Full text of article by Jinty Nelson posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 2, pp. 125-152.
Abstract: This paper, ‘Charlemagne and Europe’, is a revised and expanded form of the lecture I read on 12 November 2013. I begin by asking what Europe has meant to medieval historians in recent times, focusing on some answers given in the 1990s and around the year 2000, and reflecting on the different ways Charlemagne is being commemorated in different parts of Europe now, 1,200 years after his death. I then re-examine Charlemagne through evidence from his own time, as a ruler of a recognisably European empire, and, in the light of recent research and new approaches, I reconsider his record as a political figure. A brief survey of his posthumous reputation as man and myth in the middle ages, and after, leads into a closer look at the roles assigned to him in post-war rhetoric. Finally I ask whether Charlemagne has, or might have, anything to offer Europeans today.
Keywords: Charlemagne, Europe, empire, commemoration, myth