Charlemagne By Sharon Fabian

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By Sharon Fabian


By the age of 29, Charlemagne was already king. He ruled the Kingdom of the Franks, which had already grown to include most of what we call France today. But Charlemagne wasn't satisfied. He had ambitions of making his country even larger and more powerful.
  When Charlemagne wanted something, he didn't just sit there. He wasn't the kind of king to spend his days sitting on his throne. He was full of energy and ideas. And, as King of the Franks, he had the power to make things happen.
  Charlemagne wanted to expand his country as far as possible to the east and to the west. To accomplish this, he went to war. In fact, during Charlemagne's rule, his kingdom was usually at war. Altogether, he waged over 50 military campaigns.
To be successful in his many wars, Charlemagne needed more and more soldiers. So, he instituted a policy of mandatory military service. His male subjects knew that they had to be ready whenever their king called. His leaders in each Frankish county knew that they must provide the required number of men whenever the call went out.
  The men were expected to be prepared at all times. Whatever type of armor they had, whether it was simply reinforced cloth or leather, or chain mail, it was to be kept ready. Weapons were to be kept ready too - spears, bows and arrows, and swords for those who had them. War horses and supply wagons would be needed too.
Charlemagne's forces were known for traveling fast and far on their horses. On most of their military campaigns, Charlemagne traveled with his troops.
In 773 AD, Charlemagne began a war against the Lombards, in what is now northern Italy. He won the war and took control of Lombardy. In 778, he crossed the Pyrenees with his troops and fought the Spanish. He eventually won control of the border area that is in the north of modern day Spain. In 787 through 788, he attacked and conquered Bavaria. In 791, he fought the tribe of Avars along the Danube River, and by 801, he had conquered what later became known as Austria-Hungary. From 802 to 812, he fought the Byzantine Empire.
During this same time, Charlemagne also fought the Saxons, located to the north. In the early years of this war, Charlemagne gained his reputation as a ruthless warrior when he slaughtered over 4,000 Saxons. Still, the war with the Saxons continued on. Charlemagne fought the Saxons for 30 years. Finally, he added Saxony to his kingdom.
Charlemagne was a ruthless warrior, but he had other accomplishments as well. He provided a good form of government for his kingdom in which he had outdoor meetings. In these meetings, the people could vote by shouting out their agreement or disagreement with his proposed laws. He charged property taxes, called tithes, so that he would have money to pay for improvements like the 500-foot bridge over the Rhine River and the cathedral at Ravenna. He promoted education too. He brought in teachers from other countries to restore schools. He even began a school at his palace, Aachen castle. He had monks copy books in the scholarly language of Latin, in order to preserve them.
Altogether, Charlemagne ruled for about 47 years. He provided a prosperous and stable country for his people during an era of uncertainty in Europe. He died at the age of 72, ruler of a kingdom that included what is now France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, half of Italy, half of Germany, part of Austria, and the Spanish border.
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Name: ___________________________ ______/8
Directions: Read the title of the selection. Next, read all questions then use the reading to answer the questions. Highlight or underline key information in the reading. Eliminate the answers you think are incorrect by crossing off those choices (this is NOT optional- you must cross off answers you do not believe to be correct---your grade will be a “0” if you do not do this for all questions). Fill in the bubble of the best answer. Go back and check your work.


Charlemagne ruled for ______.
  About the same length of time that presidents now serve in the United States
  Five years
  Many years
  A short time


Charlemagne's kingdom was centered in what is now the country of ______.
  United States


With all of his attention on wars, Charlemagne did not have any time to focus on matters such as schools and taxes.


Charlemagne's forces were known to be relentless fighters and good riders.


Charlemagne's war against the ______ lasted the longest.


To fight the Spanish, Charlemagne and his troops had to cross the ______.
  Danube River
  Atlantic Ocean
  Pyrenees Mountains


Charlemagne fought many wars because ______.
  He was attacked by invaders
  He wanted to expand the size of his kingdom
  He wanted to become king of England
  He needed to defend his country


Charlemagne was ambitious. This means that he ______.
  Was king only because his father had been king
  Was a powerful leader
  Was very rich
  Had large goals that he wanted to accomplish

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