The History of Charlemagne for Kids

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a king? Would it be an easy life for a hard one? Would you just do whatever you please, or would you work to make your kingdom a better place for the people living in it? Today we’re going to learn about Charlemagne, one of the most powerful kings of Europe. 

Charlemagne was born around the year 742 C.E. He lived during what is known as medieval times. Think of castles and knights and ladies. That is the medieval times. Charlemagne was a Frank. The Franks were a Germanic people who lived in what is now known as Belgium, France, Luxemborg, the Netherlands and Germany. The Franks became very powerful at the time the Roman Empire was losing power.  France is named after the Franks. 

Charlemagne’s father was Pepin the Short who was the king of the Franks. Pepin led the Franks in war and won many battles. His kingdom grew as he won battles for his people. This made him and his family very powerful. Very little is known about Charlemagne’s childhood to this day, but it is known that he grew tall and strong, he had light hair, and was good at learning languages. He became a powerful warrior and later in battle carried a large sword with a gold hilt, which he named Jway-uze.

When Charlemagne’s father died in 768, his kingdom was divided between Charlemagne and his brother, Carloman, who didn’t get along very well. But once his brother died, Charlemagne became the only ruler of the kingdom. He was also known as Charles the Great, which is what Charlemagne translates to. 

As king, Charlemagne’s main goal was to unite all of the people of his kingdom under one rule and one religion, which was Christianity. Charlemagne was a skilled military leader and used his talents and his army to bring other people under his rule. Over the years he fought in 53 military campaigns to enlarge his kingdom. The people he fought included the Avars (what is now Austria and Hungary), the Lombards (what is now Italy) and Bavaria, along with other peoples. One of his most difficult opponents were the Saxons, the people of what is now Germany. They wanted to be free and control their own lands, not be part of Charlemagne’s kingdom. They resisted him fiercely, but Charlemagne was determined to bring them under his rule, even though it required a great deal of violence and cruelty. Charlemagne was known for doing whatever it took to reach his goals of growing his kingdom. Even if it meant hurting others. But whenever Charlemagne conquered the Saxons in one place, they’d start fighting him in another place. It took him over 30 years to finally bring the Saxon’s under his rule, they were a very independence people. Because Charlemagne was Christian, anyone forced into his kingdom was required to adopt the his religion as well. Charlemagne also fought very hard to take control of Italy, which finally ended in 777 C.E.

Charlemagne had a very large family! It was very important to him that his children became educated. At the time only monks knew how to read and write, but Charlemagne believe it was important for kings and their families to be educated. This was very out of the ordinary for his day. He loved books and often had someone read to him while he was eating. Even though he was a kind and very rich, he dressed very simply and ate simple food. He believed this made him stronger. He also saw how many kings became rich and then became lazy, spending all of their time enjoying their money, good food, big castles, and nice clothes. Instead, Charlemagne focused on staying strong and smart. He built libraries in his homes and stayed active. He also made sure his children didn’t grow lazy with all of their wealth. He hired tutors to make sure his many children learned how to read and studied good books. 

Charlemagne once said to his sons, “You think because you are rich and are the sons of the great men of my kingdom that your birth and wealth will protect you in my favor. I will let you know that you stand in need of learning more than those who are poor and dependent. You think only of your pleasures and of your dress and play, but I attach no importance to your wealth and to your station, and if you idle your time when you are young you will be worthless when you are old.”

During the time of Charlemagne’s reign, the Christian church based in Rome was concerned about being taken over by its enemies. Because Charlemagne was Christian, he gave much of his money to support the church in Rome. The leader of the church in Rome was called the Pope, and at the time his name was Pope Leo III. In order to create a strong alliance between Rome and Charlemagne, so he could protect them, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans in 800 C.E. on Christmas Day at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This gave people and leaders throughout Rome even greater respect for Charlemagne. 

After taking control of much of Europe, and even though he did it in a very violent way, Charlemagne did a good job at taking care of the lands he had conquered. He allowed people to keep most of their laws and customs and let them rule themselves. Because he believed in education, he had schools built and used his money to pay for teachers. He also pushed for schools to use an alphabet that was the same, so people could communicate better within his big empire. 

