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Einhard

Einhard
      When one thinks of Carolingian reformation, and the people related to
it directly the first person that comes to mind is the king Charles the
Great, and along with him one involuntarily thinks of his faithful
‘servant’ Einhard because he is the one that introduces him to us. But on
top of being a simple biographer Einhard has done far more greater things
in life, and today one has the opportunity to study what kind of man
Einhard was, what he’d done during his life, and why is he important
through his works and documents related to him that survived until our
time. 9th century documents presented in Charlemagne’s Courtier portray
Einhard as a well educated person, a talented poet, writer, and artist in
different kinds of arts, religious, humble and faithful man, as well as the
most prudent and influential courtiers of his time.
      One of the most important and prominent figures of Early Medieval
Europe was the persona of Charles the Great. Charlemagne lived between 742
and 814. During the forty-seven years of his kingship, the great warrior
king was able, for a short while, to create kingdom of similar in size to
that of the Western Roman Empire.  The greatness of his kingship, however,
was not in the successful war campaigns or his conquest of several
kingdoms, but in the vision that he had for his peoples and as well as the
other peoples of Europe. Often called ‘an apostle with iron tongue’
Charlemagne had seen himself as King David was for the Jewish nation. His
mission and vision were perfectly described in one of his letters to the
Pope: “Our task is, with the aid of Divine Piety, to defend the holy church
of Christ with arms against the attack of Pagans and devastation by
infidels from without, and to fortify it within the knowledge of the
catholic faith. Your task most Holy Father, is to lift us your hands to
God, like Moses, so as to aid our troops, so that through your
intercession, the Christian people may with God as its leader and giver
always and everywhere be victorious over the enemies of his hole name, and
so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be famous throughout the
world”. King Charle’s mission, the Carolingian Reformation, was to
Christianize and educate his kingdom by means of military force, the
restoration of old church documents, and the creation of educational
institutions.[i]

      [ii]‘One of the instruments of this reformation was the palace school
because of the many great European scholars it housed. Their job was to
restore and preserve the early church documents, to guide and support the
spread of Christianity. One of the noticeable scholars of the court was
Einhard’. ‘He was born around 770. Einhard studied the Bible and the
classics at the monastery of Fulda. When he was in his twenties he was
recommended by his chief abbot Baugulf to serve in Charlemagne’s court. At
court Einhard served as a courtier to Charles the Great and his son Louis
the Pious. Around the year of 815 Einhard and his wife Emma were granted
land at Michelstadt and Mulinheim. As a result of this he became not only a
courtier at kings’ courts, but he also was a lay abbot. Some of Einhard’s
contemporaries suggest that he had become rich along with other poets of
Charlemagne’s court. Therefore it is a reasonable assumption to say that
Einhard was a wealthy man. He was a very prominent figure at the court, and
it is thanks to this faithful courtier that we have some of the best
medieval poetry and writing.’[iii]
      There is no doubt that Einhard was very well educated. ‘Walahfrid
Strabo has these things to say on Einhard’s education and intelligence:
“From there Baugulf … sent him to the palace of Charles ….because of the
specialness of his capacity for learning and his intelligence. For even in
that monastery he had shown great signs of the wisdom that later on shone
forth so clearly from him.”[iv] While at Fulda, it is believed that he
studied the Bible and classics.[v] He new not only Latin, but possibly
Greek, the proof of  that can be found on one of the letters of Lupus to
Einhard in May 836, where Lupus asks for explanation of some Greek words
from the book of Boethius.[vi]
      To understand what Einhard’s interests were one would have to look at
the scholarly work he did. Information supplied to us by historians, other
royal courtiers, and surviving works of Einhard reveal that he was a poet,
a writer, and an artist. Maurus who composed “The Epitaph of Einhard” said:
“And he was skillful in the art of many things”. Modoin in his eclogues on
poets of his age mentions Nard [Einhard’s nickname] in the poem. This
leaves us with no doubt that Einhard was a poet.[vii]

      In documents provided on Einhard one can see that he was into the
visual arts.[viii] Paul Dutton raises the question however, of whether
Bezaleel(another name for Einhard) was the mere executor of the works
accredited to him. It is obvious in the documents provided that in many
cases Einhard, just ordered the process. “Einhard moved in a world of
painters, reliquary-makers, tile-makers, royal scribes, organ builders, and
palace workmen, and he knew how to use them to advantage.” But it is
possible that our view on artists is very different from the view of that
time. Nevertheless he used his talent, and was accredited for it. Paul
Dutton provides a detailed drawing of the arc constructed around the time
of Charlemagne that he says “can be connected to Einhard with confidence”.
Einhard according to Dutton used his talent of visual arts in the
decoration of buildings and churches that were built at the time of Charles
the Great.[ix]

