This study will compare three books on Charlemagne, Two Lives of Charlemagne, by Einhard, and Notker the Stammerer, and The Song of Roland, whose author we do not know. The study will focus not on the life of Charlemagne himself, but on the relative merits of the books themselves from a historical perspective, and the intentions of the authors. In general, both books share the same purpose, namely, to advance the cause of Christian heroism in battle. The books were both written in the Middle Ages at a turbulent time when the futures of both Europe and Christianity were being formed. Would Christianity triumph over paganism (paganism being any non-Christian religion or way of life)? Would chaos result if the great political/royal forces represented by the armies of Charlemagne and Roland failed in battle? The authors of the two books tackle these potent issues and firmly come down on the side of heroism in battle in the name of Christianity and the King. That is the message the two books (three works in all) are attempting to send, and, in the historical context, they are effective and dramatic in pushing that message.
Einhard and Notker also explore leadership and power as expressions of the life of Charlemagne as a Christian king. These authors argue essentially that political and military power can be maintained only by a leader who is willing and able to use whatever means are necessary to bring obedience from one's people and to subdue one's enemies. This fits neatly in
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Category: History - B
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