Karolus Magnus Carolingian
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Charlemagne Carolingian (abt. 0748 - 0814)

Charlemagne (Karolus Magnus) "King of the Franks, Emperor of the Romans" Carolingian
Born about in Austrasia, Franciamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 0770 (to 0771) [location unknown]
Husband of — married before 30 Apr 0771 (to 30 Apr 0783) in Aix-la-Chapellemap
Husband of — married Oct 0783 in Worms, Germanymap
Husband of — married 0794 (to 4 Jun 0800) [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 65 in Aachen, Austrasia, Franciamap
Profile last modified | Created 20 Feb 2012 | Last significant change: 21 Jun 2022
06:34: Michael Cayley replied to a comment on the page for Charlemagne Carolingian (abt.0748-0814) [Thank Michael for this | 4 thank-yous received]
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Pepin the Short
King of the Franks
9 Oct 768 – 28 Jan 814
Louis the Pious
King of the Lombards
774 - 814
Louis the Pious

Holy Roman Emperor
25 Dec 800 – 28 Jan 814
Louis the Pious
Medieval Project
Karolus Magnus Carolingian is managed by the Medieval Project.
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Charlemagne expanded the Frankish kingdom to include much of Western and Central Europe. His rule is also associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, and his foreign conquests and internal reforms, shaped Western Europe and the European Middle Ages. He is numbered as Charles I in the regnal lists of Germany, the Holy Roman Empire, and France.
Charlemagne (742/7 – 28 Jan 814) had children with two wives and six mistresses. Only four of his grandsons were legitimate. Their father was Hludowic (Louis the Pious).

Name and Titles

Commonly known as: Charlemagne, King of the Franks, Emperor of the Romans
This name is commonly used in both English and French does not appear until the 12th century.
Also known as: Charles the Great, Karolus Magnus, Carolus, Karl, Karlo, etc.
  • English: Charles the Great, King of the Franks, Emperor of the Romans
  • French: Charlemagne, Roi des Francs, Empereur d'Occident
  • German: Karl der Grosse, König des Fränkischen Reichs
  • Dutch: Karel de Grote,
  • Latin: Karolus (Carolus) Magnus, Rex Francorum, imperatori Romanorum
  • Old Low Franconian: Karl thie Mikili, Frankana Kunink
  • Old Gallo-Romance: Karlus li Magnus, Regis de les Frankes
  • Old French: Charles li Magne, Rei des Francs
  • Middle French: Charlemagne, Roi des Francs
"On that very and most holy day of Christmas ... Leo the pope put [a/the] crown on his head, and acclamation was made by all the people of the Romans: ‘To Charles Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor of the Romans, Life and Victory!’"[1]
  • Charlemagne titled himself: 'Carolus serenissimus augustus a Deo coranatos magnus pacificus imperator, Romanum gubernans imperium, qui et per misericordiam Dei rex Francorum atque Langobardorum'[2]


Born: Probably 2 April 748
The day of his birth as April 2nd comes from Lorsch Calendar ("IIII. Non. Apr. Nativitatis domni et gloriosissimi Karoli imperatoris et semper Augusti.") and is widely accepted.[3] It is the year of his birth which is uncertain. The contemporary historian Einhard wrote that Charlemagne was about age 71 at his death in 814. For this reason, the year of his birth is frequently given as 742. However, there are problems with this date and it does not match other records. He was certainly not born before the marriage of his parents which occurred in 744. The year is given as 747 in Annales Petaviani; however, there are reasons to think this is also wrong. The entry immediately before the birth of Charlemagne discusses the departure of his father for Rome which could not have been before 15 August 747. Also, 2 April 747 was Easter Sunday, and it is unthinkable that Charlemagne could have been born on Easter without it being a widely known and celebrated fact. Bercher points out that if Easter was being used as the beginning of the New Year, then 2 April 748 would still have been 747 in that calendar system. For these reasons, the most probable date of birth for Charlemagne is 2 April 748.
Place of birth: Unknown.
The place of birth of Charlemagne is not given in any contemporary document. He is often assumed to have to have been born in Aachen ( in present day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) which was the center of Charlemagne's Frankish empire, but this not actually known. The royal court of the Franks frequently traveled from place to place, so Charlemagne could have been born in any of several cities. The best that can be said is that he was born in Francia (Kingdom of the Franks), most likely in the territory known as Austrasia (though many places in Neustria have also been suggested).

