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Emperor of the West: Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire Hardcover – 29 Apr 2010
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From the Inside Flap
The achievements and legacy of the emperor Charlemagne have had an enduring impact on Europe's history and civilization for over a thousand years. Crowned a king of the Franks in 768, he expanded their kingdom into an imperial order that incorporated much of western and central Europe. Charlemagne recreated a single Christian imperium in the heartlands of the western Roman empire for the first time since the decline and fall of that power in the fifth century. After his imperial coronation in 800, Charlemagne was seen as a rival, in both power and majesty, to the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople. The military campaigns and programmes of reform inspired by Charlemagne make him a defining figure in the history of the Middle Ages, and of western Europe as a whole.
Charlemagne's empire, and the cultural golden age that is associated with it, encouraged the development of a common European identity. In this magisterial new study, Hywel Williams explores every facet of the rule and legacy of one of the most remarkable rulers in European history. Williams reveals how the Carolingian dynasty ensured the evolution of Roman imperial culture into the Christian civilisation of Charlemagne's time. Both in its sweep and its detail, Emperor of the West is a major contribution to early medieval history and is essential reading for anyone interested in the wider history of Europe.
About the Author
Hywel Williams is a historian, journalist and broadcaster. He is the author of the political exposé Guilty Men, Cassell's Chronology of World History (2005) and Britain's Power Elites (2006). His Quercus credits include Days that Changed the World (2006) and Sun Kings (2007).
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Hywell Williams explores the influences of Islamic expansion and the evolution of the Byzantine Empire in the context of Charlamagne`s conquests, he leaves no stones unturned and manages to hold the readers interest without effort.
If I could pick a fault it would be the total lack of information on the effect these changes had on the peasants, mention of the odd rebellions would suggest the peasants had the odd grumble or two!
But a superb read, it should be made obligatory!
The text part of this book is 380 pages. Having reached page 60, the main character has not even been born yet! Bob got set of by the section about St. Augustine's "City of God". I got worried by the section starting as follows: "The spread of kingly rule in western Europe in the centuries immediately after the withdrawal of Roman imperial authority from the region is a fact which needs some explaining" And then 4 pages is spent on discussing how a land could turn to monarchy with all the bad presedents... REALLY?? Maybe it's because its the simplest form of government!!
I flipped forward some pages and found similar sections all through the book. Huge detours about perifery themes such as "The Romanization of Christianity", "Who were the Avars?", "Late antique culture: Strategies for survival".... I went back inhere to read the reviews, and saw that A. Benson, WHO gives 3 stars writes "In some ways not a book to read through, but more for reference"
That made me give up and buy another one in stead! It might be a good book for scholars, but it is not a good book for a casual read about the subject!
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