Friday, November 28, 2008

ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS - One of our ancestors going back from our Smith/Deming/Foster ancestors of New England is Charlemagne. Charlemagne (747-814 AD) was the ruler of the Franks who conquered essentially all of western and central Europe. To enhance the prestige of the Church and the Roman Pope in competing with the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Christian church, when Charlemagne visited Rome, the Pope had Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Emperor (a newly coined term to symbolize the religious rebirth of the older Roman Empire). In fact, Charlemagne was already the ruler of all of western and central Europe and more powerful than the Pope. At the same time, Charlemagne was a Christian who encouraged the spread of christianity and education. To accomplish the latter, Charlemagne brought monks from Ireland who had been preserving Christian writings to his palace and convinced Alciun of York in Northumbria, England to head up the school in his court. This led to what is referred to as the Carolingian Renaissance, which spearheaded the educational and cultural revival of western Europe. One of the results of the Carolingian Renaissance was the writing of illuminated manuscripts gilded in gold as illustrated above. Another result was the building of cathedrals throughout Europe. To govern his territory, Charlemagne invented the feudal system of landownership and of knights, barons and kings who were his subjects and pledged their allegiance to him. The feudal system was to essentially continue until the American Revolution and it's invention of a constitutional representative democracy or republic, modeled after the early Roman Republic.