Sunday, 19 March 2017

Charlemagne: A Life from Beginning to End by Hourly History - Book Review​

This is a short biography on the 9th Century Frankish King, the First Holy Roman Emperor (the first Emperor in Europe since the fall of Rome) and the first person who had attempted to unify all Germanic people under one kingdom.

The book starts with his early life and how his family was committed to the spread of  Christianity throughout Europe, especially in the central regions such as Saxony and Bavaria and there was also the mention of the famous Battle of Tours led by his grandfather Charles Martel in which he defeated the Saracens, leading to a stop in spread of Islam in Europe beyond the Iberian peninsula. It the talks about how Charlemagne systematically established alliances with the clergy, his focus on having a learned kingdom and also, how he helped spread Christianity, often by allowing his vanquished to retain power and convert or lose power and retain their religion. The book then talks about his various conquests, and his expansion to the extent of the Slavic Kingdoms. The book then talks about his personal life, his interests, habits and his eventual death and a word on his successors.

To say it in a sentence, I would say that this was the dullest biography from Hourly History that I have read so far and in fact the first Hourly History book which has taken me more than an hour. The book, lacked a sequence, for instance, while mentioning about Charlemagne's family, the book already mentions what happened post his death and then, eventually gets back to what he did during his life. Moreover, I felt, the campaigns against Saracens in Iberia were given very little/ negligible focus in the book.

I am fairly read on history post industrial revolution and with Charlemagne being a personality nearly eight centuries ago, I expected to return with considerable knowledge post the read but then, instead, I got very little. There was excessive focus on how he spread Christianity rather than how he built the society or controlled the army and led campaigns.

To conclude, I would rate the book a four on ten.

Rating - 4/10

Have a nice day,

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