the symbol. It is not certain that Bertrada (orBertha), the mother of Charlemagne, a daughter of Charibert, Count of Laon, was legally married to Pepin until some years later than either 742 or 745.
Charlemagne's career led to his acknowledgment by the Holy See as its chief protector and coadjutor in temporals, by Constantinople as at least Basileus of the West. This reign, which involved to a greater degree than that of any other historical personage the organic development, and still more, the consolidation of Christian Europe, will be sketched in this article in the successive periods into which it naturally divides. The period of Charlemagne was also an epoch of reform for the Church in Gaul, and of foundation for the Church in Germany, marked, moreover, by an efflorescence of learning which fructified in the greatChristian schools of the twelfth and later centuries.

To the fall of Pavia (742-774)

In 752, when Charles was a child of not more than ten years, Pepin the Short had appealed to Pope Zachary to recognize his actual rule with the kingly title and dignity. The practical effect of this appeal to the Holy See was the journey of Stephen III across the Alps two years later, for the purpose of anointing with the oil of kingship not only Pepin, but also his son Charles and a younger son, Carloman. The pope then laid upon the Christian Franks a precept, under the gravest spiritual penalties, never "to choose their kings from any other family". Primogeniture did not hold in the Frankish law of succession; the monarchy was elective, though eligibility was limited to the male members of the one privileged family. Thus, then, at St. Denis on the Seine, in the Kingdom of Neustria, on the 28th of July, 754, the house of Arnulf was, by a solemn act of the supreme pontiff established upon the throne until then nominally occupied by the house of Merowig (Merovingians).
Charles, anointed to the kingly office while yet a mere child, learned the rudiments of war while still many years short of manhood, accompanying his father in several campaigns. This early experience is worth noting chiefly because it developed in the boy those military virtues which, joined with his extraordinary physical strength and intense nationalism, made him a popular hero of theFranks long before he became their rightful ruler. At length, in September, 768, Pepin the Short, foreseeing his end, made a partition of his dominions between his two sons. Not many days later the old king passed away.
To better comprehend the effect of the act of partition under which Charles and Carloman inherited their father's dominions, as well as the whole subsequent history of Charles' reign, it is to be observed that those dominions comprised:
  • first, Frankland (Frankreich) proper;
  • secondly, as many as seven more or less self-governing dependencies, peopled by races of various origins and obeying various codes of law.
Of these two divisions, the former extended, roughly speaking, from the boundaries of Thuringia, on the east, to what is now theBelgian and Norman coastline, on the west; it bordered to the north on Saxony, and included both banks of the Rhine from Cologne (the ancient Colonia Agrippina) to the North Sea; its southern neighbours were the Bavarians, the Alemanni, and the Burgundians. The dependent states were: the fundamentally Gaulish Neustria (including within its borders Paris), which was, nevertheless, well leavened with a dominant Frankish element; to the southwest of Neustria, Brittany, formerly Armorica, with a British and Gallo-Roman population; to the south of Neustria the Duchy of Aquitaine, lying, for the most part, between the Loire and the Garonne, with a decidedly Gallo-Roman population; and east of Aquitaine, along the valley of the Rhone, the Burgundians, a people of much the same mixed origin as those of Aquitaine, though with a large infusion of Teutonic blood. These States, with perhaps the exception of Brittany, recognized the Theodosian Code as their law. The German dependencies of the Frankish kingdom were Thuringia, in the valley of the Main, Bavaria, and Alemannia (corresponding to what was later known as Swabia). These last, at the time of Pepin's death, had but recently been won to Christianity, mainly through the preaching of St. Boniface. The share which fell to Charles consisted of all Austrasia (the original Frankland), most of Neustria, and all of Aquitaine except the southeast corner. In this way the possessions of the elder brother surrounded the younger on two sides, but on the other hand the distribution of races under their respective rules was such as to preclude any risk of discord arising out of the national sentiments of their various subjects.
In spite of this provident arrangement, Carloman contrived to quarrel with his brother. Hunald, formerly Duke of Aquitaine, vanquished by Pepin the Short, broke from the cloister, where he had lived as a monk for twenty years, and stirred up a revolt in the western part of the duchy. By Frankish custom Carloman should have aided Charles; the younger brother himself held part of Aquitaine; but he pretended that, as his dominion were unaffected by this revolt, it was no business of his. Hunald, however, was vanquished by Charles single-handed; he was betrayed by a nephew with whom he had sought refuge, was sent to Rome to answer for the violation of his monastic vows, and at last, after once more breaking cloister, was stoned to death by the Lombards of Pavia. For Charles the true importance of this Aquitanian episode was in its manifestation his brother's unkindly feeling in his regard, and against this danger he lost no time in taking precautions, chiefly by winning over to himself the friends whom he judged likely to be most valuable; first and foremost of these was his mother, Bertha, who had striven both earnestly and prudently to make peace between her sons, but who, when it became necessary to take sides with one or the other could not hesitate in her devotion to the elder. Charles was an affectionate son; it also appears that, in general, he was helped to power by his extraordinary gift of personal attractiveness.
Carloman died soon after this (4 December, 771), and a certain letter from "the Monk Cathwulph", quoted by Bouquet (Recueil. hist., V, 634), in enumerating the special blessings for which the king was in duty bound to be grateful, says,
Third . . . God has preserved you from the wiles of your brother . . . . Fifth, and not the least, that God has removed your brother from this earthly kingdom.
Carloman may not have been quite so malignant as the enthusiastic partisans of Charles made him out, but the division of Pepin'sdominions was in itself an impediment to the growth of a strong Frankish realm such as Charles needed for the unification of theChristian Continent. Although Carloman had left two sons by his wife, Gerberga, the Frankish law of inheritance gave no preference to sons as against brother; left to their own choice, the Frankish lieges, whether from love of Charles or for the fear which his name already inspired, gladly accepted him for their king. Gerberga and her children fled to the Lombard court of Pavia. In the mean while complications had arisen in Charles' foreign policy which made his newly established supremacy at home doubly opportune.
From his father Charles had inherited the title "Patricius Romanus" which carried with it a special obligation to protect the temporalrights of the Holy See. The nearest and most menacing neighbour of St. Peter's Patrimony was Desidarius (Didier), King of the Lombards, and it was with this potentate that the dowager Bertha had arranged a matrimonial alliance for her elder son. The popehad solid temporal reasons for objecting to this arrangement. Moreover, Charles was already, in foro conscientiae, if not in Frankishlaw, wedded to Himiltrude. In defiance of the pope's protest (PL 98:250), Charles married Desiderata, daughter of Desiderius (770), three years later he repudiated her and married Hildegarde, the beautiful Swabian. Naturally, Desiderius was furious at this insult, and the dominions of the Holy See bore the first brunt of his wrath.
But Charles had to defend his own borders against the heathen as well as to protect Rome against the Lombard. To the north of Austrasia lay Frisia, which seems to have been in some equivocal way a dependency, and to the east of Frisia, from the left bank of the Ems (about the present Holland-Westphalia frontier), across the valley of the Weser and Aller, and still eastward to the left bank of the Elbe, extended the country of the Saxons, who in no fashion whatever acknowledged any allegiance to the Frankishkings. In 772 these Saxons were a horde of aggressive pagans offering to Christian missionaries no hope but that of martyrdom; bound together, normally, by no political organization, and constantly engaged in predatory incursions into the lands of the Franks. Their language seems to have been very like that spoken by the Egberts and Ethelreds of Britain, but the work of their Christiancousin, St. Boniface, had not affected them as yet; they worshipped the gods of Walhalla, united in solemn sacrifice — sometimes human — to Irminsul (Igdrasail), the sacred tree which stood at Eresburg, and were still slaying Christian missionaries when their kinsmen in Britain were holding church synods and building cathedrals. Charles could brook neither their predatory habits nor theirheathenish intolerance; it was impossible, moreover, to make permanent peace with them while they followed the old Teutonic life of free village communities. He made his first expedition into their country in July, 772, took Eresburg by storm, and burned Irminsul. It was in January of this same year that Pope Stephen III died, and Adrian I, an opponent of Desiderius, was elected. The new pope was almost immediately assailed by the Lombard king, who seized three minor cities of the Patrimony of St. Peter, threatened Ravenna itself, and set about organizing a plot within the Curia. Paul Afiarta, the papal chamberlain, detected acting as the Lombard's secret agent, was seized and put to death. The Lombard army advanced against Rome, but quailed before the spiritual weapons of the Church, while Adrian sent a legate into Gaul to claim the aid of the Patrician.
Thus it was that Charles, resting at Thionville after his Saxon campaign, was urgently reminded of the rough work that awaited his hand south of the Alps. Desiderius' embassy reached him soon after Adrian's. He did not take it for granted that the right was all upon Adrian's side; besides, he may have seen here an opportunity make some amends for his repudiation of the Lombard princess. Before taking up arms for the Holy See, therefore, he sent commissioners into Italy to make enquiries and when Desiderius pretended that the seizure of the papal cities was in effect only the legal foreclosure of a mortgage, Charles promptly offered to redeem them by a money payment. But Desiderius refused the money, and as Charles' commissioners reported in favour of Adrian, the only course left was war.
In the spring of 773 Charles summoned the whole military strength of the Franks for a great invasion of Lombardy. He was slow to strike, but he meant to strike hard. Data for any approximate estimate of his numerical strength are lacking, but it is certain that the army, in order to make the descent more swiftly, crossed the Alps by two passes: Mont Cenis and the Great St. Bernard.Einhard, who accompanied the king over Mont Cenis (the St. Bernard column was led by Duke Bernhard), speaks feelingly of the marvels and perils of the passage. The invaders found Desiderius waiting for them, entrenched at Susa; they turned his flank and put the Lombard army to utter rout. Leaving all the cities of the plains to their fate, Desiderius rallied part of his forces in Pavia, his walled capital, while his son Adalghis, with the rest, occupied Verona. Charles, having been joined by Duke Bernhard, took the forsaken cities on his way and then completely invested Pavia (September, 773), whence Otger, the faithful attendant of Gerberga, could look with trembling upon the array of his countrymen. Soon after Christmas Charles withdrew from the siege a portion of the army which he employed in the capture of Verona. Here he found Gerberga and her children; as to what became of them, history is silent; they probably entered the cloister.
What history does record with vivid eloquence is the first visit of Charles to the Eternal City. There everything was done to give his entry as much as possible the air of a triumph in ancient Rome. The judges met him thirty miles from the city; the militia laid at the feet of their great patrician the banner of Rome and hailed him as their imperator. Charles himself forgot pagan Rome and prostrated himself to kiss the threshold of the Apostles, and then spent seven days in conference with the successor of Peter. It was then that he undoubtedly formed many great designs for the glory of God and the exaltation of Holy Church, which, in spite of human weaknesses and, still more, ignorance, he afterwards did his best to realize. His coronation as the successor of Constantine did not take place until twenty-six years later, but his consecration as first champion of the Catholic Church took place at Easter, 774. Soon after this (June, 774) Pavia fell, Desiderius was banished, Adalghis became a fugitive at the Byzantine court, and Charles, assuming the crown of Lombardy, renewed to Adrian the donation of territory made by Pepin the Short after his defeat ofAistulph. (This donation is now generally admitted, as well as the original gift of Pepin at Kiersy in 752. The so-called "Privilegium Hadriani pro Carolo" granting him full right to nominate the pope and to invest all bishops is a forgery.)

