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Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”


The book Two lives of Charlemagne gives account of Charlemagne’s life through the eyes of two authors Einhard and Nokter the Stammerer. Lewis Thorpe further edited the book. Charlemagne was a medieval ruler and is considered one of the most dynamic and powerful kings in the history. He ruled his kingdom and brought about changes across Europe. He is also called the father of Europe. Einhard, the author of the book, was a close friend and advisor to Charlemagne and thought he was the one best suited to tell his story, “I am very conscious of the fact that no one can describe these events more accurately than I, for I was present when they took place and, as they say, I saw them with my own eyes” ( Einhard and Nokter 51).

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On the other hand, Nokter, a musician and a monastic scholar, wrote his account of Charles the Great’s life fifty years after his passing. The two writers provided different views on Charlemagne’s life as they knew him from different sides. The paper will look at the following issues: Charlemagne’s life; militarized state, church and society and reforms in administration.

Militarized state

Firstly, Charlemagne’s rule was militaristic during the Middle Ages. He conducted several military campaigns for a number of reasons, such as protection of his kingdom against internal and external forces that sought to bring about separatism. Besides, he wanted to increase his kingdom and spread Christianity far and wide. He was a good military strategist and led his kingdom in various wars. The first military action he undertook was the Aquitanian War. The war had begun during the rule of his father, so when Charlemagne took the throne, he decided to bring it to a conclusion. He conquered the war and Hunold, the aquitanian leader, surrendered together with his province to Charles I. He later went to Italy to fight the Lombard War.

However, it was not easy to fight because the terrain was difficult to fight a war, but he pressed on and won. Later, he entered the Saxon War that lasted for a long time and took much persistence to win because the Saxons did not give up easily and regrouped after their defeat to fight another day. He was a determined king and did not give up even going to the war in person, for example, in some battles against the Huns. The conquest of the regions he waged war upon led to the increase in the size of his Frankish kingdom that extended across Europe. Einhard says the emperor’s military skills helped him rule and command respect. Thus, the military action led to church and state becoming intertwined, as explained in the next paragraph.

Church and state

Charlemagne was interested in spreading Christianity in his Kingdom and to the people from the states he conquered. Nokter tells more of the king’s religious side. During his time in power, the church and state reformed further as Charlemagne was determined to establish a strong empire. The reform of the church and state made it possible for him to establish an imperial system in 802 AD. Through the reforms, Charles I brought his people together having made them share common beliefs. Thus, he was able to bring unity among the people, implement a unified political system, and strengthen his kingdom (Einhard and Nokter 122-126).

Reforms in administration

The reforms in administration started in about 779 AD in reaction to the tension cause by political environment and wars. The foundations of the society had to be changed in order to embrace an expanding Frankish kingdom and new people from other parts of Europe. Church laws and teachings were standardized and included policies to guide establishment of schools around cathedrals in order to bring about the reforms. The capitulary supported reform in education and forbid judges from taking gifts because doing so would lead to becoming depended from certain powerful individuals. Moreover, the reforms extended to areas, such as coinage and measurements and weights systems.

Charlemagne also started learning of neo-classicism in his court through the invitation of highly skilled teachers from all over Europe. Nokter says that Charlemagne really treasured learning and acquiring of knowledge and sent the teachers to various courts and monasteries to teach young men (Einhard and Nokter 145). There was an increase of arts, architecture and scriptural studies among the others. He led the Carolingian renaissance.

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Furthermore, there was the use of Carolingian minuscule that made communication across Europe a reality as it used a common method of writing. Consequently, the rule of Charles the Great led to his coronation in 800 AD and then to his return to Roman Empire. He was considered an outstanding emperor who brought reforms that marked a beginning of a new Europe in the Middle Ages.


Finally, Charlemagne was a great king, as Einhard and Nokter show in their accounts of his life. He introduced reforms in his kingdom, and the church. Moreover, due to his excellent military strategies, he was able to increase the size of his kingdom and spread Christianity to foreign nationals, such as the Saxons. His love for knowledge saw him lead the Carolingian renaissance and leave a legacy in military and arts.

Works Cited

Einhard and Nokter the Stammerer. Two Lives of Charlemagne. Ed. Lewis Thorpe. Baltimore: Penguin, 1969. Print

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StudyCorgi. (2020, November 3). Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”.

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"Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." StudyCorgi, 3 Nov. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." November 3, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." November 3, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”." November 3, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Historical Figures: the Book “Two Lives of Charlemagne”'. 3 November.

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