Two Lives of Charlemagne
Einhard's Life of Charlemagneis an absorbing chronicle of one of the most powerful and dynamic of all medieval rulers, written by a close friend and adviser. In elegant prose it describes Charlemagne's personal life, details his achievements in reviving learning and the arts, recounts his military successes and depicts one of the defining moments in European history: Charlemagne's coronation as emperor in Rome on Christmas Day 800. By contrast, Notker's account, written some decades after Charlemagne's death, is a collection of anecdotes rather than a presentation of historical facts. In these stories, which merge into fiction, Charlemagne is already half way to becoming the legendary figure of later medieval epics. Lewis Thorpe's introduction offers a comparison of the two biographies and examines Charlemagne's influence on the development of Europe.