Marriages and Legitimate Children

Married: 1st - Unknown (sometimes called Desiderata), daughter of Desiderius, king of the Lombards in 770. Charlemagne's mother brought a daughter Desiderius and married her to Charlemagne in 770 to forge an alliance with Lombard kingdom. That her name was "Desiderata" is known from a single source, however, it is now thought to be very unlikely. In 770 or 771, Charlemagne repudiated this marriage to marry Hildegard. They had no children.
Married: 2nd - Hildegard, daughter of Gerold, count of Alemannia, between 770 and 772. The date of this marriage is difficult to determine due to conflicts in the records; it most likely occurred in 771. They had 9 children. She died 30 April 783 in Saxony,
Children of Charlemagne and Hildegard:
  • 1. Charles the Younger (772/773 - 811), King of the Franks
  • 2. Adelais (Adelaid/Adeleidis) (773/774 - 774)
  • 3. Hrotrudis (Rotrud/Hruodrud, Erythro in Greek) (775 - 810), mistress of Rorico I, Comte de Rennes et du Maine.
  • 4. Carloman, renamed "Pepin" (777-810), King of the Lombards (Italy) [4]
  • 5. Louis (778 – 840, perhaps twin of Hlothar, Holy Roman Emperor
  • 6. Hlothar (Lothar) (778 – 779/780. perhaps twin of Louis)
  • 7. Bertrada (Berta) (779/780 - 823/4), mistress to Angilbert "the Saint"
  • 8. Gisela (Gisle) (781 - 800/814)
  • 9. Hildegard (783) lived 40 days
Married: 3rd - Fastrada, daughter of count Radulf, in 783. They had two children. She died 10 August 794.
Children of Charlemagne and Fastrada:
  • 1. Theodrada (785-844/853), Abbess of Notre-Dame d'Argenteuil near Paris, Abbess of (some convent in) Zurich
  • 2. Hiltrud (787 - 800/814), mistress of Richwin, Count of Padua, mother of Richbod (800/805 – 844)
Married: 4th - Liutgard, an Alamannian of unknown parentage. They had no children.

Mistresses and Illegitimate Children

Mistress: Hilmiltrude. Issue: 1
  • Pepin "le Bossu" (the Hunchback) (770 – 811), rebelled, imprisoned at Abbey of St-Gallen and Prum.
Unknown mistress:
  • Daughter Rotaïd (Hruodhaid), b. ca. 784, d. after 800, prob. after 814.
Mistress: Madelgard. Issue:
  • Daughter Rothilde, d. 22 or 24 March 852, abbess of Faremoutiers.
Mistress: Gersvind. (Gerswinda). Issue:
  • Daughter Adaltrude (about 790)
Mistress: Regina. Issue: 2
  • Drogo (Dreux) (801 - 855), Abbot of Luxeuil, Bishop of Metz, Vicar to Pope Sergius II, Leo IV, and Benedict III in France
  • Hugo (Hugues) "l'Abbé/the Abbot" (802/806 - 844), Abbot at St-Quentin, Lobbes, St-Bertin, and Noaille, Arch-Chancellor, first for Louis, then for Charles II "le Chauve"
Mistress: Adelindis (Ethelind). Issue: 1
  • Theoderic (Thierry) (807 - after 818), a cleric


Died: 28 Jan 814 in Aachen, Austrasia, Francia.[5]
"He died January twenty-eighth, the seventh day from the time that he took to his bed, at nine o'clock in the morning, after partaking of the Holy Communion, in the seventy-second year of his age and the forty-seventh of his reign" (Einhard).[6]
Buried: "The same day" in Aachen Cathedral (Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle).[7]
"From the lands where the sun rises to western shores, People are crying and wailing...the Franks, the Romans, all Christians, are stung with mourning and great worry...the young and old, glorious nobles, all lament the loss of their Caesar...the world laments the death of Charles...O Christ, you who govern the heavenly host, grant a peaceful place to Charles in your kingdom. Alas for miserable me." ~ anonymous monk of Bobbio[8]
1165: Frederick I put Charlemagne in a sarcophagus beneath the cathedral floor.
1215: He was re-interred by Frederick II in a casket of gold and silver.


