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6 - What Do Charlemagne and King Zwelithini Have in Common?

Feudalism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2022

Johan Fourie
Affiliation:
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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Summary

On Christmas Day in the year 800 CE, Charlemagne, the king of the Franks and the Lombards, and father of at least eighteen children, was crowned ‘Emperor of the Romans’ by Pope Leo III at Old St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Charlemagne thereby united most of Western Europe under his rule, a vast area home to between 10 and 20 million people.1 Almost all of these people lived in the countryside.

The reason for this was that, after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century CE, Western Europe was characterised by conflict, population decline and de-urbanisation (the movement of people from the cities to rural areas). The Romans, of course, were known for their prosperous cities. A visitor to Rome today can still see the impressive ancient architecture of the Palatine Hill, the Forum, the Colosseum, and the Pantheon.

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Our Long Walk to Economic Freedom
Lessons from 100,000 Years of Human History
, pp. 34 - 37
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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