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Publisher's Summary

Some say Charlemagne was a great king, while others believe the many atrocities committed under his reign make him the first in a line of political disasters throughout Europe. This debate has been going on for more than a millennium. He has been remembered for his intellectual and martial strength, as well as his diplomacy and desire for justice, but there is contention about how much truth lies in tales of his superior abilities. What is it about Charlemagne that inspires such fascination? What did he do to generate so much controversy? Why have opinions about Charlemagne diverged so much? 

The study of Charlemagne, and the broader field called Carolingian history, has changed markedly in the last 25 years or so. The Carolingian dynasty to which Charlemagne belonged ruled much of continental Europe in the eighth, ninth, and 10th centuries; they shaped the continent - geographically and politically - and put modern history into motion. In Charlemagne: Father of Europe, you will look back on Charlemagne’s rule and the way his dynasty and its influence would affect the world in the centuries that would follow. Join Professor Philip Daileader of William & Mary for this 12-lecture historical journey into the life, times, and complicated legacy of the ruler known as the pater Europae.

As you sift through the accounts surrounding Charlemagne and his influence, you will have the opportunity to experience a multifaceted story that goes beyond the more simplified narratives that have shaped common views of the early Middle Ages. With invaluable historical context and nuance that is often missing from broader surveys of medieval history, you will get a clearer view of a complex figure and the world he lived in.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2022 The Great Courses (P)2022 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Charlemagne: Father of Europe

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A good look at European history.

Very well done and well researched. In this course one may learn a great deal about history and a fascinating man. He had flaws like all of us do, but he accomplished great things like all of us dream of. A very good balance.

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A Good Overview

Charlemagne gets mentioned in every Western Civilizations I course mostly because of the Carolingian Renaissance. This Great Courses text will show you that his impact was much broader than his important educational and administrative reforms. His military conquests are actually only a small part of the text. There’s a lot of emphasis on his administration, his diplomacy, his economy, and of course, his claiming of the imperial title. There’s also a couple of lectures on his impact and legacy. This book is well worthwhile for anyone interested in one of Europe’s greatest kings.

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Return of Prof. Daileader

I was excited to see this offering because I had really enjoyed Prof. Daileader's 3-part medieval history lecture series. This didn't disappoint, though it is clearly much shorter.

Pros:
- deeper dive into a fascinating figure
- lectures are well-organized, clear, interesting
- there's a good overview not only of the historical figure, but his impact on later culture
- seems to be a balanced look at the different views historians have had of Charlemagne over time

Cons:
- There's clearly a school of thought that views Charlemagne as a horrible figure, but I didn't really get from the lectures what he did that was worse than other medieval rulers. Other than probably murdering his nephews, which is a pretty big thing, I realize!
- These lectures seem more "read" than this professor's other offerings. Perhaps that's been mandated by the Teaching Company since I've noticed it elsewhere. I don't mind a more loose lecture style. But the enthusiasm he has still seems to bubble through.
- This isn't really a con, but if you are using these for homeschooling (or adult learning for that matter) and don't have a familiarity with the period, I'd start with Daileader's three part series as a general grounding before you listen to this.

Enjoy! This is a good one.