Einhard was a courtier in Charlemagne's Frankish Kingdom. During Charlemagne's rule / life (768-824), he dedicated a vast amount of time and energy into supporting the notions of classical learning. He went so far as to start a school comprised of many scholars within his palace. Their role was to educate the nobility, the priesthood and the people, as well as hold counsel with the king. This is where Einhard and Charlemagne first encountered each other. Einhard was a small but intelligent man who came to prominence in the Pious Charlemagne's and Charlemagne's son's kingdom.
It is often asked how such a small man came to be the heart of the kingdom, and how the court school and the opportunities it provided influenced his success. During the late 8 th and early 9 th century, Charlemagne came to power. He expanded the kingdom and conceived many reforms during his reign. Charlemagne ruled the Frankish Kingdom from 768-814. He was one of Pepin the thirds two sons. Charlemagne's brother, Carol man died in 771, and Charlemagne became the sole ruler of the Franks.
Almost as soon as Charlemagne assumed the throne he commenced a series of campaigns. From 772-804 Charlemagne was at war with Saxony, from 773-774 Charlemagne was also at war with the Lombards in Italy. In 778, Charlemagne was invited into Northern Italy to extend Christian influence. In 787 Charlemagne invaded and seized Bavaria. Finally, from 788-797, Charlemagne launched a campaign against the tribal horsemen, the Avars. In 789, Charlemagne issued "The General Admonition", the concept of the document was that moral reform requires education.
At this time, Charlemagne created the palace school at his court, scholars were brought to this school to reform the Frankish priests and people. Various other reforms took place during this time, such as the new form of writing, Carolingian Minuscule, and the writing down of law codes. On December 25, 800, Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo the third in the St. Peter's cathedral in Rome. Charlemagne died in 814, and was succeeded by his only remaining son, Louis the Pious.
Louis the Pious reigned as Holy Roman Emperor from 814-840. When he assumed the throne he quickly replaced administers within the palace. Louis the Pious had three sons; Lothar, Charles the Bald, and Louis the German. Near the beginning of his reign, Louis already faced conflict. In 818, Louis quashed a rebellion orchestrated by his cousin, Count Bernard of Aquitaine. Louis planned to pass the Kingdom to his eldest son, Lothar, this caused conflict between family members, and from 829 onwards Charles the Bald, and Louis the German were constantly at odds with Louis the Pious and Lothar.
Louis died in 840, and the Kingdom passed to his eldest son Lothar. Lothar ruled the entirety of the Kingdom from 840-843. There was constant civil war between him and his brothers. In 843 the "Partition of Verdun" was issued to end the civil war.
It divided the kingdom between the three sons of Louis the Pious. The west portion of the Frankish kingdom was given to Charles the Bald (843-877), the middle portion of the kingdom remained in Lothar's (840-855) power, and the east portion of the kingdom was given to Louis the German (843-876). Einhard lived throughout the reign of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, as well as throughout the turmoil caused by Charles the Bald and Louis the German. It is believed that Einhard was born in 770. He was born into a noble family. His father Einhard, and his mother Engilfrit owned property in eastern Francia near the Main River.
At a young age, Einhard was sent by his parents to the monastery of Fulda to be educated. Einhard first appeared at the court of Charlemagne sometime during 791-792. By the mid-790's he had risen to the position of Chief Enable of the Rising Building. In 806, Einhard carried the partition, "Division of the Kingdom" to Pope Leo the third on the behalf of Charlemagne.
Similarly, in 813, during the Diet of Aachen, on behalf of particular noble interests, Einhard publicly acclaimed the status of Louis the Pious as co-imperial. In 815, Louis the Pious (now Holy Roman Emperor) granted Einhard and his wife Emma the properties of Michelstadt and Seligenstadt. Five years later, during the 820's, Einhard began to separate himself from the court. It is believed that he acquired the remains of the holy martyrs at some point during the 820's. Also, between 825-826 Einhard's work, Life of Charlemagne is speculated to have been written. In 827, the church of Michelstadt (a construction project that Einhard directed and financed) was consecrated.
