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BATTLE OF HASTINGS, 1066.
A.D. 768-814. Reign of Charlemagne. This monarch has justly been termed the principal regenerator of Western Europe, after the destruction of the Roman empire. The early death of his brother, Carloman, left him sole master of the dominions of the Franks, which, by a succession of victorious wars, he enlarged into the new Empire of the West. He conquered the Lombards, and re-established the Pope at Rome, who, in return, acknowledged Charles as suzerain of Italy. and in the year 800, Leo III, in the name of the Roman people, solemnly crowned Charlemagne at Rome, as Emperor of the Roman Empire of the West. In Spain, Charlemagne ruled the country between the Pyrenees and the Ebro; but his most important conquests were effected on the eastern side of his original kingdom, over the Sclavonians of Bohemia, the Avars of Pannonia, and over the previously uncivilized German tribes who had remained in their fatherland. The old Saxons were his most obstinate antagonists, and his wars with them lasted for thirty years. Under him the greater part of Germany was compulsorily civilized, and converted from Paganism to Christianity, His empire extended eastward as far as the Elbe, the Saal, the Bohemian mountains, and a line drawn from thence crossing the Danube above Vienna, and prolonged to the Gulf of Istria. [Hallam's Middle Ages.]
Throughout this vast assemblage of provinces, Charlemagne established an organized and firm government. But it is not as a mere conqueror that he demands admiration. "In a life restlessly active, we see him reforming the coinage, and establishing the legal divisions of money, gathering about him the learned of every country; founding schools and collecting libraries; interfering, with the air of a king, in religious controversies; attempting, for the sake of commerce, the magnificent enterprise of uniting the Rhine and the Danube, and meditating to mould the discordant code of Roman and barbarian laws into an uniform system." [Hallam, UT SUPRA.]
814-888. Repeated partitions of the empire and civil wars between Charlemagne's descendants. Ultimately, the kingdom of France is finally separated from Germany and Italy. In 982, Otho the Great, of Germany, revives the imperial dignity.
827. Egbert, king of Wessex, acquires the supremacy over the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
832. The first Danish squadron attacks part of the English coast. The Danes, or Northmen, had begun their ravages in France a few years earlier. For two centuries Scandinavia sends out fleet after fleet of sea-rovers, who desolate all the western kingdoms of Europe, and in many cases effect permanent conquests.
871-900. Reign of Alfred in England. After a long and varied struggle, he rescues England from the Danish invaders.
911, The French king cedes Neustria to Hrolf the Northman. Hrolf (or Duke Rollo, as he thenceforth was termed) and his army of Scandinavian warriors, become the ruling class of the population of the province, which is called after them Normandy.
1016. Four knights from Normandy, who had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, while returning through Italy, head the people of Salerno in repelling an attack of a band of Saracen corsairs. In the next year many adventurers from Normandy settle in Italy, where they conquer Apulia (1040), and afterwards (1060) Sicily.
1017. Canute, king of Denmark, becomes king of England. On the death of the last of his sons, in 1041, the Saxon line is restored, and Edward the Confessor (who had been bred in the court of the Duke of Normandy), is called by the English to the throne of this island, as the representative of the House of Cerdic.
1035. Duke Robert of Normandy dies on his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and his son William (afterwards the conqueror of England) succeeds to the dukedom of Normandy.
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