Foreign Embassies and Roman Universality in Einhard's Life of Charlemagne

Anne Latowsky

Abstract


In chapter sixteen of his Life of Charlemagne, Einhard celebrates his subject's peaceful relations with foreign princes. Notker the Stammerer would later offer his own, more fanciful version of this material, including his bold embellishment of Einhard's suggestion that Caliph Harun-al-Rachid had handed over control of the Holy Lands. This study presents Einhard's portrait of Charlemagne's post-coronation diplomatic relations with foreign princes as a meticulously constructed biographical episode rich in the rhetoric of Roman panegyric. His merging of panegyric structure and Frankish historiographical content established a uniquely Carolingian refashioning of a classical and late antique topos of Roman universality, one whose significance lies both in its mimetic relationship to classical models and in its influence on subsequent works.

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