19. The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000: Charlemagne

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The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000 (HIST 210)

In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Carolingian dynasty from its origins through its culmination in the figure of Charlemagne. The Carolingians sought to overthrow the much weakened Merovingian dynasty by establishing their political legitimacy on three bases: war leadership, Christian rule, and the legacy of Rome. Charlemagne’s grandfather Charles Martel won a major victory over the Muslims in 733 at the Battle of Poitiers. Charlemagne’s father Pepin the Short allied the Carolingians with the papacy at a time when the latter was looking for a new protector. Charlemagne, crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III in 800, made strides in reestablishing the Roman Empire; although, being centered in northern Europe, his was not an exact imitation of the Roman Empire. Professor Freedman concludes the lecture with the observation that Charlemagne can be considered the founder of Europe as a political and cultural expression.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Introduction
07:43 – Chapter 2. The Last Years of the Merovingians
16:46 – Chapter 3. Establishing Carolingian Legitimacy
27:25 – Chapter 4. Charles Martel and Pepin the Short
34:54 – Chapter 5. Charlemagne

Complete course materials are available at the Yale Online website: online.yale.edu

This course was recorded in Fall 2011.