What is difficult, in so much confusion of the times, is to distinguish clearly what belongs to the order of a great empire, from what concerns the military conquests that created or confirmed it. Except that in Charlemagne there are manifestly two supreme personal gifts, genius of war and high mind of the state. Therefore everything proceeds under him progressively and in a certain order; the conquest is completed when the empire of the West appears to the world; and the legislation begins when the emperor is crowned in Rome by Pope Leo. Up to that day the military work was so tiring for Charlemagne that he could not apply it to other treatments: and he thought about holding up more than creating a stable legislation; but since he is emperor,
In this development of the Western empire there are institutions borrowed, and there are concepts of instinct; the institutions borrowed from Constantinople and Rome, from the Church and from the Theodosian code; the concepts of instinct derive from the strength and luxuriant power of boreal men. Centering authority it is the thought that comes naturally to every good man, expanding the mayor is something so natural that it is not necessary to collect the thought by transmission. Charlemagne is not already changing the social state, but is bringing it into his hand to govern it; in many things he is nothing other than the continuator of the past, and in making his capitulars he is forced to submit to the barbaric laws, and also to sanction them with his acts. As for the Salic law, exemplary, it can be said that he is content to give it a second corrected edition; to that of Ripensi the modifications that he adds are few and insensitive: the Longobardic code remains intact, and it is true that he destroys the Saxon nationality, but does not need to preserve the spirit of its institutions. “Granted to everyone to live according to his law;
Thus, this supreme man does not know completely how to stand out from the past; in vain he tries to direct society in new ways, because customs, morals, laws cross him, and his legislation barely touches its surface. If he had wanted to destroy the personality of the Frankish, Lombard or Bavarian code: “Hola, emperor, the leudi would have told him, this is our heritage, just as your heritage is the scepter: leave it alone.” No never, those high counts, those free men, those Austrasi comates, would not have, in the meetings of the May camp, agreed to accept a capitular who had affected the system of compositions, the only penalty that the Franks recognized, the law that regulated their degrees and the hierarchy. The need was therefore to emperor to stop in front of these impediments; because even sovereign men are never entirely masters of giving free rein to their concepts, and a thousand unknown voices muffle theirs: “Oh why, some will ask to himself, have they stopped in the middle of the work?” nor does he know how much torment, how many troubles, how many weaknesses, how many little things go through between a man and his destiny, between his will and execution.
Charlemagne’s institutions refer to various orders of ideas which make up the government and administration of a people; but first, as it seems, he is all in a thought, that is, in the foundation of the empire; he wants to gird the forehead of the laurel of the Caesars: he is already a patrician, and why not yet August? This thought comes to him not so much by instinct as by imitation. In fact, did the Franks know the title of emperor in the midst of their forests? No, that they had their heretogz and their konnug like the Anglo-Saxons, nor did the Augustal traditions of Rome and Constantinople reach them. The idea of an empire was misunderstood among the Franks, being that the Salic law and the barbaric codes, in general, rested nothing but a continuous division of authority, on the division of royal authority and lands. Any concept of union and cohesion was therefore alien to the Barbarians, where the empire rested on a great mixture of nations, and of peoples all confused under the same sword and the same scepter.
And from that moment on, the contrast between Roman creation and barbarian custom began. The empire tried to unify everything: the Salic law inclines to divide everything. Charlemagne wanted by force to push, and by strokes, so to speak, with a knob, the peoples to approach and mingle with each other, and the peoples do not want to subject themselves to this yoke. Hence all the strength of custom is revealed; the empire is never intrinsic to the customs of the tamed populations; for them he is an idea that will remain skin, and which will vanish, because it is not in their customs and in their blood. Wanting to unite what is divided is a work on human strength, and such is the power of the willow and frank custom in the division of the heritage, that Charlemagne himself accepts it when he has to leave his inheritance. In the
None of Charlemagne’s creations, including the administrative ones, can hold a perfect centrality: in fact, does he do it to corroborate the podestà and expand the authority of his missi dominici , or royal messengers?  Fatigue range, because his concept of central ordering fails to nothing: the royal messengers are always at war with the counts, with the magistrates of every district, and in vain the emperor so much backs them up in his capitulars, in vain and changes his method in order to better sublimate them, because on the contrary he can only weaken the authority of the accounts and governors of the marches and borders. As long as active and strong is the will that puts in front and protects the royal messengers, they are obeyed, and imagine how they are of the emperor, any who retain his power; but after he died, they too languish, and after Lodovico Pio there is no more mention of him. This happens, because foreign to the customs of the government and the administrative uses of the Frankish, Lombard and Gothic nationals, they are, so to speak, an extraordinary institution, which will end up with the circumstances that produced it.
