Charlemagne restored order and peace throughout Western Europe during the middle ages after barbarians took over the entire region. Charlemagne launched a 30 year campaign and fought relentlessly to bring the European society to a civil state. What I find most admirable about Charlemagne was his ability and dedication to organizing all of Europe. I also like the fact that he was a learned man who believed that learning and academics was important to the growth of society. He believed in what we call today democracy, he believed that the government should be for the governed. Although Charlemagne stood for what was right at the time; he did a lot of killing in order to make this reform. This is where I feel Charlemagne was not too removed from barbarian ways.
Charlemagne had the abilities and powers to persuade assemblies, humor nobility, lead an army, and dominate clergy. Charles began changing government by writing laws down and strictly enforcing them through the help of investigators called missi dominici. These investigators inspected the government, administering justice, and began reawakening all citizens to their civil and religious duties. Charlemagne had a meeting to discuss the empire and its affairs twice a year. He was the final decision maker even with the church issues. With this he brought together church and state. Charlemagne brought together ethnic groups by allowing them to retain their local laws. He set up money standards to encourage commerce and urged better farming methods.
This is the kind of organization that brought Europe back to its civil state.
Another attribute that makes Charlemagne admirable to me is the fact that he valued education. In this time illiteracy was prevalent, very few people knew how to read or write. Even those who ran the country had no education. He brought people from other countries to teach in the schools, and to teach the clergy men who were illiterate He revived the palace school at Aachen, his capital. He also set up other schools which he opened to peasant boys as well as nobles. Charlemagne and people who surrounded him were also learning; this included his wife and children. Charlemagne learned to read Latin and a bit of Greek but didn’t really master writing. Instead of having jesters perform he listened to scholars read various works. The Frankish King also appreciated art. He brought monks from Rome to train his Frankish singers and also brought valuable art from Italy.
Although Charlemagne was into organizing and learning he was also into war. This where I think his Germanic origins come into play. In order to bring Europe together he had to do a lot of conquering. The barbarians were being barbaric and in order to bring political order back in to Europe I feel Charlemagne had to have a strong hand. He defeated the Lombards in Italy, attained Bavaria, and led many campaigns in Spain and Hungary. What makes him have qualities of a barbarian is he led most of these campaigns himself whereas; most kings would send their soldiers or warriors to do the fighting. Charlemagne also led a 30 year campaign which subdued the Saxons and got rid of Avars. This campaign called for the beheading of 4,500 Saxons in one day. Charlemagne got his point across at any cost.
Charlemagne was admirable for his capability to organize all of Europe, his value for education and helping people. In changing society, he had to use a forceful hand which he acquired from his Germanic background. He defeated anything that threatened the strengthening of his empire and was not in favor of bringing order to Europe. Charlemagne is who allowed civilization to be what it is today.