He also wanted the economy to be strong in his empire. An economy relates to how people buy and sell things. He worked to have common money used throughout his empire, to make it easier for people to buy and sell goods. He ordered the construction of a great canal, the Fossa Carolina, to connect the Rhine and Danube Rivers. A canal is a man-made river. The uniting of these lands and the result of his reforms are called the Carolingian Renaissance. He also became known as the “Father of Europe.”

Charlemagne often moved throughout his empire, living in different lands in order to help govern them and push his reforms. He was also known to be very athletic. He liked hunting, horseback riding, and swimming. 

Because of his activity, Charlemagne was known to be very healthy most of his life, but during the last four years he had fevers and started to limp. In 813, he crowned his son Louis the Pious as a co-emperor. In 814 when Charlemagne died Louis became the emperor. He was buried in a cathedral in Aachen, ending a reign of more than 40 years. It is incredible to think of all that was accomplished during his reign. 

Like many people in history, Charlemagne’s character is a complicated one. Like many military leaders like Julius Caesar or Napolean, he was very driven by power to conquer all of Europe. This led him to do many terrible things and attack people who just wanted to be left alone. When Charlemagne did finally conquer, he did his best to make his kingdom a good one.

Thanks for listening to this episode about Charlemagne. We also have a video on YouTube about Charlemagne if you want to check it out. Thanks again and be sure to tune in next week for a brand new episode!

The Vikings and Leif Erikson

Around 1,200 years ago many tribes lived in the Scandinavian region of Europe. Scandinavia is now made up of countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Greenland. The people living there became known as Norsemen or “North-men” and were also called “Vikings.” Because it was so far north, the region they lived in was often very cold, so they were very tough and hardy people. They had to survive the freezing cold winters. To do this they hunted animals and wore their furs. They built long, narrow houses built out of wood, and coated them in earth and grass with thatched roofs. Some of these “long houses” were up to 250 feet long and large families lived in them together. For example if you were a viking you might live in the same house not only with your family but your cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. 

At night families gathered around a big fireplace called a “hearth”, and told stories about their gods such as Odin, the leader of Asgard and his wife Frigg. Their children were Balder, Loki and Thor. Loki was a trickster and often his jokes went too far and he was punished for them. Thor was the god of thunder and fought giants in the sky with his powerful hammer, mjolnir. When he fought these battles it caused lightning and thunder in the sky. Freya was the goddess of love, beauty and war. Each god had their own story of adventure that families shared from generation to generation. The Vikings also sang, danced and played board games around the fire to get them through the long, dark winters.

During the warmer months, the Vikings farmed the land and tended sheep and other animals. But they also became very good sailors and navigators. They learned how to follow the sun and stars and color of the ocean and movement of sea life to know their position in the ocean. Their long ships were made of strong wood and could sail in deep oceans or shallow streams. They used the ocean to discover new lands and often sailed very far and wide to trade goods such as furs, timber and ivory. 

Some groups of Vikings decided that rather than trading they would steal from other tribes. They were known for finding a village along the ocean, running the people out and taking all of their food and valuables, similar to pirates. Vikings were skilled warriors. In battle they used large, round shields, spears, and axes to fight their enemies. One of their best tactics involved interlocking their shields to create a “shield wall.” Because of their skills in battle, the Vikings were able to conquer land very far into Europe.

They became feared far and wide. While not all vikings were aggressive and behaved as pirates, stories were told about them through the ages and one reason most people today assume that all Vikings behaved like pirates.  

Many vikings chose to trade with other tribes and often settled the new lands when the climate and soil was right for farming. They settled new places like Iceland and Greenland. During the Viking Age, many of the tribes moved all the way into England and modern day Russia. 

One of the norsemen who settled Greenland was named Erik the Red. He got his name from his red hair and red beard and his hot temper. Erik’s wife was name JODE-hiled and they had three sons: Thorvald, Leif and Thorstein, and a sister named Freydis. Greenland was extremely cold and not good for farming. But Erik the Red and his family were able to hunt animals such as reindeer and do some basic farming to survive. The work of clearing the land of trees and farming was very hard, but these hardships are what made Erik the Red and his family strong. 

