12: The Holy Roman Empire


Crowning of Charlemagne

The Crowning of Charlemagne
Jean Fouquet

Key Terms

  • Trivium
  • Quadrivium
  • Saint Benedict
  • Hildegard of Bingen
  • Song of Roland
  • Romanesque Architecture
  • To explain the significant of Charlemagne’s rule and his contributions to the cultivation of education, music, illuminated manuscripts, and architecture
  • To set forth the characteristics of Benedictine monasticism
  • To present three important women who chose the monastic life: Scholastica, Hilda of Whitby, and Hildegard of Bingen
  • To explain the structure of the Gregorian chant
  • To describe the rise of liturgical and nonliturgical drama
  • To define and illustrate the Romanesque style
  • Know the contributions of Charlemagne, especially with regard to the church and the High Middle Ages.
  • Know the literary works The Song of Roland and the Rule of St. Benedict.
  • Know the terms rural, feudal, memento mori, trivium, and quadrivium.

I. Historical Context

  • Coronation of Charlemagne
    • Charles the Great - called Charlemagne
    • First Papal Coronation in hundreds of years
    • Christmas Day, 800 CE by Pope Leo III
    • Revival of the Western Roman Empire

II. Politics

  • A. Government
    • Based on Roman bureaucratic administration
    • Feudalism: Emperor, Landowners, Serfs, Slaves
    • Issued legal decrees to regulate secular and religious issues
    • Literacy required in civil servants

  • B. Economics
    • Stabilized currency - Denier
    • Trade Fairs held yearly in multiple sites in the empire
    • Jewish Merchants facilitate trade between Christians and Muslims
    • Iron Broadswords highly prized export

III. Religion

  • A. Foreign Relations with the Byzantines
    • Regular contact with Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople
    • Attempted to arrange a marriage to unite empires
    • Charlemagne learned Greek to converse with messengers

  • B. Foreign Relations with the Muslims
    • Negative relations with Western Caliphate
      • Charles Martel, Charlemagne’s grandfather, defeats Muslims in 732
      • Ongoing border dispute between Spain and France
    • Positive relations with Eastern Caliphate in Baghdad
      • Charlemagne requested protection for Christian sites in Palestine
      • Caliph responded with gifts and keys to Holy Sepulchre

  • C. Benedictine Monasticism
    • Early monasticism - no predominate rule
    • Benedict of Nursia - formalized monastic life
    • Poverty, stability, obedience, chastity
    • Balance of work, prayer, and study
    • Horarium - daily schedule of monks

  • D. Women and Monastic Life
    • Nuns located close to an abbey to be under jurisdiction of a monk
    • Hildegard of Bingen - writer, illustrator, musician

IV. Texts

  • A. The Rise of Drama
    • Mystery Play
    • Morality Play
    • Everyman - most well known
    • Religious themes, present a moral lesson
    • Hroswitha - German nun who wrote moralistic plays with a Roman influence

  • B. The Legend of Charlemagne

V. Art

VI. Music

  • Gregorian Chant - monks singing scriptural verses
  • Melody only
  • Monophony - many voices singing one melody
  • A capella - no instruments, voices only

VII. Education

  • Palace School at Aachen
  • System of education for young
  • Seven Liberal Arts
    • Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic)
    • Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy)
  • Text Reform - correct earlier errors, promote literacy
  • Schools outside the palace - attached to places of worship