Monday, January 28, 2013

Son of Charlemagne

Oops, I accidentally hit publish on this too soon, so 2 long posts in one day.  Sorry!  Either a feast or a famine around here :-)

I said in another post that I wanted to try to blog the books I read in the children's and high schooler category. Here is the first one. I wish I could think of a catchy title for the series. How about TUAR Book Spotlight? Well, I will think about it for next week! And ask Chari :-)

  This week I read:  

Son of Charlemagne

You can preview it here

Barbara Willard

Barbara Willard was a prolific author for both children and adults.  Here is a list of her books


The book takes place in Frankish Europe, covering the years fom 781 AD to 800 AD.    The action ranges from Aix La Chapelle (Aachen) where Charlemagne made his capital, to Rome, to various parts of Gaul/France. 


The story centers around Charles the Younger, the second son of Charles the Great (aka Charlemagne).     Like Willard's other historical fiction, it takes a minor historical figure as the viewpoint for showing the life of a great man.      As the introduction to the Bethlehem edition points out, Charlemagne heavily influenced the direction Christendom would take after him.   His military achievements consolidated Europe, his interest in education helped the Frankish people transition from barbarism to civilization, and his dedication to his faith (though he was a flawed man and did some things that wouldn't be considered Christian today) had at least a partial integrating effect on the medieval balance between Church and State. 

 The book shows Charlemagne making difficult decisions, sometimes personally costly, to further his idea of Christian leadership.    Since it is through the eyes of his son and main heir, it is a sympathetic but sometimes painful portrayal.   Other characters, like Charlemagne's wives, the older but crippled son Gobbo who conspires with traitors, and the overly pious Louis who will someday become Charlemagne's ineffective successor, are also portrayed. 

Some of the historical characters mentioned in the book:

Popes Adrian (Hadrian) and Leo III
Charlemagne and his extensive family (he married several times and had quite a few children).
Alcuin (notable English scholar who helped define doctrine on the Holy Spirit)
Einhard (Charlemagne's biographer, who was also a fosterling of the great king).

Some internet and other resources:

Some "living books" and tales on the internet:

Heritage History:  Page on Charlemagne
Baldwin Project:  Charlemagne

A more factual account:

Charlemagne (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Some modern internet resources with links to more: 

 What Made Charles So Great
Charlemagne Study Guide
History of Charlemagne

Charlemagne:  Mr Donn's Site 
A somewhat informal but entertaining presentation for middle school and younger.  The case he makes about Charlemagne's relations with two popes is secularly told, but tallies with Willard's more insightful take on the same events.

Some resources on supplementary characters:

Alcuin of York

 Charles the Younger
This gives the historical facts on the protagonist of the book.


A couple of primary sources

Einhard's Life of Charlemagne
This is a fast read and interesting, written by someone who knew Charlemagne.   I am going to have my highschooler read it.
Monk of Gall's Life of Charlemagne 
This is more anecdotal and less focused than Einhard's life. 

 Quizlet Vocabulary Cards

Son of Charlemagne
Son of Charlemagne Week Two
Son of Charlemagne Vocab

Highland Heritage Homeschool has quite a lot of notebooking pages and other resources on this historical period.

HomeschoolShare's Middle Ages resources are a useful supplement. 

Some paid resources

Discussion Guide from Hillside Press -- Medieval Titles  This includes brief studies on several medieval titles used by MODG.  This study focuses on the question of Charlemagne's greatness, whether you can be flawed and still a great Christian leader.

Biography Workbook for Charlemagne  Only $1 at CurrClick.  For ages 12 +.

1 comment:

  1. I've just been listening to the Teaching Co.'s Early Middle Ages lectures and learned so much about Charlemagne I don't ever remember learning before! The professor relies a lot on Einhard except he notes that Einhard exaggerated many things seemingly. Very interesting stuff!


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