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Charlemagne

Achievements of His Reign

In his government Charlemagne continued and systematized the administrative machinery of his predecessors. He permitted conquered peoples to retain their own laws, which he codified when possible, and he issued many capitularies (gathered in the Monumenta Germaniae historica). A noteworthy achievement was the creation of a system by which he could supervise his administrators in even the most distant lands; his missi dominici were personal representatives with wide powers who regularly inspected their assigned districts. He strove to educate the clergy and exercised more direct control over the appointment of bishops and he acted as arbiter in theological disputes by summoning councils, notably that at Frankfurt (794), where adoptionism was rejected and some of the decrees of the Second Council of Nicaea (see Nicaea, Second Council of) were condemned. He stimulated foreign trade and entertained friendly relations with England and with Harun ar-Rashid. In 813, Charlemagne designated his son Louis I as co-emperor and his successor and crowned him at Aachen.

Charlemagne's court at Aachen was the center of an intellectual renaissance. The palace school, under the leadership of Alcuin, became famous; numerous schools for children of all classes were also established throughout the empire during Charlemagne's reign. The preservation of classical literature was aided by his initiatives. Prominent figures of the Carolingian renaissance included Paul the Deacon and Einhard.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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