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The History of the Church 70 The Conversion of the Saxons Charlemagne, the son of Pepin the Short and grandson of Charles Martel, continued the bold policies of his dynasty, blocking Muslim expansion in the south, but also marching into the East, in the direction of the Saxon world. In 772, he destroyed the Irminsul, the “world-tree” of the Germanic pagans, along with the sanctuary where it stood in the forest of Teutoburg—an event of symbolic significance. The conversion of the Saxons thus proceeded, unhampered by useless subtleties: the choice was baptism or death. At Verdun in 782, Charlemagne had 4,500 rebellious Saxons killed in one day, and to bring an end to the incessant uprisings, the emperor deported massive segments of the population. At the same time, the first Saxon bishoprics were created in Bremen and Munster, and Germania was soon covered with a network of garrisons and monasteries. Fashioning himself the champion of the Roman Church, Charlemagne naturally had himself crowned emperor by Pope Leo III in 800. Thuswas the Frankish monarchy grafted into the ancient Western Roman Empire, bringing it back to life after 325 years of dormancy. Hermann Wislicenus (1825–99) Charlemagne Has the Irminsul Destroyed Fresco at the Kaiserpfalz (Imperial Palace), Goslar, Lower Saxony ...


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