In the past I've written about this man with blunt disdain, while coming to grips with the idea that he could be one of my ancestors. To me, he was a genocidal maniac who did what he did under the guise of "conquering the heathen and bringing him to Christ." It appears that was probably a smoke screen picked up and promoted by the Church.
During, before, and even after Charlemagne's life rulers ranging from chieftains to kings did not have a formal tax code to raise revenue; this came along much later. These men had to pay their retainers/armies in order to remain in power. Without any income, they had to get the cash from somewhere. And that somewhere involved invading the neighboring countries and taking everything they could carry home with them. It's often referred to as "booty," and Charlemagne was very good at taking whatever he needed from whomever had it. According to the Royal Frankish Annals, the Saxons had much to take.
The Saxons of the time were a stubborn lot and hated the Frankish kingdom and Charlemagne. They wanted to be free of him and his religion. For thirty years they struggled (the 30 year Saxon war) but had to surrender against superior numbers and munitions. The Annals report on many occasions how the rich booty taken from the Saxons enriched Charlemagne's treasury. These same Annals tells us that Charlemagne was constantly out campaigning, waging war, to keep his coffers full. It appears that the bigger the ambition, the more is taken from others. But not all that was taken was booty.
In October 782 at a place known as Verden, Charlemagne rounded up 4,500 Saxons and executed them. Often the reason reported and one that I have previously written about was the Saxon's rejection of Christianity and returning to their heathen religion and folkway. That's the small potatoes, even a glossy window dressing. The reason, possibly the only reason was that Charlemagne thought those 4,500 Saxons to be oath-breakers who deserved to die. He felt that they rejected him (not Christianity) and that was a gross offense. So he killed them. It did not matter who the 4,500 Saxons were; they were Saxon and that was good enough. He now had the "excuse" to continue the rape and plunder of Saxony. During Charlemagne's life, the Saxons suffered the most. And they just wanted to be free.
It must be now said that history looks at men like Charlemagne in a positive light, while keeping his murderous activities in the closet. History is written by the victors who prefer it this way. So it is preferred to look at, say the Vikings, as barbarians, based on the victor's comments. So too the Roman Legions and the victory of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest. But as we push through time, history, like archaeology gets the proper brush and trowel treatment to reveal the real truths.
The "requiem" used in the title is usually defined as a Catholic Church term regarding a mass said for the soul of the dead. I wonder if the Church has said masses for Charlemagne? And since they went along with this butcher, have they said masses for themselves? You see, it's always about the money.
The above photo is supposedly where the slaughter of 10/782 took place.
Copyright @2017 Terry Unger