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Word Count: 348
Charlemagne Charles the Great was born on April 2 742 in Northern Europe By the sword and the cross he became master of Western Europe Through his enlightened leadership the roots of learning and order were restored to Medieval Europe In 768 when Charlemagne was 26 he and his brother Carloman inherited the kingdom of the Franks In 771 Carloman died and Charlemagne became sole ruler of the kingdom At that time the Franks were falling back into barbarian ways neglecting their education and religion The Saxons of northern Europe were still pagans In the south the Roman Catholic church was asserting its power to recover land confiscated by the Lombard kingdom of Italy Europe was in turmoil Charlemagne was determined to strengthen his realm and to bring order to Europe In 772 he launched a 30-year military campaign to accomplish this objective By 800 Charlemagne was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe His vast realm encompassed what are now France Switzerland Belgium and The Netherlands It included half of present-day Italy and Germany and parts of Austria and Spain By establishing a central government over Western Europe Charlemagne restored much of the unity of the old Roman Empire and paved the way for the development of modern Europe On Christmas Day in 800 while Charlemagne knelt in prayer in Saint Peters in Rome Pope Leo III placed a golden crown on the bowed head of the king Charlemagne is said to have been surprised by the coronation declaring that he would not have come into the church had he known the popes plan However some historians say the pope would not have dared to act without Charlemagnes knowledge Charlemagne learned to read Latin and some Greek but apparently did not master writing At meals instead of having jesters perform he listened to visiting scholars read from learned works Charlemagne believed that government should be for the benefit of the governed
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