The two monarchies established by Charlemagne in Aquitaine and in Italy certainly conformed to the customs of that time more than the institution we have just mentioned; the barbarian nations already have the title of rex familiar, and they find it good; only that Charlemagne still extends the boundaries of his division too many. In fact, could he found an Italic kingdom in the midst of twenty peoples of different origins, who contended for its soil? And could this king of Italy be strong enough to be respected by the Napolitans, by Rome, by the Lombards, by the Greeks, not to include even the Huns of Pannonia? Italy was, at least, as fragmented into peoples and governments as the Gauls, and subjected to the same fate, and her reign became as small as that of Ugo Capeto and Roberto, so if everything did not perish under the clash of many different populations. The kingdom of Aquitaine was better thought out; from the Loire to the Ebro there was a natural population of the country, who all spoke the same language, and of which the Cantabrians and Goths formed, so to speak, the first layer. Hence we see Lodovico Pio making an excellent test as king of Aquitaine, becoming one of the nation, being obeyed and loved, multiplying in every place and dominating his edicts; but then the time of comminution arrives: Lodovico, called to the empire, no longer resides in his southern cities and villas, and then the confusion is so great and complete, that nothing remains intact and in order; the work falls apart, the edifice collapses, and everything around it trembles and the ground is wetted. Lodovico, called to the empire, no longer resides in his southern cities and villas, and then the confusion is so great and complete, that nothing remains intact and in order; the work falls apart, the edifice collapses, and everything around it trembles and the ground is wetted. Lodovico, called to the empire, no longer resides in his southern cities and villas, and then the confusion is so great and complete, that nothing remains intact and in order; the work falls apart, the edifice collapses, and everything around it trembles and the ground is wetted.
The capitulars, which mark the legislative period of Charlemagne, were they a regular and finite code, since they were the extensive compilations of Theodosius and Justinian? Was there any Ulpian, or Germanic or Frankish Tribonian, called to tighten the bundle of the Carlingian laws? Mainò; the capitulars came one after the other, and not spontaneously and suddenly; some of them they are nothing more than the confirmation of previous laws, while others carry out an administrative theory in better harmony with the empire. But uniformity is mainly the intent to which the capitulars aim; a thought, moreover, which is not new at all, and which arises naturally in all supreme minds, and above all in those which lean towards absolute power; reducing laws to code is a simple concept that comes and pleases those who love strong power. The great monuments of legislation all proceed from a dictatorial thought: as well as the civil code as the capitulars, as well as the edicts of Louis XI as those of Louis XIV, as well as the provisions of Richelieu as the acts of the Public Health Committee. Unity and simplification are nothing more than the image of the eastern podestà, which only genius can expand and turn to the advantage of humanity. The local statute is paternal, and the government of the municipality corresponds to that of the family, and even if not least, when it comes to making a code, it is always done to the detriment of private customs. All of necessity will yield to a powerful centrification, but what a mandate it is of the supreme man to drive out, even by force, a country towards the unknown and great ways of civilization, even at the expense of private uses and domestic happiness; thus, and not otherwise, national unity always comes to substitute itself for the local fraction. But there is a difference between the times of Charlemagne and ours, and it is that in the eighth century the idea of the mayor was weak, and the power of each individual was very great:
In the eighth and ninth centuries the dictatorship could never be anything other than an image of material strength, everything being still so confused in the Church and in society, that a power accepted by all could not arise from it, if that was not of conquest. The papacy, which rose to the height of its power towards the end of the eleventh century, due to the impetus given to it by the Crusades and Gregory VII, was still vigorously fought; Hadrian and Leo were valiant men, yes, but still exposed to the uprisings of the Romans, to the invasions of the Greeks and the Neapolitans, so much so that they were forced to leave Italy to seek asylum beyond the Alps, and to implore help from Pippin and Charlemagne. Now, a power that begs the arm of others, is never strong, and soon is to collapse at the first shock. L’ they made in the intention of wanting to govern society; this tenacity made their strength, and immeasurable in this was their intellectual work. Hadrian and Leo perhaps understood better than any other what the generation needed to keep it on schedule, and therefore gave the dictatorship of Charlemagne to the men of war, and crowned it with the creation of the Western empire; as for what concerns the Church, the intent of Hadrian and Leo was to secure absolute power in their own hands. Great were the effects which they could obtain from the creation of an empire; the Western schism could have ended through the marriage of Charlemagne with an empress of Constantinople: Irene protected the images, he the papacy; nor this great design of a kinship that would have resulted in the cessation of the schism, was never completely set aside by the pontificate, and when no more than Charlemagne himself, it was his children. The popes wanted to remove the separation of the two Churches, and this marriage would become the symbol of their union.