Eventually, Erik and his people found a better place to live in Greenland where Erik’s son Leif grew up. His full name was Leif Erikson, since he was Eric’s son. Because Erik the Red was so busy as chief, Leif was raised by a friend of their family named Tyrkir. Tyrkir taught Leif how to hunt with a bow, trap animals to eat, and fish with a hook and net. He also taught Leif how to sail a boat and navigate at sea. These were all very important skills as a Viking.

Over time and with lots of practice, Leif learned all of the skills he needed to survive on his own and eventually left his family to make a life for himself. One of the first things he did was sail to the islands off the coast of Scotland where he met a woman named Thorgunna. They were married and had a son named Thorgils. 

Like all great vikings and his father, Leif wanted to explore the world outside of his homeland and discover new lands. Stories had been told about a land west across the ocean from Greenland and Europe. Leif was curious whether he and his people could live there, so he made up his mind to venture out and see for himself. Leif gathered a crew of 34 vikings and set off across the ocean on their sturdy long boats. After many days of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean they spotted land! They rowed ashore but the land was flat and rocky and not good for farming. This place wouldn’t be good for a settlement, but Leif had discovered North America! This is the first time Europeans reached the New World in what is now known as Canada, a few hundred years before Christopher Columbus! 

Leif and his crew decided to continue to sail south and eventually found a land that was wooded and green. He named this place Markland, but decided to keep on going, looking for better land. They sailed down a river and to a lake with fresh water and that was full of fish. They anchored their boats, rowed ashore, and set up camp so they could learn more about this new place. One day they hiked further inland and found a vineyard and grapes. For this reason, Leif decided to name the new land Vineland (veen-land), and what is now modern day Canada. After this, Leif and his crew packed up and sailed back to Greenland to let his people know about the new land they had discovered. 

Not long afterward, Leif’s father, Erik the Red, passed away and Leif became the new chief. He ruled his people for 20 years. Interestingly, he never returned to Vineland. But his brother Thorvald Erickson and his sisters did. They sailed to Vineland, picked more grapes and cut down trees to take home. They explored further down the coast, but to their surprise other people were already living there! These native people had likely lived in the New World for thousands of years. Instead of trying to make friends or communicate with these people, who they called the Skraelings, Thorvald and the other Vikings attacked them. The Skraelings who survived the attack ran back to their village and soon returned with other warriors. When Thorvald and the Vikings saw the Skraelings caming after them they turned and ran. The Skraelings fired their bows and Thorvald was hit with an arrow and did not survive. The Vikings stayed in Vineland two more seasons and buried Thorvald there, but eventually returned to Greenland. 

Later, Thorvald’s brother, Thorstein returned to Vineland and later their sister, Freydis. At one point they brought 130 Vikings with them and again tried to settle the land in North America. But the Native American people who already lived there outnumbered them and did not want them there. They often attacked the Vikings. The Vikings knew that they were outnumbered and that they would have to leave. Staying would be too dangerous. Later, Vikings would occasionally return to Vineland to cut down trees for building in Greenland, but they would never stay permanently. 

Later, Leif Erickson would go down in history as the first explorer to reach the New World, 400 years before Christopher Columbus. In the United States in 1964 October 9 officially became Leif Erickson Day. Down through history, the vikings are often associated with their pirate-like attacks, but many of these norToday, many people across the world trace their roots back to Scandinavia, the land of the Vikings. Many of these descendants now live in the American Midwest. You may have heard about a football team, the Minnesota Vikings, who are named after their ancestors. 

History of Charlemagne for Kids

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a king? Would it be an easy life for a hard one? Would you just do whatever you please, or would you work to make your kingdom a better place for the people living in it? Today we’re going to learn about Charlemagne, one of the most powerful kings of Europe. 

