1200 years ago died Charlemagne, this grandson of Charles Martel who found himself at the time of his imperial coronation, December 25, 800, at the head of nearly half of Europe. In its end-of-year delivery, the Monthly History portrays the founder of the Carolingian dynasty, on which depended a population of more than 10 million subjects, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.
Death in 814, Charlemagne will have been, this year, one of the great forgotten national commemorations. We hardly remember what Roland was going to do in Roncesvalles - and even the schoolchildren let pass, on January 28, a “Saint-Charlemagne” much less heckling than the Shrove Tuesday that will follow.
An empire in the Middle Ages. The decision, in 800, to re-establish the Empire (Roman and Christian) is a way, in an enlarged geopolitics, of being recognized by the Pope, who crowns him, and of posing as the equal of Byzantium. Hence the sumptuous iconographic program of Aix-la-Chapelle. This relationship with images, "not to forbid them, not to adore them", defined by the emperor himself at the Council of Frankfurt in 794, marks a stage in the history of art in the West. How could one, 1200 years ago, govern an area of more than 1 million km2, the size of 2.5 times France? What languages were spoken there? This State where the networks (of men or abbeys) were undoubtedly more decisive than the structures (very light) is better known today.
Administration, economy, culture, arts: launched from Aix-la-Chapelle, the "Carolingian Renaissance" touched all areas and left its mark on the European continent for several centuries.
Charlemagne, the Emperor's new clothes. Monthly L'Histoire, December 2014. On newsstands and by subscription.