Rome, after having created the supreme dictatorship for Charlemagne, girding the crown on his forehead, uses it not only to corroborate its mayor, but yes again to extinguish heresies. In every place they are indications of a philosophical uprising against Catholic opinions: in Constantinople the quistion of images is raging: barbarous people want to land there the cult of the arts, from which so sweet sensations come to mind and heart: the popes begin to defend the images, to protect them, and made in this way masters of the affections of the people, they become stronger to fight against the heresies, cold disputants, which torment the Church, and invoke the secular arm of Charlemagne, always ready to strike where it is to be seconded the will of Rome. So we see him, and as king and as emperor, presiding over councils,
In his dealings with the papacy, the son of Pippin showed himself more right and strong than an emperor of modern times, who, born like Charlemagne in the midst of the camps, and himself head of men of arms, procuring himself willingly moral and religious strength, did not have much of the foresight that the Barbarian brought with him from his forests, and instead of sublimating the pope, as did Charlemagne, he tried to knock him down, and took Rome back from him, where the Carolingians l ‘they had given to Hadrian and Leo: hence it followed that the modern empire, unsupported by moral strength, collapsed, this capital defect guilty. But perhaps it is necessary to attribute this difference of proceeding to the difference of times; this society was not so intimately religious like that, and hearts were not even tempered to Catholic beliefs; and yet Rome succeeded triumphant against the fort, precisely because in terms of politics one does not want to reduce tools to pieces, but to know how to use them wisely: Hadrian and Leo had protected the moral empire of Charlemagne, and he rewarded them; Pius VII had consecrated Napoleon, had presented him to the Christian world for the true emperor, for the legitimate lord; and what is the use of trampling a poor old man, stripping him of his beloved Rome?
The political and administrative system of Charlemagne, founded as it was on positive elements, very well approached what has been seen in modern times: at the top of the hierarchy, the powerful, honored, revered emperor, in correspondence with the popes, and by means of war or of his legates in communication with the surrounding civilizations, and under him military kings and dukes, who pay him homage and come to his approval; two assemblies or plenary courts each year, one to discuss distant expeditions, the other to approve the capitulars and legislative acts; then of the accounts in charge, as permanent governors and rectors of the provinces, of the administration of justice and of the entire imperial podestà, and around these accounts, other local assemblies, under good names, elders elected by the same inhabitants, who hold the Assizes, judge the disputes, make the repartition of the incomes. And when a capitular has passed the general assembly, he is communicated to the accounts, who also communicate it to the local assemblies, which carry out his commandments, and, so that none of these devices break or stop, there are also here imissi dominici , extraordinary commissioners who go everywhere to watch over. In which system there is, as everyone sees, a mixture of the Roman government, strong and powerful as it was, and of Germanic freedom, which rests on assemblies and public representation.
