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King and Emperor

A New Life of Charlemagne

Janet L. Nelson

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Penguin
04 December 2020
Charles, King of the Franks, is one of the most remarkable figures ever to rule a European super-state. That is why he is so often called 'Charles the Great'- by the French 'Charlemagne', and by the Germans 'Karl der Grosse'. Janet L. Nelson's wonderful new book brings together everything we know about Charlemagne and sifts through the evidence to come as close as we can to understanding the man and his motives. Nelson has an extraordinary knowledge of the sources and much of the book is a sort of detective story, prying into and interpreting fascinating material and often obdurate scraps, from prayerbooks to skeletons, gossip to artwork. Above all, Charles' legacy lies in his deeds and their continuing resonance. His successors - in some ways to the present day - have struggled to interpret, misinterpret, copy or subvert Charlemagne. Nelson gets us as close as we can ever hope to come to the real figure, as understood in his own time.
By:   Janet L. Nelson
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   481g
ISBN:   9780241305256
ISBN 10:   024130525X
Pages:   704
Publication Date:   04 December 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Janet L. Nelson DBE is Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at King's College London, where she taught for many years. She has written and translated widely on early medieval Europe, her books including- Charles the Bald (1992), The Frankish World (1996) and Courts, Elites, and Gendered Power in the Early Middle Ages (2007). She lives in London.

Reviews for King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne

[The author is] a giant in the field, who knows that myths concerning Charlemagne, which began before his corpse grew cold, are difficult to lay to rest. * H-France Review * Christianity entered a new era in 800 when Charles, King of the Franks, became the first Holy Roman Emperor, and entrenched the faith in European civilisation. His story is told in Janet L Nelson's outstanding King and Emperor. * The Telegraph * This is a remarkable book: at once the dramatic story of a truly extraordinary man, and a masterclass in the practice of history from a superlative historian. Janet Nelson's brilliant insight illuminates a world that is both familiar and strange, and full of resonances between past and present. Here - seen through challenging sources, sifted and weighed with wisdom and wit - is everything we can know, twelve centuries on, about the king and emperor called Charlemagne. -- Helen Castor, author of SHE-WOLVES and JOAN OF ARC An imaginative, deeply thoughtful, often provocative, always important book. -- Geoffrey Koziol, Professor of History at UC Berkeley An immense achievement - brilliantly learned and profoundly wise, it is as revelatory about the practise of history as it is about the great man himself. -- Helen Castor * BBC History Magazine * This is a terrific book ... It is lovely to read, in part because it is so lightly written ... One leaves Jinty Nelson's book with the sense that one does, yes, get from it a sense of what Charlemagne was actually like. Which is what biographies are for, and why this is one to read. -- Chris Wickham * History Today * Nelson assembles an astonishingly rich picture from the most unrewarding of texts. The way she puzzles out probable facts and motivations is a joy to witness ... The narrative voice emerges as that of a patient, inquisitive, incisive and helpful master detective, with funny asides, a beautiful style and sensible politics. -- Bettina Bildhauer * Times Literary Supplement *


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