To the baptism of Wittekind (774-785)

The next twenty years of Charles' life may be considered as one long warfare. They are filled with an astounding series of rapid marches from end to end of a continent intersected by mountains, morasses, and forests, and scantily provided with roads. It would seem that the key to his long series of victories, won almost as much by moral ascendancy as by physical or mental superiority, is to be found in the inspiration communicated to his Frankish champion by Pope Adrian I. Weiss (Weltgesch., 11, 549) enumerates fifty-three distinct campaigns of Charlemagne; of these it is possible to point to only twelve or fourteen which were not undertaken principally or entirely in execution of his mission as the soldier and protector of the Church. In his eighteen campaigns against the Saxons Charles was more or less actuated by the desire to extinguish what he and his people regarded as a form of devil-worship, no less odious to them than the fetishism of Central Africa is to us.
While he was still in Italy the Saxons, irritated but not subdued by the fate of Eresburg and of Irminsul had risen in arms, harried the country of the Hessian Franks, and burned many churches; that of St. Boniface at Fritzlar, being of stone, had defeated their efforts. Returning to the north, Charles sent a preliminary column of cavalry into the enemy's country while he held a council of the realm at Kiersy (Quercy) in September, 774, at which it was decided that the Saxons (Westfali, Ostfali, and Angrarii) must be presented with the alternative of baptism or death. The northeastern campaigns of the next seven years had for their object a conquest so decisive as to make the execution of this policy feasible. The year 775 saw the first of a series of Frankish military colonies, on the ancient Roman plan established at Sigeburg among the Westfali. Charles next subdued, temporarily at least, the Ostali, whose chieftain, Hessi, having accepted baptism, ended his life in the monastery of Fulda (see SAINT BONIFACE; FULDA). Then, a Frankish camp at Lübbecke on the Weser having been surprised by the Saxons, and its garrison slaughtered, Charles turned again westward, once more routed the Westfali, and received their oaths of submission.
At this stage (776) the affairs of Lombardy interrupted the Saxon crusade. Areghis of Beneventum, son-in-law of the vanquished Desiderius, had formed a plan with his brother-in-law Adalghis (Adelchis), then an exile at Constantinople, by which the latter was to make a descent upon Italy, backed by the Eastern emperor; Adrian was at the same time involved in a quarrel with the three Lombard dukes, Reginald of Clusium, Rotgaud of Friuli, and Hildebrand of Spoleto. The Archbishop of Ravenna, who called himself "primate" and "exarch of Italy", was also attempting to found an independent principality at the expense of the papal state but was finally subdued in 776, and his successor compelled to be content with the title of "Vicar" or representative of the pope. The junction of the aforesaid powers, all inimical to the pope and the Franks, while Charles was occupied in Westphalia, was only prevented by the death of Constantine Copronymus in September, 775 (see BYZANTINE EMPIRE). After winning over Hildebrand and Reginald by diplomacy, Charles descended into Lombardy by the Brenner Pass (spring of 776), defeated Rotgaud, and leaving garrisons and governors, or counts (comites), as they were termed, in the reconquered cities of the Duchy of Friuli, hastened back to Saxony. There the Frankish garrison had been forced to evacuate Eresburg, while the siege of Sigeburg was so unexpectedly broken up as to give occasion later to a legend of angelic intervention in favour of the Christians. As usual, the almost incredible suddenness of the king's reappearance and the moral effect of his presence quieted the ragings of the heathen. Charles then divided the Saxon territory into Missionary districts. At the great spring hosting (champ de Mai) of Paderborn, in 777, many Saxon converts were baptized; Wittekind (Widukind), however, already the leader and afterwards the popular hero of the Saxons, had fled to his brother-in-law, Sigfrid the Dane.
The episode of the invasion of Spain comes next in chronological order. The condition of the venerable Iberian Church, still suffering under Moslem domination, appealed strongly to the king's sympathy. In 777 there came to Paderborn three Moorish emirs, enemies of the Ommeyad Abderrahman, the Moorish King of Cordova. These emirs did homage to Charles and proposed to him an invasion of Northern Spain; one of the, Ibn-el-Arabi, promised to bring to the invaders' assistance a force of Berber auxiliaries from Africa; the other two promised to exert their powerful influence at Barcelona and elsewhere north of the Ebro. Accordingly, in the spring of 778, Charles, with a host of crusaders, speaking many tongues, and which numbered among its constituents even a quota ofLombards, moved towards the Pyrenees. His trusted lieutenant, Duke Bernhard, with one division, entered Spain by the coast. Charles himself marched through the mountain passes straight to Pampelona. But Ibn-el-Arabi, who had prematurely brought on his army of Berbers, was assassinated by the emissary of Abderrahman, and though Pampelona was razed, and Barcelona and other cities fell, Saragossa held out. Apart from the moral effect of this campaign upon the Moslem rulers of Spain, its result was insignificant, though the famous ambuscade in which perished Roland, the great Paladin, at the Pass of Roncesvalles, furnished to the medieval world the material for its most glorious and influential epic, the "Chanson de Roland".
Much more important to posterity were the next succeeding events which continued and decided the long struggle in Saxony. During the Spanish crusade Wittekind had returned from his exile, bringing with him Danish allies, and was now ravaging Hesse; the Rhine valley from Deutz to Andenach was a prey to the Saxon "devil-worshipers"; the Christian missionaries were scattered or in hiding. Charles gathered his hosts at Düren, in June, 779, and stormed Wittekind's entrenched camp at Bocholt, after which campaign he seems to have considered Saxony a fairly subdued country. At any rate, the "Saxon Capitulary" (see CAPITULARIES) of 781 obliged all Saxons not only to accept baptism (and this on the pain of death) but also to pay tithes, as the Franks did for the support of the Church; moreover it confiscated a large amount of property for the benefit of the missions. This was Wittekind's last opportunity to restore the national independence and paganism; his people, exasperated against the Franks and their God, eagerly rushed to arms. At Suntal on the Weser, Charles being absent, they defeated a Frankish army killing two royal legates and five Counts. But Wittekind committed the error of enlisting as allies the non-Teutonic Sorbs from beyond the Saale; race-antagonism soon weakened his forces, and the Saxon hosts melted away. Of the so-called "Massacre of Verdun" (783) it is fair to say that the 4500 Saxons who perished were not prisoners of war; legally, they were ringleaders in a rebellion, selected as such from a number of their fellow rebels. Wittekind himself escaped beyond the Elbe. It was not until after another defeat of the Saxons at Detmold, and again at Osnabrück, on the "Hill of Slaughter", that Wittekind acknowledged the God of Charles the stronger than Odin. In 785 Wittekind received baptism at Attigny, and Charles stood godfather.

