The 'Making of Charlemagne's Europe' project, which ran from January 2012 to December 2014, was carried out at King's College London by the Department of History and the Department of Digital Humanities and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The aim of the project is two-fold:
The first aim is to offer a single, unified database framework for the extraction of prosopographical and socio-economic data found in early medieval legal documents. Legal documents contain an extraordinary wealth of information for the political, social and economic history of this period, but they present significant challenges: practical ones, because they are scattered across many repositories, as well as methodological ones, because they can vary enormously across geographical regions, documentary types and traditions, and modes of transmission – all of which makes it hard to compare like with like. The aim of this project is to offer a common framework capable of extracting and comparing the data contained within legal documents, while still, at the same time, allowing users to identify and control for the most significant distortions typically affecting this material (such as modes of transmission, e.g. via an original or a later copy).
The second aim is to apply this framework to legal documents surviving from the reign of Charlemagne (25 September 768 to 28 January 814 AD). The reign of Charlemagne offers a particularly good case study, since it was a period of unprecedented expansion, leading to the absorption by the Frankish empire of many diverse regions within a short period of time. Over four thousand charters survive from the reign of Charlemagne (more than for the reign of any other early medieval European ruler); the database includes almost a thousand of them, selected for maximum variety in types of repository, modes of transmission, geographical area, recipients and issuers, etc. For a list of materials included in the database, see here.
All the information contained within the database can be searched via faceted browsing, including through a mapping tool: click here to start browsing!
We recommend using Firefox for best speed and performance. Please note the database is still in beta version, and some of the facets might seem a little odd - please bear with us while this is being fixed...
On 28 January 2014, King’s College London hosted a half-day public celebration of the 1200th anniversary of Charlemagne’s death, followed by a concert of Carolingian-era choral pieces. Click here to read some of the papers delivered on the day, and here to listen to a recording of the concert.