Week 17 – the Carolingians, Papal-Frankish Alliance and Charlemagne

Discuss the shift in power from the Merovingians to the Carolingians. Why did it occur, and how?

Merovingians were not skilled administrators, they were warriors. They fought even among themselves throughout the 6th century: brothers and cousins slaughtering each other. They

The Carolingian family was, unlike the Merovingians, more administrative and also held an office of mayor of the palace. In the Battle of Tours (734) a Carolingian family member, Charles Martel, won the battle. Their family slowly gained more power in the kingdom of Franks; they were even strong enough to kill the king, but they did not want to hurt their reputation. Eventually, in 751, the Pope blessed a change of dynasty from Merovingian family to Carolingian.

What was the significance of the Papal-Frankish Alliance? What were two factors that helped make the alliance possible?

Both sides were supportive of Anglo-Saxons missionaries. The Carolingians were catholic and wanted to spread Christian faith, while the papacy needed an ally and a protector to protect them before their enemies like the Lombards; their ally was the Byzantine empire, but they had to deal with their own enemies, therefore the papacy did not think they could protect them that well. On top of that, the papacy turned from the East to the West, where the Franks were.

What picture of Charlemagne emerges from Einhard’s biography?

Charlemagne was, without knowing beforehand, crowned and made an emperor on the 800th Christmas day, but he did not want to be one. He accepted it, but he did not want to make the Byzantines angry and they thought that the only emperor can be their emperor. For Byzantines, the only way to have an emperor in the west was to take it from barbarians and make another Byzantine emperor there.

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