By 830, Einhard had fallen seriously ill, preventing him from attending court; coincidentally, at this time, a rebellion was occurring in the kingdom. Einhard fell ill once more from 833-834, yet again a political crisis was occurring within the kingdom and Louis was overthrown for a time by his sons. In 836, Einhard's wife Emma died. Four years later, on March 14 th, 840, Einhard died. His remains were buried at his church in Seligenstadt. Einhard was a Frank.
It was a Germanic Tribal custom for men to become warriors. Einhard was a particularly short man, it is often speculated that he stood not more than five feet. It is most likely that Einhard entered into scholarly studies because his short stature prevented him from becoming an adequate warrior, as most Germanic men would become. Einhard was a product of classical education.
He studied a varying amount of topics, from Latin and Bible studies, to Art and Architecture. Einhard was educated at the monastery of Fulda and commenced his career at the court school in Charlemagne's palace. It is not certain at what age Einhard became a scholar at the monastery of Fulda. Here Einhard learned the foundations of knowledge that would influence him for the remainder of his life. Latin made Einhard literate, something that was rare and valued during the time in which he lived.
The Bible cemented the already strong religious beliefs Einhard held. Classics created in Einhard a love of poetry, of art, and of architecture, all areas in which Einhard would excel. During his time at Fulda, Einhard wrote six charters. By the time he was twenty, Einhard was recommended by the abbot of Fulda, Bau gulf, to attend the court school at Charlemagne's palace.
Charlemagne's palace school was a collection of scholars within his in court. Einhard arrived at the school in the '790's, and gradually rose to a role of prominence. Many historical records portray Einhard as a busy administrator within the palace. In A Poem for Charlemagne on the Court, by Theodulf (a fellow courtier), Einhard is described as running too and for, as being always in motion, and as being as busy as an ant.
It says," May the little Nard always run back and forth with steps Like your feet, O ant, which come and go, again and again. A great host lives in the small house of this man; Something great resides deep inside his small chest. Now let him carry about his books, and now his other burdens... ." In many ways, it was Einhard's hard work that allowed him to rise to a prominent position. Not only does this quote illustrate that Einhard was a busy individual within the court of Charlemagne, but it also illustrates Einhard's position. The fact that Einhard had so many jobs requiring him to run back and forth, and to carry great books and burdens, shows that he was more or less running the palace.
Poems like the one quoted, and many others were intended to extricate favour from Einhard. The school allowed Einhard to become close to Charlemagne. In order to get the favour of the King (Charlemagne), many tried to go through the ear of the king, Einhard. Favour from Einhard could very well lead to favour from Charlemagne.
During his life, Einhard held many positions. He was a courtier, an abbot, and a landlord. All of these positions arose out of the opportunities the court school had provided him. It is evident from writings describing Einhard as running to and fro that he held important positions at the court school.
It is believed that Einhard had a part in many architectural construction efforts, for example, in the '790's Einhard "may have been the chief enabler of the rising building." Documents show that Einhard played a role in important affairs of state during Charlemagne's reign; in 806 with the "Division of the Kingdom" and in 813 with the Diet of Aachen. The "Division of the Kingdom" was Charlemagne's plan to divide the kingdom between his three sons, the Diet of Aachen was the instance when Louis the Pious became co-emperor to his father. The Diet of Aachen played an important role in establishing Einhard's relationship with Louis, as it was Einhard who publicly announced that Louis was a suitable heir to the throne. It is apparent that Einhard held high and prestigious positions while working at the court. Louis the Pious rewarded Einhard for his efforts with pieces of land. When Einhard received these lands he became both an abbot and a landlord.
With the income these properties generated, Einhard was able to request from Louis to be free of the court and immerse himself in his religious interests. As an abbot, Einhard was able to regain the immunities of the monastery of Bland in in Ghent (along with other monasteries he held), as shown in the correspondence between Louis and Einhard, Louis wrote, " But let it be permitted to the aforesaid abbot [Einhard] and to his successors to hold the thing of the monastery in peaceful order under the defense of our immunity, and whatever the imperial purse allows we ourselves grant on behalf of [our] imperial recompense... ." As a landlord, Einhard would prepare various leases for his tenants, and make certain demands about the supplies to be vested upon his household. As an abbot, Einhard would often act as a counsellor for people, making requests for them to people at a higher level in the Carolingian hierarchy of society. An example can be derived from a letter Einhard wrote to a vassal (before 840 AD), he says, "You know that, to the extent that I was able, I undertook to fulfill your wish, in that I worked to return your daughter to you... agree with me in this: that, if I should arrange for this man's freedom, you would allow him to marry your daughter.
