Few scholars would disagree that the Frankish emperor Charlemagne (768–814) and his dynasty – the Carolingians – played a fundamental role in the formation of Europe. Yet the long-term consequences of the collapse of the Carolingian empire in 888 are still a matter of debate. On Saturday October 7 this year, medievalists from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and specializations will come together at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to consider the legacy of Charlemagne and the diverse ways in which the inheritance of the Carolingian empire shaped subsequent medieval civilization.
During the conference, entitled Charlemagne’s Ghost: Legacies, Leftovers, and Legends of the Carolingian Empire, papers will consider a wide array of Carolingian legacies in the realms of kingship and political culture, literature and art, manuscripts and material artifacts, the Church and monasticism, as well as Europe’s relations with the wider world. Participants will reflect on the ways in which later medieval rulers, writers, artists, and communities remembered, and forgot, Charlemagne and the Frankish empire and adapted Carolingian inheritances to fit new circumstances. In short, this conference will explore the ways in which Charlemagne’s ghost haunted the medieval world.