CHARLEMAGNE’S EARLY YEARS
Charlemagne was born around 742, the son of Bertrada of Laon (d.783) and Pepin the Short (d.768), who became king of the Franks in 751. Charlemagne’s exact birthplace is unknown, although historians have suggested Liege in present-day Belgium and Aachen in modern-day Germany as possible locations. Similarly, little is known about the future ruler’s childhood and education, although as an adult, he displayed a talent for languages and could speak Latin and understand Greek, among other languages.
After Pepin’s death in 768, the Frankish kingdom was divided between Charlemagne and his younger brother Carloman (751-771). The brothers had a strained relationship; however, with Carloman’s death in 771, Charlemagne became the sole ruler of the Franconians.
Carolingian minuscule, in calligraphy, clear and manageable script that was established by the educational reforms of Charlemagne in the latter part of the 8th and early 9th centuries. As rediscovered and refined in the Italian Renaissance by the humanists, the script survives as the basis of the present-day Roman upper- and lowercase type.
BLACKLETTER GOTHIC STYLE
According to Christopher Wren’s Saracenic Theory, Gothic style had nothing to do with the Goths, rather it was a style influenced by a number of factors includingSaracenic art —an Islamic influence from the Crusades.
The Gothic spirit took hold in France, Germany and England where it was manifested through unhindered upward striving: the vertical supplanted horizontals as the dominant line in architecture; the pointed arch replaced the round arch of the Romans; the almond shape, or mandorla, was preferred. Gothic writing forms reflected this aesthetic.