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Two Lives of Charlemagne: The Life of Charlemagne; Charlemagne (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Einhard , Notker the Stammerer , David Ganz
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

31 July 2008 Penguin Classics
Einhard's Life of Charlemagne is an absorbing chronicle of one of the most powerful and dynamic of all medieval rulers, written by a close friend and adviser. In elegant prose it describes Charlemagne's personal life, details his achievements in reviving learning and the arts, recounts his military successes and depicts one of the defining moments in European history: Charlemagne's coronation as emperor in Rome on Christmas Day 800AD. By contrast, Notker's account, written some decades after Charlemagne's death, is a collection of anecdotes rather than a presentation of historical facts.

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Two Lives of Charlemagne: The Life of Charlemagne; Charlemagne (Penguin Classics) + Emperor of the West: Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (31 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140455051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140455052
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.1 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

EINHARD was born of noble parents in the Main valley around A.D. 770. He became a friend of Charlemagne and his family, and was chosen to invite Charlemagne to crown his son as his successor in 813. After Charlemagne’s death he was a loyal servant of Louis the Pious, and he died in 840.

NOTKER BALBULUS ( The Stammerer) was born near the monastery of St Gall, in Switzerland, around 840, and entered the monastery as a boy. He wrote his account of Charlemagne for the Emperor Charles the Fat between 884 and 887. He also composed a book of sequences with music, a Martyrology (897), and poems, letters and charters. He taught at the monastic school until his death in 912.

David Gantz is Professor of English at Kings College, London.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real history 12 Jun 2012
By Midge
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was interested to read other reviews, and agree that many buyers seemed to think it was historical fiction. Alas, there may be too many on the bandwagon. For me- the best history books are those non-fiction- the real stuff! I advise those who have an interest to get books out which go into the background, using primary sources, contemporary accounts, and list their sources.
This is a gem of a book, with accounts of Karl the Great from 2 viewpoints. It is worth searching Amazon's history selection.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice read 31 Dec 2009
By Mr. Nj Mcallister VINE VOICE
enjoyable little book and sadly one of the few surviving sources of this period. A good read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great medieval sources for Charlemagne 8 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on
It's really bizarre how this book has gotten all those 1-star reviews. Most of them seem to have read it thinking it was a novel, though considering the book's title they must not be very perceptive. While Einhard's Life is a little dry in parts, I greatly enjoyed Notker's. The translator's notes are very informative, particularly on the battle of Roncevalles, where Charlemagne's general Roland was killed. To someone genuinely interested in learning more about Charlemagne than what is mere common knowledge, I suggest ignoring the bad reviews and get this book.
82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History isn't literature! 26 Feb 2003
By Robert Busek - Published on
Those of you who claimed this book bored you obviously thought you were picking up an Arthurian romance or some kind of fantasy/sci-fi epic. This is history, people, not an adventure story! What's more, it's history from the period in which it happened, what we call a primary source. Of course it's not going to read like a modern novel. People in the Middle Ages wanted solid content, not useless fluff. This work is great for introducing students to the life of a great leader written by someone who was actually there. I use it with my tenth grade students and they love it because it gives you a snapshot of the man under the crown.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,200 years old 17 July 2006
By Aziliz - Published on
Looking at the three 'one-star' reviews this book has received, I would point out they are all written in the same style, are close in date and look suspiciously like they were all written by the same person.

Yes, this is a wonderful primary source.

With Einhard's story you are actually reading the work of a person who knew Charlemagne (who lived approx. 742-814AD).

Prior to Charlemagne there basically was no Germanic literature. Charlemagne encouraged book learning and the writing of what had before then been either purely oral or simply not remembered. We are looking at the birth of Germanic Literature and also the birth of Germanic recorded history. Before this, (apart from a few glosses in the 7th Century) there is only the archaeological record and the writings of neighbouring literate cultures like the Romans about their Germanic neighbours to turn to for illumination.

These glimpses into the minds of people whose culture and outlook on the world are both so different to our own but also has so profoundly impacted the development of our modern day life are fascinating.

Charlemagne after all followed in the footsteps of the Roman Caesars in his attempt to create a great and literate civilisation and by doing so deeply influenced the Anglo-Saxons in England. Some of the earliest Saxon writings were commissioned by Charlemagne and his son, Louis the Pious. Alfred the Great was deeply influenced by his example. It was Alfred the Greats encouragement of Anglo-Saxon literature that established sound foundations for later developments in English literature.

I preferred Einhard as I think he succeeded in showing Charlemagne the man to a greater degree than Notker writing a hundred years later. Already with Notker the 'legendising' of Charlemagne made him more one dimensional and also as you can see in the foot notes more inaccuracies creep into Notker's text. There is also something more primitive and 'mystical' about Einhard. Mystical, mind you when one of Charlemagne's rivals 'mysteriously' dies. ;) But this is not really a criticism of Notker as he gives a feel for the development both of Germanic culture one hundred years further on and also some insight into the making of the legend of Charlemagne.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarly source. 2 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a valuable historical resource. It contains two early medieval chronicles relating to the life of Charlemagne (it is not, by the way, a novel). Readers who are looking to be instructed about Carolingian France will find this book to be fascinating. Those who are looking only to be amused and entertained might not, but that does not diminish the value of the work.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two Lives of Charlemagne 29 Dec 2001
By Denton Loving - Published on
Thorpe's compilation of two biographies of Charlemagne is an interesting start to understanding the Emperor's life. The book consists of a lengthy introduction by Thorpe; a biography written by Einhard, a contemporary of Charlemagne's; and a biography by Notker the Stammerer who lived sometime after Charlemagne. Einhard's biography is simpler to read and really more complete although it is much shorter than Notker's. Altogether, both "Lives" were an enjoyable read.
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