The system of the Capets, which succeeded that of the Carolingians, has nothing in common with this, feudalism links the institutions there to territorial ideas, and forms, as if to say, a great marble chain, which extends from the Louvre tower to the to the valvassore castle; new order of duties, which destroyed the institutions of the capitulars. After the revolution of 1789 destroyed the feudal hierarchy, it returned to the Carlingo concept, which even had something Roman about it. What difference was there between the prefects and the counts of Charlemagne? between the royal messengers, the representatives in deputation and the extraordinary commissioners of the emperor Napoleon? And for more than one knot the two municipal systems, the Assizes, the jurors, the assemblies, were also linked, and again the uniformity of the codes appeared. All mayor have the same instinct,
And as for science, was she in Charlemagne an inclination or art of government? The fact is that he protected her, that his century differs from what precedes it and from what follows it, that he made every effort to spread the light and promote studies; but unfortunately all his efforts were in vain with a society by which he was not understood. And yet Charlemagne perseveres; he gathers and clasps the wits among them, and is pleased to be among them; she is something that is often seen among men born to govern and rule this relieving which they do in letters, from the labors of war and government! Cesare writes his commentaries, expression of a supremely political mind; Charlemagne makes verses in his native language, which the barbarian conquerors enjoyed hearing about the heroic exploits of their country, and the emperor imitated him . In his idleness he inclined to science, and you are well aware of his concern for her; nor is his only protection, but rather a vocation; he abandons them with the learned, summons them, gathers them around himself, fills them with his favors, with his loving kindness; however, that his political understanding is coupled with his personal inclinations; science being substantially Roman and ecclesiastical, he does not already have to fear of the cherics, because through the pope he keeps himself subjects; but the danger of his work lies in the impetuosity of his leuds and in the emotions of the men of war, which can overthrow his dynasty; now the meek cherics make these souls too proud, and make them more bowing to obey: science, studies can penetrate that soldierly race, and then all is over; and the empire will last unperturbed in him and in his family.
For this purpose we see not so much the episcopal hierarchy as the monasteries; on the contrary, the bishops are compressed and kept to a mark by him, because they were too powerful, too mixed up in civil matters, their hierarchy was too Gallic and pertinent for every point to the municipalities; hence Charlemagne loves better protecting the abbeys and supporting the authority of the immense communities of San Benedetto. The abbeys are exempt from any episcopal jurisdiction, and depend only on Rome, which belongs entirely to Charlemagne; and in the midst of these abbeys the great acts of life are performed; the servants of the state prison for kings who have jumped from the throne, for the counts, for the leuds, of which Charlemagne down wants power; they protect the sepulcher of the living and the dead, hence the greatness that comes to them; they are always open kindergartens, and the abbots intervene, with their pastoral care in hand, at the councils and solemn assemblies, in order to support the emperor’s authority there. So it is that, while Charlemagne, and even more so his son, often find themselves in conflict with the episcopate, they never have anything to complain about at the meeting of any abbot of the order of San Benedetto.
All this administration was ordered to prepare the lever of the burdens and the militias, the two essential parts of the government. The taxman is the object of Charlemagne’s keenest concerns; therefore he regulates the income, and then he ensures that every six months paid the income of his farms be either in foodstuffs, or in money, or in services; and since the composition and the fine form the strength of his revenues, and he takes assiduous care of them in his capitulars: “Anyone who commits a guilty action must pay a fine;” no more afflictive punishments, death very rare, but always confiscation and settlement, always money and gold coins. More often than not the taxman is enriched by the spoils of the vanquished peoples, Charlemagne is similar to those barbarian kings, who after the victory are seated in their tent with the booty at their feet, in the act of leaving it among their faithful. And the booty in fact, in forty-three years of war, is beautiful, because, if he had to do with the Saxons, a poor and ageless people, he also conquered Italy and the Lombards, subjected the Huns and robbed their palaces, and the Huns had robbed the world! Then, having crossed the Pyrenees, I found myself having the accumulated wealth of the Goths and Saracens at his mercy. Hence, in order to satisfy his warriors, he did not, as Carlo Martello did, need to strip the cherics, but rather a way to enrich and fertilize everything. Not a few of the churches are indebted to him for their foundation; at the touch of his hand the monuments of the arts arose; by his care he came from Constantinople the manuscripts, the missals,
Such was the work in which a single man struggled throughout his life, a work of immeasurable effects. For, to say the least, if the Rome of the patricians and emperors gathers wider territories, it nevertheless only gradually expands, and it owes its power to its patient politics; the ordering that unfolds from Romulus to the Caesars is infinite yes, but it takes centuries, and all these things happen, and one comes after the other; where Charlemagne proceeds at a giant step, he suddenly imagines the ordering of the empire in that way that suddenly conquers it, few are the modifications to which his government is subject: the system of accounts, exemplification, and royal messengers refers to the original concept of his mayor, and everything that is in their hierarchy is nothing but an accessory, of which he can surely handle the bombs.
