Government and Politics

Carolingian Empire

What was the Carolingian Empire?

The empire, which united most of western Europe under a single leader from about 734 until 987, was named for the Carolingians, a family of Frankish kings.

After the decline of the Roman Empire (in 476), various Germanic tribes (including the Goths, the Vandals, the Franks, and the Anglo-Saxons) dominated western Europe—fighting each other as well as the advancing Muslims to protect and expand their territories. In 719 Charles Martel (c. 688–741) united the lands of all the Franks under his rule. (The Franks were the descendants of Germanic tribes who settled in the Rhine River region of western Europe.) He then went on to protect France from Arab incursion and campaigned against the Burgundians and the Frisians, eventually bringing them under his control. Upon his death in 741, Charles Martel was succeeded by his son, Pepin III (known better perhaps as Pepin the Short; c. 714–768). It was Pepin who established the Carolingian Empire and brought the Lombards into the empire. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son Charlemagne, or Charles the Great (742–814).


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