frankish king

When Christopher Lee made a Heavy Metal Opera about Charlemagne

Sir Christopher Lee is perhaps one of the most interesting men in the world.  He was former WWII intelligence officer who worked with the SAS, master fencer, and legendary actor whose famous roles include Dracula, Count Dooku, Lord Saruman, and James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga.  Perhaps for someone like Lee, it is not unusual that in his late 80’s and early 90’s he would make a series of heavy metal albums, after all, he was a singer who had a background in opera and had worked with some metal bands in the past.  But a heavy metal opera about the Medieval Frankish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne?

 In 2010 Lee released the album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, a Symphonic Metal Opera based on the life of Charlemagne.  The album included Lee himself, who played Charlemagne, as well as a number of guest singers and musicians who played roles such as Pepin the Short and Pope Hadrian. Lyrics were composed by Marie-Clarie Calvet while music was composed by Marco Sabiu.   The album was released on March 15th, 2010.  For his work on the album, Lee received the Spirit of Metal Award from the 2010 Metal Golden Hammer Gods Award, the award being presented by Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi.
In 2013 Christopher Lee released a sequel album called, Charlemagne: Omens of Death, which featured music arranged by Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner and Guatamalan guitar virtuoso Hedras Ramos.

Germany is Deutschland

The English name “Germany” is derived from the Latin word Germania, which, at the time of the Gallic War (58–51 BC), was used by the Romans to designate various peoples occupying the region east of the Rhine. In German, Germany is actually called DEUTSCHLAND, derived from a Germanic root meaning volk, or people. A Latin document from the Frankish court of 786 uses the term “theodisca lingua” to refer to the colloquial speech of those who spoke neither Latin nor early forms of the Romance languages. From this point on, the term “deutsch” was employed to mark a difference in speech, corresponding to political, geographic, and social distinctions as well. Since, the Frankish and Saxon kings of the early Middle Ages sought to characterize themselves as emperors of Rome, it does not seem valid to infer an incipient form of national consciousness. By the 15th century, the designation Heiliges Römisches Reich (Holy Roman Empire) was supplemented with the qualifying phrase “deutscher Nation” (’of the German nation”). Still, it’s important to note that, at that point in history, the phrase “German nation” referred only to the Estates of the Empire - dukes, counts, archbishops, electoral princes, and imperial cities - that were represented in the Imperial Diet. Nevertheless, this self-designation indicates the desire of the members of the Imperial Estates to distinguish themselves from the curia in Rome, with which they were embroiled in a number of political and financial conflicts.

The area that became known as Deutschland had been nominally under the rule of the German king - who was usually also the Roman emperor - since the 10th century. In fact, though, the various territories, principalities, counties, and cities enjoyed a large degree of autonomy and retained distinctive names and traditions, even after the founding of the nation-state - the Kaiserreich/German Empire - in 1871. The names of older territories, such as Bayern, Brandenburg, and Sachsen - are still kept alive in the designations of some of today’s federal states. Other older names, such as Schwaben and Franken, refer to “historical landscapes” within the modern federal states or straddling their boundaries. Regional identities such as these are of great significance for many Germans. The current German state, the Federal Republic of Germany, was founded in 1949 in the wake of Germany’s defeat in WW2. At first, it consisted of West Germany (occupied by British, French, and American forces) with East Germany (occupied by the Russians) behind the Iron Curtain. In 1990 when Germany reunited, 5 new states were added from the East, the former Soviet zone, which in 1949 had become the DDR. Since 1990, Germany has consisted of 16 federal states: Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Niedersachsen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thüringen.

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Emperor Charles, Count Odo and Princess Gisela, Vikings S03E07 “Paris”

The show presents an amalgam of the two historical events and three different rulers named ‘Charles’.
There were notably two separate sieges of Paris: The first one took place in 845: 


-The Siege of Paris and the Sack of Paris of 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of the kingdom of the West Franks. The Viking forces were led by a Danish chieftain named “Reginherus”, or Ragnar, who traditionally has been identified with the legendary saga character Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar’s fleet of 120 Viking ships, carrying thousands of men, entered the Seine in March and proceeded sailing up the river. The West Frankish king Charles the Bald assembled a smaller army in response, but as the Vikings defeated one division, comprising half of the army, the remaining forces retreated. The Vikings reached Paris at the end of the month, during Easter. After plundering and occupying the city, the Vikings finally withdrew after receiving a ransom payment of 7,000 French livres (2,570 kilograms or 5,670 pounds) of silver and gold from Charles the Bald.
-Charles the Bald was the King of West Francia (843–77), King of Italy (875–77) and Holy Roman Emperor (875–77, as Charles II). After a series of civil wars that began during the reign of his father, Louis the Pious, Charles succeeded by the Treaty of Verdun (843) in acquiring the western third of the Carolingian Empire. He was a grandson of Charlemagne and the youngest son of Louis the Pious by his second wife, Judith.


-The Siege of Paris of 885–86 was part of a Viking raid on the Seine, in the Kingdom of the West Franks. The siege was the most important event of the reign of Charles the Fat, and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France. The siege is the subject of an eyewitness account in the Latin poem Bella Parisiacae urbis of Abbo Cernuus.
With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.
To the frustration of the Parisians who had fought for a long time to defend the city, Charles stopped short of attacking the Viking besiegers, and instead allowed them to sail further up the Seine to raid Burgundy, as well as promising a payment of 700 livres (pounds; 257 kg). Odo, highly critical of this, tried his best to defy the promises of Charles, and when Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks.
-Charles the Fat also known as Charles III, was the Carolingian Emperor from 881 to 888. The youngest son of Louis the German and Hemma, Charles was a great-grandson of Charlemagne and was the last Carolingian to rule over a united empire.


-Charles III called the Simple or the Straightforward (Latin Carolus Simplex) was the King of Western Francia from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919–23. He was a member of the Carolingian dynasty. In 893 Charles was crowned by a faction opposed to Odo at Reims Cathedral, though he only became the effectual monarch with the death of Odo in 898. In 911, a group of Vikings led by Rollo besieged Paris and Chartres. After a victory near Chartres on 26 August, Charles decided to negotiate with Rollo, resulting in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. For the Vikings’ loyalty, they were granted all the land between the river Epte and the sea, as well as Brittany, which at the time was an independent country which France had unsuccessfully tried to conquer. Rollo also agreed to be baptised and to marry Charles’ daughter, Gisela.

Source: Wikipedia

Image 1: Charles the Bald

Image 2: Charles the Fat

Image 3: Charles the Simple