Last steps to the imperial throne (785-800)

The summer of 783 began a new period in the life of Charles, in which signs begin to appear of his less amiable traits. It was in this year, signalized, according to the chroniclers, by unexampled heat and a pestilence, that the two queens died, Bertha, the king's mother, and Hildegarde, his second (or his third) wife. Both of these women, the former in particular, had exercised over him a strong influence for good. Within a few months the king married Fastrada, daughter of an Austrasian count. The succeeding years were, comparatively speaking, years of harvest after the stupendous period of ploughing and sowing that had gone before; and Charles' nature was of a type that appears to best advantage in storm and stress. What was to be the Western Empire of the Middle Ages was already hewn out in the rough when Wittekind received baptism. From that date until the coronation of Charles at Rome, in 800, his military work was chiefly in suppressing risings of the newly conquered or quelling the discontents of jealous subject princes. Thrice in these fifteen years did the Saxons rise, only to be defeated. Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria, had been a more or less rebellious vassal ever since the beginning of his reign, and Charles now made use of the pope's influence, exercised through the powerful bishops of Freising, Salzburg, and Regensburg (Ratisbon), to bring him to terms. In 786 a Thuringian revolt was quelled by the timely death, blinding, and banishment of its leaders. Next year the Lombard prince, Areghis, having fortified himself atSalerno, had actually been crowned King of the Lombards when Charles descended upon him at Beneventum, received his submission, and took his son Grimwald as a hostage, after which, finding that Tassilo had been secretly associated with the conspiracy of the Lombards, he invaded Bavaria from three sides with three armies drawn from at least five nationalities. Once more the influence of the Holy See settled the Bavarian question in Charles' favour; Adrian threatened Tassilo withexcommunication if he persisted in rebellion, and as the Duke's own subjects refused to follow him to the field, he personally made submission, did homage, and in return received from Charles a new lease of his duchy (October, 787).
During this period the national discontent with Fastrada culminated in a plot in which Pepin the Hunchback, Charles' son by Himiltrude, was implicated, and though his life was spared through his father's intercession, Pepin spent what remained of his days in a monastery. Another son of Charles (Carloman, afterwards called Pepin, and crowned King of Lombardy at Rome in 781, on the occasion of an Easter visit by the king, at which time also his brother Louis was crowned King of Aquitaine) served his father in dealing with the Avars, a pagan danger on the frontier, compared with which the invasion of Septimania by the Saracens (793) was but an insignificant incident of border warfare. These Avars, probably of Turanian blood, occupied the territories north of the Save and west of the Theiss. Tassilo had invited their assistance against his overlord; and after the Duke's final submission Charles invaded their country and conquered it as far as the Raab (791). By the capture of the famous "Ring" of the Avars, with its nine concentric circles, Charles came into possession of vast quantities of gold and silver, parts of the plunder which these barbarians had been accumulating for two centuries. In this campaign King Pepin of Lombardy cooperated with his father, with forces drawn from Italy; the later stages of this war (which may be considered the last of Charles' great wars) were left in the hands of the younger king.
The last stages by which the story of Charles' career is brought to its climax touch upon the exclusive spiritual domain of theChurch. He had never ceased to interest himself in the deliberations of synods, and this interest extended (an example that wrought fatal results in after ages) to the discussion of questions which would now be regarded as purely dogmatic. Charles interfered in the dispute about the Adoptionist heresy (see ADOPTIONISM; ALCUIN; COUNCIL OF FRANKFORT). His interference was less pleasing to Adrian in the matter of Iconoclasm, a heresy with which the Empress-mother Irene and Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, had dealt in the second Council of Nicaea. The Synod of Frankfort, wrongly informed, but inspired by Charles, took upon itself to condemn the aforesaid Council, although the latter had the sanction of the Holy See (see CAROLINE BOOKS). In the year 797 the Eastern Emperor Constantine VI, with whom his mother Irene had for some time been at variance, was by her dethroned, imprisoned, and blinded. It is significant of Charles' position as de facto Emperor of the West that Irene sent envoys toAachen to lay before Charles her side of this horrible story. It is also to be noted that the popular impression that Constantine had been put to death, and the aversion to committing the imperial sceptre to a woman's hand, also bore upon what followed. Lastly, it was to Charles alone that the Christians of the East were now crying out for succour against the threatening advance of the MoslemCaliph Haroun al Raschid. In 795 Adrian I died (25 Dec.), deeply regretted by Charles, who held this pope in great esteem and caused a Latin metrical epitaph to be prepared for the papal tomb. In 787 Charles had visited Rome for the third time in the interest of the pope and his secure possession of the Patrimony of Peter.
Leo III, the immediate successor of Adrian I, notified Charles of his election (26 December, 795) to the Holy See. The king sent in return rich presents by Abbot Angilbert, whom he commissioned to deal with the pope in all manners pertaining to the royal office of Roman Patrician. While this letter is respectful and even affectionate, it also exhibits Charles' concept of the coordination of the spiritual and temporal powers, nor does he hesitate to remind the pope of his grave spiritual obligations. The new pope, a Roman, had bitter enemies in the Eternal City, who spread the most damaging reports of his previous life. At length (25 April, 799) he was waylaid, and left unconscious. After escaping to St. Peter's he was rescued by two of the king's missi, who came with a considerable force. The Duke of Spoleto sheltered the fugitive pope, who went later to Paderborn, where the king's camp then was. Charles received the Vicar of Christ with all due reverence. Leo was sent back to Rome escorted by royal missi; the insurgents, thoroughly frightened and unable to convince Charles of the pope's iniquity, surrendered, and the missi sent Paschalis and Campulus, nephews of Adrian I and ringleaders against Pope Leo, to the king, to be dealt with at the royal pleasure.
Charles was in no hurry to take final action in this matter. He settled various affairs connected with the frontier beyond the Elbe, with the protection of the Balearic Isles against the Saracens, and of Northern Gaul against Scandinavian sea-rovers, spent most of the winter at Aachen, and was at St. Riquier for Easter. About this time, too, he was occupied at the deathbed of Liutgarde, the queen whom he had married on the death of Fastrada (794). At Tours he conferred with Alcuin, then summoned the host of theFranks to meet at Mainz and announced to them his intention of again proceeding to Rome. Entering Italy by the Brenner Pass, he travelled by way of Ancona and Perugia to Nomentum, where Pope Leo met him and the two entered Rome together. A synod was held and the charges against Leo pronounced false. On this occasion the Frankish bishops declared themselves unauthorized to pass judgment on the Apostolic See. Of his own free will Leo, under oath, declared publicly in St. Peter's that he was innocent of the charges brought against him. Leo requested that his accusers, now themselves condemned to death, should be punished only with banishment.

