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In so far as the energies of Charlemagne

were devoted to the great work of erecting a

barrier against barbarism, and of giving to reviving Europe a state of quietude in which

the arts of peace might once more flourish, his

career was one of the most successful of all

history. The barbarians were brought to bay.

On the north and east the still half-savage

tribes, scarcely improved since the

days of Julius Caesar, were compelled to give over their wandering life and to settle within fixed

limits of territory. On the southwest the fiery cohorts of Islam

were thrust back into the peninsula of Spain. Nor was it any.

longer to be supposed that a Mohammedan army would dare to

make its appearance north of the


In these respects the services rendered to civilization by

the Emperor of the Franks can

.hardly be overestimated. But if

we scrutinize the other great

purpose of Charlemagne, namely,

the restoration of the Roman

Empire of the West, we shall find nothing but the inevitable failure. In this respect the Emperor's political theory was utterly at fault. He apprehended not that the dead is dead, and that the artifice and

purpose of men can never avail to restore

a system which human society in its growth

has left behind. In the west of Europe the

civilization of the Graeco-Italic race had expired nearly three centuries before Charlemagne became a sovereign; and his grand

scheme of restoration, kindled as it was in


During the reign of Charlemagne the Carlovingian race reached its highest glory. None of

his successors proved to

be his equal in leadership and valor. From the

death of Charlemagne to the overthrow of the

Carlovingian Dynasty, a period of a hundred

and seventy-three years elapsed, and this

epoch may in general terms be defined as one

of decline and retrogression. The only substantial fact which remained to testify of the

grandeur of t e times of Charles the Great

was the permanent repression of the barbarian migrations. So efficient had been the work

accomplished in the last quarter of the eighth

century that the territorial foundations of

modern France and Germany were laid on an

immovable basis. Though the barbarian invasions were renewed or attempted throughout

the whole of the Carlovingian ascendancy,

yet the restless tribes of the North could

never again do more than indent the territorial lines which had been drawn on the

map of Western Europe by the sword of Charlemagne. Another general fact to be noted respect