The greatest of medieval monarchs, Charles the Great (742-814) towers over every notion we have of national heroes and semi-mythical champions. His military conquests exceeded those of Julius Caesar. He had the sagacity and dedication to public service of a Marcus Aurelius. In ruthlessness, as in dedication to personal culture, he was reminiscent of Augustus. But that is only the beginning.
Charlemagne was a phenomenon and phenomena do not die. Later European leaders from Frederick Barbarossa and Charles V to Louis XIV, Napoleon I and Hitler took Charlemagne as their model. His growing mythology inspired the Crusades, fed the concept of chivalry, bolstered absolutist regimes, excited nineteenth-century liberals and emerges today among those who claim Charles the Great as the founder of European unity.
Charlemagne is one of the most remarkable figures in European history: only by understanding him in all his complexity can we begin to understand Europe today. Derek Wilson's biography provides such an opportunity.
Despite the gulf of time separating us from the warrior-king (742-814), Wilson provides a vivid portrait of Charlemagne
Wilson... separate[s] out the facts from the myths and to show Charlemagne's achievements in the light of his period
Historian and novelist Wilson takes us on a ride back into a time that antedates the periods of his previous works by a thousand years... Informative and even provocative
The British author of popular royal histories explores the life of Charles the Great, whose empire fractured following his death in 814... Concluding with the symbolic uses made of Charlemagne from the Crusades to Charles de Gaulle, Wilson successfully regales readers with this crucial figure in European history