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Einhard's "Life of Charlemagne" is an absorbing chronicle of one of the most powerful and dynamic of all medieval rulers, written by a close friend and adviser. In elegant prose it describes Charlemagne's personal life, details his achievements in reviving learning and the arts, recounts his military successes and depicts one of the defining moments in European history: Charlemagne's coronation as emperor in Rome on Christmas Day 800 AD. By contrast, Notker's account, written some decades after Charlemagne's death, is a collection of anecdotes rather than a presentation of historical facts.
EINHARD was born of noble parents in the Main valley around A.D. 770. He became a friend of Charlemagne and his family, and was chosen to invite Charlemagne to crown his son as his successor in 813. After Charlemagne's death he was a loyal servant of Louis the Pious, and he died in 840. NOTKER BALBULUS ( The Stammerer) was born near the monastery of St Gall, in Switzerland, around 840, and entered the monastery as a boy. He wrote his account of Charlemagne for the Emperor Charles the Fat between 884 and 887. He also composed a book of sequences with music, a Martyrology (897), and poems, letters and charters. He taught at the monastic school until his death in 912. David Gantz is Professor of English at Kings College, London.