      It is evident that Einhard was an expert in the aforementioned types
of arts, but it is the authorship of Life of Charlemagne, and The
Translation and Miracles of Marcellinus and Peter that brought a great deal
of popularity for him. In fact Life of Charlemagne is thought to be one of
the masterpieces of ninth century Europe.[x] This book reveals some of the
character traits as well as personality of Einhard. Interestingly enough,
Life of Charlemagne does not contain a lot of the facts that we know about
him. This lack of information has raised many questions around this book.
Another interesting issue about this biography is Einhards criticism of
Charles on small matters, but he fails to criticize him on big matters like
slaying of thousands of people. Overall the portrait of Charles in Life of
Charlemagne is very positive. It hardly contains any of the bad traits of
Charlemagne. This once again proves to us that Einhard was a very prudent
courtier. He didn’t want say anything that may threaten him, and his
reputation, for he knew that others in court will read the biography.[xi]
      Einhard displayed his great intellect, and writing talent in his book
The Translation and Miracles of Marcellinus and Peter. The content of the
book contains records about translation of remains of St. Peter and St.
Marcellinus, and the events related to this “enterprise”.[xii] This book is
written very carefully in my opinion. Portrait of Einhard is displayed in
contrast to the one of Hilduin who stole the relics of the holy martyrs. ”.
In this book a reader could see Einhard being unusually critical, of
Hilduin, for a careful and prudent courtier.[xiii] But when one starts to
analyze it in depth it is easy to realize that Einhard had a reason to be,
after all Einhard is portrayed a religious man, he spent a fortune on
bringing these relics to Fracia. He portrayed Hilduin in highly adverse
light. A part of the reason why Einhard wrote this book, as Paul Dutton
Suggests, was to address the rumors that relics did not poses real power of
saints due to separation.[xiv] That may explain why there are so many
stories of miracles in the book. Thus summing up aforementioned, Einhard
using his prudence and the power of the word, which definitely possessed,
strengthened his own reputation, as a preserver of the relics, while
weakened that of Hilduin, and he also was able to regain people’s trust in
martyrs.

      Looking at Einhard’s career one can see that he assumed a lot of
different roles.  Einhard was a high advisor of both Charlemagne and Louis
the Pious. He was also a lay abbot of properties in Michelstadt, and
Seligenstadt. Einhard’s contemporaries describe him to be always busy, and
preoccupied with the court’s business, running around with books. “The
letters show us Einhard acting as an agent of the emperor, as a local
patron, as a lay abbot, as the holder of properties, as an influential
referee, as a marriage broker, and as an intellectual friend.”[xv] In the
court of Charlemagne we see Einhard being involved in different high state
affairs. One of those was Charlmange’s partition of the kingdom among his
sons. Royal Frankish Annals states: “All these things were set down in
writing and conveyed by Einhard to Pope Leo III, so that he might assent to
them with his own signature”[xvi] Another time Eihanrd took part in state
business with Charles was in 813 at the diet of Aachan when he spoke in
favor of elevating of Louis the Pious to co-emperor status. As Ermold the
Black recorded it Einhard characterized Louis the Pious as a very able
person for king’s throng: “….You have a son with an extremely fine
character, who, because of his merits, is able to hold your
kingdoms.”[xvii] These are the two times when Einhard’s officially involved
in making of Frankish history, although it wasn’t a big part he played. But
if we look at the writing of fellow courtiers it is evident that he and the
king were very close.[xviii] It may be possible that this close friendship
that they both shared might have shaped Charlemagne’s decisions. It is only
an idea, which is not evident and not necessarily true, but nevertheless
should be considered when one’s analyzing position of Einhard in the court
of Charles the Great. Thus it may well be a fair assumption to say that
Einhard did have a bit of influence and power in that court when compared
to other courtiers.

      During the reign of Louis the Pious Einhard and his wife Emma
received properties from the emperor in the year of 815, as a reward for
his services to both emperors.[xix] As a lay abbot he was often preoccupied
with the maters like building churches and legal issues. One could see him
at court only at certain times of the year to perform duties he usually did
with the emperor Charles the Great. On top of these duties, it is also
believed that Einhard’s writings were done outside of court, most likely
when he was at his residences. Perhaps it was the health problems that he
had, that made him spent certain times of the year in his residences, but
never the less he still participated in Louis the Pious government.[xx]
Another responsibility of Einhard at Louis the Pious court was to tutor and
guard Louis’ son Lothar, though in one of the letters it is clear that the
emperor to be wasn’t too happy of this, and thus this tutorship did not
prevent the rebuke of Charles’ grandchildren against their father.[xxi]

