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Charles the Great (better known to the Western world by his French name, Charlemagne) was king of France. But, like most kings during the Middle ages he was not content to remain king of such a small domain. So Charlemagne expanded his empire by conquering parts of Spain and Germany.

At this point, the Pope was having a great deal of trouble with some rebellious tribes in the north of Italy, and he requested that Charlemagne trot down to Italy to subdue them. Charlemagne settled the outbreak easily. So grateful was the Pope that he declared Charlemagne "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire" in 800 AD

This put Charlemagne in a very powerful position; however, he remained humble and grounded throughout his life. He improved the school system immeasurably, and was considered the best-educated man in Europe, apart from his teacher.

Interestingly enough, Charlemagne never learned to write anything more than his name, although he is said to have kept a writing-pad under his pillow and practiced every day upon waking.

After Charlemagne died there was no leader strong enough to keep his empire together and it broke into small pieces that could not be reconciled.

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Q: Why was Charles the great so great?
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