Charlemagne (Latin: Carolus Magnus, meaning Charles the Great) was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans (Imperator Romanorum) from 800 to his death. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into a Frankish Empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned Imperator Augustus by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800 which temporarily made him a rival of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople. His rule is also associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church. Through his foreign conquests and internal reforms, Charlemagne helped define both Western Europe and the Middle Ages. He is numbered as Charles I in the regnal lists of France, Germany (where he is known as Karl der Große), and the Holy Roman Empire.
The son of King Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, he succeeded his father and co-ruled with his brother Carloman I. The latter got on badly with Charlemagne, but war was prevented by the sudden death of Carloman in 771. Charlemagne continued the policy of his father towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in Italy, and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain, to which he was invited by the Muslim governor of Barcelona. Charlemagne was promised several Iberian cities in return for giving military aid to the governor, however, the deal was withdrawn. Subsequently, Charlemagne's retreating army experienced its worst defeat at the hands of the Basques, at the Battle of Roncesvalles (778) memorialised, although heavily fictionalised, in the Song of Roland. He also campaigned against the peoples to his east, especially the Saxons, and after a protracted war subjected them to his rule. By forcibly converting them to Christianity, he integrated them into his realm and thus paved the way for the later Ottonian dynasty.
Today he is regarded not only as the founding father of both French and German monarchies, but also as the father of Europe: his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Romans, and the Carolingian renaissance encouraged the formation of a common European identity.
Charlemagne had at least twenty children over the course of his life time with three wives and five concubines. He had five wives but no offspring with his second and his last.
Details of his children
See the children subpage for details of his children, including notes about disagreements among published writers.
Grandchildren and beyond
Only five or six of his children had children of their own, producing about 26 grandchildren, 56 great-grandchildren, and 60 great-great-grandchildren. In that 5th generation, lines first reconnect, with Wipert de Nantes (860-) the first double descendant of Charlemagne, and the brothers Hildebert I de Limoges (865-916) and Ranulphe I d'Aubusson (872-926), who are the first double descendants of mixed generation (5 and 6). The numbers of Charlemagne's descendants per generation do not grow as fast as one might expect, partly because of intermarriage, but also because of intense rivalry (including murder). To reduce such rivalry, many descendants were clergy.
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Himiltrude (c742-c780)|
|Pippin the Hunchback (c769-811)||769||811 Prüm|| |
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Hildegard (758-783)|
|Rotrude (775-810)||770||6 June 810|| Rorgon of Maine (c770-839)|
|Charles the Younger (c772-811)||772||4 December 811 Bavaria|| |
|Adelaide (c773-774)||774 Pavie, Lombardy||Error: Invalid time. Italy|| |
|Pepin of Italy (773-810)||773 Vermandois, Normandy, France||8 July 810 Milan, Lombardy, Italy|| Bertha of Gellone (?-?)|
|Louis the Pious (778-840)||778 Chasseneuil, France||20 June 840 Ingelheim am Rhein|| Ermengarde of Hesbaye (c778-818)|
Judith of Bavaria (795-843)
Theodelinde of Sens (?-?)
|Lothair (778-c779)||Error: Invalid time. Casseneuil, Lot-et-Garonne, France||779|| |
|Bertha (779-823)||779||823|| Angilbert (c750-814)|
|Gisela (781-808)||781 Milan||808|| |
|Hildegarde (783-783)||Error: Invalid time. Thionville, France||Error: Invalid time.|
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Gersuinda (?-?)|
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Madelgard (?-?)|
|Ruodhaid (c775-852)||775||24 March 852 France|
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Fastrada (?-794)|
|Theodrada (784-)||784||9 January 849 Argenteuil|| |
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Amaltrud of Vienne (?-?)|
|Alpaida (794-)||794|| Begon de Paris (c757-816)|
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Regina (c780-)|
|Drogo of Metz (801-855)||17 June 801||8 December 855 Luxeuil|| |
|Offspring of Charlemagne and Ethelind (?-?)|
|Richbod (805-844)||805||844|| |
Noteworthy descendants include
- Charlemagne (747-814)
- Project Charlemagne
- List of Frankish Kings
- Attila the Hun to Charlemagne, hypothetical genealogy
- Charlemagne to the Mughals, hypothetical genealogy
- Descendants of Charlemagne
- Charlemagne on Ton Deunhouwer's file of 100,000 descendants - May be rather fewer than 100,000
- Hull University Royals site - © 1994-2005 Brian Tompsett; likely to be accurate for each individual listed, but gives Charlemagne only 18 children at present
- Dutch descendants of Charlemagne
- Descendants pages by David A Blocher
- Herbert Stoyan's "complete list of the first 13 generations (according to E. Brandenburg) and later generations"
- thePeerage.com - over 400,000 individuals (British and Continental European, not necessarily descended from KdG), with links to parents, spouses, and children, based on sources such as "Burke" and "Cokayne"
- Geneall - gives him only 15 children but has a yellow ball on the page of each linked descendant
- e-familytree.net, a compilation of over 750,000 people linked somehow to Charlemagne
- ^ Riché, Preface xviii, Pierre Riché reflects: "[H]e enjoyed an exceptional destiny, and by the length of his reign, by his conquests, legislation and legendary stature, he also profoundly marked the history of western Europe."