Life

Charlemagne’s troubles

  Nowadays, when you travel to the Vatican, whether you are a devout Christian or not, you will definitely be attracted by the Pope’s sermons here. It is through this that the Pope of Rome engraved his authority into the hearts of generations of Roman citizens. Although time has passed for thousands of years, even the towering churches around the square have changed their styles several times—from Romanesque to Baroque to the most recent Gothic style—but the ceremony of preaching has continued well. down. Many people must be very curious, how did the aura of the Pope survive after the fall of the ancient Roman Empire, how did it become brighter and stronger, and finally shine on the entire Western world? Tracing the footsteps of history, the coronation ceremony of Charlemagne on Christmas Day in AD 800 may reveal the mystery for us.
  As a festival commemorating the birth of Christ, Christmas is a major festival in Christianity. Christians all go to church to attend mass on this day. On December 25, 800, a middle-aged Germanic man in luxurious clothes came to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with a serious and majestic expression. He was greeted by a group of nobles and monks, as well as a man with eyes Blind old man – Pope Leo III. When the Germanic man knelt in front of the altar and prayed devoutly like other believers, and got up to stand up, something unexpected happened. Pope Leo III quickly put a golden crown on the barbarian. on the head. This action immediately attracted everyone’s attention. After a moment of turmoil, everyone cheered and saluted the middle-aged man as if they had an epiphany: “May the great and peace-loving emperor Augustus Charles who was crowned by God live forever and live forever!” It turned out that he was the Frankish king Charlemagne in his heyday. After the cheers, the Pope addressed Charlemagne in accordance with ancient tradition. In this way, Charlemagne, who was the barbarian king a moment ago, was crowned by the Pope of Rome and instantly became the emperor of Rome. The coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III became an important event in history. Later, people endowed it with many meanings, thinking that it was the beginning of the establishment of the so-called “Holy Roman Empire”, the origin of modern Western European countries, and laid the foundation for the dual domination of religion and secularism in the Middle Ages in Western Europe. The historical prologue of the collusion and conflict between the Holy See and the secular regime. The 800-year coronation ceremony not only marked a culmination of the development of Western history in the nearly 400 years after the Western Roman Empire, but also marked the beginning of a new era.
  The wheels of history are rolling forward, and historians are often keen to explore the depth and depth of the ruts after the wheels have passed, but the analysis of how people who were involved in historical events made decisions about the historical process at that moment is often more fascinating. ponder. In this far-reaching coronation ceremony, how did Charlemagne, the protagonist of the event, feel at the moment when the Pope put the crown on him? Did he embrace the coronation, ostensibly arranged by the Pope? In fact, the talented and bold Charlemagne had conquered most of the Christian world at that time. Of course, the Frankish monarch who was born in a backward civilization was willing to win the title of “Roman Emperor” to justify his name and strengthen his rule over the conquered areas. Therefore, becoming the Roman emperor must be Charlemagne’s personal long-cherished wish. What is puzzling is that when the descendant Einhard recorded the coronation in the “Biography of Charlemagne”, he said: “Charlemagne disliked the titles of emperor and Augustus very much. To be sure, if he could have foreseen According to the intention of the Pope, he will not enter the church that day, even though that day is an important festival of the church.” In Einhard’s pen, Charlemagne seems not to want to be crowned emperor of Rome. The coronation held by Pope Leo III did not tell Charlemagne himself in advance. Charlemagne accepted the coronation seemingly without knowing it, and ascended the throne of Roman emperor. Since “The Biography of Charlemagne” is an important biography preserved to this day and an important historical material for knowing and understanding Charlemagne himself, Einhard’s brief description of Charlemagne’s psychological activities in this biography is widely known and widely read. accept. Therefore, for quite a long period of time, posterity has always believed that Charlemagne held a contemptuous and disdainful attitude towards the title of “Roman Emperor”, and becoming the Roman Emperor was something that made him unwilling.
  Could it be that Charlemagne really didn’t really want to become the emperor of Rome, as Einhard recorded? If not, isn’t Einhard’s statement unconvincing? These questions have long been puzzling. Recently, scholars have found that the “Lorche Chronicle” written in 801 has different records on the historical event of Charlemagne’s coronation through research and comparison of preserved historical materials. In a meeting held in Charlemagne on December 23, 800, the bishops, abbots, priests, deacons, earls and other Christians at the meeting proposed, “Because at this time in the Eastern Byzantine Empire, Empress Irina (797 In 797, he deposed his son Emperor Constantine VI, usurped the power, and the throne was vacant, and Charlemagne not only owned the city of Rome, but also ruled the whole of Italy, Gaul and Germany, so it should be Give Charlemagne the title of Roman Emperor.” Charlemagne himself, unwilling to refuse their request, accepted the title of Roman Emperor. Therefore, according to the records of this chronicle, the coronation as Roman emperor was approved by Charlemagne, and Charlemagne also knew about it in advance. At the same time, Charlemagne’s coronation took place under the favorable conditions of the right time, place and people. It was a deliberate event, not something decided by the Pope without Charlemagne’s knowledge.
  In 800 AD, Charlemagne’s rule in Western Europe reached its peak. After more than 30 years of fighting, he established a huge empire that reached the Elbe River and the Danube River in the east, most of Italy in the south, the Ebro River in the southwest, and the North Sea in the north. The territory of the empire is as large as that of the Western Roman Empire in the past. In the process of the rapid expansion of the empire’s sphere of influence, Charlemagne’s desire for power has also expanded. Naturally, he would not just be satisfied with the title of “King of the Franks”, and obtaining the title of “Emperor of Rome” must be something he dreamed of. Charlemagne also claimed to be the heir to the Christian Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Needless to say, he needs to borrow the title of “Roman Emperor” to establish the highest authority in the entire empire. It is worth mentioning that at this time, the close ministers around Charlemagne, represented by Alcuin, offered to crown Charlemagne as Roman emperor. Alcuin put forward the concept of “the Imperium Christianum” at the end of the 8th century. He believes that the great achievements established by Charlemagne are worthy of the title of “Roman Emperor”, and Charlemagne’s Frankish country can be called an “Empire”. This is because Charlemagne was the ruler of almost the entire Western Christendom, including Rome, and was the protector of the Christian faith and the Church. He had converted the conquered vast territory to Christianity, and actively maintained the orthodoxy and protected the Pope. Charlemagne was the true ruler of the “Christian Empire”. It can be said that Charlemagne’s coronation is not only in line with Charlemagne’s personal wishes, but also what everyone expects.
  At that time, only the emperor of the Byzantine Empire could be called the Roman emperor. Whether being crowned Roman emperor would attract the rejection and hostility of the Byzantine emperor was a concern of Charlemagne. The coup in the ruling circle of the Byzantine Empire provided a good opportunity for the success of Charlemagne’s coronation. In the eastern Byzantine Empire in 797, Empress Irina took power after deposing Emperor Constantine VI. Her rule was dissatisfied and opposed by some powerful officials. They believed that Queen Irene’s rule was illegitimate, and sent envoys to the Frankish country in 798 to propose that they want to hand over the empire to Charlemagne. Restoring the authority of the Roman emperor was an important reason why these Byzantine nobles supported Charlemagne. It can be said that the vacancy of the throne in the Byzantine Empire eliminated worries for Charlemagne’s proclaiming himself emperor.

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