After his coronation in Rome (800-814)

Two days later (Christmas Day, 800) took place the principal event in the life of Charles. During the pontifical Mass celebrated by the pope, as the king knelt in prayer before the high altar beneath which lay the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope approached him, placed upon his head the imperial crown, did him formal reverence after the ancient manner, saluted him as Emperor and Augustus and anointed him, while the Romans present burst out with the acclamation, thrice repeated: "To Carolus Augustuscrowned by God, mighty and pacific emperor, be life and victory" (Carolo, piisimo Augusto a Deo coronato, magno et pacificio Imperatori, vita et victoria). These details are gathered from contemporary accounts (Life of Leo III in "lib. Pont."; "Annales Laurissense majores"; Einhard's Vita Caroli; Theophanes). Though not all are found in any one narrative, there is no good reason for doubting their general accuracy. Einhard's statement (Vita Caroli 28) that Charles had no suspicion of what was about to happen, and if pre-informed would not have accepted the imperial crown, is much discussed, some seeing in it an unwillingness to imperial authority on an ecclesiastical basis, others more justly a natural hesitation before a momentous step overcome by the positive action of friends and admirers, and culminating; in the scene just described. On the other hand, there seems no reason to doubtthat for some time previous the elevation of Charles had been discussed, both at home and at Rome, especially in view of two facts: the scandalous condition of the imperial government at Constantinople, and the acknowledged grandeur and solidity of the Carolingian house. He owed his elevation not to the conquest of Rome, nor to any act of the Roman Senate (then a mere municipal body), much less to the local citizenship of Rome, but to the pope, who exercised in a supreme juncture the moral supremacy inWestern Christendom which the age widely recognized in him, and to which, indeed, Charles even then owed the title that thepopes had transferred to his father Pepin. It is certain that Charles constantly attributed his imperial dignity to an act of God, made known of course through the agency of the Vicar of Christ (divino nutu coronatus, a Deo coronatus, in "Capitularia", ed. Baluze, I, 247, 341, 345); also that after the ceremony he made very rich gifts to the Basilica of St. Peter, and that on the same day the popeanointed (as King of the Franks) the younger Charles, son of the emperor and at that time probably destined to succeed in the imperial dignity. The Roman Empire (Imperium Romanum), since 476 practically extinguished in the West, save for a brief interval in the sixth century, was restored by this papal act, which became the historical basis of the future relations between the popes and the successors of Charlemagne (throughout the Middle Ages no Western Emperor was considered legitimate unless he had beencrowned and anointed at Rome by the successor of St. Peter). Despite the earlier goodwill and help of the papacy, the Emperor of Constantinople, legitimate heir of the imperial title (he still called himself Roman Emperor, and his capital was officially New Rome) had long proved incapable of preserving his authority in the Italian peninsula. Palace revolutions and heresy, not to speak of fiscal oppression, racial antipathy, and impotent but vicious intrigues, made him odious to the Romans and Italians generally. In any case, since the Donation of Pepin (752) the pope was formally sovereign of the duchy of Rome and the Exarchate; hence, apart from its effect on his shadowy claim to the sovereignty of all Italy, the Byzantine ruler had nothing to lose by the elevation of Charles. However, the event of Christmas Day, 800, was long resented at Constantinople, where eventually the successor of Charles was occasionally called "Emperor", or "Emperor of the Franks", but never "Roman Emperor". Suffice it to add here that while the imperial consecration made him in theory, what he was already in fact, the principal ruler of the West, and impropriated, as it were, in the Carolingian line the majesty of ancient Rome, it also lifted Charles at once to the dignity of supreme temporal protector ofWestern Christendom and in particular of its head, the Roman Church. Nor did this mean only the local welfare of the papacy, the good order and peace of the Patrimony of Peter. It meant also, in face of the yet vast pagan world (barbarae nationes) of the North and the Southeast, a religious responsibility, encouragement and protection of missions, advancement of Christian culture, organization of dioceses, enforcement of a Christian discipline of life, improvement of the clergy, in a word, all the forms of governmental cooperation with the Church that we meet with in the life and the legislation of Charles. Long before this event Pope Adrian I had conferred (774) on Charles his father's dignity of Patricius Romanus, which implied primarily the protection of theRoman Church in all its rights and privileges, above all in the temporal authority which it had gradually acquired (notably in the former Byzantine Duchy of Rome and the Exarchate of Ravenna) by just titles in the course of the two preceding centuries. Charles, it is true, after his imperial consecration exercised practically at Rome his authority as Patricius, or protector of the Roman Church. But he did this with all due recognition of the papal sovereignty and principally to prevent the quasi-anarchy which local intrigues and passions, family interests and ambitions, and adverse Byzantine agencies were promoting. It would be unhistorical to maintain that as emperor he ignored at once the civil sovereignty of the pope in the Patrimony of Peter. This (the Duchy of Rome and the Exarchate) he significantly omitted from the partition of the Frankish State made at the Diet of Thionville, in 806. It is to be noted that in this public division of his estate he made no provision for the imperial title, also that he committed to all three sons "the defence and protection of the Roman Church". In 817 Louis the Pious, by a famous charter whose substantial authenticity there is no good reason to doubt, confirmed to Pope Paschal and his successors forever, "the city of Rome with its duchy and dependencies, as the same have been held to this day by your predecessors, under their authority and jurisdiction", adding that he did not pretend to any jurisdiction in said territory, except when solicited thereto by the pope. It may be noted here that the chroniclers of the ninth century treat as "restitution" to St. Peter the various cessions and grants of cities and territory made at this period by the Carolingian rulers within the limits of the Patrimony of Peter. The Charter of Louis the Pious was afterwards confirmed by Emperor Otto I in 962 and Henry II in 1020. These imperial documents make it clear that the acts of authority exercised by the new emperor in the Patrimony of Peter were only such as were called for by his office of Defender of the Roman Church. Kleinclausz (l'Empire Carolingien, etc., Paris, 1902, 441 sqq.) denies the authenticity of the famous letter (871) of Emperor Louis II to the Greek Emperor Basil (in which the former recognizes fully the papal origin of his own imperial dignity), and attributes it to Anastasius Bibliotheca in 879. His arguments are weak; the authenticity is admitted by Gregorovius and O. Harnack. Anti-papal writers have undertaken to prove that Charles' dignity of Patricius Romanorum was equivalent to immediate and sole sovereign authority at Rome, and in law and in fact excluded any papal sovereignty. In reality this Roman patriciate, both under Pepin and Charles, was no more than a high protectorship of the civil sovereignty of the pope, whose local independence, both before and after the coronation of Charles, is historically certain, even apart from the aforesaid imperial charters.
The personal devotion of Charles to the Apostolic See is well known. While in the preface to his Capitularies he calls himself the "devoted defender and humble helper of Holy Church", he was especially fond of the basilica of St. Peter at Rome. Einhard relates (Vita, c. xxvii) that he enriched it beyond all other churches and that he was particularly anxious that the City of Rome should in his reign obtain again its ancient authority. He promulgated a special law on the respect due this See of Peter (Capitulare de honoranda sede Apostolica, ed. Baluze I, 255). The letters of the popes to himself, his father, and grandfather, were collected by his order in the famous "Codex Carolinus". Gregory VII tells us (Regest., VII, 23) that he placed a part of the conquered Saxon territory under the protection of St. Peter, and sent to Rome a tribute from the same. He received from Pope Adrian the Roman canon law in the shape of the "Collectio Dionysia-Hadriana", and also (784-91) the "Gregorian Sacramentary" or liturgical use of Rome, for the guidance of the Frankish Church. He furthered also in the Frankish churches the introduction of the Gregorian chant. It is of interest to note that just before his coronation at Rome Charles received three messengers from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, bearing to the King of the Franks the keys of the Holy Sepulchre and the banner of Jerusalem, "a recognition that the holiest place in Christendomwas under the protection of the great monarch of the West" (Hodgkin). Shortly after this event, the Caliph Haroun al Raschid sent an embassy to Charles, who continued to take a deep interest in the Holy Sepulchre, and built Latin monasteries at Jerusalem, also a hospital for pilgrims. To the same period belongs the foundation of the Schola Francorum near St. Peter's Basilica, a refuge andhospital (with cemetery attached) for Frankish pilgrims to Rome, now represented by the Campo Santo de' Tedeschi near the Vatican.
The main work of Charlemagne in the development of Western Christendom might have been considered accomplished had he now passed away. Of all that he added during the remaining thirteen years of his life nothing increased perceptibly the stability of the structure. His military power and his instinct for organization had been successfully applied to the formation of a material power pledged to the support of the papacy, and on the other hand at least one pope (Adrian) had lent all the spiritual strength of the Holy See to help build up the new Western Empire, which his immediate successor (Leo) was to solemnly consecrate. Indeed, the remaining thirteen years of Charles' earthly career seem to illustrate rather the drawbacks of an intimate connection betweenChurch and State than its advantages.
