Who Was Charlemagne?

Charlemagne was the emperor of wide portions of medieval Europe in the late eighth and early ninth centuries. His reign gradually spread from a Germanic tribe to most of Western Europe, sparking a cultural revolution known as the Carolingian Renaissance.

At its height, Charlemagne's empire stretched across the continent, including most of modern France and Germany, as well as portions of Italy, Spain and Bohemia. He sought to unify his empire, introducing scientific advances, administrative reforms and Christianity to the regions he conquered. Although his empire lasted less than a century after his death in 814, dissolving amidst his heirs, it was key in defining the geopolitics and character of medieval Europe.