Old Wine, New Skins: Models of Roman Leadership in the
Court of Charlemagne
Old Wine, New Skins: Models of Roman Leadership in the Court of Charlemagne
Modern western society looks back on the Roman Empire as a model for politics, economics, and social relations. The use of the Roman Empire as a foundation for political organization began in the Early Middle Ages with the development of the idea of Christian kingship. However, in early medieval Francia these Roman principles were adapted selectively and Constantine as the first Christian Emperor was not necessarily the model used. During his rule of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne (747-814 C.E.) consciously choose and incorporated elements from the model for Roman leadership based on the first Emperor Augustus. In the following two chapters from my thesis, I explain the history behind Charlemagne’s coronation and compare ancient and Frankish historical, biographical, literary, and chronicle sources. I explain how Frankish courtiers amended Roman imperial ideas to establish Charlemagne’s Christian rule. Set against the backdrop of an emerging Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, Charlemagne’s court helped establish the legacy of Christian kingship usually attributed to Constantine.
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