Carolingian Empire

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Carolingian Empire (800–888) is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, and ends with the death of Charles the Fat. Depending on one's perspective, this Empire can be seen as the later history of the Frankish Realm or the early history of France and of the Holy Roman Empire.

The term emphasizes Pope Leo III giving the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor in 800.[1] Because Charles and his ancestors had been rulers of the Frankish realm earlier (his grandfather Charles Martel had essentially founded the empire during his lifetime), the coronation did not actually constitute a new empire. Most historians prefer to use the term "Frankish Kingdoms" or "Frankish Realm" to refer to the area covering parts of today's Germany and France from the 5th to the 9th century.

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Buildup and defense of the Frankish Realm

Though Charles Martel chose not to take the title King, as his son Pepin III would, or Emperor, as his grandson Charlemagne would be titled, he was absolute ruler of virtually all of today's continental Western Europe north of the Pyrenees. Only the remaining Saxon realms, which he partly conquered, Lombardy, and the Marca Hispanica north of the Pyrenees were significant additions to the Frankish realms after his death.

Martel was also the founder of all the feudal systems that marked the Carolingian Empire, and Europe in general during the Middle Ages, though his son and grandson would gain credit for his innovations. What is more, Martel cemented his place in history with his defense of Christian Europe against a Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in 732. The Iberian Saracens had incorporated Berber lighthorse cavalry with the heavy Arab cavalry to create a formidable army that had almost never been defeated. Christian European forces, meanwhile, lacked the powerful tool of the stirrup. In this victory, Charles earned the surname Martel ("the Hammer"). Edward Gibbon, the historian of Rome and its aftermath, called Charles Martel "the paramount prince of his age."

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