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Research Papers on the Carolingian Renaissance

Research papers on the Carolingian Renaissance for world history courses illustrate that the time-period in the Dark Ages was one of struggle and gradual evolution of thought. Get help with your research paper that will explain this era of renaissance marked most notibly by the presence of Charlemagne.

You will learn in your research on the Carolingian Renaissance that the term “Carolingian Renaissance” is perhaps misleading.  It was not the overarching return to classical knowledge that would occur in Italy around 1450, and most of the Frankish people of the time remained illiterate. Charlemagne’s era lacked serious abstract thought and any form of original philosophical or theological system.  What it did was to rescue Europe from the pit of ignorance into which it had been sinking for several centuries. Carolingian Renaissance It ensured that literacy would not die on the Continent.

Despite its vast size, Charlemagne’s empire remained economically primitive, characterized by small and scattered towns, and a trade network dependent upon rivers, not roads.  The Carolingian Empire was only “half civilized”.  New invasions in the 9th and 10th centuries, by the Magyars, Saracens and Vikings again threatened to bring the curtain of darkness to Europe.  The Carolingian Empire and Renaissance were the result of the force of one man: Charlemagne.  The seeds that he planted in Europe would take centuries to flower.

The Carolingian dynasty, founded by Pepin of Heristal, rose to power as the Merovingians faded and consisted of the following great leaders: 

  • Charles Martel consolidated his power over the Franks after his defeat of the Muslims at Tours (AD 732). 
  • In 751, Martel's son Pepin the Short was crowned King of the Franks. 
  • In 768, Charlemagne assumed the throne.

Northumbrian monks, led by St. Boniface, had made inroads among the Franks.  Boniface and his brother Benedictines brought the first waves of spiritual and intellectual life to the Franks, remnants of Roman culture preserved by Northumbrian monks.  Backed by Charles Martel and Pepin the Short, Boniface converted large segments of the Franks, and reformed the Church there.  Within this symbiotic relationship between Boniface and the Carolingians, Pepin the Short sought papal support for his seizure of the Frankish crown.

Pepin’s son, Charlemagne, became King in 768, and devoted most of his reign to military conquests.  In 787, he conquered Bavaria, and in the 790s conquered the Avars, the wealth of which greatly enriched the Franks. By 800 he was the master of the West, having mastered the German tribes that the Romans had failed to do.  On Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo III crowned him “Emperor of the Romans”.

Charlemagne’s ambition was tied up in the Franks becoming the chosen people of the papacy.  Charlemagne’s papal blessing turned the monarchy into a scared office, and Charlemagne used this authority to issue capitularies (laws) that covered both secular and ecclesiastical matters.  In 796, at the Synod of Frankfort, he issued legislation concerned with Christian doctrine.

Related Research Paper Topics

Medieval Geography and Politics - His grandson, Charlemagne, became the King of the Franks and was, arguably, the greatest ruler of the medieval period.

Russia - Russian Soviet Republic.

The Song of Roland - The poem describes events that happened several centuries earlier, during the reign of Charlemagne.