This article is brought to you by the year 800 C.E.
Great news! I am going to make you leader of your class. Everyone will have to do everything you say. There's just one catch. You have to listen to everything another kid wants you to do. If he does not like you, he's going to choose someone else. You get to rule . . . until he says you cannot. Sound fun? Kind of? This is kind of what it was like to rule in the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire was much smaller than the original Roman Empire and only had land in Europe. At this time, the people listened to everything the leaders of the church said. This meant that the church got to choose who would lead the people.
The Catholic Church held a lot of power in the Middle Ages. Most people at that time who lived in Europe were a part of the church. This meant that most of the people who lived here thought the head of the church was the most important person in the world. The Papacy
is the office of the pope, who is the head of the church. This office had so much power, it played a part in deciding who would rule the people.
It had not always worked this way. Before this, the ruler was chosen based on who his or her parents were. That changed when one man became head of the church. Pope Leo III
was head of the church, and was the first to crown a Holy Roman Emperor in the year 800 C.E.. Because his church held so much power at this time, he could decide who would lead the people. People believed God was choosing the ruler of the people by whispering his choice to the ruler of church.
So who was God's first choice to become emperor? It was the person who helped the church the most, of course. Charlemagne
was crowned emperor in the year 800 and brought together parts of Europe for the first time in 300 years. He worked very hard to make sure all of his people were safe. He had the hearts of the people by ruling over lots of land. He had the hearts of the church by saying that he would protect the church and bring more people to it. This was enough for him to get the crown. People remember Charlemagne for the peace and well-being of his lands during his rule. This was the start of a thousand years of the church helping to choose the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire.
In order for the Empire to work, these two powers had to work together. As always, the church had to do things to make the ruler happy. The ruler was, in name at least, the strongest person in the land. But Charlemagne also needed to keep the church happy because so many of his people belonged to it. To cooperate
means to work together to get something done. Charlemagne ruled over the daily lives of his people. The Pope ruled over the religious lives of his people. Everyone was happy.
What would it be like to be the leader of your classroom? What if another kid could throw you out? This was how it worked in the Holy Roman Empire, which ran from 800 to 1806. The Pope crowned Charlemagne as the first emperor, who in return brought many people to the church as his power grew. Now you know how these two powers worked together to rule their people. References:
History for Kids. "Who was Charlemagne?" History for Kids, 2012. <http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/medieval/history/earlymiddle/charlemagne.htm
Medieval Europe. "Pope Leo & Charlemagne" mrdonn.org, 2011. <http://medievaleurope.mrdonn.org/popeleo.html
>History.com. "Charlemagne" A + E, 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/charlemagne>