A 15th-century portrait of Charlemagne on a stained-glass window in the Cathedral of Moulins, France. Charlemagne (AD 742–814) became king of the Franks in 768. At the time, the Frankish lands covered most of modern-day France and Belgium. Charlemagne means "Charles the Great", and he is remembered for his military conquests, his reforms, and his love of scholarship and learning. He was the son of Pepin III, also known as Pepin the Short, the first of the Carolingian dynasty (ruling family) to be elected king of the Franks. When Pepin died in 768, his kingdom was divided between his two sons, Charles and Carloman. Carloman died three years later, leaving Charles as sole ruler of the Frankish kingdom.
Clovis I (c.466–c.511), first king of the Franks, from the Merovingian family, became king of the Franks at the age of 15. He...Read More >>Clovis I (c.466–c.511), first king of the Franks, from the Merovingian family, became king of the Franks at the age of 15. He united all the Frankish tribes under his rule. He converted to Christianity in 496.
The Franks were originally a Germanic tribe, one of many peoples sometimes called barbarians. In the 5th century, they invaded parts of the western Roman Empire and extended their power into much of present-day Belgium and northeastern France. In the 6th century, the Franks converted to Christianity. Until 751, they were ruled by the Merovingian family, but then the Carolingian family took power, when Charlemagne's father, Pepin the Short, took the crown.
Charlemagne refused to allow his daughters to marry, probably so that their husbands would not challenge his rule. But he cherished the many illegitimate (born outside marriage) grandchildren they produced.
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