      Analyzing Einhard’s personality is no easy task. For in his
correspondence there are only a few that actually talk about his personal
life. Einhard did not trust the communication through letters, one can
especially see his position on reporting important information via letters
in his message to a certain R. in which Einhard says that letter will
reveal all of the information in it if it got into wrong hands, but a loyal
messenger will not, even if he’s tortured.[xxii] Looking at this very trait
of Einhard one can conclude that he was a very careful man. But the main
characteristic of Einhard is that he was very prudent. The Astronomer calls
him “the most prudent man of his time”.[xxiii] The proof of this
extraordinary prudence maybe found in the fact that Einhard new how to deal
with people. He knew just when to be bold with people, and criticize them,
in a way that will profit him and leave him with spotless reputation. Also
he knew when to be patient, and not offend people. For example in the
documents collected we see just a few cases when he actually does criticize
someone, but he has the grounds to do so.
      Faithfulness and loyalty was the quality of Einhard that made and
still makes people to respect him. When one looks at Einhard’s life, as
portrayed by the documents we have, one can’t find even one that suggests
the opposite. In fact Einhard first of all demonstrated faithfulness to the
kings he served. To show his great loyalty, faithfulness and appreciation
to his king, Einhard wrote a beautiful biography called The Life of
Charlemagne. Einhard also speaks with love, and loyalty to Louis, in one of
his letters to Louis’ sons. He says: “I have always equally loved you and
my most pious lord, your father, and have always equally wished for the
well-being of both of you.” Another point that greatly suggests that Eihard
was a faithful man was his strong belief in Christianity and upholding of
commandments. Not only did he follow the commandments he also built
churches and brought the holy martyrs to Francia.[xxiv]
      As was mentioned before Einhard was faithful and loyal to his kings.
He spoke with love of both of them. Looking at the documents presented to
us, one can argue that Einhard was closer with Charlemagne, it is his
biography that he write, and it is his deeds that he praises the most. And
Ermold the Black said: “….Einhard, who was much loved by Charles….”[xxv] We
cannot find such kind and warm word to describe relationship of Louis the
Pious and Einhard in any of the reflection on Einhard. But that doesn’t
mean that they had a bad relationship. They just weren’t as close as with
Charles. We can find EInhard praising Louis of his ability to rule the
kingdom, and we can also find Einhard claiming to love Louis. And on the
part of Louis, he granted lots of land to Einhard, and praised him for his
valuable service. Thus there’s no doubt that Einhard had a good and working
relationship with both emperors.[xxvi]
      Looking at the life of Einhard one gets a sense that the topic of
religion in his life became more and more important as he progressed in
age. The fact that two of his later works, Translation and Miracles and his
letter “On the Adoration of the Cross” to Lupus are both on religious topic
seem to support that theory. Although it was closer towards the later years
of his life that he had much to say about religion, it is certain that he
perceived the world as a ‘good Christian’ for the all of his life. But it
seems like towards the end of his life he started to spend more time on
meditating upon the wonders he saw, and theological questions he might have
had. We can find proof of his devotion to religion in his big investment of
building churches and transport of relics of saints-which was a costly
enterprise. He also paid close attention to the signs and prophecies he
received, and whenever was necessary he fasted at times for days. Summing
up there’s no doubt that Einhard was a very spiritual man, he was very
committed to his faith, and it was a big part of his life.
      Summarizing the aforementioned argument indeed  9th Century documents
presented in Charlemagne’s Courtier portray Einhard as a well educated
person, a talented poet, writer, and artist in different kinds of arts,
religious, humble and faithful man, as well as the most prudent and
influential courtiers of his time. We discussed Einhards personality, his
responsibilities at different courts, and what they offered to him, his
beliefs, and interests, and his relationship to the two kings he served.
Einhard was a person with a wide variety of interests, strong religious
beliefs, and faithful character. He is important to the Medieval Europe,
because he was one of the faithful courtiers that carried out Carolingian
reformation.



                                  Endnotes:
                           -----------------------
[i] Dr. Joyce Lorimer, “The Achievements of Charlemagne”, HI 101, Wilfrid
Laurier University, October 27, 2004
[ii] Dr. Joyce Lorimer, “Carolingian Renaissance”, HI 101, Wilfrid Laurier
University, November 1, 2004
[iii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”, (Peterborough, Ontario,
Broadview Press, 2003), pg. xi
[iv]Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  Pg. 8
[v] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.xi
[vi] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 182
[vii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 3
[viii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.63-68
[ix]  Paul Edward Dutton, Charlemagne’s Courtie, rpg. xiii
[x] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. xx
[xi]  Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.15-62
[xii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 69-130
[xiii]  Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  83-89
[xiv] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.xxiv
[xv] Paul Edward Dutton, Charlemagne’s Courtier, pg. xxxii

[xvi] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.2
[xvii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.6
[xviii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 7-8
[xix] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 43-45
[xx] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  xv-xviii
[xxi] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 145-147
[xxii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg.158
[xxiii] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 7
[xxiv] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 177-175
[xxv] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 6
[xxvi] Paul Dutton, “Charlemagne’s Courtier”,  pg. 145



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