Karl der Große: Kopie nach Gemälde von Albrecht Dürer (c) Andreas Herrmann

Charlemagne had 18 children

In the times of Charlemagne's father Pippin, polygamy had still been common. Charlemagne himself was married five times during his life, but he also lived intermittently with several concubines. His biographer Einhard describes him as a caring father who set great store in a scientific education for his children. We also know from Einhard that Charlemagne had at least 18 children and that half of them died while he was still alive. Of the sons that were to succeed him, only Louis the Pious was still alive when he died. He took over the crown and, like Charlemagne, received the title of Roman Emperor.

In art, the image of the paternal ruler prevails. Albrecht Dürer painted Charlemagne around 1512 in the robes of a Holy Roman Emperor. The artist's fantasy was also the source of the full beard that characterises our image of Charlemagne to this day.

Reproduction of a painting by Albrecht Dürer (1511/13),
Town Hall, Aachen

Charlemagne the Father

"Charles was by nature most ready to contract friendships, and not only made friends easily, but clung to them persistently... He was so careful of the training of his sons and daughters that he never took his meals without them when he was at home, and never made a journey without them."

(from Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne, written circa 840)

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