Charlemagne’s personal life rivals a soap opera. In 773, the beginning of my first novel, The Cross and the Dragon, he is twice divorced, married to wife No. 3, and about to go to war with his ex-father-in-law, the king of Lombardy, who is threatening Rome. I didn’t make any of that up. Oh, and his first cousin, the duke of Bavaria, is married to the sister of wife No. 2. And Charles had two sons named after their grandfather Pepin (the younger originally called Carloman).
|A coin with Charles’s image from late in his reign |
(from Wikimedia Commons, permission granted
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)
|Bertha Broadfoot, 1848, by Eugène Oudiné|
at Luxembourg Garden, Paris.
(copyrighted photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen
via Wikimedia Commons)
Queen Fastrada was influential. A surviving letter from Charles to her implies that he counted on her to make sure the litanies to ensure God’s favor in a coming war were performed, very important in an age that believed in divine intervention.
|A 14th century depiction of the |
Battle of Roncevaux Pass
(public domain image via