Charlemagne was born around the year 742 C.E. He lived during what is known as medieval times. Think of castles and knights and ladies. That is the medieval times. Charlemagne was a Frank. The Franks were a Germanic people who lived in what is now known as Belgium, France, Luxemborg, the Netherlands and Germany. The Franks became very powerful at the time the Roman Empire was losing power.  France is named after the Franks. 

Charlemagne’s father was Pepin the Short who was the king of the Franks. Pepin led the Franks in war and won many battles. His kingdom grew as he won battles for his people. This made him and his family very powerful. Very little is known about Charlemagne’s childhood to this day, but it is known that he grew tall and strong, he had light hair, and was good at learning languages. He became a powerful warrior and later in battle carried a large sword with a gold hilt, which he named Jway-uze.

When Charlemagne’s father died in 768, his kingdom was divided between Charlemagne and his brother, Carloman, who didn’t get along very well. But once his brother died, Charlemagne became the only ruler of the kingdom. He was also known as Charles the Great, which is what Charlemagne translates to. 

As king, Charlemagne’s main goal was to unite all of the people of his kingdom under one rule and one religion, which was Christianity. Charlemagne was a skilled military leader and used his talents and his army to bring other people under his rule. Over the years he fought in 53 military campaigns to enlarge his kingdom. The people he fought included the Avars (what is now Austria and Hungary), the Lombards (what is now Italy) and Bavaria, along with other peoples. One of his most difficult opponents were the Saxons, the people of what is now Germany. They wanted to be free and control their own lands, not be part of Charlemagne’s kingdom. They resisted him fiercely, but Charlemagne was determined to bring them under his rule, even though it required a great deal of violence and cruelty. Charlemagne was known for doing whatever it took to reach his goals of growing his kingdom. Even if it meant hurting others. But whenever Charlemagne conquered the Saxons in one place, they’d start fighting him in another place. It took him over 30 years to finally bring the Saxon’s under his rule, they were a very independence people. Because Charlemagne was Christian, anyone forced into his kingdom was required to adopt the his religion as well. Charlemagne also fought very hard to take control of Italy, which finally ended in 777 C.E.

Charlemagne had a very large family! It was very important to him that his children became educated. At the time only monks knew how to read and write, but Charlemagne believe it was important for kings and their families to be educated. This was very out of the ordinary for his day. He loved books and often had someone read to him while he was eating. Even though he was a kind and very rich, he dressed very simply and ate simple food. He believed this made him stronger. He also saw how many kings became rich and then became lazy, spending all of their time enjoying their money, good food, big castles, and nice clothes. Instead, Charlemagne focused on staying strong and smart. He built libraries in his homes and stayed active. He also made sure his children didn’t grow lazy with all of their wealth. He hired tutors to make sure his many children learned how to read and studied good books. 

Charlemagne once said to his sons, “You think because you are rich and are the sons of the great men of my kingdom that your birth and wealth will protect you in my favor. I will let you know that you stand in need of learning more than those who are poor and dependent. You think only of your pleasures and of your dress and play, but I attach no importance to your wealth and to your station, and if you idle your time when you are young you will be worthless when you are old.”

During the time of Charlemagne’s reign, the Christian church based in Rome was concerned about being taken over by its enemies. Because Charlemagne was Christian, he gave much of his money to support the church in Rome. The leader of the church in Rome was called the Pope, and at the time his name was Pope Leo III. In order to create a strong alliance between Rome and Charlemagne, so he could protect them, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor of the Romans in 800 C.E. on Christmas Day at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. This gave people and leaders throughout Rome even greater respect for Charlemagne. 

After taking control of much of Europe, and even though he did it in a very violent way, Charlemagne did a good job at taking care of the lands he had conquered. He allowed people to keep most of their laws and customs and let them rule themselves. Because he believed in education, he had schools built and used his money to pay for teachers. He also pushed for schools to use an alphabet that was the same, so people could communicate better within his big empire. 

He also wanted the economy to be strong in his empire. An economy relates to how people buy and sell things. He worked to have common money used throughout his empire, to make it easier for people to buy and sell goods. He ordered the construction of a great canal, the Fossa Carolina, to connect the Rhine and Danube Rivers. A canal is a man-made river. The uniting of these lands and the result of his reforms are called the Carolingian Renaissance. He also became known as the “Father of Europe.”

