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Swiss National Museum opens Charlemagne and Switzerland

The Swiss National Museum in Zürich presents Charlemagne and Switzerland on view from 20 September 2013 as part of a comprehensive exhibition.

A visionary ruler who shaped Europe. Charlemagne (*748–†814) laid the foundations for our culture over 1,200 years ago. He unified Greater Europe and reformed the education system and society. Charlemagne who was also emperor of what is now Switzerland, at the heart of his empire. His life and works will be presented at the Swiss National Museum in Zürich from 20 September 2013 as part of a comprehensive exhibition.

On Christmas Day in the year 800, a new era in the Middle Ages of the western world began at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome: Pope Leo III appointed Charlemagne as the first emperor since the fall of Rome in the 5th century. Charlemagne established a strict governing system in the Latin West. The introduction of a comital constitution, a specific church policy and a comprehensive education and coinage reform are keywords in the body of political reforms which shaped the Middle Ages and continue to have an impact today.

2014 marks the 1,200th anniversary of the death of Charlemagne (*748–†814). So who was this Carolingian ruler who was already referred to as the ‘great’ during his lifetime? What impact did he have during the 8th and 9th centuries in the region defined by the Europe of today?

The exhibition on ‘Charlemagne and Switzerland’ spans the period from the rule of Charlemagne from 771–814 to the end of the Carolingian dynasty in the late 9th century. An epilogue indicates how Charlemagne’s legacy lived on and how he was perceived in the centuries which followed.