January 28, 814 – Charlemagne died in Aachen, Germany

On this day in history, the “Father of Europe” also known as Charles I or Charlemagne, died at his favorite castle in Aachen. He was actually named Karl (Carolus) after his grandfather, Charles Martel. Later French historians called him Charles le Magne (Charles the Great), which became “Charlemagne” in English after the Norman conquest of England.

A coin of Charlemagne

A coin of Charlemagne

Charlemagne is credited with unifying Europe for the first time following the collapse of the western Roman Empire. Taking over the crown at the death of his father (“Pepin the Short”), he protected the papacy, removed the Lombards from power in northern Italy, massacred people who would not convert to Christianity, presided over a renaissance of cultural and intellectual activity within the Catholic Church, and had a number of wives and mistresses. It is hard to understand how he found the time to produce his many children, since throughout his reign he was almost always engaged in battle, constantly on the lookout for people to convert to Christianity and pull into his kingdom.


Charlemagne died in 814 after having ruled as Emperor for just over thirteen years. He was buried in his imperial capital of Aachen with his son, “Louis the Pious” succeeding him as Emperor.


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