At the time of Charlemagne, Saxony forms a small country in the north of the Frankish kingdom, a forest and marshy country. The Saxons form a pagan nation, whose main symbol is the Irminsul tree, the world tree, symbol of the union between men and the cosmic powers. The Saxons bring him offerings. Irminsul, in Old German, means "Huge column" ...
The war against the Saxons
The Saxons are considered barbarians; they are warriors; they launch raids against Hesse and Thuringia. After the attack on the Basilica of Frizlar, which the Saxons turned into a stable for their horses, Charlemagne campaigned against them. Nineteen campaigns will follow one another over a period of 33 years. They lead to the destruction of Irminsul in 772, to the submission and Christianization of the Saxons, in particular to the baptism of their leader Widuking.
In 782, a new rebellion of the Saxons broke out. The churches are destroyed and the missionaries flee. The emperor's army, surprised in the Süntelgebirge massif, is decimated; Chambrier Adalgise, Constable Geilon, several counts and officers are massacred. In retaliation, Charlemagne had 4,500 rebels executed by beheading in Verden.
Charlemagne at the zenith
At this time, the great emperor is at the height of his glory. But, he's not sleeping anymore. Every night, the ghosts of these Saxon victims come to haunt him and he sees his victims lying in a flood of blood. So he distracted himself in hunting and sporting recreation. Then, coming to the threshold of his life, when several signs such as eclipses, the appearance of a black spot on the sun and the collapse of a portico of his palace in Aix, indicated to him that God s 'about to remind him of it, he begins to dictate his memories.
Every night, he finds a young cleric and scholar from the monastery of Fulda who is called Eginhard. He dictates his memories to her. It is the framework set up by the author to retrace the events marking out the life of the great Charles and to evoke the genesis of Eginhard's main work, the "Vita Karoli Magni" (The life of Charlemagne), biography of the emperor that he probably wrote in reality later, during the reign of Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne.
Through a set of course chapters, the milestones of Charlemagne's life are evoked: his youth, his love for his mother Bertrade, his rivalry with his brother Carloman, his love for his daughters, the loss of his sons, his love. of the arts and letters, his coronation by Pope Leo III and above all his incessant wars waged in particular against the Lombards, the Saxons, the Aquitains and the Avars. Then appears the image of a Christian emperor worried on the threshold of his life of the judgment of God, questioning himself about the correctness of his choices and his wars and justifying himself by the “booty of new Christians offered to Our Lord. "
Me, Charlemagne, Christian Emperor, Max Gallo of the French Academy, XO éditions