On the western fringe of Germany, near the Dutch and Belgian borders, sits Aachen, favored city of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne. He was King of the Franks in the late 8th and early 9th centuries, and through conquest and economic success, he unified much of Western Europe. Crowned Emperor of the Romans on Christmas Day, 800, he could be considered the father of Europe.
Or he might just have been incredibly lucky.
Travis Dow from the History of Germany Podcast joins us to discuss Charlemagne, his conquests, reforms, and buildings, including his great chapel in Aachen, one of the best examples of early medieval architecture. In its central octagonal chapel, you can still see Charlemagne's simple marble throne, where many future German kings would be crowned.
Of course, there's lots of talk of food, from currywurst to döner kebabs, but Aachen is famous for its own special spicy cookies, Aachener printen, as well. And there's the story of Pippin, which is not at all as the musical described it.
Barbero, Alessandro. Charlemagne: Father of a Continent
Lonely Planet Germany
Schillig, Christiane. "Wider den Zahn der Zeit: Der Dom zu Aachen" Monumente Online: Magazine of the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz
Schneider-Ferber, Karin. Karl der Große. Der mächtigste Herrscher des Mittelalters
Wilson, Derek. Charlemagne
Photograph by Jim Linwood