Apr 02

Happy Birthday, Charlemagne by Jill Hughey

JillAuthorNewI am very pleased to welcome Jill Hughey, another member of the Love Historicals group.

Great to be here, Anna. It’s appropriate today to talk about Conquest and Prosperity  – The Rule of Charlemagne and Everyone Else.

Power and wealth are keen motivators to people of a certain ilk. The individual who can harness the loyalty and resources of a group of those people will go far, as long as he or she continues to feed their hunger for more. Always more.

You might think I am writing about Wall Street or the mortgage bankers who caused the real estate crash or even certain elected officials. I’m not, and I find it both discouraging and encouraging that the things driving humanity haven’t changed much in thousands of years.

The boy who would become Charlemagne was born on April 2, 742. He was named Charles; inherited half of his father’s kingdom in 768; and, through “luck” (if you can call the death of your two brothers lucky), strategy, and force of will, became Holy Roman Emperor, ordained by the Pope as ruler of a vast chunk of Europe. Charlemagne has been called the “King and Father of Europe” because he unified what until then had been bands of tribes, tiny dukedoms, and kingdoms that fought amongst themselves.

How did he do this? How did he unite men who had been fiercely protecting their independent interests for generations? For starters, he offered them more of what they wanted, which was power and wealth.

Charlemagne built his empire by conquering societies on his borders. To do that, he needed the military support of his nobility and their armies. Of course, conquest brought not only land, but treasure. Those who helped gather the treasure were rewarded. The empire grew and the loyal nobility got rich, with the fringe benefit that the powerful men who were kept busy fighting for him could not stir up trouble by fighting against him or with each other.

In other words, he harnessed a thirst for conquest and increasing riches to serve his purposes. This is not so say he frolicked through life unopposed. Much to the contrary. His oldest son tried to wrestle some control he thought he deserved and got stuffed in a monastery for his trouble. The Saxons put up a tremendous fight until their figurehead leader and lower nobility were temporarily bought off with treasure and positions within Charlemagne’s realm. (Wealth and power.)

Charlemagne-Albrecht_Dürer_047Charlemagne was a workaholic. He was driven to rule, hungry for territory, politically cunning, and ruthless against any adversary standing against him. While he listened to trusted advisers and considered himself a stalwart Christian (part of his conquering included Christianization of the conquered), he also gave himself great latitude in determining the best path forward, to the point that rules of The Church did not apply to him in his personal life, and trickery or deceit could be justified when it served his purposes.

Sound familiar? Single-mindedness and a belief that rules are for other people can be traced in successful people from earliest human history to Charlemagne to most notable monarchs up through the industrialists of the 19th century to the sharks of the present day financial and technology businesses. It is such a common theme that we shouldn’t even be surprised or shocked by it any longer.

Maybe it is wrong to apply moral judgment on someone like Charlemagne. Looking back through time, has human civilization been improved because he ruled? Yes, it probably has, just as the overall foundations of society were strengthened by the machinations of the Caesars of Rome and the fierce business practices of men like Andrew Carnegie. We sympathize with the people who have gotten trampled, but from a long historical view we can see how those blood-stained foundational blocks benefitted generations after.

So, 1,272 years ago, a baby named Charles was born. He laid a foundation for what we know as Europe, using conquest and prosperity as tools. We may not admire his methods, but we cannot argue with the longevity of Charlemagne’s legacy.


 I write historical romance set in the period following Charlemagne’s death, when his carefully constructed empire was being weakened by the rule of his son Louis. The first book in the Evolution Series is called Unbidden.  My books can be found at the following places.

Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Jill-Hughey/e/B0067M9Q14

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/jill-hughey?store=allproducts&keyword=jill+hughey

Love Historicals  http://www.lovehistoricals.com/historical-romance-authors/jill-hughey/

I am also active on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jillhugheyromance, and I blog at http://jillhughey.blogspot.com, and tweet @jillhughey


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  1. Jill Hughey

    Thanks for letting me visit today, Anna, to talk about a historical figure we’ve all heard of but don’t know much about.

  2. Melissa Keir

    Charlemagne was a wonderful leader. It’s a shame about his family squabbles because his line could have continued for a long time. 🙂 I always love the informative posts about history!

    1. Jill Hughey

      Thanks for your visit and your support, Melissa! You’re right, it didn’t take long for Charlemagne’s empire to break into smaller segments.

  3. Linda Andrews

    Interesting facts about Charlemagne. Guess he proves the rule the more things change the more they stay the same.

    1. Jill Hughey

      You said it, Linda. As I wrote in the beginning of the post, I don’t know whether to be encouraged or discouraged by that….

  4. Lana Williams

    I think Charlemagne was a fascinating individual! Love all the information you shared. Thanks, Jill!

    1. Jill Hughey

      Thank you for visiting, Lana. Even though information about him is thin compared to more recent historical figures, it is quite a testament to his importance that historians know as much as they do over a thousand years after his death.

  5. Sydney

    Always loved studying Charlemagne in various high school and college courses. Fascinating man. Great post. Thanks, Jill.

    1. Jill Hughey

      I didn’t know much about Charlemagne until I started writing my series. Considering the challenges in travel and communication, his accomplishments are really amazing.

  6. Nancy Morse

    Thanks, Jill, for sharing information on one of history’s most fascinating individuals.

    1. Jill Hughey

      Thanks for visiting, Nancy!

  7. Helena Korin

    Very interesting notes about Charlemagne, Jill. I love the time-travel aspect of historical fiction and I agree with you that human motivation has not changed in centuries.
    I think a lust for power and wealth, but also sheer lust has driven a lot of powerful figures in history, both male and female, e.g. Catherine the Great.
    I must dive into one of your books.

    1. Jill Hughey

      Hi, Helena. That’s what I like about historical fiction, too. Traveling to a different yet familiar world. You are right about sheer lust driving historical figures, and the need/urge to procreate. Charlemagne and other monarchs kept concubines until they saw which was producing the best offspring, then they’d marry to select that line as the inheritors. All while telling the masses that sex outside of marriage was a sin and there were only certain days they were allowed to have sex with spouses! Crazy but in a sense we are still living that dynamic. Thank you for visiting!

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