Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, became a joint king in Franks in 788 together with his brother Carloman. Later his brother died in 771 thus, Charlemagne ruled the kingdom alone. When Charlemagne came to power, most parts of northern Europe had drifted into lawlessness and paganism. He was determined to restore order in his kingdom and thus he had to make changes in his government to achieve his goals. His government was different from that of Justinian upon which he made improvements.
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His government was divided into two local and central. In his central government, he had dukes, contenders, vicars, sheriffs, magistrates acting on his behalf. He chose these leaders personally or left the duty to his delegates. Their responsibility was to maintain order, levy troops, and receive imposts. On the other hand, the local government was ruled by local leaders who could at times act on their own and in the Emperor’s name. Their powers were not well defined but they had to ensure that the orders of Charlemagne were followed in their lands (Guizot, n.d).
Justinian ruled the Byzantine Empire between 527 and 565. He was a famous leader and was known as the Great. He ruled alongside his wife Theodora and her influence on his leadership is said to have enabled his reign’s survival. Her greatest influence was during the Niko revolt when Justinian wanted to leave the city and she talked him into staying and fighting. Eventually, Justinian prevailed against the hippodrome.
During his reign, Justinian wished to take back the lands taken away by barbarians from the old Roman Empire; he also wished to compile the laws; bring architectural immortality, which he did through the construction of the Church of Holy Wisdom and finally bring about unity between the branches of the church in the East and West (Watts, 2004).
Justinian wanted to reform his kingdom and he knew that would only be possible with strong laws. Thus, he embarked on a revision of the Roman laws and later its codification. The laws were revised to deal with the reality of the times as many had become outdated (Watts, 2004). The codification of the laws was an outstanding achievement of his reign (Kreis, 2001).
Justinian used religion during his reign to make the imperial office central just like the other emperors did. He was a moderate leader and believed that Jews had a right to voluntary conversion to Christianity. In addition, He choose the middle ground in religious matters and thus had to walk a thin line between orthodox Christianity and Monophysite as his wife was a member of the latter.
Charlemagne brought about improvements in his government when he took over. To begin with, he ensured that the laws of the land were translated so that each person understood them. He also made sure that the improved laws were noted down to enable judges to make decisions. He also made it wrong for the judges to receive gifts. This was to ensure that the poor and the rich were treated impartially by the judges (Schleier, 2007). Moreover, he aimed to improve his government to serve the people and sent out investigators to inspect how the government was operating as well as remind the people of their role in society. He also revived learning in his kingdom. He was a keen learner who invited reputable scholars to his court. He also revived the culture and the Roman culture remained strong amidst the contact with other cultures (Cunningham & Reich, 2009).
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He was also strict when it came to Christianity made it his mission to convert Western Europe to Christianity by fighting against barbarism and Islamism. This he did by conquering vast lands across Europe and thus managed to put and an end to external threats to his kingdom from without (Guizot, n.d).
Charlemagne was indeed a visionary leader. He aimed to improve this kingdom for the greater good of the people. This he did by improving learning amongst people in all social classes. He urged the people to adopt better farming methods to increase food productivity. He loved arts and encouraged people to pursue art. He made
Finally, Charlemagne’s government was very organized. He aimed to rule his kingdom and leave a change. This he did as he awakened the renaissance in Europe. He was a leader who was in charge and willing to any challenges head-on, unlike Justinian who wanted to run away from a challenge at one time during his reign. Charlemagne was a leader who made sure that he knew what was going on in every part of his kingdom by discharging people to work on his behalf and report to him about the happenings in their areas. This enabled him to rule effectively and thus united Europe during his reign. He is without doubt the emperor who paved way for the modernization of Europe.
Cunningham, S.L. & Reich, J.J. (2009). Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities. Vol 1. New York: Cengage Learning.
Guizot, F. (n.d.). Holy Roman Empire. the Career of Charlemagne. Web.
Kreis, S. (2001). Byzantine Civilization. Web.
Schleier, C. (2007). Charlemagne’s main direction. Web.
Watts, S.P. (2004). The making of Western Europe. Web.