Charlemagne, the Amazing Emperor

In addition to the arduous battles against the Lombards, Charlemagne also warred against the Saxons, idolatrous barbarians who lived in northern Germany and committed countless wickedness.

Newsroom (March 24, 2022, 11:00 AM, Gaudium Press) Charlemagne, was indeed a Legendary Emperor. Talking to an auditorium of young men, Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira comments that the Saxons were “very aggressive and continually invaded the lands of the Franks, of whom Charlemagne was king, provoking them with crimes and plundering on their borders, because they wanted to impose their pagan religion.

       “So Charlemagne, in a crusade in defense of the Catholic Religion, invaded their lands and defeated them. Going a little over the edge, he established the principle: either believe or die; whoever is not baptized must be killed. And naturally, the number of baptisms was enormous.

       “Also the number of capital executions was very large. Baptismal water flowed and blood flowed to torrents on that occasion, and he was even censured by the Pope, because one cannot put anyone before the alternative: either believe or die.

       “I am in agreement with the Pope and not with Charlemagne. And it is not in a contestatory attitude – far be it from me – that I will, however, make the following observation: it is that many forced baptisms have worked out well; and then they and their children have remained in the Catholic Faith and persevered in it until today, or until recently.

       “That is, perhaps it was not entirely lawful, or it was not lawful and therefore not good. To say that it was not useful is another question. It did produce its fruit there…”

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They believed in the divinity of an oak tree

       The Saxons “stupidly believed in the divinity of an oak tree […] called Irmensul, which, they said, put down roots to the center of the earth.

       “Charlemagne said, ‘I will show you what this ‘divine’ oak is. ‘ He ordered the tree to be razed: ‘Look at your god!’ Once the oak was razed, the Germans had nothing to do, the case was settled.”

       Witikind, a fierce chieftain of the Saxons, fiercely opposed Charlemagne, but Charlemagne defeated him and obtained from God the grace of his conversion. In 785, he was baptized with his leading soldiers in a solemn ceremony, with Charlemagne as godfather.

       In 792, Pepin the Hunchback, Charlemagne’s son, was involved by conspirators, led by the Bishop of Verdun, Northeastern France, who intended to kill the King and put Pepin on the throne, who would only be an instrument in the hands of the thugs.

       The execution of the crime having failed, the culprits were sentenced to death. As for his son, Charlemagne sent him to a monastery, where he remained until the end of his life. And the Bishop of Verdun was exiled.

Attempt against Saint Leo III

       Three years later, Providence raised up a great fighter to be Pope: Saint Leo III. For having firmly fought against the enemies of the Church, he was hated by the wicked to such an extent that in 799, they threw him into a dungeon, pierced his eyes and cut out his tongue. Asking for God’s intervention, he spent the whole night in prayer, and in the morning there was a stupendous miracle: he was completely cured.

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       Soon after, the Pontiff fled to Paderborn, West Germany, to ask Charlemagne for help. When he arrived in the vicinity of that city, the King went to meet him, knelt down, and rubbed his feet.

        In the royal palace, Saint Leo gave Charlemagne the keys to the tomb of Saint Peter and a banner of the city of Rome. Soon after, accompanied by their entourage, they both set out for the Eternal City, where they arrived in November 800.

       A few days later, Charlemagne brought those involved in the attack on St. Leo before the Tribunal, and sentenced the promoters of the conspiracy to death. But, at the Pope’s request, they were exiled in perpetuity.

       St. Leo III asked the bishops to come to Rome for a solemn commemoration of the Redeemer’s birth. Prelates, priests, and a multitude of pilgrims flocked to the Eternal City from all parts.

       On December 23, 800, two monks sent by the Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in Rome and handed Charlemagne the keys to the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy City. It can be said that he was the first of the Crusaders to conquer Jerusalem.

Founding of the Holy Roman Empire

       On Christmas Eve 800, Charles went to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Cathedral of the Popes in Rome, knelt before the high altar and began to pray. To his great surprise, the Pontiff came forward and placed a golden crown on his head. All the people cheered: “Long live Charles Augustus! Life and victory to the great and peaceful Emperor of the Romans!”

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       Saint Leo III anointed him, consecrated him as Emperor, and then the pontifical Mass began. Thus was founded the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted for a thousand years.

       When the Holy Sacrifice was over, Charlemagne, placing his hands between the Pope’s, declared, “In the name of Christ, I Charlemagne Emperor promise and swear, before God and the Blessed Apostle Peter, to be in all circumstances the protector and defender of this Holy Roman Church, as much as I know and can do with God’s help.” Charlemagne was 58 years old.

        At this time, the pilgrimages to Jerusalem were composed of many people and became more and more frequent, but the Holy Land was under the rule of the Caliph of Baghdad, who admired Charlemagne. The Emperor obtained from this Muslim leader that the pilgrims be supported by the Franks, who thus began to exercise a kind of protectorate over Jerusalem.

By Paulo Francisco Martos

Compiled by Sarah Gangl

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