BLTC Press Titles

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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Life of Charlemagne

by Einhard



Eginhakd, called also Einhard, was born in 770 in the Maingau, a canton in the country of the Eastern Franks lying along the river Main. His parents, Eginhard (Einhard) and Engelfrit, sent him to the Monastery of Fulda to be educated, and in course of time the abbot, Baugolf, presented him at court. Charlemagne recognized his talents and made him minister of public works and councillor, besides employing him as his private secretary. Lewis the Pious retained him in all these offices, and showered favours upon him. In 815 he gave him the estates of Michlinstatiind Mulinheim, and the same year appointed him abbot of Blandinium, near Ghent; about 816 he made him abbot of Fontenelle, near Rouen, and in 819 abbot of St. Bavo, in Ghent. It appears from certain of Eginhard's writings that lie also held the abbacy of St. Servatius, in Maestricht, the abbacy of St. Chlodowald (the site of this monastery is unknown), the Church of St. John the Baptist, in Pavia, and a fief at Frideslare, in Hesse.

He was sent by Charlemagne to Eome in 806, to obtain the confirmation of his will from Leo III.

Eginhard is supposed to have entered the ranks of the Chnrch in 815, but he did not retire from active life until 830. He then betook himself to the Benedictine monastery of Seligenstndt, in Mulinbeim, founded by him three years previously in honour of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, whose relics he had been at great pains to bring from Rome and eushrine.

Nothing is known of Eginhard's personal appearance, except that he was a small man. He was married, and his wife's name was Emma, but her origin is wrapt in obscurity. So far as known, their marriage was not blessed with children.

The famous legend of Eginhard and Emma, in which she figures as Charlemagne's daughter, is wholly mythical; it was first committed to writing in 1180, by a monk of the monastery of Lorsch, which Eginhard had endowed. William of Malmesbury, whose chronicle ends with the year 1142, tells a similar story of the sister of the Emperor Henry III.

Emma died in 836. Eginhard died a few years later, in the Abbey of Seligenstadt; the date of his death is variously given.

It is by no means certain that Eginbard wrote the "Annals " attributed to him; but the "Life of Charlemagne," his "Letters," nnd his " Account of the Transfer of the Relics of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter" are of undoubted authenticity. No other works of his have come flown to us. The style of the " Life of Charlemagne" is a palpable imitation of Suetonius.


Since I have taken upon myself to narrate the public and private life, and no small part of the deeds, of my lord and foster-father, the most excellent and most justly renowned King Charles, I have condensed the matter into as brief a form as possible. I have been careful not to omit any facts that could come to my knowledge, but at the same time not to offend by a prolix style those minds that despise everything modern, if one can possibly avoid offending by a new work men who seem to despise also the masterpieces of antiquity, the works of most learned and luminous writers. Very many of them, I have no doubt, are men devoted to a life of literary leisure, who feel that the affairs of the present generation ought not to be passed bj, and who do not consider everything done to-day as unworthy of mention and deserving to be given over to silence and oblivion, but are nevertheless seduced by lust of immortality to celebrate the glorious deeds of other times by some sort of composition rather than to deprive posterity of the mention of their own names by not writing at all.

Be this as it may, I see no reason why I should refrain from entering upon a task of this kind, since no man can write with more accuracv than I of events that took place about me, and of facts concerning which I had personal knowledge, ocular demonstration, as the saying goes, and I have no means of ascertaining whether or not any one else has the subject in hand.

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