Einhard

Einhard

Overview
Einhard was a Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 scholar and courtier. Einhard was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 and his son Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

; his main work is a biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni
Vita Karoli Magni
Vita Karoli Magni is a biography of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, written by Einhard.-Literary context:...

, "one of the most precious literary bequests of the early Middle Ages."

Einhard was from the eastern German-speaking
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 part of the Frank Kingdom. Born into a family of relatively low status, his parents sent him to be educated by the monks of Fulda
Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

 - one of the most impressive centres of learning in the Frank lands - perhaps due to his small stature (Einhard referred to himself as a "tiny manlet") which restricted his riding and sword-fighting ability, Einhard concentrated his energies towards scholarship and especially to the mastering of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

.
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Encyclopedia
Einhard was a Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 scholar and courtier. Einhard was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 and his son Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

; his main work is a biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni
Vita Karoli Magni
Vita Karoli Magni is a biography of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, written by Einhard.-Literary context:...

, "one of the most precious literary bequests of the early Middle Ages."

Public life


Einhard was from the eastern German-speaking
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 part of the Frank Kingdom. Born into a family of relatively low status, his parents sent him to be educated by the monks of Fulda
Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

 - one of the most impressive centres of learning in the Frank lands - perhaps due to his small stature (Einhard referred to himself as a "tiny manlet") which restricted his riding and sword-fighting ability, Einhard concentrated his energies towards scholarship and especially to the mastering of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Despite such humble origins, he was accepted into the hugely wealthy court of Charlemagne around 791 or 792. Charlemagne actively sought to amass scholarly men around him and established a royal school led by the Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

n scholar Alcuin
Alcuin
Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

. Einhard evidently was a talented builder and construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 manager, because Charlemagne put him in charge of the completion of several palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 complexes including Aachen and Ingelheim. Despite the fact that Einhard was on intimate terms with Charlemagne, he never achieved office in his reign
Reign
A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office of monarch of a nation or of a people . In most hereditary monarchies and some elective monarchies A reign is the term used to describe the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office...

. In 814, on Charlemagne's death his son Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

 made Einhard his private secretary
Secretary
A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit...

. Einhard retired from court
Noble court
The court of a monarch, or at some periods an important nobleman, is a term for the extended household and all those who regularly attended on the ruler or central figure...

 during the time of the disputes between Louis and his sons in the spring of 830.

He died at Seligenstadt
Seligenstadt
Seligenstadt is a town in the Offenbach district in the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt in Hesse, Germany. Seligenstadt is one of Germany’s oldest towns and was already of great importance in Carolingian times.-Location:...

 in 840.

Private life


Einhard was married to Emma, of whom (as of most laywomen of the period) little is known. There is a possibility that their marriage bore a son, Vussin. Their marriage also appears to have been exceptionally liberal for the period, with Emma being as active as Einhard, if not more so, in the handling of their property. It is said that in the later years of their marriage Emma and Einhard abstained from sexual relations, choosing instead to focus their attentions on their many religious commitments. Though he was undoubtedly devoted to her, Einhard wrote nothing of his wife until after her death on 13 December 835, when he wrote to a friend that he was reminded of her loss in ‘every day, in every action, in every undertaking, in all the administration of the house and household, in everything needing to be decided upon and sorted out in my religious and earthly responsibilities’.

Religious beliefs


Einhard made numerous references to himself as a "sinner", a description of himself that shows his Augustinian influenced world view. To assuage such feelings of guilt he erected churches at both of his estates in Michelstadt and Mulinheim. In Michelstadt he also saw fit to build a basilica completed in 827 and then sent a servant, Ratleic, to Rome with an end to find relics for the new building. Once in Rome, Ratleic robbed a catacomb of the bones of the Martyrs Marcellinus and Peter
Marcellinus and Peter
Saints Marcellinus and Peter were two 4th century Christian martyrs in the city of Rome.-Life:Very little is known about the two martyrs' lives. Marcellinus, a priest, and Peter, an exorcist, died in the year 304, during the persecution of Diocletian...

 and had them translated to Michelstadt. Once there, the relics made it known they were unhappy with their new tomb and thus had to be moved again to Mulinheim. Once established there, they proved to be miracle workers. Although unsure as to why these saints should choose such a "sinner" as their patron, Einhard nonetheless set about ensuring they continued to receive a resting place fitting of their honour. It has been contended that in the last decade of his life Einhard's strong religious beliefs led to him retiring to a monastery. However, his letters from this period show his maintained contact with those he had met in court and Julia Smith has claimed the tone of these letters are not as religious in character as would have been expected from a member of the church. After his death he was buried in Mulinheim (today Seligenstadt) with his wife Emma, near his beloved saints Peter and Marcellinus.

