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Charlemagne

      The birthplace of Charlemagne is unknown, but from various data we may infer that he was born somewhere about the year 742, nearly seven years before his father, Pepin the Short, assumed the title of king. His mother was Bertha, daughter of Charibert, Count of Leon.

      Of his boyhood we know as little as of his birth, but he seems at an early age to have mingled in the real business of life, for when only twelve years old we find him despatched to receive and welcome the sovereign pontiff who came to implore his father's aid against the barbarians that threatened Rome. From the usual habits of the Franks, it is also probable that he accompanied Pepin in his campaigns at an early age; but the first time that we really see him in the field, is on the renewal of the war with the rebellious Duke of Aquitaine.

      Upon the death of Pepin, 768, Charlemagne and his younger brother, Carloman, succeeded to equal portions of one of the most powerful European kingdoms, bounded by the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Mediterranean, and the ocean. But this would hardly have enabled the monarchs, even had they been united, to resist successfully the incursions of the barbarous tribes on the German frontiers of France, which had commenced with the first establishment of the Frankish dominion in Gaul; and which was kept alive by the constant pouring out of fresh hordes from the overpopulated North. The situation of Charlemagne was rendered yet more perilous by the passive enmity of his brother, and th...

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