Famous Men of the Middle Ages
King from 768-814 A.D.
Pepin had two sons Charles and Carloman. After the death of their father they ruled
together, but in a few years Carloman died, and then Charles became sole king.
This Charles was the most famous of the kings of the Franks. He did so many great and
wonderful things that he is called Charlemagne (shar-le-main'), which means Charles the
He was a great soldier. For thirty years he carried on a war against the Saxons. Finally he
conquered them, and their great chief, Wittekind, submitted to him. The Saxons were a
people of Germany, who then lived near the land of the Franks. They spoke the same
language and were of the same race as the Franks, but had not been civilized by contact
with the Romans.
They were still pagans, just as the Franks had been before Clovis became a Christian.
They actually offered human sacrifices.
After Charlemagne conquered them he made their lands part of his kingdom. A great
number of them, among whom was Wittekind, then became Christians and were
baptized; and soon they had churches and schools in many parts of their country.
Another of Charlemagne's wars was against the Lombards.
Pepin, as you have read, had defeated the Lombards and given to the Pope part of the
country held by them. The Lombard king now invaded the Pope's lands and threatened
Rome itself; so the Pope sent to Charlemagne for help.
Charlemagne quickly marched across the Alps and attacked the Lombards. He drove
them out of the Pope's lands and took possession of their country.
After he had conquered the Lombards he carried on war, in 778, in Spain. A large portion
of Spain was then held by the Moorish Saracens. But a Mohammedan leader from
Damascus had invaded their country, and the Moors invited Charlemagne to help them.
He therefore led an army across the Pyrenees. He succeeded in putting his Moorish
friends in possession of their lands in Spain and then set out on his return to his own
On the march his army was divided into two parts. The main body was led by
Charlemagne himself. The rear guard was commanded by a famous warrior named
Roland. While marching through the narrow pass of Roncesvalles (ron-thes-val'-yes),