Local lore


Local lore from Seligenstadt portrays Einhard as the lover of Emma, one of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

's daughters, and has the couple elope from court. Charlemagne found them at Seligenstadt (then called Obermühlheim) and forgave them. This account is used to explain the name "Seligenstadt" by folk etymology. Einhard and his wife were originally buried in one sarcophagus in the choir of the church in Seligenstadt, but in 1810 the sarcophagus was presented by the Grand Duke of Hesse to the count of Erbach, who claims descent from Einhard as the husband of Imma, the reputed daughter of Charlemagne. The count put it in the famous chapel of his castle at Erbach in the Odenwald.

Works


The most famous of Einhard's works is his biography
Biography
A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

 of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni
Vita Karoli Magni
Vita Karoli Magni is a biography of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor, written by Einhard.-Literary context:...

, "The Life of Charlemagne" (c. 817–836), which provides much direct information about Charlemagne's life and character, written sometime between 817 and 830. In composing this he relied heavily upon the Annals of the Frankish Kingdom. Einhard's literary model was the classical work of the Roman historian Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

, the Lives of the Caesars
Lives of the Twelve Caesars
De vita Caesarum commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius,...

, though it is important to stress that the work is very much Einhard's own, that is to say he adapts the models and sources for his own purposes. His work was written as a praise of Charlemagne, whom he regarded as a foster-father (nutritor) and to whom he was a debtor "in life and death". The work thus contains an understandable degree of bias, Einhard taking care to exculpate Charlemagne in some matters, not mention others, and to gloss over certain issues which would be of embarrassment to Charlemagne, such as the morality of his daughters; by contrast, other issues are curiously not glossed over, like his concubines.

He is also responsible for three other extant works: a collection of letters, On the Translations and the Miracles of SS. Marcellinus and Petrus, and On the Adoration of the Cross. The latter dates from ca. 830 and was not rediscovered until 1885, when Ernst Dümmler
Ernst Dümmler
Ernst Ludwig Dümmler was a German historian.The son of Ferdinand Dümmler , a Berlin bookseller, Ernst Ludwig was born in Berlin...

 identified a text in a manuscript in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 as the missing Libellus de adoranda cruce, which Einhard had dedicated to his pupil Lupus Servatus
Lupus Servatus
Lupus Servatus, also Servatus Lupus , in French Loup , was a Carolingian Benedictine abbot of Ferrières, member of Charles the Bald's court and noted theological author of the ninth century...

.

External links



  • Vita Karoli Magni -- Einhard's Life of Charlemagne, Latin text at The Latin Library
    The Latin Library
    The Latin Library is a website that collects public domain Latin texts. The texts have been drawn from different sources. Many were originally scanned and formatted from texts in the Public Domain. Others have been downloaded from various sites on the Internet . Most of the recent texts have been...

  • Early Lives of Charlemagne -- Einhard's Life of Charlemage and an anonymous monk of St. Gall's Life of Charlemagne. 1922 English translation by Arthur James Grant
    Arthur James Grant
    Arthur James Grant was an English historian.Arthur James Grant was the son of Samuel Grant. He was educated at Boston Grammar School and King's College, Cambridge where he graduated BA in Classics in 1884. He became a University Extension lecturer. From 1897 to 1927 he was Professor of History at...

    , London : Chatto & Windus, via Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

    .
  • Life of Charlemagne -- Einhard's Life of Charlemagne, 19th century English translation by Samuel Epes Turner
  • Einhard at the Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

  • Einhard-Preis Literature prize awarded by the Einhard-Foundation of Seligenstadt to authors for writing an outstanding biography
  • Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Latina with analytical indexes