When we think of Rome we think of Caesar, Augustus, Marc-Anthony, and Cleopatra, but you would be remiss if you didn’t think of King Charlemagne or Charles The Great. In the late 5th Century when the Roman Empire split in half – the western part became the Byzantine Empire which became a cultural phenomenon while the easter half fell into the chaos of warring city-states with no central government.
Charlemagne was born during the Dark Ages and became King of Lombards a Frankish state in what would be Germany around 768 AD. Charlemagne was a fierce warrior and went onto the battlefield conquering almost all of Europe. Although he seemed like a tyrant, he enforced strict reforms which in a way made a common identity amongst all people across Europe from Germany to Spain. He put the entire continent on the same currency which expanded trade immensely. He was also a big advocate of education and encouraged everyone to learn in Latin. Now all of Europe was connected by a currency and a language.
Charlemagne eventually became the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. His goal was to reunite both halves of the empire and take control over the Byzantine Empire. How the two empires made piece rather than fight a war. Charlemagne received the Istrian peninsula while The Byzantine Empire could stay the Byzantine Empire. During this time he sparked what is known as the Carolingian Renaissance where arts and culture flourished in Western Europe. However, besides being a rival to that of the Byzantine’s he was also a rival with Irene of Athens the Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire. Their feud led to the Great Schism of 1054 where Constantinople was no longer affiliated with Rome.