The Goths were a tribe of people who immigrated from Scandinavia to the Middle East. They split into two groups going east and west. The eastern tribe became the Ostrogoths and the western tribe became the Visigoths. The Battle of Adrianople in 378 was fought in Northern Greece as the Visigoths began their march to Rome. Rome had already been weakened but the siege still shook the empire. The Romans were crushed by Alaric 1, the most famous Visigoth ruler who ruled from 365 to 410. The Visigoths were eventually pressured by the Frank’s to move from Italy to Iberia in the early 400’s. The Muslim’s eventually fought the Visigoths for the Iberian Peninsula, and in 718, they defeated them. That marked the end of the Visigoths. Their culture developed from a Pagan religion to Christianity.
The Lombard’s are another Germanic tribe from Scandinavia. They Ruled Italy for about 200 years, from 568 to 774. By the 5th Century, they established their kingdom in Italy, known as Regnum Italicum. The first important city they captured was Forum Lulii in 569, followed by Milan in the same year. Pavia became the capital of their kingdom. The kingdom was organized into a series of Duchies controlled by Dukes. The kingdom wasn’t centralized and thus, very weak. The last Lombard king was Desiderius. The Pope and Charlemagne joined forces in 774 to rid the Lombard’s of Italy, turning the country into Papal states. The Lombard’s in Southern Italy remained independent.
The first united ruler of France was King Clovis. Over time, the Merovingian kings were increasingly lazy rulers. The work of the government was rarely carried out by the king. Instead there was the Mayor of the Palace. The mayor would make wars, lead armies, raise money, and carry out government decisions. The mayor was basically the active king, while the real king was more like a figurehead. One of those mayors was Pepin. He enjoyed and abused his privileges. Pepin had an illegitimate son named Charles. After his death in 714 his wife tried to take over the position, even imprisoning her son.
Charles escaped from prison and began organizing support from the nobles. He was called to be the leader of an army when an outside band of Franks attacked. This was the very first battle he would use. Despite having led a magnificent battle, he realized he didn’t have enough men and retreated from the battle field. Charles retaliated by beating his opponents shortly after in the battle of Amblive. He won because he appeared where his enemy least expected, attacked when they least expected, and attacked how they least expected.
Charles Martel began a new dynasty known as the Carolingian Dynasty. Charlemagne was born in modern day Belgium. He was named Carolus or Charles at birth after his grandfather, Charles Martel. Later he became known as Charles the Great which, translated, means Charlemagne. He became co-ruler at the age of 26, in 768. He split the empire with his older brother Carloman. He died in 771, leaving Charlemagne as sole ruler.
His first main job as king was to end an uprising in Aquitaine. He was successful in quieting the revolt. He married a Lombard princess, strengthening relations with the people of Italy. However, a year later, he remarried which weakened those relations. He had nine children with his second wife, Hildegard. Charles fought the Lombard’s to help Pope Adrian1 regain several territories that belong to the Papacy. After a two-year siege, the Lombard capital was captured
Charlemagne’s coronation in 800 is not the beginning of the empire, but one of the most important turning points. The empire lasted until 888 at the end of the reign of Charles the Fat. Like most medieval kingdoms, having many kings with the same name was a common practice. In 800 AD, the kingdom had about one million square kilometers and about ten to twenty million citizens. Most of the kingdom had been gained by Charles Martel and then added on by leading successors. The kingdom did not remain united under one ruler for long.
Even just after Charlemagne’s death, Louis the Pious didn’t have a very long reign. Charlemagne’s sons, Charles and Pepin, were made kings in different regions. Charles had Neustria and Louis owned Aquitaine, Pepin ruled Italy. Louis again divided the empire during his final years. Several of his sons even waged wars against him to win to win parts of the kingdom. Lothar became king of Italy and co-emperor, while Pepin had Aquitaine. Louis the German ruled Bavaria and Charles the Bald didn’t get any kingship