In the history of times we see that what is done soon also falls away. Vain is the whistling of the whirlwind against the oak that sinks with its roots into the bowels of the earth, and only shakes its branches; but the cockpit mast hardly touches the surface of the ground; the giant of the Rhine and the Meuse abused, if it may be said so, the ardor of his youth, and decrepitude will soon come for him. What else could survive this work? The title of emperor; but this title was not of Frankish origin; he was Roman, nor did he come from him! This dignity of the purple will reappear over time as a symbol of a strong mayor, it will shine in the face of other princes, nor will they be indebted to Charlemagne. But what about the royal dignity? It too was about to pass into a new lineage, to leave the Roman imprint, to become entirely feudal: other ideas were about to arise under the reign of the Capets and other laws; the municipalities will change into municipalities; the settlers into peasants and bourgeois; the counts and leuds in high feudal lords, actual owners, sovereigns ofdomain and territory; the archbishops and bishops will become peers and barons, and the assemblies of the May camp, simple feudal courts. The capitulars, in the midst of this night of centuries, will disappear, and they will be succeeded by the institutions of St. Louis, the feudal code of Jerusalem and the jurisprudence books of Beaumaucir.
But and where does it happen that, in the midst of the ruin of all his works, Charlemagne still endures so splendidly in fame among posterity? Where does it happen that quoted came in the plenary courts as the source and origin of every greatness? whence is it that so many monuments are attributed to his great mind? That there are Orlando cliffs and caves, and Magne towers and Carolini lighthouses? how does it happen that this memory is magnified from century to century? Otto emperor visits, first of all, the monument of Charlemagne, and reverently contemplates the great prince with a pale and firm eye, lying in the ark, covered with his golden robes, with the scepter in his hand and with the volume of the Gospels on the feet; since the twelfth century Charlemagne is the subject of all the heroic songs, of all the glorious memories of the populations; he is the hero of a thousand marvelous adventures. In the fifteenth century, Pulci, Bojardo, Ariosto sing it in national poems: «O you. Orlando, Angelica, Rinaldo, Marfisa, Astolfo with the golden spear, Merlin, come and surround your sire with a splendid procession! ” At that time the games and pastimes of the courts themselves recall however Charlemagne and his paladins; the playing cards themselves represent together with the emperor in a long beard the image of Hildegard and Uggero the Danish, and when Charles VI, in the lucid intervals of his madness, played with those great tarots of his, every time between the knight of the cup, the bad death and the king of coins he came across Charlemagne, he did not forget to make the sign of the cross out of veneration!
And Charles the Fifth, who also longs for the empire of the world, doesn’t he too come to visit the tomb of his great predecessor in Aachen? He descends into that, the measure, prostrates himself and would like to read his destiny in the mysterious book that lies with the emperor who is lying there. Meanwhile the centuries continue their course, and another conqueror, a very high sovereign, tamer of peoples like Charlemagne, and like him the legislator and ruler of various nations, also comes to bow before that great tomb, and he wants to be consecrated with the sword of Charlemagne, and wear his crown, and touch his treasure with his own hands; then he lies down in his marble chair, as if to induce the size of the building he has erected, and orders that the tomb be restored, and the measure to be seen he is done on his back, and wants to refresh you that ancient inscription that you read in the past: “Under this monument lies the body of Charles, the great and Orthodox emperor, who nobly enlarged and happily ruled the kingdom of the Franks to forty-seven years. He died septuagenarian in the year of the incarnation of the Lord 814, indiction VII, on January 28th  . ”
And in the midst of these great names and these splendid celebrities, I poor pilgrim let me write this chronicle of Charlemagne! Neither did I already have the arrogance to measure that tomb, nor the vanity to touch its relics, I only sat down to pray kneeling on that tombstone, seeing through all the magnitudes of that monument only death, and saying how Alcuin : «When the man is dead, there is no more rumor than the dull swarm of the worm that gnaws at his corpse; no other sound will remain after us, except that of the final trumpet, which will cry out to everyone, big and small: – What have you done for God, for justice and for humanity!