*Includes medieval accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
The Carolingian Dynasty, which carved out a major empire in Europe from 750-887, ushered in an important period in the Early Middle Ages. The Carolingians were in their time seen as the successors of Ancient Rome in the West, and while they sought to reestablish the glory of antiquity, they’re remembered today for effectively founding the states that would become France and Germany.
The Carolingians are also credited with creating the first Renaissance, the Carolingian Renaissance, centuries before the Italian Renaissance. Many of the great Latin classics survive today because of copies made during this period. In addition, the revisions made to written script at this time made texts easier to read, so much so that most of those changes remain in the modern system of writing.
The Carolingians lived at a moment in time where they saw that antiquity was seen as worth preserving, but they also sought to adapt it to the times, setting the groundwork for many aspects of what would become the modern world. Nobody was more important in bringing this about than Charlemagne, the most famous man of the Middle Ages, and likely the most influential. Upon the death of his father, Pepin the Short, in 768, Charlemagne became King of the Franks, and he proceeded to create one of the largest European empires since the collapse of Rome. Through his conquests across Western Europe and Italy, Charlemagne became the first Holy Roman Emperor after a famous imperial coronation by Pope Leo III.