In those years nothing like the military activity of the emperor's earlier life appears; there were much fewer enemies to conquer. Charles' sons led here and there an expedition, as when Louis captured Barcelona (801) or the younger Charles invaded the territory of the Sorbs. But their father had somewhat larger business on his hands at this time; above all, he had to either conciliate or neutralize the jealousy of the Byzantine Empire which still had the prestige of old tradition. At Rome Charles had been hailed in due form as "Augustus" by the Roman people, but he could not help realizing that many centuries before, the right of conferring this title had virtually passed from Old to New Rome. New Rome, i.e. Constantinople, affected to regard Leo's act as one of schism. Nicephorus, the successor of Irene (803) entered into diplomatic relations with Charles, it is true, but would not recognize his imperial character. According to one account (Theophanes) Charles had sought Irene in marriage, but his plan was defeated. The Frankish emperor then took up the cause of rebellious Venetia and Dalmatia. The war was carried on by sea, under King Pepin, and in 812, after the death of Nicephorus, a Byzantine embassy at Aachen actually addressed Charles as Basileus. About this time Charles again trenched upon the teaching prerogative of the Church, in the matter of the Filioque although in this instance also the Holy See admitted the soundness of his doctrine, while condemning his usurpation of its functions.
The other source of discord which appeared in the new Western Empire, and from its very beginning, was that of the succession. Charles made no pretence either of right of primogeniture for his eldest son or to name a successor for himself. As Pepin the Short had divided the Frankish realm, so did Charles divide the empire among his sons, naming none of them emperor. By the will which he made in 806 the greater part of what was later called France went to Louis the Pious; Frankland proper, Frisia, Saxony, Hesse, and Franconia were to be the heritage of Charles the Young; Pepin received Lombardy and its Italian dependencies, Bavaria, and Southern Alemannia. But Pepin and Charles pre-deceased the emperor, and in 813 the magnates of the empire did homage atAachen to Louis the Pious as King of the Franks, and future sole ruler of the great imperial state. Thus is was that the Carolingian Empire, as a dynastic institution, ended with the death of Charles the Fat (888), while the Holy Roman Empire, continued by Otto the Great (968-973), lacked all that is now France. But the idea of a Europe welded together out of various races under the spiritual influence of one Catholic Faith and one Vicar of Christ had been exhibited in the concrete.
It remains to say something of the achievements of Charlemagne at home. His life was so full of movement, so made up of long journeys, that home in his case signifies little more than the personal environment of his court, wherever it might happen to be on any given day. There was, it is true, a general preference for Austrasia, or Frankland (after Aachen, Worms, Nymwegen, and Ingleheim were favourite residences). He took a deep and intelligent interest in the agricultural development of the realm, and in the growth of trade, both domestic and foreign. The civil legislative work of Charles consisted principally in organizing and codifying the principles of Frankish law handed down from antiquity; thus in 802 the laws of the Frisians, Thuringians, and Saxons were reduced to writing. Among these principles, it is important to note, was one by which no free man could be deprived of life or liberty without the judgment of his equals in the state. The spirit of his legislation was above all religious; he recognized as a basis and norm the ecclesiastical canons, was wont to submit his projects of law to the bishops, or to give civil authority to the decrees ofsynods. More than once he made laws at the suggestion of popes or bishops. For administrative purposes the State was divided into counties and hundreds, for the government of which counts and hundred-men were responsible. Side by side with the counts in the great national parliament (Reichstag, Diet) which normally met in the spring, sat the bishops, and the spiritual constituency was so closely intertwined with the temporal that in reading of a "council" under Charles, it is not always easy to ascertain whether the particular proceedings are supposed to be those of a parliament or of a synod. Nevertheless this parliament or diet was essentially bicameral (civil and ecclesiastical), and the foregoing descriptions applies to the mutual discussion of res mixtae or subjects pertaining to both orders.
The one Frankish administrative institution to which Charles gave an entirely new character was the missi dominici, representatives (civil and ecclesiastical) of the royal authority, who from being royal messengers assumed under him functions much like those ofpapal legates, i.e. they were partly royal commissioners, partly itinerant governors. There were usually two for each province (an ecclesiastic and a lay lord), and they were bound to visit their territory (missatica) four times each year. Between these missi and the local governors or counts the power of the former great crown-vassals (dukes, Herzöge) was parcelled out. Local justice was administered by the aforesaid count (comes, Graf) in his court, held three times each year (placitum generale), with the aid of seven assessors (scabini, rachimburgi), but there was a graduated appeal ending in the person of the emperor.
While enough has been said above to show how ready he was to interfere in the Church's domain, it does not appear that this propensity arose from motives discreditable to his religious character. It would be absurd to pretend that Charlemagne was a consistent lifelong hypocrite; if he was not, then his keen practical interest in all that pertained to the services of the Church, his participation even in the chanting of the choir (though, as his biographer says, "in a subdued voice") his fastidious attention to questions of rites and ceremonies (Monachus Sangallensis), go to show, like many other traits related of him, that his strong rough nature was really impregnated with zeal, however mistaken at times, for the earthly glory of God. He sought to elevate and perfect the clergy, both monastic and secular, the latter through the enforcement of the Vita Canonica or common life. Tithes were strictly enforced for the support of the clergy and the dignity of public worship. Ecclesiastical immunities were recognized and protected, the bishops held to frequent visitation of their dioceses, a regular religious instruction of the people provided for, and in the vernacular tongue. Through Alcuin he caused corrected copies of the Scripture to be placed in the churches, and earned great credit for his improvement of the much depraved text of the Latin Vulgate. Education, for aspirants to the priesthood at least, was furthered by the royal order of 787 to all bishops and abbots to keep open in their cathedrals and monasteries schools for the study of the seven liberal arts and the interpretation of Scriptures. He did much also to improve ecclesiastical music, and founded schoolsof church-song at Metz, Soissons, and St. Gall. For the contemporary development of Christian civilization through Alcuin, Einhard, and other scholars, Italian and Irish, and for the king's personal attainments in literature, see CAROLINGIAN SCHOOLS; ALCUIN;EINHARD. He spoke Latin well, and loved to listen to the reading of St. Augustine, especially "The City of God". He understood Greek, but was especially devoted to his Frankish (Old-German) mother tongue; its terms for the months and the various winds are owing to him. He attempted also to produce a German grammar, and Einhard tells us that he caused the ancient folksongs and hero-tales (barbara atque antiquissima carmina) to be collected; unfortunately this collection ceased to be appreciated and was lost at a later date.
From boyhood Charles had evinced strong domestic affections. Judged, perhaps, by the more perfectly developed Christianstandards of a later day, his matrimonial relations were far from blameless; but it would be unfair to criticize by any such ethicalrules the obscurely transmitted accounts of his domestic life which have come down to us. What is certain (and more pleasant to contemplate) is the picture, which his contemporaries have left us, of the delight he found in being with his children, joining in their sports, particularly in his own favourite recreation of swimming, and finding his relaxation in the society of his sons and daughters; the latter he refused to give in marriage, unfortunately for their moral character. He died in his seventy-second year, after forty-seven years of reign, and was buried in the octagonal Byzantine-Romanesque church at Aachen, built by him and decorated with marble columns from Rome and Ravenna. In the year 1000 Otto III opened the imperial tomb and found (it is said) the great emperor as he had been buried, sitting on a marble throne, robed and crowned as in life, the book of the Gospels open on his knees. In some parts of the empire popular affection placed him among the saints. For political purposes and to please Frederick Barbarossa he was canonized (1165) by the antipope Paschal III, but this act was never ratified by insertion of his feast in theRoman Breviary or by the Universal Church; his cultus, however, was permitted at Aachen [Acta SS., 28 Jan., 3d ed., II, 490-93, 303-7, 769; his office is in Canisius, "Antiq. Lect.", III (2)]. According to his friend and biographer, Einhard, Charles was of imposing stature, to which his bright eyes and long, flowing hair added more dignity. His neck was rather short, and his belly prominent, but the symmetry of his other members concealed these defects. His clear voice was not so sonorous as his gigantic frame would suggest. Except on his visits to Rome he wore the national dress of his Frankish people, linen shirt and drawers, a tunic held by a silken cord, and leggings; his thighs were wound round with thongs of leather; his feet were covered with laced shoes. He had good health to his sixty-eighth year, when fevers set in, and he began to limp with one foot. He was his own physician, we are told, and much disliked his medical advisers who wished him to eat boiled meat instead of roast. No contemporary portrait of him has been preserved. A statuette in the Musée Carnavalet at Paris is said to be very ancient.
Shahan, Thomas, and Ewan Macpherson. "Charlemagne." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 27 Jan. 2020 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03610c.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael C. Tinkler.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Illustrated Catholic Family Annual – Charlemagne


