Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Charlemagne: Emperor of the Western World

Now that Southampton Library is open again, I ducked in a month or so ago, and picked up the first biography that took my fancy.

I've been into Charlemagne since I did Open Yale's Professor Freedman lectures on The Early Medieval Ages 284-1000. I first connected with the subject while visiting Aachen with my alleged girlfriend at the time and like everything to do with history before my 30s, I didn't know shit from shinola, so it's impossible to inhale the subject properly.

One of my greatest regrets is having a maisonette flat just off Bloomsbury Square, on 12 Doughty Street and visiting the British Museum around twenty one years of age. 

It was too overwhelming. 

I knew it was awesome but nobody had mentioned the Sumerians or the Assyrians at school and so connecting the dots, or even knowing that John Dee's obsidian scrying stone is housed there was way out of my depth even though I read compulsively in those pre internet days, it's just I didn't do much history. 

More literature now I come to think of it.

The author of Charlemagne, Russell Chamberlin is self taught, but it was a real slog working through this book as Charlemagne's ancestors and progeny have similar names such as Charles, Karl, Pepin and so forth, which means as the author uses all these names interchangeably with the protagonist it's confusing which is a shame as it's a great work and once I'd picked up cruise speed, I creamed through it.

The image on the cover has me annoyed as I should have made a note of the source for it, but I've returned the book, and all my reverse image searches have failed, so all I can add is that it's the weirdest image of the Emperor of Europe and thus suggests it might be more accurate than the traditional paintings which are much more flattering.

There's a big question mark floating over Charlemagne, he's a Frank, yet of the Merovingians which stems back to the holy land and he's about 6'3" maybe more, yet it's quite possible his dad Pepin the Short was a titchy fella so we might be onto some weird bloodline slash nephilim insert or cutout? It's just a theory but the number of historic leaders who were giants for their time (King Cnut of Southampton holding back the seas fame for example) and even now, is suspicious and yet the reverse height profile is more typical as we approach more modern times (Napoleon, Hitler etc).

One last comment is the author's slavish devotion to the EU project not knowing yet swooning over Couldenhove Kalergi who is going to get a jolly good intellectual hiding from me on my next post about the incredible cultural diversity in Southampton, which is my second reason to be cheerful about living in this great city.