Charlemagne often moved throughout his empire, living in different lands in order to help govern them and push his reforms. He was also known to be very athletic. He liked hunting, horseback riding, and swimming. 

Because of his activity, Charlemagne was known to be very healthy most of his life, but during the last four years he had fevers and started to limp. In 813, he crowned his son Louis the Pious as a co-emperor. In 814 when Charlemagne died Louis became the emperor. He was buried in a cathedral in Aachen, ending a reign of more than 40 years. It is incredible to think of all that was accomplished during his reign. 

Like many people in history, Charlemagne’s character is a complicated one. Like many military leaders like Julius Caesar or Napolean, he was very driven by power to conquer all of Europe. This led him to do many terrible things and attack people who just wanted to be left alone. When Charlemagne did finally conquer, he did his best to make his kingdom a good one.

The Legend of King Arthur For Kids

Have you ever played the game “Telephone”? You start with a group of people, and the first person whispers a phrase in the next person’s ear. That person then repeats what they heard in the ear of the other person next to them, and it continues like that until it goes around the whole circle. The person at the end then tells what it was they heard. It is always quite different from what was originally said, and it is so funny! Today we are going to learn about a legend. A legend is kind of like a game of telephone! A legend is story that has been told for a really long time, and has parts of it are probably true, but it has changed over time. And by the time we hear about it, we aren’t really sure where the true parts end and where the extra things that have been added to it begin. Even though we aren’t sure what is true and what isn’t, legends are still fun to learn about-because it still is history! Just more of story history.

One of the most famous legends to ever come out of the country of England is the legend of King Arthur. People first started talking about him in books during the 9th century, with stories starting to be written about him in the 12th century. That means people have been talking about Arthur for over 1,200 years! That’s a really long time! And during that time, there have been hundreds of  stories written about him. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the very first. Other famous authors to write about him include Thomas Mallory (Le Morte D’Arthur), T. H. White (The Once and Future King), Mark Twain (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), and Howard Pyle -who also wrote Robin Hood! Alfred Lord Tennyson visited Tintagel (which we will talk about later) twice and wrote a series of poems about King Arthur from the inspiration he got there. There have also been movies and tv shows about him as well, the most well-known being The Sword in the Stone by Disney.

One thing about legends is there are lots of different versions, so there are lots of different versions of King Arthur too! But here is the main story: Arthur was the son of Uther Pendragon, and as a baby he was given to Merlin to be kept safe and taught. When he was a young teenager, he pulled a sword from a stone which proved that he was the rightful king. Later on, he receives another sword named Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake. When Arthur grew up, he took his place as king of the Britons. The Britons were (the ancient people that lived in England or Britian) The wizard  Merlin was his advisor. Arthur married Guinevere and lived in Camelot. He and his knights became known as the Order of the Round Table. Some of them were Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, and Perceval. Eventually, Mordred, King Arthur’s nephew, rebelled against his uncle and badly wounded Arthur in battle. His body was taken to Avalon to be healed, and according to legend, sometime in the future he will return and rule again.

There are a couple of really important parts in the King Arthur legend that people talk about a lot. The first one is the Sword in the Stone. The Sword in the Stone was kind of like a prophecy, it said “Whoso pulleth out this sword out of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born.” It was prophesied by Merlin. Many strong and powerful nobles had tried pulling the sword out of the stone, but all had failed. Arthur was able to pull the sword out  even though he was just a boy where so many others had failed. The other important part of the story is about the round table. The special thing about the shape is that it is round, so it doesn’t have a head, which means no one is in a position of power! King Arthur valued all of his knights’ opinions and wanted to hear them as much as he wanted to be heard, it showed that they were all equal. People think that it was Arthur’s father, Uther, who was the original owner of the table. But Arthur eventually inherited it and is the one who actually made it famous. Arthur’s knights were a symbol of chivalry and because of this the Round Table came to represent chivalry as well. If you followed the code of chivalry, it meant that you believed in things like bravery, courtesy, honor, and great respect towards women.