Article

Charlemagne (whose name is formed from combining the two Latin words “Carolus Magnus” – Charles the Great), son of Pepin, King of the Franks was born in the castle of Salzburg, in Bavaria, about the year 742. After the death of his father in 768, and of his only brother, Carloman in 771, he became the sovereign of all France and of nearly one-half of Germany. After several just and victorious wars against the Saxons, Saracens, and Lombards in Germany, Spain, and Italy, Charles who had everywhere protected religion and shown himself an enlightened and devoted son of the Church, was solemnly crowned Emperor of the West in Saint Peter’s at Rome, by Pope Leo III, on Christmas day, A.D. 800. He was then the legitimate and undisputed master of the greater part of Europe. He died, full of years and good works, in the mouth of January, A.D. 814, and was buried with extraordinary pomp, amidst the veneration of the faithful, which has continued ever since, in the cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle. Charlemagne was the regenerator of Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. He was the civilizer and instructor of many nations, adding to the fortunes of a successful conqueror the qualities of a wise legislator and Christian statesman. One of the most famous of English historians is obliged to acknowledge, although unfavorable to the genius and virtues of a Catholic ruler, that “the appellation of great has been often bestowed, and sometimes deserved, but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favor the title has been indissolubly blended with the name.”

MLA Citation
  • “Charlemagne”. Illustrated Catholic Family Annual, 1880. CatholicSaints.Info. 14 January 2017. Web. 27 January 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/illustrated-catholic-family-annual-charlemagne/>

SOURCE : https://catholicsaints.info/illustrated-catholic-family-annual-charlemagne/



Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Blessed Charlemagne, Emperor


Article

Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, son of king Pepin, was born in 742; and crowned king of France in 768; but his youngest brother Carloman reigned in Austrasia till his death, in 771. Charlemagne vanquished Hunauld, duke of Aquitain, and conquered the French Gothia or Landguedoc; subdued Lombardy; conferred on Pope Adrian the exarchite of Ravenna, the duchy of Spoletto and many other dominions; took Pavia, (which had been honoured with the residence of twenty kings,) and was crowned king of Lombardy in 774. The emir Abderamene in Spain, having shaken off the yoke of the caliph of the Saracens, in 736, and established his kingdom at Cordova, and other emirs in Spain setting up independency, Charlemagne, in 778, marched as far as the Ebro and Saragossa, conquered Barcelona, Gironne, and many other places, and returned triumphant. His cousin Roland, who followed him with the rear of his army, in his return was set upon in the Pyrenean mountains by a troop of Gascon robbers, and slain; and is the famous hero of numberless old French romances and songs. The Saxons having in the king’s absence plundered his dominions upon the Rhine, he flew to the Weser, and compelled them to make satisfaction. Thence he went to Rome and had his infant sons crowned kings, Pepin of Lombardy, and Lewis of Aquitain. The great revolt of the Saxons, in 782, called him again on that side. When they were vanquished, and sued for pardon, he declared he would no more take their oaths which they had so often broken, unless they became Christians. Witikind embraced the condition, was baptized with his chief followers in 785, and being created duke of part of Saxony, remained ever after faithful in his religion and allegiance. From him are descended, either directly or by intermarriages, many dukes of Bavaria, and the present houses of Saxony, Brandenburg, etc., as may be seen in the German genealogists. Some other Saxons afterwards revolted, and were vanquished and punished in 794, 798, etc., so that, through their repeated treachery and rebellions, this Saxon war continued at intervals for the space of thirty-three years. Thassillon, duke of Bavaria, for treasonable practices, was attacked by Charlemagne in 788, vanquished, and obliged to put on a monk’s cowl to save his life: from which time Bavaria was annexed to Charlemagne’s dominions. To punish the Abares for their inroads, he crossed the Inns into their territories, sacked Vienna, and marched to the mouth of the Raad upon the Danube. In 794, he assisted at the great council of Francfort, held in his royal palace there. He restored Leo III at Rome, quelled the seditions there, and was crowned by him on Christmas-day, in 800, emperor of Rome and of the West: in which quality he was afterwards solemnly acknowledged by Nicephorus, emperor of Constantinople. Thus was the western empire restored, which had been extinct in Momylus Agustulus in the fifth century. In 805, Charlemagne quelled and conquered the Sclavonians. The Danube, the Teisse, and the Oder on the East, and the Ebro and the ocean on the West, were the boundaries of his vast dominions. France, Germany, Dacia, Dalmatia, Istria, Italy, and part of Pannonia and Spain, obeyed his laws. It was then customary for kings not to reside in great cities, but to pass the summer often in progresses or campaigns, and the winter at some country palace. King Pepin resided at Herstal, now Jopin, in the territory of Liege, and sometimes at Quiercy on the Oise: Charlemagne often at Francfort or Aix-la-Chapelle, which were country seats; for those towns were then inconsiderable places: though the latter had been founded by Serenus Granus in 124, under Adrian. It owes its greatness to the church built there by Charlemagne.

This prince was not less worthy of our admiration in the quality of a legislator than in that of a conqueror; and in the midst of his marches and victories, he gave the utmost attention to the wise government of his dominions, and to every thing that could promote the happiness of his people, the exaltation of the church, and the advancement of piety and every branch of sacred and useful learning. What pains he took for the reformation of monasteries, and for the sake of uniformity introducing in them the rule of Saint Bennet, appears from his transactions, and several ecclesiastical assemblies in 789. His zeal for the devout observance of the rites of the church is expressed in his book to Alcuin on that subject, and in his encyclical epistle on the rites of baptism, and in various works which he commissioned Alcuin and others to compile. For the reformation of manners, especially of the clergy, he procured many synods to be held, in which degrees were framed, which are called his Capitula. His Capitulars, divided into many chapters, are of the same nature. The best edition of these Capitulars is given by Baluzius, with dissertations, in 1677, two vols. folio. The Carolin Books are a theological work, (adopted by this prince, who speaks in the first person,) compiled in four books, against a falsified copy of the second council of Nice, sent by certain Iconoclasts from Constantinople, on which see F. Daniel and Ceillier.

