Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily The Franks What is now modern Europe is said to have been in the Dark Ages from the fall of Rome until about the time of Charlemagne. Briefly, after the fall of Rome, the Frankish ruler Clovis united all the Frankish tribes and conquered most of Gaul. In 496, he converted to Roman Christianity, thus becoming a potential ally of the Pope at Rome. Clovis’s successors could not maintain control of their lands, so power passed to the mayor of the palace (in the Rhine Valley), who was the king’s chief officer. From 717 to 741, the mayor of the palace was Charles Martel, who subjected all of the Frankish lands, which included modern-day France and Germany, and everything in between, to his rule. As I noted when talking about the spread of Islam, if it had not been for the decisive win of Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732, Western civilization might be Islamic today; instead the Muslims remained for a few more centuries in the Iberian Peninsula, which is modern-day Spain and Portugal, but they moved no further into Europe. Martel’s son Pepin (the Short) ruled after him, and in 751 successfully deposed the king and became king of the Franks himself, and was anointed as such by Pope Stephen II in 753, on the proviso that Pepin would come to Italy and get rid of the Lombards, the last German tribe to invade formerly Roman territory. Pepin got rid of them and turned the land over to the papacy; this "Donation of Pepin" made the pope ruler of the territory between Rome and Ravenna, which became known as the Papal States. And this relationship between the papacy and the Franks set the stage for Charlemagne (Charles the Great, known in Germany as Karl de Grosse) who succeeded Pepin and ruled from 768 to 814. The Papal States remained the property of the papacy until Garibaldi and King Victor Emmanuel unified all but Rome and Venetia in 1861; Rome and Venetia were included in a unified Italy in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Charlemagne continued to expand the Frankish kingdom and to act as a buffer between Europe and the Muslims, and in the year 800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans. So there was a blending of German, Christian, and classical traditions, all aspects of the medieval consciousness and all contributors to the culture of the time. One result of Charlemagne’s rule was a reinterest in scholarship and classical studies, known as the Carolingian Renaissance.