There are some people that believe that Arthur was based on a real person who lived during the 400s or 500s AD in Britain. These historians believe that he was Celtic and led his people against the invading Saxons. The Celts were a group of people that lived in Britain and the Saxons were people that were from what is now Germany and the Netherlands. They invaded Britain many times, which is why they would have loved a leader standing up to the Saxons. It is believed that this historical Arthur was the hero of a battle named Battle of Badon Hill. He was eventually killed in battle and his people ran to Brittany (now part of France) and Wales for safety. What makes people think Arthur could be real is that the very first person to write about Arthur was a Welsh monk named Neenius, which makes sense if Arthur’s people really went to Wales.

There is a castle ruin in Cornwall, England that is supposedly the birthplace of King Arthur. It was a stronghold called Tintagel. It is right on the ocean, and it was there long before Arthur would have been born. Because of the legend surrounding Tintagel, in the 1230s the Earl of Cornwall built a castle there. It is a beautiful and mysterious place that has sparked the imagination of many authors who have visited there. 

We probably will never know how much of the King Arthur legend is true and how much is simply a very old story, but one thing is certain, King Arthur has captured the imaginations of people young and old for over 1,000 years- and will continue to do so. What stories capture your imagination and why? How would you feel if a story about you (or a story you wrote) was talked about for hundreds and hundreds of years? What would you say? Would you live your life different?

The History of Joan of Arc For Kids

Tonight our story takes place in the Medieval Times, also called the Middle Ages. This was the time of kings and castles and knights and battles over kingdoms. It was also a time where many people had very little to eat and had to work very hard. In the country of France one of these poor families had a daughter named Joan. Joan worked every day to take care of the animals on their farm and sew and do other things to help the family survive. Young Joan was also very kind and always thinking about others. When others were sick she would visit them and bring them food to help them feel better. She was unselfish. Being unselfish is when you think about others than yourself.  

At this time there was a war going on between Joan’s country of France and another country England, who controlled parts of France. From a young age Joan began to feel that she was called to help the people of France be free again. She began to tell her family and other people in her village about her strong beliefs. Soon other villages heard what Joan was saying about freedom and they believed her. She decided to go to the king of France and tell him what she believed. At first the king didn’t want to listen to her but she was persistent. Persistence is when you keep doing something even when it is hard. When the king finally listened to her message of hope, he decided to let her go to battle. They dressed her in armor and put her on an armored horse and sent her off with the other soldiers.

During the battle Joan carried a large flag. When the other soldiers saw Joan’s flag it gave them hope, because they knew it was being carried by the brave young girl who believed France could again be free. Seeing Joan and her flag made them strong and they won battles whenever Joan was there. Joan had courage. Courage is when you do something even though it may be scary or hard.

During one particularly dangerous battle, they had to ride boats past the enemy guns. The wind was weak that day so they were going very slow. The soldiers started to wonder if they would survive and began to panic. Joan stayed positive and spoke to them, encouraging them, reassuring them that it would be alright. Soon the winds picked up and they sailed past the enemy guns without getting hit.

Later during the battle the captains had attacked, but the army was not doing well. Joan heard what was happening and knew they needed her help. She jumped onto her horse and galloped to the front of the battle. There she saw many soldiers who were hurt. She had sympathy for them. Sympathy is when you feel bad for someone and want to help. Joan rode her horse into the battle and the soldiers began to cheer. They fought harder and eventually won the battle. Joan saw the enemy soldiers who had been hurt and tried to help them feel better. She didn’t like seeing people hurt on both sides, even though they were the enemy.  

Through many other battles Joan gave the soldiers hope. Eventually there was peace between France and England. Later Joan was captured and put in jail for a time, but no matter what happened to her, she stood up for her beliefs. There may be times in life that others will laugh at you or say mean things because of what you believe in, but like Joan you can ignore them and stand strong anyway. This is called having conviction.

Like Joan you can be unselfish by thinking about others instead of yourself. You can be brave and have courage when things are scary or hard.

Next time you go to the doctor or take a test, think of how Joan went into battle and did hard things even when they weren’t easy.