Physical Character
His appearance as described by Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni in his twenty-second chapter:
"He was heavily built, sturdy, and of considerable stature .... round head, large and lively eyes, a slightly larger nose than usual, white but still attractive hair, a bright and cheerful expression, a short and fat neck, and a slightly protruding stomach. His voice was clear, but a little higher than one would have expected for a man of his build. He enjoyed good health, except for the fevers that affected him in the last few years of his life. Toward the end he dragged one leg. Even then, he stubbornly did what he wanted and refused to listen to doctors, indeed he detested them, because they wanted to persuade him to stop eating roast meat, as was his wont, and to be content with boiled meat." [9]
1861: Charlemagne's tomb was opened by scientists who reconstructed his skeleton and found it measured 74.9 inches (6' 2-3/4") (192 centimeters).[citation needed]
Charlemagne wore the traditional, non-aristocratic costume of the Frankish people (Einhard).[10]
  • Maintained father's policy towards papacy and became its protector.
  • 778: Defeated by the Basques, at the Battle of Roncesvalles.
  • Christianized Saxons by force.


Footnotes and citations:
  1. Davis, RHC: A History of Medieval Europe, Longman 1977 p149-50; Description of Charlemagne’s coronation by the Pope on 23 Dec 800 -- Frankish Royal Annals (earliest description available probably written c 801 by Angilbert the chaplain). Note: different from papal description in Liber Pontificalis, written to suggest greater authority vested in Pope than the Frankish point of view
  2. Davis, RHC: A History of Medieval Europe, Longman 1977 p155
  3. Henry Project, citing Becher. "Neue überlegungen...", Francia 19/1 (1992), 37-60.
  4. Einhard, Life of Charlemagne Translated by Samuel Epes Turner Page 48. (New York: American Book Company, 1880); digital image: (https://www.google.com/books/edition/Life_of_Charlemagne/qCseAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0):
  5. Now in present day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Austrasia probably ceased to be a separate administrative territory within Charlemagne’s Frankish kingdom by 814, but was still a recognizable region of the Kingdom of the Franks.
  6. Einhard, page 70.
  7. earliest surviving planctus, the Planctus de obitu Karoli, was composed by a monk of Bobbio, which he had patronised.
  8. John Julius Norwich, Byzantium: The Early Centuries, pg. 378 (?)
  9. Einhard, page 56.
  10. Einhard, page 58-59.
Source list:
  • Baldwin, Stewart. "Charlemagne." The Henry Project: The Ancestors of King Henry II of England. Website. (2001-present). Accessed April 2018. Home Page, Henry Project FAQ, Index, Henry II Ancestor Table
  • Becher, Matthias. "Neue überlegungen zum geburtsdatum Karls des Grossen", Francia 19/1 (1992), 37-60.
  • Einhard (Samuel Epes Turner translator). Life of Charlemagne by Eginhard: Translated from the text of the "Monumenta Germaniæ" by Samuel Epes Turner, A. M., with notes and a map. (New York, 1880). Ancestry.com LINK
  • Settipani, Christian. La préhistoire des Capétiens 481-987 (Première partie - Mérovingiens, Carolingiens et Robertiens). (Villeneuve d'Ascq, 1993).
  • Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, in 5 vols. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 2013): vol. V pages 481-504, Appendix: Lines from Charlemagne to William the Conqueror.
  • Arbage, Martin. "Otto I," in Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2004): p. 810 online: "Otto can be considered the first ruler of the Holy Roman empire, though that term was not used until the twelfth century."
  • Pagden, Percy. World's at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West, First ed. (2008): p. 147.
  • Bryce, James. The Holy Roman Empire. (London, 1875, 1968). Books.google.com LINK
  • Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Early Centuries, (1989): pg. 378.
  • L. Orlandini, Manuel Abranches de Soveral, Reynaud de Paysac, F.L. J P de Palmas (Aurejac et Tournemire; Frankish line;
  • La Galissonniere: Elections d'Arques et Rouen), Jean de Villoutreys (ref: Georges Poull), E. Wilkerson-Theaux (Laura Little), O. Auffray, A. Brabant (Genealogy of Chauvigny of Blot from "Chanoine Prevost Archiviste du Diocese de Troyes Union Typographique Domois Cote-d'Or 1925), Emmanuel Arminjon (E Levi-Provencal Histoire de l'Espagne Andalouse), Y. Gazagnes-Gazanhe, R. Sekulovich and J.P. de
  • Urkundenbuch für die Geschichte des Niederrheins oder des Erzstifts Cöln, der Fürstenthümer Jülich und Berg, Geldern, Meurs, Kleve und Mark, und der Reichsstifte Elten, Essen und Werden : aus den Quellen in dem Königlichen Provinzial-Archiv zu Düsseldorf und in den Kirchen- und Stadt-Archiven der Provinz, vollständig und erläutert / hrsg. von Theod. Jos. Lacomblet Editor: Lacomblet, Theodor Joseph DNB Wikipedia Published Düsseldorf : Wolf, 1840 - Annotation Später mit Verlagsangabe Schönian, Elbersfeld und Schaub, Düsseldorf. Karl der Große and Pippin mentioned date May 3, 779 Karl der Große April 26, 802

