Customer Reviews for

Becoming Charlemagne

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Historical Facts interwoven with Classical Storytelling

    Most people know the name Charlemagne, perhaps from their seventh grade history class or an advertisment trying to entice more buyers into a store, but not many people know anything more about the enigmatic man behind the title. Sadly, Mr. Speck does not delve into what the King of the Franks did for the first years of his reign, but rather concentrates on the people and events surrounding his coronation as emperor. However, by his complete devotion to his topic, Jeff Speck has brought to life, at least for the time that you are reading his book, the world in which Charlemagne lived. The reader becomes acquainted with Alcuin, a prior who was also a firm believer and friend of the King, with Irene, the Empress who took control of the Byzantine Empire from her son and leaving open the technical title of Emperor, with Isaac, a Jew who was a representative for Charlemagne, and with many more individuals.
    For someone with no basis in Frankish history or with this particular time period, then this academic work is a splendid way to start. Speck does not bog down the book with multiple dates and unnecessary details, but tries to create an image of how Charles and his contemporaries thought. To keep academic legitimacy though, he makes sure to place words such as, "probably" when he does elude to possible thought processes. Overall, it is a very enjoyable read for the beginning historian, but readers who have studied more of this time period should look elsewhere for a more academic study.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    I've read many books on the Medieval period and Charlemagne in the last two years. This is now one of my favorites. Jeff Sypeck put the events of the period in a context which allows the reader to understand the various political forces competing against one another during that era, and the skill used by King Charles which ultimately led to him being referred to as King Charles the Great or Charlemagne. I had read mentions of Empress Irene of the Byzantine Empire, but her villainy and treachery never really impressed me until reading Sypeck's version. This time it took on the magnitude worthy of Shakespearean tragedies. The lives of Jews during the time of Charlemagne is a topic I had not seen mentioned at any length in the other various books I read, and Sypeck devoted a chapter to discussing how their treatment which by and large are hidden in the historical record. Charlemagne did not persecute Jews as he did those in his realm who worshiped pagan idols. Many Jews were educated, well-traveled, merchants, and officials in the royal courts. One Jew was sent by Charlemagne as an ambassador to Baghdad to speak with the leader of the Muslim empire, Harun al-Rashid. It is the various acts of political gifts from one leader to another 'Harun to Charlemagne' which were then perceived as a political slight by other leaders 'Empress Irene' that I found most fascinating. And then there is the dramatic saga of Pope Leo III and his attempted assassination that underscores the dramatic story of Charlemagne's coronation as Emperor. This isn't dry history with a simple recitation of facts, it is a story of intrigue brought to life. You know that Shakespeare had to base his stories on something.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2006

    Bringing Charlemagne To Life

    What a magnificent book. This is a unique approach looking at the influence Irene's Constantinople, Harun al-Rashid's Baghdad, and King Karl's Europe had on each other, and along with brutal papal Italian politics, led to the crowning of and making of the legend of Charlemagne. This is not a boring tome. In remarkable readable length Jeff Cypeck brings this brief golden age of medieval Europe to life. I would reccommend this book to everyone - you will learn something and you will be entertained.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012


    The book is a short 154 pages to begin with, and mainly describes the events and people surrounding Karl's (Charlemagne's) coronation as roman emperor in 800 AD. Some historical facts support the narrative, but much speculation is relied on as the author introduces other characters central to the event, like the Abbott Alcuin, the Byzantine Empress Irene, and Isaac the Jew, a diplomatic emissary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

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