It seems better to me that she be joined to that man again... than that she be scorned by everyone." Einhard is trying to accomplish the 'lesser' man's request, while at the same time handing out advice to try to save some dignity on the daughter's behalf. Einhard would often write such letters pleading to high levels in society for those who were lower. Through the court school, Einhard was able to gain and lands, partake in projects, and generate an income that most men in his time would never be able to achieve. Though it was not just the institution that allowed Einhard to advance the way he did. The relationships with the kings that Einhard was able to cultivate through his positions at the court school were just as influential on Einhard's success.
Throughout his career, Einhard dealt with two kings, and their successors. Einhard was extremely close to Charlemagne, the first king he encountered. Although Einhard appears to be close the Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, the relationship seems more administrative than friendly. Einhard's relationship with Louis the Pious's ons is more one of counselling. Einhard is continually trying to tie the royal family created by Louis the Pious together, while at the same time trying to maintain himself throughout the royal turmoil. As previously stated, Einhard and Charlemagne were very close.
They had both a father son relationship, and a best friend relationship. This father-son relationship is best illustrated in the writings of Hra banus Maur us, in his work "The Epitaph of Einhard", in which he states, "Prince Charles raised him at his own court... ." Despite that fact that Einhard was in his twenties when he arrived at Charlemagne's court, it was felt that the king raised Einhard. In writings about Einhard, in particular, the "Prologue" to The Life of Charlemagne, by Walafrid Strabo, it was said that Charlemagne bonded with Einhard because both were affluent scholars, and both were passionate about the pursuit of wisdom. Einhard and Charlemagne were considered to be so close it was stated that Charlemagne told Einhard many personal secrets he would tell no other.
The "Prologue" states, "Charles, himself a lover of wisdom, that there was almost no one among the many officials... to whom the king... would impart his many intimate secrets." Einhard was very close to Charlemagne, it was quite clear that Einhard loved him in a fraternal and paternal way. Einhard often felt that he owed a lot to the generosity and friendship of Charlemagne. Einhard's love of Charlemagne is demonstrated in his work, The Life of Charlemagne, a book written because of the close relationship between the two individuals.
In his preface, Einhard expressed that he felt he owed Charlemagne for his many successes, as well as saying that he did not wish Charlemagne "to be swallowed up by the shadows of forgetfulness." Einhard's love of Charlemagne was also influenced by Einhard's heritage. Einhard, in his heart, was a Frank. In Frankish and other Germanic traditions, the notion of throne worthiness was very important. A king was considered to be thrown worthy if he was able to win wars, and acquire treasure. Charlemagne was a great warrior.
This notion of throne worthiness was one of the factors that cause Einhard to believe Charlemagne was so great. Einhard's heritage as a Frank greatly influenced the closeness of his and Charlemagne's relationship. Einhard remained a friend, mentor, and courtier to Charlemagne, until the king's death in 814 AD. With the death of Charlemagne, his son, Louis the Pious took the role as Holy Roman Emperor. Though historical records are vague concerning Einhard for the first ten years of Louis' reign, it is considered that Einhard maintained the same functions he had performed for Charlemagne. a At the time this letter was written, 830, a rebellion and turmoil was seizing the kingdom.
instance, he At the same time as dealing with Louis the Pious, Einhard also had to deal with Louis's ons, Lothar, Charles the Bald, and Louis the German. and pursue his interests. Einhard's beliefs and interests reflected the way in which he was educated and the values of the society in which he lived. Einhard lived during a superstitious time, and the fear of God and the Devil were were very serious. Consequently, Einhard was a devotedly religious man. Einhard's accomplishments, such as the abbeys he constructed, and the gaining of the blessed martyrs reflect the opportunities that the court school provided him.
Einhard built two churches build for the blessed martyrs Marcellinus and Peter. One was built in the remote Steinbach, and was a visual wonder at the time. The martyrs 'refused' to remain at this location, so Einhard built a church twice Steinbach's size at Seligenstadt, where the martyrs were held, and eventually buried. Einhard would not have had the resources to build these Churches if not for the income that land granted to him by Emperor Louis provided. Einhard was able to pursue his interest in religion because of the prosperity the court school had provided him. With the first church completed, Einhard set out to obtain saint's relics.
