Charlemagne is an oddity in the early medieval world. He’s odd not because of the things he did or how he acted. He’s odd because it is possible to construct an entire course around him. It is possible to do this because of the immense level of documentation we have about him and his time as king and emperor. In the next thirty or so lectures, we will explore the world of Charlemagne, his life, from boyhood, to his death. We will touch on his legacy and heir, his only surviving son, Louis the Pious. By the time these lectures are complete, you will have a clear understanding of who Charlemagne is and the world in which he operated. In this lecture we begin by contextualizing the man against the backdrop of his environment, that is, the Frankish world.