There never was a truly great man, who was not a lover and encourager of learning, as of the highest improvement of the human mind. Charlemagne, by most munificent largesses invited learned men over from foreign parts, as Alcuin, Peter of Pisa, Paul the deacon, etc. He found no greater pleasure than in conversing with them, instituted an academy in his own palace, and great schools at Paris, Tours, etc. assisted at literary disputations, was an excellent historian, and had Saint Austin’s book, “On the City of God,” laid every night under his pillow to read if he awaked. Yet Eginhard assures us, that whatever pains he took, he could never learn to write, because he was old when he first applied himself to it. He was skilled in astronomy, arithmetic, music, and every branch of the mathematics: understood the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac, also the Sclavonian, and several other living languages, so as never to want an interpreter to converse with ambassadors of neighbouring nations. He meditated assiduously on the scriptures, assisted at the divine office, even that of midnight if possible; had good books read to him at table, and took but one meal a day, which he was obliged to anticipate before the hour of evening on fasting days, that all his officers and servants might dine before midnight. He was very abstemious, had a paternal care of the poor in all his dominions, and honoured good men, especially among the clergy. Charlemagne died January the 28th, in 814, seventy-two years old, and was buried at Aix-la-Chapelle. The incontinence, into which he fell in his youth, he expiated by sincere repentance, so that several churches in Germany and France honour him among the saints. In the university of Paris, the most constant nation of the Germans (which was originally called the English nation, in 1250, when the distinction of nations in the faculty of arts was there established,) take Charlemagne for their patron, but only keep his festival since the year 1480, which is now common to the other three nations of French, Picards, and Normans, since 1661.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Blessed Charlemagne, Emperor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866.CatholicSaints.Info. 14 January 2017. Web. 27 January 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/butlers-lives-of-the-saints-blessed-charlemagne-emperor/>

Carlovingian School


A system of educational reform was inaugurated by Blessed Charlemagne under the advice of Saint Alcuin who became his “prime minister of education.” In 782 Alcuin was placed at the head of the court school of military tactics and good manners, established under the Merovingian kings, and taught grammar, arithmetic, astronomy, and music.Charlemagne and the royal household learned from Alcuin. In 787 Charlemagne issued the famous capitulary oneducation and Theodulf, who succeeded Alcuin as court adviser, enacted that priests should establish free schools in every town and village. Through the influence of Alcuin, Theodulf, Lupus, Rhabanus Maurus, and others, the Carlovingian revival spread to Rheims, Auxerre, Laon, Chartres, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy. The schools of Utrecht, Liege, and Saint Laurent sprang up under the successors of Charlemagne. Irish teachersfigured largely in the schools, e.g., Clement, Cruindmelus, Dungal, Dicuil, SeduIius, and John Scotus Eriugena. The course of studies, in the town and village schools, comprised Christian doctrine, plain-song, and grammar; in themonastic and cathedral schools, grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy.




January 28, Blessed CHARLEMAGNE 

Source: Lives of the Saints by the Benziqer Brothers. 

SHORT BIOGRAPHY

Born on April 2, 742 Aix-la-Chapelle (in modern Germany). Born a prince, the eldest son of Bertha and Pepin the Short, Mayor of the Palace under King Childeric III and then King of the Franks in 751. Married, and father of Louis the Pious. King of the Franks in 768. As "Roman Patrician" Charles was obligated to defend the temporal rights of the Holy See, which were first threatened by the Lombards under Desiderius, whom he finally defeated at Pavia, Italy. Defeated the pagan Saxons, to whom he gave the alternative of baptism or death; their leader Wittekind accepted Christianity in 785. The Song of Roland recounts the death of the paladin Roland during Charlemagne's 777 invasion of Moslem Spain. Crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor, sovereign of Christendom in the West, by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day 800.
The reign of Charlemagne involved a greater degree of organic development and consolidation of Christian Europe than any other person. He supported agricultural development in his realm, organized and codified the principles of ancient Frankish law, and through the scholars whom he attracted to his court, including Saint Alcuin, he inaugurated educational reform. He furthered the spiritual welfare of the Church by his zeal for ecclesiastical discipline and took keen interest in the deliberations of synods. He improved and propagated church music, laying the foundations of modern musical culture. In 806 he divided his empire by will among his three sons.
Charlemagne is the hero of a cycle of romance in the Middle Ages. He first appeared as a legendary figure in the book of the so-called Monachus Sangallensis (883). In France he became the center of the national epics, or "Chansons de Geste," which relate his legendary deeds and those of his paladins (Oliver, Roland, Turpin), and vassals. In the older epics he is the incarnation of majesty, truth, and justice, and the champion of God's church against the infidel, but the later epics paint him as a tyrant and oppressor. His Saxon wars left many legends in Germany, concerned mainly with Wittekind and his conversion, which, according to the French version, was short-lived and insincere. Through French influence the Carlovingian legend spread to other countries; in Italy it inspired the Franco-Italian epics, and the "Reali di Francia" of Mignabotti, and culminated in the famous chivalrous epics of Boiardo and Ariosto; in Germany it appeared in the "Rolandslied" of Konrad der Pfaffe, "Karlmeinet," and the chap-books of the 15th century; in Scandinavia in the "Karlamagnus saga" (c.1300); in the Netherlands in numerous translations like "Carel ende Elegast"; and in England Caxton published "The Lyf of Charles the Grete" (1485) and "The four sonnes of Aymon" (1486).
Died on January 28, 814 at Aachen (in modern Germany) of natural causes.

San Carlomagno Imperatore


742 - 28 gennaio 814

Patronato: Scuole francesi

Emblema: Corona, Scettro, Globo, Spada, Modellino di Aquisgrana, Manto d' ermellino

La canonizzazione di Carlomagno nel 1165 da parte dell'antipapa Pasquale III non è che un momento dello straordinario destino postumo dell'imperatore d'Occidente. Qui si ricorderà brevemente ciò che, nella sua vita e nella sua opera, ha fornito occasione a un culto in alcune regioni cristiane. 

Nato nel 742, primogenito di Pipino il Breve, gli succedette il 24 settembre 768 come sovrano d'una parte del regno dei Franchi, divenendo unico re alla morte (771) del fratello Carlomanno. Chiamato in aiuto dal papa Adriano I, scese in Italia, contro Desiderio, re dei Longobardi, nell'aprile 774. In cambio d'una promessa di donazione di territori italiani al sommo pontefice, riceve il titolo di re dei Longobardi quando lo sconfitto Desiderio fu rinchiuso nel monastero di Corbie. Nel 777 iniziò una serie di campagne per la sottomissione e l'evangelizzazione dei Sassoni, capeggiati da Vitichindo. Dopo una cerimonia di Battesimo collettivo a Paderborn, la rivalsa dei vinti fu soffocata, nelle campagne del 782-85, con tremendi massacri, fra i quali quello di molte migliaia di prigionieri a Werden. Spintosi oltre i Pirenei, nella futura Marca di Spagna, Carlomagno subì nel,778 un grave rovescio a Roncisvalle. Nelle successive discese in Italia (781 e 787) stabilì legami con l'Impero d'Oriente (fidanzamento di sua figlia Rotrude col giovane Costantino VI), e s'inserì sempre più a fondo, attraverso i missi carolingi, nella vita di Roma. Consacrato re d'Italia e spinto a occuparsi del patrimonio temporale della Chiesa, non trascurò il suo ruolo di riformatore, continuando l'opera iniziata dal padre col concorso di S. Bonifacio. Nel 779, benché occupatissimo per le rivolte dei Sassoni, promulgò un capitolare sui beni della Chiesa e i diritti vescovili, e accentuò la sua azione riformatrice sotto l'impulso dei chierici e dei proceres ecclesiastici e, soprattutto, di Alcuino e di Teodulfo d'Orleans. 

La celebre “Admonitio generalis” del 789 mostra a pieno la concezione di Carlomagno in materia di politica religiosa, richiamandosi all'esempio biblico del re Giosia per il quale il bisogno più urgente è ricondurre il popolo di Dio nelle vie del Signore, per far regnare ed esaltare la sua legge. Nascono da questa esigenza il rinascimento degli studi, la revisione del testo delle Scritture operata da Alcuino, la costituzione dell'omeliario di Paolo Diacono. 

