Notes: Episode 27, Charlemagne (Part 1)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


6:51 – It looks as though Charlemagne’s date of birth may have been shifted forward several years from 742 to 747 by some chroniclers both to coincide with Easter and to mask the fact that Charlemagne may have been born out of wedlock. 742 is by far the most likely year, however.

12:41 – Hear that quaver in my voice? That’s me knowing, even as I said it, that 1384 sounded wrong. The year I was looking for was 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. It doesn’t make much difference to the substance of this show – the point stands that the east lasted much longer than the west – but I was going off memory and it bothered me a lot that it failed me so badly. Incidentally, I spent an entire episode covering the fall of Constantinople in 1453, which you can find here. You’d think that date could have seeped in after all those hours, but so it goes sometimes.

29:17 – I looked more closely into this, and I still couldn’t find anything other than the Japanese emperor that still exists and has lasted as an unbroken line or tradition longer than the papacy. It’s not exactly the same, as it’s a) not hereditary and b) not political in nature (at least currently), but in terms of giving an idea of the tradition and steadiness inherent in the office, it’s really worth noting. For the record, the Japanese emperor traditionally traces his roots to around 660 BCE.

53:39 – I should probably note that “Pepin the Short” is a very common mistranslation; “Pepin the Younger” is more accurate, both to the language and to the man’s stature. As far as I can tell, he was not notably small.

1:04:14 – As promised: Aquitaine was named after the Aquitani people who were indigenous to the region and conquered by Julius Caesar in his Gallic campaigns. They were culturally and linguistically from the Gauls (Celts) to their north and from the Basques to their south, though they seem to have been more closely related to the Basques. The region was called Gallia Aquitania within the Roman Imperial provincial system, and became the kingdom of Aquitaine after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and the subsequent Frankification of the region.

1:16:04 – I should probably be more careful when making generalizations like this. Obviously not every person identifying as Basque wants independence from Spain. That being said, the Basque people are linguistically and culturally quite distinct from both France and Spain, both of which contain Basque populations, and there has long been a movement to establish an independent Basque state, despite special considerations by both countries’ governments (considered insufficient by the movement). It’s far from idle talk; if I had to rank the likelihood of new states being created by secession around the world, a new Basque state would be high on my list.

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