(also called Carolus Magnus
, Carlus Magnus
, Karl der Grosse
, or Charles the Great
A king of the Franks who became the first Holy Roman Emperor. Born in the early 740s (traditionally April 2, 742 but that date has been questioned); died 814. His father, Pepin the Short started out as "Mayor of the Palace" to the last Merovingian king of the Franks but eventually gained the title for himself. In 768, Pepin divided his kingdom between his two sons, Charles/Charlemagne and Carloman, and the two had quite a lot of conflict until Carloman died. After that, Charles tried to unify Europe and bring back some of the order of the Roman Empire; he conquered until he ruled what is now France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, half of present-day Italy and Germany, and parts of Austria and Spain. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned him "Emperor" with the ceremonies that had been used for the Roman emperors (Charles claimed not to have known in advance this would happen).
He was dedicated to the church, and a supporter of culture and learning, doing a lot to promote them in his territory. And since he ruled for over 40 years, he had time to build up a structure of administration. (Unfortunately, much of it crumbled after his death in 814.)