Germany During The Frankish Period: Charlemagne (768 – 814)

Of particular importance was the subjugation of the last Germanic people who, on the right of the Rhine, had still managed to maintain their independence: the Saxons. Established between the Ems, the Harz and the lower Elbe, the Saxons were divided into the four tribes of the Vestfals, between the Lippe and the Ems; degli Angri, on the Weser and on the Hallep; degli Ostfali, between the Weser and the Elbe; of the Nordalbingi, who had pushed into Holstein beyond the Elbe estuary. With independence, the Saxons had essentially preserved intact the ancient economic, social and political structure of the Germans, and the ancient pagan beliefs. This material and spiritual patrimony they, led by their national hero, the Westphalian Vitichindo, defended in thirty years of terrible struggles, sustained with desperate fury against the tenacity and the fervent impulse of Christian propaganda, which animated the conqueror. The enterprise, which began in 772, could only be said to have been completed in 804 (see carlomagno). But after the conquest the country took on a completely new aspect. By the tens of thousands the Saxons had either fallen fighting or executed, or had been transferred to other regions. The survivors and those who remained had had to receive baptism, and the administrative and religious institutes of the Frankish kingdom had been extended to the occupied territory, centering those on the counties, these on the bishoprics.

The definitive subjugation of Bavaria was also of great importance. The dukes who ruled it, of the national dynasty of the Agilolfingi, carried out their own internal and foreign policy. This one, oriented towards the Lombards, to whom the Bavarian dukes had also tightened with parental ties, sought in their friendship a useful counterweight to the threatening influence of the Franks, and had recently had a new seal from the marriage of Duke Tassilone III with Liutperga, daughter of king Desiderio. But there was no lack of a party in favor of the Franks; and the clergy, in the forefront the bishops of Salzburg and Freising, felt attracted to the Carolingians by their merits towards the Church of Rome. Two years (787-788) were enough for Charlemagne to extinguish Bavarian independence. Tassilone III was deposed and locked up in a monastery; the same fate had the wife and children. After the Agilolfinges were broken up, Bavaria was first ruled by a brother-in-law of Charlemagne, Geroldo; and after his death (799), it was divided into counties.

The subjugation of Bavaria brought the Frankish kingdom into direct contact with the Avars of Pannonia. It was the end of this people of predatory raiders. Between 791 and 796 with a series of expeditions the Franks went as far as their main fortified camp (Ring), near the Tisza and conquered it. The Avars submitted; from the beginning of the century. IX their name also disappeared. Thus, even in the Middle Danube basin the work of Charlemagne created relations with Germany, which would not have been without effect for its future history. The conquest of Saxony had similarly brought the Frankish kingdom into wider and more direct contact with the Slavs to the north-east. No ground was gained over them, because Charlemagne did not wage real wars of conquest against them, and on the contrary ceded to the Abodites, who had been his auxiliaries in the struggle for the occupation of Saxony, part of the lands taken from the Nordalbingians on the side of the Baltic. But equally important, for future events, was the arrangement to defend the eastern border. Land was instead gained to the north,

Charlemagne had succeeded where Rome, after a few attempts, had had to abandon his work. Germany up to Elba definitively became part of the Western civil world, and received the order from which its further life would be carried out with that greater awareness of its own strengths and mission, which certainly before the Frankish conquest populations could not hear.

Also in Germany, the basis of the administrative order were the counties, in which Saxony, Alamannia and Bavaria were divided, and which had a particular military organization on the north-eastern and south-eastern borders. Here the marches of Nordalbingia or Danese, Sorabica, and Pannonia or Orientale (the future Austria) were formed, conveniently garnished with cores of selected troops, who leaned on a line of fortresses. In this way, the valid embankment was raised that would put an end to the centuries-old westward movement of the barbarian world.

Germany During The Frankish Period