Charlemagne, who was probably born in Aachen in 742, made the city his northern capital and the leading center of Carolingian civilization. He built a splendid palace and founded the great cathedral, which contains his tomb. The cathedral, which has an octagonal nucleus modeled on the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, received extensive Gothic additions in the 14th–15th cent. From 936 to 1531, German kings were usually crowned at Aachen. Treaties ending the War of Devolution (1668) and the War of the Austrian Succession (1748) were signed there (see Aix-la-Chapelle, Treaty of). It was occupied (1794) by French troops and later annexed (1801) by France. It passed to Prussia in 1815. At the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) Czar Alexander I of Russia unsuccessfully proposed that the Holy Alliance be tightened. From 1918 to 1930 the city was occupied by the Allies as a result of Germany's defeat in World War I. During World War II approximately two thirds of Aachen was destroyed by aerial bombardment, and the city was the first major German city to fall (Oct., 1944) to the Allies.
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