Al concilio di Francoforte del 794, Carlomagno si erge di fronte a Bisanzio come il legittimo crede degli imperatori d'Occidente, promotori di concili e guardiani della fede. Non è un caso che i testi relativi alla disputa delle immagini (Libri Carolini), benché redatti da Alcuino o da Teodulfo, portino il nome di Carlomagno. Pertanto, l'incoronazione imperiale del giorno di Natale dell'anno 800 non fu che il coronamento d'una politica che il papato non poté fare a meno di riconoscere, sollecitando la protezione del sovrano e accettandolo, nella persona di Leone III, come giudice delle sue controversie. Ma Carlomagno (come mostrano le origini della disputa sul “Filioque”) estese la sua influenza fino alla Palestina. La sua sollecitudine per il restauro delle chiese di Gerusalemme e dei luoghi santi mediante questue (prescritte in un capitolare dell'810) gli valse più tardi il titolo di primo dei crociati. Del patronato esercitato sulla Chiesa dalla forte personalità di Carlomagno restano monumenti documentari ed encomiastici negli “Annales”, che ricordano i concili da lui presieduti, le chiese e i monasteri da lui fondati. 

La vita privata di Carlomagno fu obiettivamente deplorevole. E non si possono certo dimenticare due ripudi e molti concubinati, né i massacri giustificati dalla sola vendetta o la tolleranza per la libertà dei costumi di corte. Non mancano, tuttavia, indizi di una sensibilità di Carlomagno per la colpa, in tempi piuttosto grossolani e corrotti. Il suo biografo Eginardo informa che Carlomagno non apprezzava punto i giovani, sebbene li praticasse, e, per quanto la sua vita religiosa personale ci sfugga, sappiamo che egli teneva molto all'esatta osservanza dei riti liturgici che faceva celebrare, specialmente ad Aquisgrana (odierna Aachen), con sontuoso decoro. Cosi, quando mori ad Aquisgrana il 28 gennaio 814, Carlomagno lasciò dietro di sé il ricordo di molti meriti che la posterità si incaricò di glorificare. La valorizzazione del prestigio di Carlomagno assunse il carattere di un'operazione politica durante la lotta delle Investiture e il conflitto fra il Sacerdozio e l'Impero. La prima cura di Ottone I, nel farsi consacrare ad Aquisgrana (962), fu quella di ripristinare la tradizione carolingia per servirsene. 

Nell'anno 1000, Ottone III scopri ad Aquisgrana il corpo di Carlomagno in circostanze in cui l'immaginazione poteva facilmente sbrigliarsi. Nel sec. XI, mentre Gregorio VII scorgeva nell'incoronazione imperiale di Carlomagno la ricompensa dei servigi da lui resi alla cristianità, gli Enriciani esaltarono il patronato esercitato dall'imperatore sulla Chiesa. Quando l'impero divenne oggetto di competizione fra principi germanici, Federico I, invocando gli esempi della canonizzazione di Enrico II (1146), di Edoardo il Confessore (1161), di Canuto di Danimarca (1165), pretese e ottenne dall'antipapa Pasquale III la canonizzazione di Carlomagno col rito dell'elevazione agli altari (29 dic. 1165). Egli pensò di gettare in tal modo discredito su Alessandro III, che gli rifiutava l'impero, e, insieme, sui Capetingi che lo pretendevano. E se più tardi Filippo Augusto, vincitore di Federico II a Bouvines nel 1214, si richiamò alle analoghe vittorie di Carlomagno sui Sassoni, lo stesso Federico II si fece incoronare ad Aquisgrana il 25 luglio 1215 e dispose, due giorni dopo, una solenne traslazione delle reliquie di Carlomagno. Intanto Innocenzo III, risoluto sostenitore della teoria delle “due spade”, ricordava che è il papa che eleva all'impero e dipingeva Carlomagno come uno strumento passivo della traslazione dell'impero da Oriente a Occidente. La grande figura di Carlomagno venne piegata a interpretazioni opposte almeno fino all'elezione di Carlo V. 

Ma a parte le utilizzazioni politiche contrastanti, il culto di Carlomagno appare ben radicato nella tradizione letteraria e nell'iconografia. Il tono agiografico è già evidente nei racconti di Eginardo e del monaco di S. Gallo di poco posteriori alla morte dell'imperatore. Rabano Mauro, abate di Fulda e arcivescovo di Magonza, iscrive Carlomagno nel suo Martirologio. La leggenda di Carlomagno è soprattutto abbellita dagli aspetti missionari della sua vita. 

A Gerusalemme, la chiesa di S. Maria Latina conservava il suo ricordo. Alla fine del sec. X si credeva che l'imperatore si fosse recato in Terrasanta in pellegrinaggio. Urbano II, nel 1095, esaltava la sua memoria davanti ai primi crociati. Nel 1100 l'avventura transpirenaica dei paladini si trasfigurò in crociata, attraverso l'interpretazione della Chanson de Roland. Ognuno ricorda la frequenza di interventi soprannaturali nelle “chansons de gestes”: Carlomagno è assistito dall'angelo Gabriele; Dio gli parla in sogno; simile a Giosué, egli arresta il sole; benché il suo esercito formicoli di chierici, benedice o assolve lui. stesso i combattenti, ecc. 

Dal sec. XII al XV si moltiplicano le testimonianze di un culto effettivo di C., connesse da un lato con la fedeltà delle fondazioni carolingie alla memoria del fondatore, dall'altro con l'atteggiamento dei vescovi verso gli Staufen, principali promotori del culto imperiale. A Strasburgo si trova un altare prima del 1175, a Osnabruck e ad Aquisgrana prima del 1200. Nel 1215, in seguito alla consacrazione di Federico II e alle cerimonie che l'accompagnarono, si stabilirono due festività: il 28 genn. (data della morte di C.), festa solenne con ottava, e il 29 dic., festa della traslazione. Roma rispose istituendo la festa antimperiale di S. Tommaso Becket, campione della Chiesa di fronte al potere politico; ma nel 1226 il cardinale Giovanni di Porto consacrò ufficialmente ad Aquisgrana un altare “in honorem sanctorum apostolorum et beati Karoli regis”. A Ratisbona, il monastero di S. Emmerano e quello di S. Pietro, occupato dagli Irlandesi, adottarono, nonostante l'estraneità dell'episcopato, il culto di Carlomagno che, secondo M. Folz, si andò estendendo in un’area esagonale con densità più forti nelle regioni di Treviri, di Fulda, di Norimberga e di Lorsch. Nel 1354, Carlo IV fondò presso Magonza, nell'Ingelheim, un oratorio in onore del S. Salvatore e dei beati Venceslao e Carlomagno. Toccato l'apogeo nel sec. XV, il culto di Carlomagno non fu abolito neppure dalla Riforma, tanto da sopravvivere fino al sec. XVIII in una prospettiva politica, presso i Febroniani. 

In Francia, nel sec. XIII, una confraternita di Roncisvalle si stabilì a S. Giacomo della Boucherie. Carlo V (1364-80) fece di Carlomagno un protettore della casa di Francia alla pari di S. Luigi, e ne portò sullo scettro l'effigie con l'iscrizione “Sanctus Karolus Magnus”. Nel 1471, Luigi XI estese a tutta la Francia la celebrazione della festa di Carlomagno il 28 genn. Nel 1478, Carlomagno fu scelto come patrono della confraternita dei messaggeri dell'università e, dal 1487, fu festeggiato come protettore degli scolari (nel collegio di Navarra si celebrò fino al 1765, il 28 genn., una Messa con panegirico). Per queste ragioni il cardinale Lambertini, futuro Benedetto XIV, indicò nel caso di Carlomagno un tipico esempio di equivalenza fra una venerazione tradizionale e una. regolare beatificazione (De servorum Dei beatificatione, I, cap. 9, n. 4). 

Oggi il culto di Carlomagno si celebra solo ad Aachen, con rito doppio di prima classe, il 28 genn. con ottava; la solennità è fissata alla prima domenica dopo la festa di S. Anna. A Metten ed a Múnster (nei Grigioni) il culto è “tollerato” per indulto della S. Congregazione dei Riti.

Autore: Gerard Mathon