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Einhard (also Eginhard or Einhart; c. 775 – March 14, 840) was a Frankish scholar and courtier. Einhard was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious; his main work is a biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni, "one of the most precious literary bequests of the early Middle Ages."[1]


Public life

Einhard was from the eastern German-speaking part of the Frankish Kingdom. Born into a family of relatively low status, his parents sent him to be educated by the monks of Fulda - one of the most impressive centres of learning in the Frankish lands - perhaps due to his small stature (Einhard referred to himself as a "tiny manlet") which restricted his riding and sword-fighting ability, Einhard concentrated his energies towards scholarship and especially to the mastering of Latin. Despite such humble origins, he was accepted into the hugely wealthy court of Charlemagne around 791 or 792. Charlemagne actively sought to amass scholarly men around him and established a royal school led by the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin. Einhard evidently was a talented builder and construction manager, because Charlemagne put him in charge of the completion of several palace complexes including Aachen and Ingelheim. Despite the fact that Einhard was on intimate terms with Charlemagne, he never achieved office in his reign. In 814, on Charlemagne's death his son Louis the Pious made Einhard his private secretary. Einhard retired from court during the time of the disputes between Louis and his sons in the spring of 830.

He died at Seligenstadt in 840.

Private life

Einhard was married to Emma, of whom (as of most laywomen of the period) little is known. There is a possibility that their marriage bore a son, Vussin. Their marriage also appears to have been exceptionally liberal for the period, with Emma being as active as Einhard, if not more so, in the handling of their property.[2] It is said that in the later years of their marriage Emma and Einhard abstained from sexual relations, choosing instead to focus their attentions on their many religious commitments. Though he was undoubtedly devoted to her, Einhard wrote nothing of his wife until after her death on 13 December 835, when he wrote to a friend that he was reminded of her loss in ‘every day, in every action, in every undertaking, in all the administration of the house and household, in everything needing to be decided upon and sorted out in my religious and earthly responsibilities’.[3]

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