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Was Charlemagne stubborn ?

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

According to Einhard, Charlemagne was in good health until the final four years of his life, when he often suffered from fevers and acquired a limp. But was it true ?

"Many of you may wonder what I was like as a person.

Well, I was particularly stubborn, so much so that I hardly ever followed the advice of the court physicians and had an unbalanced diet, which was the cause of the gout that plagued me in my later years.

I was always jealous of my 'dietary freedom' and refused to change my diet, which hastened my death. Some of my acquaintances considered me magnanimous.

I was a great drinker, though always very controlled, and a great eater.

It was said that I did not shy away from adultery and had numerous concubines, in a polygamous regime that was quite usual among the Franks, although they were formally Christianised. At the same time, I turned out to be sociable, reliable, very attached to my family and unexpectedly endowed with a good dose of humour, as is testified to by various sources that depict me as indulging in biting wit and jokes, even directed at myself. I will not hide from you, however, that I often suffered from sudden attacks of rage.

At the time I lived, I was frighteningly tall for my time; almost two metres in stature. Moreover, my life was extremely long for those times. Death came to me when I was over seventy years old, which at the time meant being decrepit. Death finally put a stop to the physical torment that had gripped me in my last years; my body was buried in the Palatine Chapel in Aachen Cathedral."

In the ensuing decades, his empire was divided up among his heirs, and by the late 800s, it had dissolved. Nevertheless, Charlemagne became a legendary figure endowed with mythical qualities. In 1165, under Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Charlemagne was canonized for political reasons; however, the church today does not recognize his sainthood.

By Lorenzo, author of the tour "Charlemagne. My responsability, my destiny"

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