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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

They made repeated incursions across the Ebro


by this step, the Pope seemed to forget the aspirations of the Church for temporal power, on the other hand he rendered himself forever independent of his nominal subjection to the Byzantine Emperors. For Charlemagne, the new dignity gave his rule its full and final authority. The people, in whose traditions the grandeur of the old Roman Empire were still kept alive, now beheld it renewed in their ruler and themselves. Charlemagne stood at the head of an Empire which was to include all Christendom, and to imitate, in its civil organization, the spiritual rule of the Church. On the one side were kingdoms, duchies, countships and the communities of the people, all subject to him; on the other side, bishoprics, monasteries and their dependencies, churches and individual souls, subject to the Pope. The latter acknowledged the Emperor as his temporal sovereign: the Emperor acknowledged the Pope as his spiritual sovereign. The idea was grand, and at that time did not seem impossible to fulfil; but the further course of history shows how hostile the two principles may become, when they both grasp at the same power.

[Sidenote: 800. CHARLEMAGNE'S EMPIRE.]

The Greek Emperors at Constantinople were not strong enough to protest against this bestowal of a dignity which they claimed for themselves. A long series of negotiations followed, the result of which was that the Emperor Nicephorus, in 812, acknowledged Charlemagne's

title. The latter, immediately after his coronation in Rome, drew up a new oath of allegiance, which he required to be taken by the whole male population of the Empire. About this time, he entered into friendly relations with the famous Caliph, Haroun Alraschid of Bagdad. They sent embassies, bearing magnificent presents, to each other's courts, and at Charlemagne's request, Haroun took the holy places in Palestine under his special protection, and allowed the Christians to visit them.

With the Saracens in Spain, however, the Emperor had constant trouble. They made repeated incursions across the Ebro, into the Spanish Mark, and ravaged the shores of Majorca, Minorca and Corsica, which belonged to the Frank Empire. Moreover, the extension of his frontier on the east brought Charlemagne into collision with the Slavonic tribes in the territory now belonging to Prussia beyond the Elbe, Saxony and Bohemia. He easily defeated them, but could not check their plundering and roving propensities. In the year 808, Holstein as far as the Elbe was invaded by the Danish king, Gottfried, who, after returning home with much booty, commenced the construction of that line of defence along the Eider river, called the _Dannewerk_, which exists to this day.

Charlemagne had before this conquered and annexed Friesland. His Empire thus included all France, Switzerland and Germany, stretching eastward along the Danube to Presburg, with Spain to the Ebro, and Italy to the Garigliano river, the later boundary between Rome and Naples. There were no wars serious enough to call him into the field during the latter years of his reign, and he devoted his time to the encouragement of learning and the arts. He established schools, fostered new branches of industry, and sought to build up the higher civilization which follows peace and order. He was very fond of the German language, and by his orders a complete collection was made of the songs and poetical legends of the people. Forsaking Paris, which had been the Frank capital for nearly three centuries, he removed his Court to Aix-la-Chapelle and Ingelheim, near the Rhine, founded the city of Frankfort on the Main, and converted, before he died, all that war-wasted region into a peaceful and populous country.

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