Einhard went through a great ordeal to obtain the remains of saint Marcellinus and Peter. The remains actually had to be robbed from the graves of the saints. Einhard, truly believing in the power of the saints, rationalized the robbing by stating that the saints were so powerful, if they did not want to leave their graves they would not have allowed themselves to have been removed. As previously stated, Einhard did use the saints' relics to his advantage, promising the favour of the saints to the Emperor and others, in exchange for particular favours. Einhard's unwavering faith in the saints went further, as he attributed many miracles in the church of Seligenstadt to their intervention. Einhard's work, The Translation and Miracles of Marcellinus & Peter, gives numerous examples of these miracles.
Einhard's religious beliefs were tested when his wife Emma died. Einhard was distraught over the fact that the saints did not save her. In a letter Einhard wrote to Lupus of Ferrier es in early 836, he states, .".. what constantly adds to that pain and makes an already sore wound worse is, without doubt, that my prayers were unable to accomplish anything and the hope I had placed in the merits and intervention of the martyrs [Marcellinus and Peter] entirely misled [me in] my expectations." Despite this, Einhard still seemed to have held onto his deep-rooted religious beliefs. In addition to his religious beliefs it is assumed that Einhard had a particular interest in art and architecture. One of the main basis's for this assumption is a nickname that Einhard was given at the court school, Bezaleel, a biblical reference to an expert craftsman.
Despite this, a very minimal amount of physical evidence exists to support Einhard's actual construction of art pieces. A design by Einhard for a small triumphal arch exists today, as well as the two churches he constructed for the blessed martyrs and. It is, however, suspected that Einhard contributed many pieces of art in the Aachen Palace. Einhard had a very classical taste in art due to his education. His work at the palace allowed him to pursue these interests and accumulate the skills required for its production. Further to this, Einhard was a fluent writer.
References to Einhard's poetic talents can be found in the works of his contemporaries, although it is uncertain what poetry he wrote. Alcuin, a courtier, in his poem "On the Court" wrote, "What shall Bezaleel, who is skilled in Trojan epic do [now]?" . This work refers to the fact that Einhard was proficient in a style of poetry, however, none of these works survive. Throughout his life, Einhard wrote numerous works, letters, and charters. His better known work would more than likely be The Life of Charlemagne.
The schools he attended made him literate and allowed him the leisure to pursue writing. Einhard was a hard working, scholarly man. Through his education at the monastery of Fulda, he was able to enter Charlemagne's court school. From here, Einhard attained a position of prominence and power. In many ways, he ran Charlemagne's palace. Through Einhard's relationships that he established with Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious, and the sons of Louis the Pious, Einhard was able to survive and maintain this role his power and prominence.
During his time at the court school, and even to an extent during the reign of Louis the Pious, Einhard was the heart of the kingdom. Administration of the Palace ran through Einhard when he worked in the court with Charlemagne and he was a significant force. Einhard's voice very powerful even during the reign of Louis the Pious due to the services he had provided the King. The court school was a facility that produced powerful and prominent men.
It offered land, literacy, and fame to the men who attended it. To quote Modo in, in his "Eclogues: On the Poets of His Age", "Notice how the triumphant Nard, who is used to reciting Aonian verses, Is a flush today with the highest honors." This quote makes reference to how the palace school made men rich. Einhard used the mechanism of the court school to his advantage, and became one of the more powerful, and approachable men in the Frankish Kingdom. In many ways, Einhard repaid the kingdom for his education. His success as a courtier gave him the means to pursue his religious beliefs. In a society that thrived on superstition, Einhard's saints were a vehicle for hope, healing, and redemption.
Also, Einhard was able to support his interests in Art and Architecture, leaving behind a beautiful legacy. For a man who was as small as Einhard, his accomplishments in life, provided by the court school, are truly amazing. Bibliography Dutton, Paul Edward, Charlemagne's Courtier: The Complete Einhard. Ontario; Broadview Press, 1998. Tierney, Brian, Western Europe in the Middle Ages: 300-1475. United States of American; McGraw-Hill College, 1999..