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Comments: 45

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Technically he should be called Karl I König der Franken, Römischer Kaiser
posted by Rod Piper
Thanks. One can argue for ever about what names to give him. But he would not have spoken German as it is known today.

It is unlikely to be helpful to attempt to reproduce in name fields the version of his name that may have been used in his childhood and later in the dialect of Franconian/Old Frankish I would suspect was his birth language. Latin was widely used for many administrative purposes in his lifetime, and for education.

Names on WikiTree for medievals are often a compromise between what is theoretically right if we attempt to follow the "their conventions not ours" principle, and what is likely to be helpful. We often have no way of knowing what people called themselves in daily life. Last names for this period are almost invariably an artificial construct - this is unavoidable as last names were virtually unknown at the time.

posted by Michael Cayley
edited by Michael Cayley

Events 2 April 747 : Birth - à Jupille en Belgique about 768 : Marriage (with Himilitrudis de LORRAINE) --- : Separation (with Himilitrudis de LORRAINE) épouse répudiée 25 December 770 : Marriage (with Désidérade de LOMBARDIE) 771 : Divorce (with Désidérade de LOMBARDIE) 771 : Marriage (with Hildegarde de SOUABE de VINTZGAU) - à Aix-la-Chapelle October 783 : Marriage (with Fastrade de FRANCONIE) - Worms 795 : Marriage (with Liutgarde d'ALSACE) after 800 : Partners (with Madelgarde X) after 800 : Partners (with Reine X) after 800 : Partners (with Gerswinde de SAXE) after 800 : Partners (with Adelinde .) 28 January 814 : Death - à Aix-la-Chapelle --- : Burial - en la Chapelle palatine à Aix-la-Chapelle

Thanks, Linda. Please see John Atkinson's response in G2G: https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1375222/comments-on-charlemagne-carolingian
posted by Michael Cayley
Gateway Ancestors of Charlemagne


posted by Raymond Nichols DD
edited by Raymond Nichols DD
Thanks Raymond, but without actually seeing the lineages on the website, it is impossible to determine the accuracy of the list of gateway ancestors.

However several of the books on the list of Links & Publications are not considered very up-to-date or reliable, which is concerning.

posted by John Atkinson
A translation for this - inline text, in the research notes, or as part of the citation would be useful:

Charlemagne titled himself: 'Carolus serenissimus augustus a Deo coranatos magnus pacificus imperator, Romanum gubernans imperium, qui et per misericordiam Dei rex Francorum atque Langobardorum'[2]

posted by SJ Baty
I hope someone who is qualified for pre-1500 will recheck Charlemagne's ancestry, I keep finding variations: http://www.genealogics.org/pedigree.php?personID=I00000001&tree=LEO, http://roglo.eu/roglo?lang=en&m=A&i=4786069&v=5&t=N&sosab=10&siblings=on&notes=on&src=on&bd=0&color=, http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/gen-medieval/1995-06/0802977002, I see for some of the ancestors that http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/index.htm is quoted as a source but others say it leaves a lot to be desired. Thanks.
posted by James LaLone