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What was Charlemagne's lasting legacy?

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Quick Answer

Charlemagne's lasting legacies were reviving education during the Dark Ages and making Western Europe safe from attacks by barbarians from the north and Asians from the east. He united anarchic Western Europe under the Holy Roman Empire, which he founded.

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Full Answer

Charlemagne lived from 747 to 814. He has been called a promoter of civilization during a time of anarchy. He established a central government to rule much of Western Europe, a legacy that ended soon after he died. His sons and heirs divided the Holy Roman Empire he founded through conquest and war into three parts, squandering the cohesion Charlemagne brought to Western Europe.

Charlemagne's efforts to restore intellectualism and learning, however, may be his greatest achievement and are a lasting legacy. He established schools and monasteries where knowledge was copied and preserved. He also made Latin the common language of Europe and established a new method of handwriting that made written language much easier to understand.

Some writers say he ended the Dark Ages. Others credit Charlemagne with saving the classical Greco-Roman heritage of philosophy, sciences, medicine, literature and drama. These disciplines gave rise to the Renaissance, beginning in the 13th century, a movement that greatly advanced human destiny. Charlemagne also made Christianity the dominant religion in regions of Western Europe where it had not been.

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